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Ask the expert: Finding a freelance trainer


Question markPeter Mayes says the internet is invaluable in your search - the only problem is, you'll get more names than you bargained for.

Question: I'm trying to figure out the best way on to identify freelance training consultants in south east England (sole or small traders, not the bigger consultancies) in strategic planning, creativity and innovation, managing change, problem solving and decision making, plus a few others. However, the directory doesn't seem to allow for differentiation by topic and location. Does anyone have any advice, please?

Kate Scott

Peter Mayes replies:

Your dilemma is a long held one for many a purchaser of all products and services, not just learning and development. The internet as a whole and sites like, TrainingPages, TrainerBase and others offer differing levels of fit-for-purchaser needs.

Fulfilling your need is as much an issue for you as it is for the hundreds if not thousands of learning and development providers in the south east England area that would like to be in a position to offer their services to you. In the pre-internet days you would likely turn to your Yellow pages and spend a day phoning training providers to get an idea of their likely suitability. Since the late 90s, that option has moved to the internet and provides a slightly easier option. Some entries, especially those that value the local market, will have a link to their web site. Taking the internet as a whole: Google UK might be the first port of call. If you do a search for, say 'managing change'. This brings up 400,000+ results including the CIPD! Adding south east England reduces the results to about 130,000 but does little to lessen the arduous job of then reviewing a selection of potential sites, with differing levels of usability.

When I entered the learning and development market place in the early noughties, looking for associate trainers, was one of the sites that I reviewed. The profile listing was/is alphabetical and had limited profile information, much as you have indicated.

This is not surprising because the focus of is on news, information and discussion rather than member profiles. Another route I looked into was the Chambers of Commerce list of providers; though not all sites had a reviewable list and finding trainers was a bit of a chore. What I believed there needed to be was a sector specific portal or directory and this resulted in me setting up TrainerBase - an online database of training providers, with the specific intent to make it easier for purchasers, as I was then, to find trainers by subject and refine the criteria by geographic location. Taking change management again as a topic, with south east England as the region, you will get 100 or so learning practitioners with a reviewable profile for you to look at.

If you were looking for courses, then TrainingPages will likely be the place to go, although with 25,000 listed, it might be a bit of trawl. To refine your search by location you have to register on the site. This to many is an obstacle and one of the reasons (another being my own research into internet usage) why the TrainerBase search is free to use without registration.

I mentioned at the start of this article, that you have identified an issue that is also a challenge for training providers. In my opinion, few training providers are reaping the potential benefits of an internet presence. Granted they have a web site - so do hundreds if not thousands of others - but either these providers have not differentiated themselves or are not managing their presence effectively. My degree dissertation, albeit some years old now, indicated that it was only those providers that worked their web sites for more than 10 hours per month that gained any benefit from it. Having a web site is an active marketing channel that requires constant input.

So coming back to your specific point again: has some options but finding trainers is not its prime focus. TrainerBase's primary focus is 'helping businesses find trainers and trainers find business'. And if you are looking for an open course then TrainingPages is a likely option. The internet, whilst providing an option for everyone to market themselves is just too big to be easy.

Our expert:

Peter Mayes is the founder and Chief Executive of TrainerBase; the Association for Learning Practitioners. TrainerBase has been operating on the internet since early 2002 and has grown in size from a small database on trainers to a trainer-related portal of 5,000+ trainers, purchasers and others with an interest in learning and development. TrainerBase changed constitution in late 2007 with the view to being recognised as the voice of learning practitioners in the UK. Peter has been instrumental in developing the Standard for Learning Practitioners and the Certified Learning Practitioner accreditation process, which has been set up to enable TrainerBase members to get more work.


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