which training course? Questions for training providers

Which Training Course? – 7 Questions For Training Providers

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    Avoid the pitfalls that come with selecting a training course, and learn what strategies to employ so that you can choose your next training provider wisely.

    If you are a seasoned, professional operator or even if you are entirely new to the industry, then you know that the market is inundated with numerous training providers.

    Depending on your needs and desires, there are an infinite number of choices from a vast number of training courses – ranging from basic entry courses to more advanced Continual Professional Development (CPD) courses. The simple task of trying to select a training provider for your next course can be overwhelming, if not altogether daunting. But what choice do you have when you must take a course in order to gain entry into the close protection field, or you have to stay competitive and avoid stagnation in a more demanding job market as a seasoned professional operator? How do you go about sifting through the various offerings to obtain the most value for your training dollar?

    The good news is that in today’s environment, as a prospective student, you can better inform and educate yourself about the various providers and avoid the sales tactics of some unscrupulous providers who only just meet the bare minimum baseline requirements awarded by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). This article empowers you with the knowledge and tools necessary to make an informed decision about choosing a reputable training provider. With sound guidance and some due diligence, you can avoid the pitfalls of selecting a second-rate training provider, and you will know what strategies to employ so that you will be able to choose your next training provider wisely.

     

    GUIDELINES FOR SELECTING A TRAINING COURSE

    1) Identify the Training Course & Your Selection Criteria

    To begin your search, you should start by getting clear on the objective or purpose you have in mind for taking a course. Is it an access course or one that you want to use to enhance already existing skill-set? How much time do you have to devote to the course? Are you willing to travel, if needed, to complete the course? It is not unusual for operators to have to travel some distance for good training in most cases. How much money are you willing to invest in taking the course? With these things in mind, begin by building your own list of the type of course and the criteria that are important to you.

    2) Visit Providers’ Websites & Research Reviews

    Once you have a clear picture of the type of course and your reasons for taking the course, conduct online research for available providers whose offerings meet your developed list of criteria, visit their websites and browse around to get a feel for the company. View the provider’s background, history, instructors profiles, and other information that is available through their website. See if there are any reviews from past students available on the website. However, be sure to take all the reviews and information which you obtain directly from the security providers’ website with a pinch of salt. Always question the source of the information you receive for any inaccuracies, biases, or motivations.

    For example, you might want to ascertain:

    • How old is the review?
    • Does the reviewer have an affiliation or connection with the provider?
    • Does the reviewer have some personal motivation for writing the good review (i.e. wanting to stay in good graces with the security trainer for future job opportunities)?
    • Are you able to speak with the reviewer directly to verify the information in the review?

    This applies equally to good as well as bad reviews. For instance, is a bad review written by a disgruntled student? Why is he or she disgruntled? Was the provider overselling its service and falsely luring students in with future offers of employment prospects? This type of research can uncover a treasure trove of information which will avoid future problems if the operator is willing to undertake some initial due diligence.

    3) Use Industry Forums & Resources

    Now that you have a good idea of who is providing what in line with your needs and requirements, you can further refine your quest to find the right training provider by seeking advice from professionals within the industry. Many groups and forums currently exist to search and ask for information, including groups such as the Facebook group ‘Raising Standards Within Close Protection, The British Bodyguard Association Forum, and the Close Protection Domain Forum.

    4) Ask Industry Professionals

    Aside from the groups and forums, you should also see if the providers you have in mind have surpassed National Occupational Standards and have gained endorsements from industry experts. For example, industry expert, Richard J. Aitch, provides an immeasurably valuable resource to all operators who face the proposition of which provider to go with for their next training. His website www.cpbook.co.uk has a list of these providers, who are also referenced on his current industry-standard book and publication’ Close Protection: A Closer Observation of The Protection Equation”

    Other industry experts you might consider engaging are: Tom Richmond of Security Advisor, and Simon Morgan of Trojan Consulting, both thoroughly knowledgeable guys in their respective roles. When engaging these industry professionals and forums, have your course requirements and selection criteria in mind and get feedback on course instructors, materials, and post-course support and aftercare to gauge the quality of the provider.

