It’s undeniable that the role of corporate trainer is shifting in a lot of ways to that of vendor management. And when you have a training department who’s mission is to get content to the masses, then it makes sense to look for more cost-effective ways of doing that – via off-the-shelf content libraries, outsourcing and even customized e-learning.
But the decline in corporate training that is associated with this movement is only part of the puzzle – the remainder really lies with how organizations define training, and how they differentiate their corporate training from outsourced training where it really counts.
Let’s face it, there are lots of areas in an organization where content doesn’t need to be delivered by a corporate trainer to be particularly effective – IT training, project management training, desktop skills are all good candidates for vendor-produced and vendor-delivered training. If those are the core competencies of your training department, you should be worried about the future, since most, if not all, of that training can be delivered at a fraction of the cost.
Even when you get into operational training – product information, ERP rollouts and such, there are some arguments that it can be delivered pretty effectively using some custom learning that doesn’t require the face-to-face training that is the training department’s bailiwick.
But, BUT, when you start considering the things that really make your organization “go,” that differentiate you from competitors, then you move into an area where there’s not just tolerance for corporate trainers, but their roles are critical in the successful implementation of the training – if they do it right.
If it’s just about delivering the content that’s related to what we call your organization’s “secret sauce” then guess what? It’s no more critical to have a corporate trainer to complete that function than it is to have one to teach learners how to create an Excel spreadsheet. But if the trainer and the training department make it about delivering content, then interacting about content, then taking the information back to the workplace and instantiating best practices as they relate to business-critical skills, competencies and processes, then corporate trainers become infinitely more valuable, and no longer in danger of extinction.
Of course to perform this type of function – translating training to true performance – trainers need to look beyond their traditional toolsets and ask how they can extend unidimensional (e-learning, F2F training) or even multidimensional (traditional blended) learning to deliver coaching, mentoring and performance tracking. The answers are certainly not simple, but the prospect of extinction seems to be a mighty compelling reason to search.