CQI: The Most In-Demand Quality Skills in 2018

A Guide to See How You Compare to 130,000+ Quality Managers, Recruiter Requests and Interviews with Quality Industry Experts including Vince Desmond, CEO at CQI

© EQMS by Qualsys

 #1     Origins of This Research 

On this page, you will find:

#3     Education, Learning and Qualifications

#5      Research Methodology

#6     Accelerate your career

#2 How Quality Skills are Evolving#3 Education, Qualifications and CPD#4 Thriving in Quality#5 Research Methodology#1 About this Research#6 Implement a Quality Management System

"We don't come to this game with a very good reputation. But quality is the most important competitive weapon we have. Quality managers need to be playing a much wider role to meet the challenges of the business. It is the role of quality to decide how to improve maturity."

- John Oakland, Oakland Consulting

Origins of This Research

The role of quality is changing faster than ever before. Technology, regulation and customer demands are making the quality profession more exciting and challenging than ever before.  

According to Vince Desmond, CEO of The Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), a good place to start to truly understand how the role of the quality manager is changing is to study the PwC CEO Survey.

“Quality professionals must respond to the changes in the world. If you look at the 2018 PwC CEO Survey, it demonstrates the three concerns for chief executives: Technology, skills shortage and growth in a turbulent world.” 

Keen to learn how the skills of the quality professional is changing, Qualsys has extracted data from more than 130,000 quality professional profiles, examined 100 job adverts and conducted interviews with industry experts to answer three important questions:

   1) Are today’s quality professionals keeping pace with the skills they need to do their jobs at a high level?

  2) Do quality managers have the skills that companies want in their new hires?

  3) How can quality professionals enhance their skills to thrive in their career?

Qualsys partnered with LinkedIn Research to compare the skills quality professionals said they have with the skills recruiters actually wanted. We analysed the skills recruiters were searching for, up-and-coming job titles, seniority and level of education level. 


How Quality Skills Are Evolving

Are today’s quality professionals keeping pace with the skills they need to do their jobs at a high level?

Out of 130,000 professional profiles, more quality professionals publicly communicate their soft skills, such as training (23,000), communication (17,000) and leadership (16,000), than hard skills such as Kaizen (4,000), Kanban (2,000) and Lean Six Sigma (2,000). 

15% list “Leadership” as a key skill

Only 15% of quality professionals list leadership as a key skill, yet 87% of recruiters list this as an essential skill. Notably, recruiters were demanding quality managers with direct and indirect leadership skills. 

The CQI’s Vince Desmond believes there is a shortage of quality professionals with leadership skills. “There’s a difference between the technical skills such as competency, governance and assurance and the soft skills like leadership,” he said.

“The message we got from the industry was that the technical skills were fine. What the industry needs, however, are professionals who can translate the quality requirements into the business strategy. We need people with leadership and facilitation skills to make that happen.”

John Oakland, Founder of Oakland Consulting believes quality professionals need to focus more on costs, return on investment and profit. "Don't tell me your job is compliance. We can't have somebody in charge of quality. We're all in charge of quality. When Land Rover Jaguar send out a car, everyone in the factory agrees they are responsible for quality. If there's something wrong with it, we collectively have got that wrong. And that's the mindset change that's needed in many companies. Mostly, Quality is about money. Top management are very interested in money. If you don't think money is on your agenda, then think again. You have to speak the language of the business.


Education, Learning and Qualifications

Do quality managers have the skills that companies want in their new hires?

28% of quality professionals have a bachelor’s degree and 12% have a master’s degree.

Fewer than 20% of the roles available required quality professionals to have a qualification in quality. Instead, 70% of mid-senior roles in quality required applicants to hold a degree in a science or technical subject.

However, Vince Desmond says forward-thinking organisations are increasingly looking for graduates and managers from humanities backgrounds, as “many of the technical skills can be acquired on the job.”

Notably, five of the most in demand experience or certifications were:

               1) Current knowledge of standards, regulations and legislation: 

Around 80% of the available mid-senior and director-level roles required current knowledge of standards, regulations and legislation, such as ISO 9001, ISO 13485 and AS 9001. Most mentioned knowledge of cGxP. 

               2) Implementing a quality management system

Developing, leading and implementing a quality management system was mentioned by 60% of the roles. Michael Ord, Director at governance, risk and compliance software vendor, Qualsys said: "Organisations are increasingly moving their quality management systems from paper to pixels. They need Quality professionals who see the value, who understand the software market and can put together a strong business case."

               3) Quality Improvement Models

Previous experience of quality improvement methodologies such as Black Belt, Lean, 8D,  Lean Six Sigma were preferable in over 50% of roles. 

               4) Internal auditing

To be a lead auditor was preferable by a third of recruiters. Richard Green, Managing Director of Kingsford consultancy services says the role of the auditor is getting increasingly difficult due to the decentralised nature of quality and policies. Watch video.

