Career Training | Mike Gouchie

By: Mike Gouchie  09-12-2011

Over the last few years big corporates and medium sized companies alike have realized the importance of providing a clear career path for their employees. Education for continuing personal development has become big business, especially among online training providers. Employees that have been through a training course are more productive, motivated and efficient.  This is a good combination for any employer.

Software Development

Software developers are teaming up with training providers to design online courses for corporates, colleges and universities. Some degree programs are already available online and the trend for providing cheaper education will surely result in more degree courses being available online. Governmental bodies providing leadership or management training invite tenders for training providers to bid – there are opportunities for software developers to join forces with local training providers to design tailor made, cost effective solutions.

Self-Employed Trainers

Multinationals have all sorts of requirements for training of their staff. From foreign language tuition to management training, from IT training to teamwork building workshops, there are a plethora of opportunities for self-employed trainers to facilitate education for continuing personal development of staff.

The downside to many contracts for self-employed training providers is that recruitment agencies have jumped on the band wagon and will want their share of the fee, if they bring about the contract between multinational and training provider. Charging inflated percentages for the referral, agencies often wreck the market in a short space of time, as companies stop using outside trainers to save costs. Getting a contract without recommendation or contacts can be difficult, but there are ways to take advantage of networking opportunities to get a foot into the door. Chambers of commerce offer excellent events for self-employed trainers, so does the UK’s Federation of Small Businesses.

Staff Retention

Companies have recognized that providing a structured career path with continuing personal development training helps to retain staff for longer. Training is expensive for individuals, but multinational have buying power and can drive down the price of training providers. Often it works out cheaper to pay for training – there are government incentives paying up to half towards the cost – than paying recruitment fees every two years for replacement of disgruntled staff voting with their feet.

Highly skilled and sought-after, new employees don’t look merely at the monthly salary to decide if they want to take a job offer or not. The overall package they’ll seek will include health insurance, company pension and career development.

Knowing that one can achieve one’s career aspirations and obtain qualifications such as degrees, diplomas and even MBAs by staying with one employer who will sponsor and support an employee means that a young person can plan ahead.

Training for vocational courses includes academic aspects, written exams and oral tests. Making courses cheaper and quicker by offering online versions will increase attendance, as students can earn money by studying part-time when it suits them and working the rest of the time.

New technologies such as streaming media will make it possible to deliver some practical aspects of the vocational course, too. Filming some training sessions and delivering them online will enable colleges and other educational providers to use their premises more effectively and maybe hire out their lecture rooms to get extra revenue.

Benefits of Continued Personal Development Businesses

Some training course providers can franchise their business, making a good return on their investment. There are not just the actual training courses to bring in money; there are add-ons such as revision packages, audio CDs, short online video courses dealing with other aspects related to the field, e-books and much more. Once employees and students have been trained, there are the trainers in companies, universities or colleges who need to be trained. Education is a nearly limitless field of opportunities.

Disadvantages of Continued Personal Development Businesses

Self-employed trainers are vulnerable to slow paying multinational HR departments, recruitment agencies offering training at lower rates or taking a large percentage referral fee, making some contracts barely viable. Rising petrol prices are prohibitive to training providers relying on travelling to their student’s place of work or to their home. Larger training providers, who get government jobs thrown into their lap, will undercut one-man companies and sole traders but are less likely to offer good training.

Across the globe some 273 million people have either no education or very little access to even the most basic of education, let alone education for continuing personal development. UNESCO, a large scale training provider across the developing world, has long been seeking to end poverty through greater education. Can new technology be the answer to this age old problem?

The rapid development of new technology for the internet provides the first real hope of achieving this goal. At various educational conferences around the world different solutions are being discussed. Software that can use streaming media technology to provide learning on any mobile device must surely be the future for delivering education to everyone, no matter how remote their location or how poor the infrastructure is in their country of origin.

Long Distance Learning via Phone

New technology is making it possible to deliver basic education as well as continuing personal development training via a mobile phone. Streaming media allows training providers to record training sessions for future use and deliver it via mobile devices to the end user, no matter where they are.

The beauty of long distance learning is that it can be done at the student’s own pace, away from prying eyes, if the adult learner student feels embarrassed or shy about their lack of basic reading and writing skills for example, and can be delivered at very little cost. The forward-thinking software developers who offer the kind of software that allows education providers to build up a library of educational material and courses, which can then be transmitted to students across the globe, are at present still few and far between.

However, those who do offer new streaming media solutions do so without the need of buying a software package – a cost effective subscription fee, either paid monthly, quarterly or annually, allows educational providers to stay within their educational budgets and deliver the most up-to-date curriculum to their students.

Mobile phones offer the cheapest and most practical device for the provision of education. Relatively cheap to purchase in the developed parts of the world, they can be reconditioned once discarded for a new model and shipped off to developing parts of the world. Studies have shown that users in the remotest areas of Africa rarely use phones more than a year out of date. This allows education to be delivered to a boy looking after his herd of cattle just as much as it provides adult education to someone in the UK, who never learned maths or how to read at school when they were small.

