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How Do You Find One in 30,000?


I was doing some research into the ‘training’ market recently and came to realise just how staggeringly large and diverse it is.  Just to demonstrate my point here are a few factoids from my research:

·       The UK Register of Learning Providers (which predominantly, but not exclusively, supports statutory bodies) has over 30,000 registered training providers in its database.

·       There are no fewer than 12,500 training providers who operate over the VAT threshold (£81,000), however.....

·       Only 1% of training providers have over 250 employees, whilst....

·       Over 2,500 training providers have three or fewer staff, and.....

·       There are many thousands of ‘freelance’ trainers who do not appear on any radar as ‘training providers’. (I say “many thousands” simply because it seems impossible to track down any reliable figure, however there are sector specialist trainers in finance, management systems, IT applications, the automotive trade, health provision, security, project management, first aid and purchasing.  Note that we haven’t even scratched the surface of management and leadership development training, e-learning designers, LMS specialists and all the video script writers and animators.  We haven’t so much as twittered about m-learning either!)

So, imagine that you want to buy ‘training services’.

There are two potential situations here:

1. You, yourself are a seasoned L&D professional with relevant qualifications and/or years of experience under your belt. You can probably spot a charlatan a mile off.  As long as you can find a decent shortlist you can easily pick the right provider for you.  But where/how do you find that shortlist? (Assuming you don’t just go with past/present suppliers)

2. You have responsibility for finding the provider but your specialism isn’t 100% L&D; you may be a generalist HR manager, a procurement professional or a line manager/equity partner. How do you sort the wheat from the chaff? Do you want people to design training or just deliver training?  Or both?  Do you need a full service outsource provider who will not just manage the trainers, but also all the joining instructions, invitations, materials and equipment, the venues, the administration and the level one and two evaluation?

In either case you have a big challenge; with over 30,000 bona fide providers out there it is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack!

Wouldn’t it be great if there was one place where you could not only find them all (because let’s face it Google can pretty much do that for you in a long winded way!), but where they’d also be rated by their recent customers?  That way you’d have not only the confidence of their accreditation and liability insurance, but also some real life, up to date customer feedback. (According to Erik Qualman’s “socialnomics” 90% of consumers trust peer feedback, whereas less than 14% of people trust adverts....according to many buyers no-one should trust salespeople!).

A sort of “Rated People” or “Check-a-Trade” for the training and development industry would be great, wouldn’t it! Try and see what you think. 

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