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Trainer’s tip: Qualifications or experience? You decide


CRM calamityBest Trainer's Tip 2008

There's a fascinating discussion on our Any Answers forum on that old chestnut - the worth of qualifications. As qualifications is the theme for the month, it makes a perfect Trainer's tip! So, is training a job that requires no qualifications? Read what our trainers advise.

I am about to start a new role with the same company as a senior L&D adviser. I have been working in L&D for four years, starting off as an administrator when I left university. I want to progress in L&D, but I don't have any relevant qualifications and my company is not willing to pay (which isn't the issue, it's the time off) or allow me the time off to study towards them. Do you think this would hold me back in applying for L&D management positions in the future? Are qualifications what potential recruiters look for?

Nick Hindley says natural ability will always shine – but qualifications may get you through the door:
Naturally, instructors must know their subject to be able to instruct and this often requires some form of accreditation and or qualification. Instruction also usually often involves a lot of telling and showing.

Training, as I like to understand it, is much more. It is about the facilitation of effective learning.

In this definition there are some people who are very natural trainers. Their main focus is the learning of their participants and not their own performance as a presenter or instructor.

If you have a natural feel for the facilitation of learning you can look forward to a long and satisfying career in training.

The presence of a qualification or membership to a specific benchmarking body will not necessarily make you a better trainer though it will certainly speed up the rate at which you are accepted and get through certain doors into work or jobs.

I took a very different route as my first formal qualification about learning was a master's degree which enabled me to research many models and techniques of learning. I busted quite a few myths and generated some very useful models for myself which I still use today.
This qualification was accepted by all those I have worked with; it got me through the door at least.

If you have other qualifications of a more technical nature linked to a specific industry or profession these too can be very helpful when seeking work in these areas.

The most powerful convincer, once through the door, is the ability to show that you can deliver the goods. As an associate consultant I developed several short training sessions which would show all of the required criteria. In this way I was tailoring to my audience - as I always aim to - and it was successful 100% of the time.

Also very helpful are testimonials and referees who can attest to your effectiveness as a trainer. Start recording these as soon as possible.

Rich Lucas says experience counts:
Qualifications are always good to have. I did my CIPD certificate in training practice, but I personally think that in the L&D environment an employer will take experience and personal skill over a qualification. If you can prove that you have positively impacted a company through training and development then other companies will think 'could they do that for us?'

Nik Kellingley says results speak for themselves:
I'd been working in L&D and moving between contracts for a good long while before I gained any specific qualifications.

I didn't find employers particularly fussed either way and have never been asked for a copy of the certificate since.
To be honest, potential recruiters that care about the job will ask about the results and impacts your learning events have had.

Finally I will add that I didn't find the courses I took particularly useful for developing my skills either.

Andy Taylor says you don't need qualifications:
I too was in the same position as you a few years ago. I had been doing training as an 'add on' to my role and then stepped into a full-time training role. All this in the same organisation without any issues. Training is a job that you can do without a qualification as it is more about being able to talk to a group of people and them understand what you are talking about in order to use it in the workplace (in my opinion).

I did, however, undertake an NVQ 4 in Learner Development after two years in the job because I wanted to and no other reason. This maybe a route for you as it requires little or no time off from work and if you do it with a provider that is accredited by the CIPD it will provide you with Licentiate Membership of the CIPD which is more than adequate for the majority of training positions out there.

But Kirsty McQue says they can help build confidence:
All I have to add to the other comments is that gaining a qualification can increase your confidence in your worth in the market. I had been working for one organisation for 12 years in an L&D environment, but felt I couldn't move on. Having completed my CTP at night school I have found myself a job closer to home paying more money!

When speaking to people from around the world it is interesting that some relate the term 'trainer' strongly to animal training. For these folk the term instructor is used for a person who trains people in the work place as opposed to a teacher who works in schools.


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