Choosing your Train the Trainer course provider

by Bob Colclough on May 30, 2012

1. Introduction

A survey of members of the Institute of Directors (Ref 1) reported:

Members identified the principal benefits of investing in training as: improved staff morale (76%); improved productivity and/or profitability (74%); improved customer satisfaction (69%); and improved staff retention (62%). 37% believed investing in training resulted in improved market share and 21% that it improved staff recruitment.

The effectiveness of trainers can be crucial to your organisation in achieving these outcomes.

You need trainers who:

  • Have self confidence in delivering training
  • Understand a range of underpinning theories including :
    • Learning Styles
    • Listening, questioning skills
    • Levels of assessment
    • The need for a variety of training methods

They should also be able to:

  • Create Smart objectives
  • Handle objections
  • Establish their personal credibility
  • Provide instruction in a systematic way – perhaps using the widely tested EDIP model

We have certainly found, in working with clients that there is often a dramatic difference in the learning outcomes between good trainers and poor trainers.

2. Training the Trainers

So how do you ensure trainers have the required skills and are able to successfully apply them?

A lot will depend on support from an individual’s manager and the organisation. A separate future article will cover these topics.

In developing training skills, most organisations seek help from specialist “Train the Trainer” training providers. This is understandable. In-house trainers are often self taught. Without external help it is difficult for them to improve their skills.

A good Train the Trainer programme can help immensely in building skills and confidence.

In choosing a Train the Trainer programme, you will probably want to work with an organisation that:

  • Understands your needs and so can tailor the training to meet your needs
  • Has proven experience of delivering such training
  • Has some form of independent approval

There is a very wide range of such trainers. They largely fall into two groups:

  • Independent training providers, providing tailored training to meet your needs
  • Further Education Colleges

3. Training Standards

You may also have questions about UK standards for training.

As many have commented, the UK system of skills bodies is hard to understand. A recent Institute of Directors (Ref 1) reported:

64% of directors felt that the skills system was too complex and difficult for employers to engage with. The biggest problem was perceived to be the bureaucracy associated with skills programmes (40%), followed by the constant change in initiatives (28%).

So finding a “standard” training qualification can be a real challenge.

There are broadly three groups of organisations that are involved in generating training standards and examinations standards:

  • Sector Skills Councils
  • Standard Setting Bodies
  • Awarding Bodies

3.1. Sector Skills Councils

They are part of a government initiative to help ensure training is led by employers. These are 21 in all, as counted in February 2012, down from 25 a few years ago. They cover the vast majority of industry and government sectors. You can see a list of these in a later section.

Some SSCs also develop Sector Qualifications Strategies (SQS) to outline current and future learning and qualifications needs by employers in sectors.

You might expect your SSC to outline recommendations for generic skills such as management and training. However in our experience they rarely focus on general skills and limit their attention to training for industry or sector specific skills.

3.2. Standard Setting Bodies

These bodies operate across different sectors. Again, you can see a list in a later section. They set standards in skills and training in areas such as management.

One of these bodies, ENTO (Employment National Training Organisation) was responsible to Government for development of standards in learning and development including training. However they have now ceased operation.

3.3. Awarding Bodies

These organisations actually document and administer real training programmes that you could choose to support your in-house skills development. They are approved as a result of processes managed by OfQual.

One of these City and Guilds has historically offered more possible training programmes. They now offer four programmes :

  • 6300 Level 2 Introduction to Trainer Skills. A two day introductory programme.
  • 6302 Level 3/4 Award in Preparing to teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) –> 48-73 Guided Learning Hours. This replaced 7303, an award with the same name for which the final start date was Jan 31, 2012.
  • 7304 Level 3/4 Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (CTLLS) ->120 Guided Learning Hours
  • 7305 Level 5 Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS) ->1200 total hours

Specifically, City and Guilds, in offering 6302 PTLLS comment  that the award and the others above, except 6300 are really for school and college teachers:

What are the qualifications about?

Become officially qualified as an associate teacher in continuing education – someone who works from pre-designed curricula to teach a particular a subject or learner type.
Acquiring this Certificate qualifies you for Associate Teacher, Learning & Skills (ATLS) status, and is your licence to teach.

These programmes do nevertheless provide coverage of key training concepts with quite extensive assessment as part of the training programme.

4. What type of Train the Trainer provider?

Providers generally fall into two groups:

  • Independent training providers who specialise in providing training to support skills development.
  • Further Education Colleges

4.1. Independent training providers

They will typically meet with you before the training. They will also often provide post course support and consultancy to help ensure the newly developed skills are fully taken on board by your trainers.

Specific training programmes vary between one and five days.

