Computer Training’s Dirty Little Secret

So the boss came around and told you there’s gonna be another large software rollout. Another round of headaches, user support issues, too many phone messages, and late nights. And on top of it you have to contract with a training organization to get your people up to speed in a hurry. Who you gonna call?

If you don’t have an in-house training department or a good relationship with an outside vendor, it’s time to start doing some digging. How about the biggest in the training business? After all, the larger the organization, the better the reliability and quality of service you will receive, right? Maybe. Read on to discover one of computer training’s dirty little secrets.

Computer Training’s Dirty Little Secret: Revealed

OK I am going to come right out and get to the point. Having worked for many years as in instructor in large computer and soft-skills training organizations, I know first-hand the number one problem with these behemoth organizations. High turnover. There, I said it. So let’s make some sense out of what this means to you and your choice to go with a large training company.

With high turnover rates, you may not get the same instructor from rollout to rollout, or even from course to course. Typically the larger organizations do their best to maximize profits, as all large organizations do. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but they tend to skimp on paying instructors what they are worth. While this is not totally unexpected, it also is a huge tactical error.

Think about it. In the end, what are you paying for? Besides books, and follow-up support, you are paying for a qualified instructor to arrive, on-time and ready to go. For all practical intents and purposes, the instructor IS the product you are paying for. Do you really want the end product you are paying for to be paid 10% of what you paid for the courses?

Now, having been that “product” for many years, and having been paid so poorly, let me explain what happens to the “product” over time. It goes bad. Yes, like sour milk, an instructor has to be replaced because their attitude or abilities suffer over time when they are not compensated adequately–like any human being who is exploited.

I am not just talking sour grapes here; this is a reality in the training business. And as someone who works occasionally as a contractor for these larger organizations, to fill the occasional need when my own company’s training schedule has an opening, I can tell you that compensation is woefully inadequate. In fact I get paid less today as a contractor than I did in the year 2000. Yes, you read that right: for the last 8 years contractor compensation has actually gone DOWN for qualified instructors such as myself.

In fact, when I contract for a large training organization to teach a course, and they have a room filled with 12-18 people at $ 200-$ 300 per student, I am paid for ONE of those students. Yet, I am the self-identified end-product!

Now rationally speaking, it makes absolutely no sense for large training companies to pay their main products so poorly. After all, a computer instructor actually becomes more knowledgeable, adept, and expert in the field the more time passes. So in the end, these large companies are only hurting themselves. And you.

Do you want a burned out, exhausted, stressed out person who is financially barely surviving to arrive at your door in their beater car, just trying to get through the day? Again this comes down to where does the money go in the larger training organizations, and it ain’t the instructors. That’s why the turnover rates are so high, and why you cannot expect to get consistent instruction from these organizations.

In fact, to give you an idea of the extreme turnover rates in one of these large companies, here is a remark a fellow instructor made to me when I was a young pup: “I don’t even want to know your NAME unless you’ve been here six months!”

Does David Beat Goliath Every Time?

This is a fair question. It would be irresponsible for me to state that large training companies are incapable of producing high quality instruction. After all, I was one of those instructors sent out for years to teach for companies such as yours, and I can honestly state I offered outstanding courses. However, I did have to do “cleanup” work for previous poorly appointed instructors, and I did find myself quite burned out over time at the senseless hours and poor pay.

If you do decide to go with a large training organization, be sure to find out if you will be able to get the same instructor for your courses, where it makes sense.

If you go with a smaller organization, you run the risk that the company is not as well established or reliable, or that they don’t have the instructors or availability you may require. But as the owner of a small training company, I can attest that it is possible to get outstanding, consistently high-quality instruction, with the same course materials as the larger companies–at the same or usually less cost.

If you find a training company that compensates and treats their instructors well, you will have found a major source for excellent instruction. Also if you find the right company, you can get the kind of long-term reliability and excellence that today’s business world demands.

I hope this helps your thinking processes as you search for the right training organization for your next software rollout or training round. Large or small, in the end it boils down to how is the instructor treated and in what condition he or she arrives at your door, time after time. In many cases, David beats Goliath.

About the Author:

Be the first to comment on "Computer Training’s Dirty Little Secret"

Leave a comment