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Ethical Issues in Training


I am an experienced trainer, currently studying for an M.Ed in Training and Development.I am about to begin the research phase of my dissertation on 'Ethical Issues in Training and Development'.
I am interested in gaining input from a broad range of perspectives on the issues surrounding ethics in training.
lena jones

8 Responses

  1. Ethics in Training
    A few come to mind, specifically in regard to:

    evaluation – giving the bad news regarding outcomes and not what management wants to hear; being totally honest with evaluation outcomes; no conflicts of interest

    purchasing training – the usual things about fair dealing and competition come to mind; not accepting gratuities

    selecting people for courses – ensuring equity

    assessment – ensuring all students are treated equitably

    advancement and certification – being honest with students who don’t ‘cut the mustard’ rather than letting them go to a higher level of incompetence

    That should be a good start.

  2. Confidentiality
    Issues regarding confidentiality in training, what do you do as a trainer when participants clearly show bad practice or views against the value base of the organisation. In setting ground rules you make statements re confidentiality of information.

  3. Ethical issues
    I agree with everything Robin says.

    Also, here, we have to write training reports. I always stress to our trainers that everything should be positive. It’s very easy to be negative, even when saying something positive. For example, a trainer may write “This delegate will have no problems” – whilst what they are saying, in itself, is positive, it is said in a negative way. I try to get them to rephrase it as “This delegate will work well back at their desk”.

    We also try to make constructive criticism where criticism is required – eg for a delegate who is stuck in his ways and talks a lot we may write “Perhaps he could learn shortcuts for things he already knows how to do if he were to make notes during the course”

    Because of the Data Protection Act, delegates can ask to read what has been written about them, so it important that it is something that you wouldn’t mind reading if it were said about you.

  4. Ethical issues in training
    Also, confidentiality in the following contexts. Personal information which participants reveal about themselves and/or their family, or sensitive information about their colleagues or employer. Also, significant information which you acquire about a course participant. For example, a colleague of mine was running a first aid course when one of the participants had a major epileptic fit. My colleague knew that this participant worked as a driver for the local Health Authority and this involved driving a patients’ mini-bus.

  5. Internal Department or External Provider?
    I agree with earlier comments but think that perhaps a distinction needs to be drawn between internal training departments and external training providers.

    I worked for many years in the former but am now running my own business which means selling (appropriate)training to pay the bills. From time to time this can place me in an ethical dilemma.

    For example, what about where the prospective client insists upon training or a style of training that we know is inappropriate or likely to be ineffective. Do we just think of the money and carry on, or do we, eventually, refuse the business?

    Do we claim to be able to deliver a particular type of training that we know we are not equipped to deliver or do we refer them to a better equipped rival?

    It may be that answers to these would be different according to how secure and established the business.

    Eventually we all have to compromise what we would like to deliver with what the client is prepared to receive according to the two major business pressures – time and money.

  6. Ethical issues in training
    Further to the issue of significant information which can be acquired about a course participant, a colleague of mine was attending a training event and volunteered the information that she was making fraudulent travel expenses claims. The trainer reported this which resulted in my colleague being dismissed. It transpired that she was making fraudulent caims in order to fund her drug addiction. The dilemma for the trainer was that she was also a colleague of the trainee.

  7. A minefield
    I think the sector in which T&D takes place has some relevance. My current ethichal dilemma is whether to pay a company to provide financial advice to staff and thereby assure some semblance of independence or to let someone come in for free in the hope of gaining business. If the latter, how do I choose. Yet in the health sector, it is perfectly allowable for a drug company to sponsor training.


  8. Ethical practice policies
    Public sector organisations, when inviting training providers to tender, often ask for a statement or policy of ethical practice. You might find some interesting material for your research by looking at these. Ours covers racial, gender and disability discrimination.
    Another point, especially in coaching/mentoring, and regarding the ethics of confidentiality, is being absolutely certain who your client is. For us, it is always the protege whether they are paying or not. Coaching sessions are confidential and we do not share anything with the client organisation – that is for the protege to do. We will not accept coaching assignments where sponsor organisations ask for feedback on those being coached.


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