Listen now 38 mins
What does it mean to be a professional today, at a time when the public services are in a state of turmoil?
Time was when a professional was easily recognised for what he or she did by virtue of their qualifications and experience, when their competence could be measured against an established set of standards. Not any more.
The British public have been used to interacting with warranted police officers, state registered nurses, teachers with their PGCEs, and qualified social workers. But that picture has become blurred in recent years by the introduction of lower paid, less well qualified colleagues, such as Police Community Support Officers or PCSOs, cover supervisors in schools, care assistants on the wards, and sessional workers alongside qualified social workers.
Does this, asks Mathew Hill, the BBC's Health Correspondent in the west of England, amount to a 'deprofessionalisation' of the professions, or has it in fact opened up the public service professions to people who would previously never have been able to enter these fields?
We hear what it means to be a public service professional today, with contributions from people on all sides of the debate.
Producer: Mark Smalley.