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The training profession is not ...

The identity, credibility and wider perception of the status of an individual’s occupation is not governed by the achievements and accolades of the few outstanding practitioners and exemplars that inspire advocates to greater endeavours or encourage purchase of the service. What is more the perception of credibility is adversely influenced by the number of individuals who, in the absence of anything else to do, are able, without restriction, to take up the occupation.

Neither is the credibility and wider perception of an occupation governed by the popularity of the instruments, tools, techniques and methodologies espoused by practitioners as part of a purchased solution.

The perception of credible status is influenced by the controls placed on the introduction and acceptance of new practitioners and practices, whether those controls are by internal or external governance of the occupation.

So what am I saying?

Let us consider: practice (as a trainer, instructor) within the learning and development community has zero barriers to entry and is in a significant part populated by unqualified individuals some of whom are ignorant of basic principles of learning and development theory and as a result are peddling myths, falsehoods, fallacies and unscientific tools, instruments and tests.

The dictionary definition of a profession is:

  • a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification or
  • a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or science

The above is not to be confused with the term: learned profession meaning;

  • any of the three vocations of theology, law, and medicine, commonly held to require highly advanced learning

How can training be anything more than a discipline? The training, development and learning sector does not have a regulatory body though is populated by a number of institutions, each with their own remit. None of these bodies has a mandate to either mediate or censure bad practice. There are National Occupational Standards for learning and development and these form the basis for qualifications but do not provide a basis for a licence to practice.

Few would deny that there are some outstanding trainers, instructors, coaches and facilitators in the market place. That said there is a sizable percentage of freelance practitioners that do not act professionally in either acquiring a suitable knowledgebase, skill set or demonstrating appropriate behaviours. Many years ago I worked with a highly skilled IT technician who seemed reluctant or unable to moderate the way she did things to accommodate the people she was trying to teach. Also her first language was not English which compounded here ability to relate to her learners. Some time ago I attended a training course on coaching and was embarrassed by the myths, falsehoods and psychobabble being put forward as fact to the point that I gave up. The course materials were error ridden and of the few references included, too many were spurious, inconclusive or plain fictitious.

As eluded to, any Tom, Dick or Harriet thinks they can do it. I was talking to a number of individuals at an exhibition, some of whom indicated that they had been made redundant from operational positions on the Friday and set themselves up as trainers on the Monday. When I asked what areas of learning and development they practiced, all mentioned some vague notion of management, leadership and coaching. Hmm.

I discuss in another article, the type of practitioner a purchaser may encounter, but further proof that anyone can be a trainer was evident recently. I was reviewing some tenders on a social media site. A business had a requirement for finance training for non financial manager. The job was won by an accountant who ‘did a bit of training on the side’ at a day rate almost below the minimum wage. I would not wish to question the accountant’s credibility as a qualified professional within the finance sector. But as to their venture into learning and development, this is likely to be founded on zero knowledge of learning theory and as a result I would suggest they would fail to fully appreciate the requirements of participants.

Some individuals within operational roles are good at transferring their knowledge but anecdotes from the many LinkedIn groups that I frequent suggest that there are practitioners in the market with little or no theoretical grasp of learning and development practice or understanding of the basics of how adults learn.

Taking the stance that to be a profession; all practitioners within that profession must demonstrate some minimum standard of knowledge, skill and behaviour I conclude, regrettably, that the training profession is not a profession though some practitioners within the sector act professionally.

For those purchasing training services; TrainerBase provides advice and guidance on getting the most out of budgets. TrainerBase also is able to recommend ‘accredited’ trainers who have proved that they are professional in their personal, operational and commercial undertakings.

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Peter Mayes

Peter Mayes. Peter Mayes is the founder and editor of TrainerBase; dedicated to helping business and other organisations find trainers and trainers find business. Contact details: Tel 07970 746077

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