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Poll results: in-house or external trainers – who’s best?

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We asked you whether you thought in-house trainers were more effective in supporting learners in the workplace than external trainers brought in for a specific tutoring task. This was obviously a popular topic close to many TrainingZONE members' hearts - 502 people voted to give their opinion on whether 'internal' or 'external' was best. The results reveal an almost exact split 60/40 in favour of in-house trainers. Below TrainingZONE looks briefly at the reasons that might be behind this support for those working as dedicated trainers within organisations - those who can be in danger of losing their jobs when companies need to cut costs.

A dedicated trainer can be regarded as an expense or can save a company money, depending on how often they are used and the topics they are responsible for training. For companies booking a lot of courses on particular subjects, such as basic IT training it can make a lot of sense to secure the services of someone on the premises, thus saving on travel or venue costs as well as booking fees. But many companies can't afford this luxury, or have such varying training needs that it would be impossible for one dedicated trainer to cover them all.

So then, to the issue of supporting learners. On the face of it, it could be that supporting learners in the workplace is simply something which is more easily done by someone working in the vicinity and able to pop in and visit learners on a regular basis, which would explain why dedicated trainers should have the edge over those coming in from outside. But many in-house trainers travel between different sites around the country, making the provision of ongoing support to learners more difficult.

Another possibility is that those responsible for specifying training are failing to pass on information about the culture of the organisation which could make all the difference to trainers coming into the organisation for the first time. New staff aren't expected to understand all the idiosyncracies of an organisation on their first day, and yet trainers are often given very little information about how an organisation works unless the session they are running relates specifically to a cultural issue. It's easy to unearth issues with delegates which may impact heavily on the way a session is run once the session has got underway.

Although the results come down in the favour of in-house trainers, there are obviously lots of external trainers doing a very good job of supporting their learners before, during and after training. 40% of TrainingZONE members who voted came down on the side of external trainers. One of the key benefits of coming into a company from outside is obviously the chance to bring a fresh outlook on things, unencumbered by company politics, and the ability to view a situation more objectively. There's also the chance to build up a relationship over time with a company, which can offer the best of both worlds to those who can't consider employing a trainer in-house. Using a number of external trainers on a regular basis gives them the opportunity to develop their understanding of company culture while bringing the benefits of experience of work with other companies.

So, some interesting issues have arisen from this Poll, leading to some more questions for us to consider. What about the role of technology in supporting learners, for example? TrainingZONE has heard much about the potential for e-mail support backing up e-learning, but it's also a great source of potential help for supporting classroom-based learning and indeed for Action Learning Sets. It would also be interesting to hear from external trainers to find out whether they're getting sufficient information from company training departments before they come in to deliver sessions. We'll plan to look at this in more depth in the future.

To see the results of this Poll and previous ones, go to our

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