The pass rate for the new, higher level PRINCE2 Professional qualification will be lower than for the existing qualifications, a PRINCE2 trainer has predicted.

PRINCE2 Professional, the project management qualification, which launched today has been designed to assess the ability of holders of the existing PRINCE2 Practitioner certification to apply the PRINCE2 method.

"The national average pass rate for the Practitioner exam is 73 percent and 99 percent for [PRINCE2] Foundation. I suspect the pass rate for PRINCE2 Professional will be lower than the 73 percent," said Simon Buehring, managing director of training company Knowledge Train Limited.

Buehring has been delivering training in the PRINCE2 methodology for around six years. He was one of the training providers invited to pilot the new assessment.

"I found it one of the toughest things I have had to do, and I thought that I knew the ins and outs of PRINCE2. I found it quite stressful. It was very intensive," he said.

Although Buehring believed that the Professional qualification is a considerable step up from the Practitioner level, he did not think it was beyond candidates' capabilities.

The higher qualification will help candidates to stand out from the crowd, he said.

"One of the impetuses for the new qualification is because large employers are now saying the PRINCE2 has become a bit devalued because so many people have it," Buehring said.

Peter Segal, managing director at technology resourcing firm Ogilvie & Associates Ltd, agreed: "Around 250,000 people hold the PRINCE2 Practitioner certificate in the UK. Many more hold the qualification worldwide. When my clients look to recruit, it is not a differentiator any longer."

Unlike for the existing PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner qualifications, the new PRINCE2 Professional qualification will not require candidates to take an exam.

Instead, they will be evaluated during a two-and-a-half day exercise at a residential assessment centre.

During the assessment days, candidates will be put into small teams, given project case studies and asked to demonstrate and give evidence of their application of the PRINCE2 methodology. They will also be given solo tasks and essays to complete.

The evaluators will observe candidates working on the case study and mark candidates against 19 competency criteria, which include preparing a business case, interpersonal skills, product-based planning and capturing lessons learned.

There will also be individual interviews with an evaluator.

The pass mark is a minimum of one in each of the 19 criteria and a minimum average score of 1.6.

To apply for the new qualification, candidates must hold a valid PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification.