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Seb Anthony

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How much are materials/knowledge worth when job seeking


A friend of mine recently went for a new job, the company had no real training function to speak of and she was required to build it from scratch. The company had not considered budget significantly and expected her to bring previous knowledge and courses with her. She wasn't keen on this and believed that the company should be buying in knowledge/materials, maintaining that it was a company asset. She didn't get the job.
I must admit I tend to agree with her, to use the analogy of an IT techy, when he/she accepts a new job they are selling their skills and experience, they aren't expected to bring all technical manuals and software when they commence employment.
I'd beinterested in other people's views - how far do you go with knowledge/materials when the company has none? Once the course is written the company usually owns the intellectual rights and it becomes an asset for years after, should you give this away or are you only selling your skills and experience?
Mark Starling

6 Responses

  1. Copyright
    I would say that once employed any courses developed are owned by the company on whose time you are paid to prepare the work. This is ratified in the 1988 Copyright Act.

    The majority of courses can be purchased in full subject to licence and much cheaper than the time it takes for trainers to prepare materials.
    Therefore the trainer can use their time to simply train and do the admin work requried to establish a good training base. All that is needed is a budget to either purchase or rent the materials for the subjects needed.

    We recently assisited a client to get a training materials division up and running. The costs vary but hire of the course runs from £100 through to £500 plus to purchase. All the tutor needs to do is run the multi media presentation, circulate the training material in advance and run the course.

    Lime One Ltd
    0870 240 4325

  2. If only…..
    Thanks for your comments Robert, I was pretty much aware that might be the picture.
    The trouble is the reality is totally different. Companies are only too willing to plunder your back catalogue, which they assume you must have even though that would be stealing from your previous employer.

  3. Possession

    Its a bit sad that the trainer is expected to steal to be of any use to a prospective employer. Both employer and employee could render themselves liable for civil action in damages. It all seems a bit short termism to me too in that training materials need updating so often to be of use.

    It does also make you wonder how training companies expect to be taken seriously if many just circulate the ‘same old’ material!

    Lime One Ltd
    0870 240 4325

  4. Lets support ethical behaviour
    As an employer I agree that the materials a trainer produces whilst being paid by the company and using its resources are owned by and copyright of that company.
    We have suffered from abuse of this not only by previous employees but also of course by trainees themselves. Many organisations think that sending one person on a course gives them a right to use the course materials & that trained person to train numerous others within the company… that’s just like buying one copy of a software package and installing it on lots of PCs.
    There seems to be little way of stopping it – but ethical behaviour (such as refusing to break copyright) within the industry should be applauded and encouraged.
    Training is too often seen just in terms of the “cost of a trainer for a day”.
    The training industry needs to find a way of gaining proper respect and value for the timeconsuming work of new, relevant and innovative course development.

  5. Lucky Escape?
    Sounds like your friend had a lucky escape. If the company weren’t willing to invest up front, then it is unlikely that they would have done so further down the line.

    The difficulty in using exisiting material is that you end up with interventions which are very generic and don’t really reflect the organisation. What works for one company may not work for another.

  6. Sell your knowledge, not your materials
    Perhaps your friend could have stressed that while she had experience in preparing training suport materials, it would be breaking copyright (as other contributors have pointed out) to bring existing materials with her? She could then have asked her proespective employer for the time budget (assuming there was no money allowance) for her to prepare for them the tailored support materials they would need for their own new training function. My team prepare all our own support materials and it comes as part of the training service we offer – even down to individually tailored guides for specific users or specific company tasks. This gives our current customer huge added value – but it would do nothing for any future employer! However my experience in offering this level of tailored service will, I believe, stand me in good stead.


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