You may wish to consider these potential advantages and disadvantages:

4.1.1. Advantages
  • They can tailor a course to very closely meet business needs. – This helps learners to learn as the trainer will typically use terminology and exercises that are familiar with the learners.
  • They can take time to understand the business environment so they can offer advice on getting the best results from the training investment.
  • They will often take the time to meet with you.
  • They will often provide post support course help to individual trainers
  • Often they will have gained approval for the training and the content from an independent body such as the ILM (which is part of City & Guilds)
  • The cost of the programme is often lower than the cost for the longer courses offered by Further Education Colleges
4.1.2. Drawbacks
  • They will usually not base their training on a course on a standard curriculum which is included in the The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). The QCF replaced  the National Qualifications and Credit Framework. So the course may be ‘approved’ by a training body but it is not ‘accredited’.

4.2. Further Education Colleges

They are mostly constrained to offer programmes that are approved by the Qualification and Curriculum Authority.

Probably the most widely quoted range of Training Programmes is that provided by City & Guilds. These include:

  • 6302 Level 3/4 Award in Preparing to teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) –> 48-73 Guided Learning Hours. This replaced 7303, an award with the same name for which the final start date was Jan 31, 2012.
  • 7304 Level 3/4 Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (CTLLS) ->120 Guided Learning Hours
  • 7305 Level 5 Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS) ->1200 total hours

The minimum course length is usually “a few weeks” to provide at least 48 guided learning hours for the Award

You may wish to consider these potential advantages and disadvantages:

4.2.1. Advantages
  • The course is accredited and part of the national standards. This may be important to delegates.
  • The course follows a prescribed national standard and so people attending the same course with different training providers will gain similar skills and knowledge
  • Extensive tests as part of the training may increase its value in the eyes of employers or trainees
4.2.2. Drawbacks
  • With a course length of a minimum five days it may be difficult to commit the time investment for each delegate
  • Often the course has heavy emphasis on training teachers. This can result in delegates feeling the course is not tailored for their needs
  • The price for the minimum five day programme may be higher than that provided by an independent training provider over a shorter period
  • Extensive tests as part of the training may leave trainees feeling apprehensive. This can be a real problem for some people who are attending the training to increase their confidence.
  • Delegates might fail the assessment tests

4.3. Comparing the options

Both options have a role to play in equipping your staff to deliver effective training. This is supported by an IOD survey (Reference 2). It reported this split between different types of training:

On the job training/ad hoc training, not leading to qualifications 90%
Formal courses, both in-house and external, not leading to qualifications 77%
Professional qualifications (e.g. accountancy examinations, CIPD qualifications etc.) 56%
Vocational training leading to qualifications (e.g. NVQs, City & Guilds, Apprenticeships, BTECs etc.) 50%
No training provided 4%

You can see that training programmes that meet business needs but without formal qualification status are used more frequently.

5. List of Sector Skills Councils

(Updated Jan 2012)

Sector Skills Council Industries served
Asset Skills Property, housing, cleaning and facilities management.
Cogent Chemicals and pharmaceuticals, nuclear, oil and gas, petroleum and polymers.
Construction Skills Construction sector and covers a wide range of sectors in the development and maintenance of the built environment.
Creative & Cultural Skills For those involved in arts, cultural heritage and craft and design.
e-skills UK Business and Information Technology.
Energy & Utility Skills Electricity and renewables, gas, waste management and water industries.
Financial Skills Partnership Finance, Accountancy and Financial Services
Improve Food and Drinks Manufacturing and Processing
Improve Ltd Food and drink, which represents employers operating in all sectors of the food and drink manufacturing and processing sector
Lantra Environmental and land-based sector.
Lifelong Learning UK Community learning and development, further education, higher education, libraries, archives and information services, work-based learning and development.
People 1st Hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sector.
Proskills UK Process and manufacturing sector.
SEMTA Science, engineering and manufacturing technologies.
Skills for Care and Development Social care, children and young people.
Skills for Health The whole of the UK health sector.
Skills for Justice Policing & law enforcement, youth justice, custodial care, community justice, courts service, prosecution service and forensic science.
Skills for Logistics Logistics sector.
SkillsActive Active leisure and learning.
Skillset Audio visual industries.
Skillsmart Retail Retail sector.
IMI The Institute of the Motor Industry (formerly Automotive Skills) Retail motor industry

6. List of Standards Setting Bodies

May not be complete as there is no established UK register.

  • Accountancy Occupational Standards Group
  • Association for Ceramic Training & Development
  • Chartered Institute for Purchasing and Supply
  • Council for Administration
  • Engineering Construction Industry Training Board
  • Habia
  • Institute of Customer Service
  • Management Standards Centre
  • Marketing and Sales Standards Setting Body
  • Merchant Navy Training Board
  • National Centre for Languages (CILT)
  • Ports Skills and Safety
  • Publishing Training Centre
  • Skills for Security
  • Skillsplus UK
  • Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative
  • The Newspaper Society
  • Training and Development Agency for Schools
  • UK Woodchain
  • UK Workforce Hub

7. References

1. IOD Survey report – Training in the recession: winner or loser? June 2009

2. IOD Report – Vocational qualifications: current issues, Government responsibilities and employer opportunities. Jan 2006

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