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Seb Anthony

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moving from teaching to training


I'm currently a full-time electronics / electrical engineering teacher at an FE college. I've been teaching for almost 4 years now (and have gained a PGCE) - before this I was a Principle Software Engineer for a telecoms company. I enjoy teaching, and teach a very wide range from basic maths & science to 16yr olds to robotics and embedded programming at Foundation Degree level. However the hours and effort are becomming unsustainable - I'm regularly working over 55hrs a week - it's taking it's toll, without the return or career growth. So, I was wondering if it might be a realistic idea to move back into the corporate world and become a freelance trainer. What do you think ? Would it be a mistake to call a few local training firms - or is the move from an FE College to the Corporate world too big a step? Perhaps I could try and become an associate with a couple of firms?

Any throughts, ideas or suggestions would be gratefully recieved.

Regards, Ian
Ian Peachey

11 Responses

  1. think before you act
    I know it is a bit obvious but think hard before you act.
    Why did you leave the corporate world to start with?
    Are the hours really that arduous or are you dragging it out?
    Are you running from or running to?
    Currently you have stability and security, are these important to you?
    How much of a market for your subject is there in the private sector?

    There is a sort of checklist at in the “downloadable resources” pages, entitles going it alone; these might help.

    It can’t do any harm to contact a few local training firms but it could really be a pain if you resigned without a sure future

  2. On the other hand…
    Rus, as usual, raises some very valid points, all of which should be carefully considered.

    However, I’d just like to add that the training profession is full of refugees from teaching, so there is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to hack the job itself.

  3. dismay and disbelief
    Hi all.

    Apologies but I am going to have a rant and attempt to comment around my perception of what has been said and hopefully not make personal comments.

    Ian asks for what appears to be aspirational advice on how he can make the transition from teaching to training.

    Fair play to Rus for raising some cautionary notes.

    My dismay and disbelief is with my perception of what Karyn has said:
    … I’d just like to add that the training profession is full of refugees from teaching, so there is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to hack the job itself.

    Is it just me or does this come across as insulting and derogatory, suggesting that the training sector is a less than main stream back water to escape to and hack about attempting to earn a living? I have just conducted the Trainer Rates survey and I would suggest that unfortunately there is a significant number of individuals who can’t ‘hack it’ for lack of a robust, professional and business approach to what they have undertaken.

    Karyn; IMHO I’m afraid your comments do nothing to foster a level of confidence in a trainer and to some, including myself, will be seen as undermining a sector that being charged with raising the skills levels of a large percentage of the working population (Leitch and CBI reports).

    Ian; your type of aspirational situation has been conscious within the deliberations in developing our Standard for the Learning Practitioner which we believe provides a benchmark that an internal trainer can work towards as it identifies the three Principles: Personal, Operational and Commercial required to be a successful and professional freelance/independent practitioner. I would be pleased to forward you a copy of the Standard. The document will be the definitions of the Principles and not the full ‘user manual’ which will appear subsequent to the first pilot. Based on this I would be pleased to offer any help in assisting you to transfer into a sector which to many professionals (members of TrainerBase), is an extremely rewarding occupation.

    Karyn: I am hoping that your comment had a more worthy intention than to suggest that trainers are displaced persons, outside normal social boundaries, having escaped a repressive environment in which they lived, to eek out a significantly subsistence based living.

    Onwards and upwards.

    AKA Ed
    Founder and Editor of TrainerBase

  4. Good grief!
    Whoops – I never expected to unleash such a strong response with what was meant as a remark to encourage someone. I’m going to have to examine my responses – that’s the second time in quick succession that I have managed to give exactly the opposite impression of what I was trying to say 🙁

    As a learning professional myself, let me assure you I don’t see trainers as displaced persons… not even slightly.

    Perhaps I should explain.

    Teachers and trainers have a great many skills in common. Some of us were born to teach, regardless of whether the environment is corporate or classroom. We live for that moment when we see the light come on in a person’s eyes, when we can almost hear the penny drop. I am one such myself.