Mobile phones do not need a lot of electricity to be recharged. A solar panel on just one roof in a remote village could power up a large number of phones. Solar panels on village roofs are considerably cheaper than building roads or providing school buses to the nearest town. Where infrastructure is not in place, mobile phones for the delivery of education will be the way forward as the most cost effective solution.

Sometimes one has to approach the longed for education for continuing personal development by “stealth” and cunning. If the course one would really like to enrol for doesn’t attract grants or bursaries and if there’s no way of self-financing the university degree, then perhaps it is time to take a fresh look at what else is on offer.

There are post graduate, professional qualifications which do not cost the earth but enable a person to aim for either better paid jobs in the job market or to starting their own business. The Institute of Linguists provides courses and diploma qualifications for those wishing to work in the field of either translation or interpreting; accountancy qualifications lead to a good income as a self-employed accountant; a part-time college course in holistic therapy with follow on master classes held over a number of weekend seminars allows a person to pursue a qualified, self-employed career.

If the university degree is so important, then see if there are other ways of taking a degree in a similar field that may be offered on a part-time basis, allowing you to work while studying for your career. There are evening classes for some humanities courses which are part of a “pathway” program making a university degree achievable for everyone, no matter what their previous educational qualifications are.

Some college qualifications like the HND programmes may allow students to have points accredited to their university degree because of overlap in subjects already covered at college. This equates to a shorter degree, making it less expensive both in terms of tuition fees and time out of work.

Other Forms of Degrees

Open Universities and main-stream universities already offer online tuition and distance courses for many disciplines. This enables students to work at their own pace and in their own time after work or at the weekend. Anyone wishing to go this route should be aware of the additional workload they are taking on, before enrolling. Discuss with your tutor or career’s advisor what time you have available for studying. Be realistic and don’t kid yourself, it’s going to be tough for several years.

If you already have a degree and are looking to post graduate qualifications, teacher training is one area one shouldn’t overlook. If you baulk at the idea of teaching kids which is what have we been discussing in this article, education for continuing professional development, that’s adult learning to you and me. Being a lecturer giving evening classes at colleges, adult education or lifelong learning centers or even starting out on your own and giving private tuition can be very lucrative. Courses take from one to two years and are available as full and part-time options.

Achieving one’s aspirations is within most people’s grasp. Sometimes we are just frightened of change or put off by the cost involved. Education for continuing personal development will make you a much happier person and give you confidence and a real sense of achievement. You will meet new people, broaden your horizon and it will quite possibly inspire you to run your own business, strive for promotion or even write a book or two.

With UK tuition fees rising at some universities to a staggering GBP 9,000 many people are deciding that having a degree is not necessarily a good thing – particularly in view of huge student loans taking many years to be paid back. With bursaries being practically non-existent for Master’s Degree courses or PhDs, the future for education for continuing personal development via university degrees looks rather bleak.

Indeed, with high unemployment rates among graduates it begs the question, if they did not waste their money on useless degrees.

Did you fall for the Glossy Prospectus?

Mature students are greeted with glossy pictures promising a rekindling of their youth at a university campus near you, but the reality is far from the truth. If you opt for lifelong learning provided through the university system, you’ll often find that courses which are advertised as being at Level 1 of a BA university degree are nothing more than a dumbed-down version of the real thing. What did you expect – you are over thirty and your brain cells are deemed to be practically dead!

There are the types of university courses that particularly attract mature students want to dip a toe into continuing personal development courses such as mediation or creative writing and they find that lecturers cannot even be bothered to provide adequate tuition – but merely print out material over the internet which they hand out and then show a video. Why did you bother to pay a fee for that, you might ask yourself?

Being geared mostly towards young graduates, universities do not seem to offer much to mature students beyond a few entertaining free public lectures and the odd language class enabling us to go confidently into a shop in Spain during our holiday.

Continuing Personal Development of a Different Kind

Many charities and voluntary organizations offer continuing personal development courses as part of their training for volunteers. In seminars or workshops volunteers learn about complex issues either dealing with children, older people or animals. The larger organizations run accredited courses and these will lead to qualifications which can change your life. Meanwhile, you’ll make new friends among the wonderful charity people and you are giving something back to your community.

If you’ve thought about nursing but didn’t know how to get into it, you may be able to pursue a career as a nursing assistant, which is the entry level. Community colleges offer courses for trainee nurses and courses can take as little as 6 weeks, but more typically will last for six months. Many hospitals and nursing homes or care homes will have in-house training programmes that will lead to nursing qualifications. Candidates work and study at the same time. The candidates will have to sign a contract which will require them to work for the care home or nursing home for a specified time in exchange for their free tuition. This is a good arrangement, as it provides the trainee nurse with the first work experience, making her/him more employable after gaining qualifications.

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