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Evidence suggests that TrainerBase IS different.

Since the inception and increasing popularity of the ‘open source’ do it yourself web site platforms, a plethora of TrainerBase type sites have appeared (and mostly disappeared) offering a variety of work finding services. A number follow the business model of charging providers to bid, some even levy a membership fee and a bidding charge. I confess that this is a business model that I considered some 10 or more years ago and dismissed at the time as not a viable option. Note to self; relook at this model. That said; having had feedback from a growing number of TrainerBase members about their engagement with or more often than not; refusal to engage with these competitors; it is becoming clearer in my mind how TrainerBase is still different from the rest.

In the nearly 20 years that I have had involvement in organisational learning and development, my premise behind most if not all my endeavours has been the concept of enabling improvement, both of, or for the individual and the organisation; I like to help people be better and what they do. How does this relate and how is it different from the competitors that are appearing in the market?

A document passed to me recently identified that the competitor was proud that it had reduced the day rate of external training providers by 60% through its competitive bidding process. Now whilst I appreciate the merit of competition and getting the best deal; the result in this instance was to reduce rates below that which might be considered the minimum wage; the day rates are unsustainable in the long term and some might say call into question the validity of the bidders own charging process.

The apparent business model of these competitors is to package learning and development as a transactional event that can be priced (reduced) as a commodity rather than facilitate the engagement within a transformational process. As the member who sent me this particular evidence commented; “Lauding the value of getting cheaper and cheaper training is not helpful to maintaining professional standards – pay peanuts and get monkeys”.

I will freely admit that a good proportion of the opportunities posted on TrainerBase are for associates where the lead training company is looking to maximise its margins by contracting with the most cost effective or cheapest trainer they can find. With over 12 years of running TrainerBase I have seen countless training companies; often with public sector framework agreements, post opportunity after opportunity, with an ever increasing desperation to find any available trainer from an ever decreasing poll (of those willing) to fulfil a course. There are some very professional trainers who might take on a days training for under £250 however anecdotal evidence suggests that the commitment between the associate and the lead training company is transactional and a meaningful engagement between the trainer and the participant learners is often tenuous if evident at all. Counter to this is the lead training company that sourced a trainer from TrainerBase and is paying very acceptable associate rates (the trainer refuses to work for less that £400pd). The associate has supported the lead company and it’s client with the result that the same contract is still in place after nearly 10 years.

The transaction business model for learning and development is persistent and even prevalent but it is in my humble opinion flawed on so many levels.

  • The individual trainer risks becoming trapped as a commodity
  • The lead training organisation fishes in a transient pool of itinerant practitioner of questionable quality and or commitment
  • The learning participants fail to engage with or be engaged by the practitioner and wonder as to the merit of the learning and development activity
  • The end client spends a lot of money on a service that has little or no hope of creating any lasting change or improvement

Whilst acknowledging that some opportunities posted on TrainerBase fall into the above, I consider TrainerBase to be different from the rest in that our market presence and functionality is not founded on the above transaction model. My premise in helping business and other organisation find trainers and trainers find business is based on the following;

  • I strongly advise purchasers not to assume the cheapest trainer is the most appropriate
  • I suggest that the engagement of a practitioner should follow a thorough needs analysis
  • Posting an opportunity or searching for a trainer on TrainerBase should be seen as the start of a long term transformational engagement rather than satisfying a one off transactional event
  • Training may not be the answer
  • To get the right provider an appropriate requirements definition should be written
  • Practitioners must know what to charge to earn a living
  • The practitioners on TrainerBase have declared a professional intent by signing up to the services on the site; we are not the cheapest and neither are the members
  • If I can help either the purchaser or the provider I will

A purchaser looking for help, support, advice and professional learning and development providers should look to find these on TrainerBase. On other platforms they will have the opportunity to source the cheapest trainer to deliver a course.

I continue to believe that TrainerBase is still different from the rest and merits a place in the market.


Contributor: Peter Mayes

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