    Recent changes in the education system have left a left some teachers feeling disempowered and disillusioned with the profession, but still longing to teach – still with all the gifts and drives that made them become teachers in the first place.

    For others, there has been the realisation that, while they may be gifted teachers, they are not suited to working with people under the age of 16.

    For these people, training may be an alternative consideration. Many have made the switch and found it to be a successful and rewarding one. Ian may prove to be one of these – it is obviously something he would like to try, but is feeling a little unsure of himself. He might prove to be one of the many for whom the transition turns out well, bearing in mind he is no stranger to the corporate world.

    There are far too many technical trainers who have technical proficiency but no passion, no people skills, no gift for teaching. I’ve encountered a few myself as, I’m sure, have you. Ian seems to indicate that he has both, which is why I feel he should be encouraged to give it a go.

    Whether he would find the workload any easier is another matter – and one that one of the other commenters already dealt with.

  5. long hours in training?
    Hi Ian,
    I have held several training roles in both the public and private sector, and can honestly say that although the contracted hours were generally 37.5 – the actual time away from home was more like 60.
    This is the ‘price’ of caring about our role. I am sure many other professionals also work long hours because they want to do a good job.

    As for return or career growth – with growth comes more responsibility and more hours. I take it you are not getting the emotional rewards from seeing your students grow?

    One option could be a technical training role where the hours are more likely to be more predictable. Look for engineering based companies. – If you are looking to do more generic training then I would say be prepared for equally long hours. Working for training companies can mean a lot of working away and travel in your own time (associate work).

    Another option could be to move from FE to a university, here the time pressures are different.

    Whatever your decision I wish you well


  6. Teaching to training
    You might want to look at and
    Like many people in training I love it and warmly commend it to you – though it is not right for everyone. I agree with those who have said it can be tough – many do work longer hours than you describe, though we really ought to be getting better at modelling work:life balance. If you work in an organisation, there is more security but you have to work hard at it to build the sort of professional reputation that people like accountants and solicitors get from day 1. If you work freelance, you need to be good at building client relationships as well as doing the business. In some areas fees are not great, but in others they are. And it does give you a certain freedom.
    Whatever you choose, best of luck.

  7. Can I pick a fight with Graham?
    Not really but

    Graham says Lawyers and Accountants get respect from day 1, and to an extent they do…
    ..but at least our profession hasn’t been lampooned by Monty Python, (accountants are not boring) or had books written about them, (“Lawyers and Other Reptiles”.)
    or am I in denial?

    PS any one heard of Rutherford’s Other Law;
    “There is no worthwhile human endeavour that benefits from the involvement of an accountant”?

  8. Training respected or ignored?
    Rus says “..but at least our profession hasn’t been lampooned by Monty Python, (accountants are not boring) or had books written about them, (“Lawyers and Other Reptiles”.)
    or am I in denial?”
    Rus what about – “the office” Or the constant sketches about coaching and motivational speakers in sit coms. The frequent mis use of our ‘stock in trade’ – take Niks comments on the BBC and its truth and honesty training.

    Yep you are in denial! 😉

  9. once again Mike opens my eyes!
    not only am I in denial but I have also shown how outdated is my view of popular culture:
    Monty Python was a 70s creation and “Lawyers and Other Reptiles” was published 15 years ago!
    I must stay in and watch more TV!
    Thanks Mike
    Sorry Graham


  10. Choosing our words
    Just wanted to put in my tuppence worth on Karyn’s use of words, as this has been criticised here. A refugee is surely someone who leaves an unfavourable (even hostile and life-threatening) environment to join one that offers safety and much more, in the hope of improving one’s lot. In this context the term is certainly not derogatory towards trainers and training! As a country we open our doors to refugees – does that mean the UK is a backwater? Rather, I think, it makes it an honourable place to be.

    What do others think?


  11. Beyond denial?
    Hi Rus,
    Congratulations looks like you are no longer in denial…. 😉



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