    5) Call Short-listed Providers & Put Them to the Test

    Now that you have developed a more refined knowledge of providers and their reputations in the industry browse your initial list of providers and see if there are any that you can exclude from further consideration altogether based on bad reviews, unethical business practices, or because of any other feedback you obtained through the forums or from industry professionals. Your short-list might now include 3-5 providers. Call these providers directly and ask more directed and focused questions. Possible areas of inquiry for you to delve into may include:

    7 Questions to Ask Training Providers

    1. Duration of training course?

    The majority of training providers adhere to the SIA standards, and there is no magic number for how long a course should be. However, that said, when selecting a course consider whether the course subject matter or amount of course materials are conducive to being taught in the time period the provider suggests. For example, for a16-day CP training, you might want to ask the provider to give you a detailed breakdown of the exact subjects per number of days so that you can make a better assessment. If you are still uncertain about the appropriate duration for a given course, the forums and industry experts’ feedback can both be great sources to test this.

    2. Instructors’ Background & Qualifications?

    Instructors are a crucial component of training courses and can often make or break the calibre of the course. For this reason, it is always advised to ascertain exactly who the instructors for the course will be during your anticipated course dates. Some training providers have ad hoc trainers based on availability, and specific instructors may not be available for your course. In contrast, other providers may have a dedicated cadre of instructors for each and every course offered, regardless of your selected date. Additionally, seek as much information as possible about the qualifications of the instructors who will be teaching your course.

    Unfortunately, some providers are not transparent about who the exact instructors are or will make generalised categorisations on their instructor qualifications. For example, the provider may only have one ex-Special Forces instructor but will unscrupulously categorise their lot of trainers as “ex-Special Forces instructors”. When you make your telephone contact with the providers, ask if it would be possible to speak with the instructor in addition to the sales representative for the course to get a better idea of the offerings and course quality and content.

    3. Course Content & Quality?

    When deciding between providers, consider the course content and how varied the course curriculum is. For instance, do they offer a good mix of practical versus theoretical training by combining classroom knowledge with real-life practice? Do they possess the equipment and resources to run real-world situations such as advanced driver training, hands-on medical support, and live-fire scenarios? Inquire about each of these aspects of the course to ascertain the actual content and quality of the training being offered.

    4. Training course Costs?

    Because costs can be lumped together, it is always a good idea to get a detailed breakdown of what exactly is included in the price of the course. For instance, does the cost of the course include food, accommodation, travel, insurance, cost of certification? Be vigilant about the costing structure so that you are not caught off guard by additional expenses. If any part of the fees for the course will be covered by funding sources such as the Enhanced Learning Credits (ELCs) system, ensure that the training provider can and will accept this form of payment as some may not have this capacity. If you are not eligible for ELCs, check with your current employer to see if they might cover the cost, particularly if the course it is relevant to your on-going job duties.

    5. Training course Evaluations & Student References?

    Good providers always have students evaluate their course at the end of the training. This is why it is a good idea to ask whether you can see the evaluations of former students for your given course. Ask the provider if they make this information public. If they do not, inquire as to why they do not make it available since this will give you a good insight into their business practices. If a provider does not have the evaluations available for some reason, ask them to provide you with 3-5 references of former students that you can speak with direct to verify providers’ claims.

    6.  Aftercare & Support?

    It should be noted from the outset that, unfortunately, not very many providers offer intensive aftercare or support, so the onus falls on the individual operator to develop their own careers through memberships in various professional organisations, forums, and groups. Notwithstanding this, always ask what exact type of aftercare the provider does offer. What are the protocols and processes for post-course support? What form does the post-course aftercare take?

    Be very cautious of any provider who offers you employment or job opportunities after their training. This is another tactic that is commonly used to lure students to sign-up for courses, but it rarely ends up being the case. Again, use the forums, social media groups, and industry experts to verify the purported offers of aftercare support from the providers.

    7. Why them?

    Finally, you may ask the provider point-blank what sets them apart from their competition. Ask them for three reasons why you should select them as your provider and gauge the quality of the answers you receive. Take note whether it is another sales pitch by the provider or whether they can genuinely communicate to you their real value and expertise, backed by their performance and results.

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