               5) Supplier performance reviews

Balance scorecards and demonstrating previous experience managing supplier performance was also one of the most in-demand skills. More on supplier performance reviews.


Thriving in Quality

How can quality professionals thrive in their career?

Approximately 4% of quality roles are currently at director level. Of these roles, 35% of recruiters said they would favour applicants with technical experience of Kanban, Kaizen or 8D.

More important, though, was the ability to promote continuous quality improvement across the organisation. 98% of job adverts mentioned this explicitly in the job description. Michael Ord, Director at Qualsys, comments: “Coaching, educating, leading and inspiring stakeholders at all levels of the organisation is something quality professionals need to master.”

Vince Desmond believes there’s a certain type of person who fits quality roles.

“Quality requires a certain skillset,” he says. “And the skills and attributes need to be tailored. Broadly, it is a certain type of person. If you look at the leadership aspect of our competency framework, you’re looking at somebody who can take a broad view, be the stakeholder’s conscience, make difficult interventions and coach and influence other people.

Vince also says that while a key aspect of leadership is to inspire others, the quality profession has much to improve on. “As a profession, and the CQI, we’re appalling at marketing. We’ve recognised that we must get better.”

Michael Ord, Director at Qualsys, agrees. “Quality professionals do not share their successes enough. In the past, there’s been a glass wall between ‘quality’ and ‘operations’ which perpetuated a them-and-us, ‘ISO as a tick-box’ culture. Compliance was viewed as an overhead, and managed as a silo.

“This is why Qualsys works closely with its customers to help them demonstrate value. We’re also supporting the CQI’s International Quality Awards as we believe this will help raise the profile of quality and recognise successes.”

With Thanks to... 

Kingsford Consultancy Services, Committed to CQI
Oakland Consulting,  committed to CQI
Vince Desmond, CQI


CQI Continuous Quality Improvement Competency framework
CQI Continuous Quality Improvement Competency framework
CQI Continuous Quality Improvement Competency framework
CQI Continuous Quality Improvement Competency framework

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"I wanted to bring in was a main driving tool for continuous improvement. With EQMS by Qualsys being module-based, it is very versatile and ticked all of the boxes for all of the business areas we needed to cover.  We are driving improvements now across the whole site. We've completed more internal audits in the past 4 weeks than the past 4 years.."

 - Lee Clack, W. E. Rawson


Step 1

The research team interviewed industry experts such as Vince Desmond, CEO of the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI.) We explored the challenges in the industry and how quality professionals can typically progress their career. 

These videos were recorded and analysed for key themes. 

Step 2

The research team then teamed up with LinkedIn research to review the profiles of 130,000+ quality professionals in the UK. The skills of the quality professionals were analysed and put into a spreadsheet. Within this spreadsheet, common themes arose. 

Step 3

The skills recruiters were looking for were then analysed using LinkedIn recruiter reports from the past two years. Precisely 100 adverts were reviewed. The trends were then agreed by several members of the team. 

Step 4

The Qualsys research team put together a research paper, and then created it into this easily readable page. 

"There are two big things for Quality professionals to consider. First, you need to think about how you can utilise technology. Second, you need to be developing soft skills like leadership."

Vince Desmond, CEO at CQI

CQI Continuous Quality Improvement Competency framework

"Quality is all about protecting reputation, enhancing reputation and improving the bottom line. How quality does this is through leadership, understanding context, assurance, improvement and governance."

Vince Desmond, CEO at CQI

Your job isn't about compliance. It's about money.

Time to Network

Get out of the bubble

"Many Quality Professionals operate independently. They have a sector view and an industry view. To advance, they need a macro-view of the profession. And CQI membership helps with this." 

Vince Desmond, CEO of CQI

"Quality professionals can help organisations as a statistician, if you apply your thinking, your tools and your techniques in the right way and in the right areas. You need to put a picture of the business in front of your leadership team."

John Oakland, Founder of Oakland Consulting and the Oakland Institute

Adding More Value to the Organisation

Learn from peers: Sodexo explains how to implement a quality management system

"You need to demonstrate the value for your stakeholders. Share your success stories. Be adaptable. It is definitely not a one size fits all approach."

Rob Gibson. Quality Systems Manager, Sodexo

"As a profession, we are appalling at marketing. It is something we all need to work on. This is why we have the International Quality Awards. To share what we are getting right and engage stakeholders with quality."

Vince Desmond, CEO at CQI


Promoting your Successes

From Paper to Pixels

Redefine your Role within the Organisation

"Qualsys can help you to build quality as a strategic force by engineering better data and communication. Qualsys can help you to build learning organisations that are quick to change, avoid excessive costs and reputational impacts of getting it wrong."

John Oakland, Oakland Consulting

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Sodexo, committed to CQI
Integrated management system

EQMS Integrated Management System Modules

Word cloud from the 100 recruiter roles


41% of Quality Professionals who implemented EQMS were promoted in the last two years.

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