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Training the IT Trainer – avoiding the ‘cobblers children’ syndrome!


Colin Steed, Chief Executive, IITTIn the first of a series of features to be published during our IT training month, Colin Steed, the Institute of IT Training's Chief Executive looks at the skillsets required by today's IT Trainer, and in particular, their ability to transfer their skills to others.

IT Trainers need a minimum of two skillsets – the first is outstanding subject matter expertise and the second is the ability to transfer their skills to others. We generally refer to the latter skillset as “training skills”. This feature focuses on the latter.

Life used to be simple when the only method of skills transfer was the classroom. Training skills could be split into the development of classroom materials development, and delivery of the skills within the classroom. To this could be added specialisations such as consultancy and management.

This exclusivity changed with the various iterations of self-study that today have culminated in e-learning. E-learning added facilitation/tutoring (e.g. learning centre management) to the delivery element as well as creating a whole new breed of e-trainers. Developing engaging e-learning materials proved to be a “bridge too far” for many. And the management/ consulting specialisations changed enormously. Now it’s even more complex since we now position self-study and classroom as complementary rather than competitive – the infamous “blended solutions”.

To all of these tracks must be added the people we normally only include as an afterthought – the training administrators who make it all happen.

There are two key points to emerge from this:

  • Training skillsets today are discreet objects that can be joined into a cohesive whole to match organisational and individual needs; and
  • New objects need to be added, and objects updated as our perception of excellence evolves.
  • Defining the competences that are needed to transfer skills at the level of excellence to which we all aspire is a challenge – but one that the Institute of IT Training is fully capable of meeting.

    As part of our commitment to ensuring high quality training skills – in addition to subject matter expertise – we will be releasing a free online testing service to all IT trainers in the UK in October.

    This assessment programme tests against the competency profiles we call the Common Book of Skills ("CBS"); the process allows IT trainers to test themselves (confidentially) to assess their strengths – and their next focus area.

    The story of the cobbler’s children having no shoes was apocryphal – and you’ll want to make sure that you, and your IT trainers are legendary, rather than fictional (yes – they’re both synonyms of apocryphal!).


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