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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Training the trainers

By Carter Hammett
Special to the Toronto Sun


The Canadian labour market has become "credentials crazy." Just take a brief survey of job postings and you'll notice an increased demand for specialized certifications and membership in professional associations.
Juli Fyfe
Seasoned trainer


It's almost become cliche to state that today's workers are expected to chant the mantra of life-long learning, not only to augment professional competencies, but also to remain competitive in a workplace convulsing with change.

The increased demand for professional and personal development has opened up doors for people considering careers in training and adult education, says Lee Weisser, director of communications and programming at the Canadian Society of Training and Development (CSTD). "There is always a need for training. A new supervisor will require training. We may not think of ourselves as trainers, but there is always a need."

After obtaining her honours bachelor of science degree, Juli Fyfe harboured dreams of being a high school physical education instructor, before realizing that teaching was "not her cup of tea."

She eventually found that training adults was more to her liking when she obtained a position in pharmaceutical sales with Bayer.

Now a seasoned trainer and manager of sales force development with that company, Fyfe says that effective training is most felt when it's connected to an organization's objectives.

"Training is not revenue generating, yet it helps others sell more effectively and contributes to a better bottom line," she says. "The training department's goals need to be directly linked to the balanced scorecard of the organization. This will maximize the value and impact of the training department."
WEBSITES OF INTEREST TO TRAINERS IN TRAINING
  • Canadian Society for Training and Development is a non-profit dedicated to the profession of workplace learning and HR development. Visit www.cstd.ca.
  • Seneca College (and Fanshawe) have new courses in Human Performance Improvement that is of interest to trainers. Visit http://fcet.senecac.on.ca/fcet/hpi/index_html.htm for further details.
  • www.businessballs.com offers a plethora of training games, quizzes, quotes and tips for trainers.
  • The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education is one of the largest and oldest education and educational research institutes in North America. Visit them at: www.oise.utoronto.ca/
  • George Brown College offers a well-known Teacher of Adults certificate program that can be viewed at: http://bannerweb.gbrownc.on.ca/coned/section/tetr.html.


  • Effective training succeeds when a demonstrated return on investment can be measured, Weisser says.

    "Training is valuable when it makes a difference to your bottom line," she says. "That's quite difficult to do. You need to know the language of the business. As a trainer, your business is the company's business. How do you contribute to that? That's a big question."

    Some of the answers are revealed through recent trends that are gradually emerging in the training field. Chief among them is creating "blended training environments," where e-learning is merged with other delivery modes, such as classroom instruction, mentoring and coaching.

    "Yes you can put people in front of a computer, but they just don't want to do it on their own," Weisser says. "Adults need interaction rather than just text dumped on a screen."

    Greater emphasis on succession planning has also revealed itself as a trend in recent years. "There's now a focus on management development in order to replace retiring workers," Weisser says.

    "Mentoring helps younger workers develop management skills, and accommodating generational differences in learning styles and preferences is also important."

    Training has also been embraced across other sectors. In the non-profit area, trainers wear multiple hats, often combining their instructional roles with counselling, advocacy, course design and other services. Job opportunities continue to grow for literacy workers, life skills coaches, english as a second language workers, as well as instructors for assorted customer service and computer courses.

    While the qualifications for trainers and adult educators vary widely, Weisser suggests certification in adult education as a minimum requirement.

    "It also helps if you have needs assessment, program design, and evaluation skills," she says. "There are not a lot of degrees in training and it's not much better at the college level. It's a good idea though, to ask yourself, 'what do you want to teach, and what do you know, to start?'"

    Fyfe adds that joining an association like CSTD is "highly recommended." CSTD represents 1,600 trainers across the country, offers networking and professional development opportunities as well as hosting a job bank for members. Perhaps its flagship service is a training designation.

    "CSTD offers insight and resources in the training field. The designation offers credibility and certainly heightens awareness of the organization," Fyfe says.



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