The phrase 'you don't know what you don't know' comes to mind here. If you are completely happy with your existing Training Provider that doesn't necessarily mean they are a good Training Provider.
Over the last ten years I have been on both sides of the table, firstly pitching to new clients and also most recently assisting major national and international organisations make the best choice of provider. The one thing all Training Providers have in common is that they think they are the best at what they do, and why shouldn't they, after all that's why they are in business.
Most organisations procurement teams will (or should) all have very sophisticated vendor assessment process's and financial stability evaluations in place. Also, just like taking on a new employee, most companies will ask for references before agreeing to contract with a new Training Provider. However, the majority of organisations in the UK are not completely satisfied with their existing Training Provider.
So as a client, other than the usual financial, capability and repetitional considerations, what are some of the other things you need to evaluate in order to help ensure you get the most effective TP in place? I've split these attributes into two areas.
Emotional - Diversity and Empathy
Operational - Capacity, Measurement and Innovation
Many Training Providers will proudly promote their commitment to social and cultural diversity and some will have good reason. There are however many Training Providers who don't necessarily understand or implement this in their training strategy.
Diversity should not be a target for a Training Provider to meet or a KPI for them to be measured on. Diversity needs to be an integral part of how your Training Provider operates. They need to be fully committed to realising the huge benefits of a diverse workforce which collaborates and challenges to help grow their business, and yours.
Empathy - This is a hard one to nail, the best way I can describe it is when you meet a skills coach or tutor from your Training Provider and they clearly care more about how the learner is feeling and progressing than they do about you as the client. This is the rare but critical attribute which a great Training Provider should be able to provide.
Capacity - the quickest way for a Training Provider to go from 'excellent' to 'ineffective' or in ESFA language 'outstanding' to 'in need of improvement' is to take on more than they can chew.
Some Training Providers have learned this lesson the hard way and adapted accordingly but many have other motivations and are happy to let standards slip to ensure they don't lose a potentially lucrative contract. It's worth knowing for example that many great apprenticeship Training Providers are now actively closing their new business teams down because they have more clients than they can cope with, or have identified a critical point where further growth in numbers is counter productive in terms of quality and profitability.
So ultimately your Training Provider should be able to clearly demonstrate its understanding of their own limitations and scalability.
Measurement - having both written and evaluated hundreds of complex training proposals/presentations over the last 10 years there is one area which usually features towards the last page/slide and attracts little or no real attention in the clients procurement weighting criteria. Measurement of learner progress and critically, intervention to ensure continued success.
A great Training Provider will not only provide innovative content, delivery methodology and have a deep understanding of your business and strategy but will also be able to quickly and effectively recognise the signs of disengaged learners. In addition, and critically, they should also be able to intervene in the learning journey (before) it becomes an issue to support the candidate back to a successful pathway. There is unfortunately a big gap here in the industry as too much attention is placed on supporting those who are fully engaged.
With the increased use of machine learning and data driven innovation we are beginning to see some forward thinking Training Providers crack this nut! In an online learning environment, for example, you can now effectively measure and analyse a learners interaction, learning habits, key strokes, weak areas and potential learning barriers so that early intervention can take place improving the success and ultimately the positive experience/outcome.
Innovation - How do you evaluate a Training Providers innovation? easy, just ask them what percentage of their overall annual revenue is attributed to innovation each year. It should be at least 5%.
In addition, it's also very important that your Training Provider has a good grasp of future training and talent trends. There is a big difference between a good idea and true innovation. Training Partners should be well connected with industry innovators and have at least one major innovation project in development. Digital transformation and the so-called 4th industrial revolution are gathering pace. More so than ever you need to be working with a Training Partner who is not only relevant and competent in today's market but is 'Future Ready' or at least 'Future Aware'.
So in summary, there are many logical and process driven criteria which we should all continue to use when evaluating great Training Partners however, if you want to identify the talent partners of the future these additional criteria will most certainly help.
If you would like to delve deeper into any of these areas or have a question about how to develop your own Future Talent Strategy, please get in touch.
Thanks for reading!
Future Talent Training
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