Beware of unscrupulous training providers

By: Sandra Inman

CBM Training was recently contacted by one of our clients who had previously trained with us. This Cape Town based organisation had booked and paid for 3 delegates to attend a Consumer Protection Act training workshop, which was to be hosted at a reputable hotel in Cape Town.

When the delegates arrived at the venue on the allotted day and time, they were informed by the hotel that no such workshop was running at the hotel. When our client contacted the organiser in attempts to ascertain how the “mix up” had occurred, their calls were initially taken and then dropped, and after a short period the number ceased working altogether.

All attempts to contact the organiser have failed – resulting in legal action to recover the funds paid now being taken by our client (and others who suffered a similar fate).
This example highlights an issue that we are unfortunately all too aware of at CBM Training. Pick the organisations who you train with carefully. Time and time again we are contacted by clients requesting assistance with sub-quality, unfinished or undelivered training.

The challenge for us is to then provide our usual high quality training to our clients, at a lower than normal fee (especially considering that our client is, in essence, having to pay twice for the planned training) and deliver training to a group of delegates who are often now more than a little prejudiced against training interventions, having “wasted” days out of the office. The damage that these unscrupulous “training providers” is doing to the training industry is immeasurable.

Often seen as a luxury – and always the first budget to get cut when times are tough – training is often side-lined in lieu of more pressing investments. While it is true, there are short term cost savings by freezing training budgets, the benefits of training your staff then fall by the wayside – which in itself often becomes an indirect cost, as staff become demotivated, unproductive, unappreciated or worse still, resign.

If you then add in these “fly by night” training companies who basically “con” organisations to spend their limited training budgets with them, you are left with corporate South Africa becoming increasingly resistant to training. The tragedy of this is that training is a necessity. Staff development is crucial to organisational success. Motivated staff produce better results. These are facts. And yet the one true vehicle that provides these essential results is being penalised.

So, how do organisations go about choosing a training company that will meet up to their expectations? Well, the first step is to confirm that the training company is listed as an accredited provider with one of the setas. It is not essential that the provider be accredited by the same seta that the company pays levies to, but the accreditation shows that the provider has at least complied with the rigorous quality standards as set out by the setas. The Services seta website is a good place to start.

The second step is to look at the company giving the training. Check their website and look at the range of courses offered and how long they have been in business. A training company with a wide range of course who has been operating for more than 5 years must have been doing something right to still be in business.
If the company is offering a significant number of public training courses, with current year dates, this is a good sign, as it means their client base is wide enough to support this and is a good indication of the quality of the programs delivered.

Don’t be shy to ask for references – particularly if you are considering a large training contract. Make sure you speak to others who have used this training company.
Do your own research. The training industry is a small one. It is almost a given that someone will have heard about the training company you are considering. Get their opinion.

If you are considering sending a large number of your staff on the course, it may be wise to send one or two on a public training course with the company under consideration to “audit” it. They will give you accurate feedback on the lecturer and quality of the material and you can use them to help customise the main course once it is scheduled. Many training companies will refund part of these “audit” fees once the main order is signed.

Investigate the courses offered. Make sure that the course outlines look comprehensive and have been properly researched within the South African market.
Many companies list a long range of courses they can deliver on their website, but have not actually trained anybody on them. They are just “floating a stick” looking for someone who wants to buy the course, and then they will start getting material together. Again, if they are confident enough in the course to be offering it as a public course, then the quality of the course has probably been tried and tested. If they cannot give you a comprehensive outline or reviews on this course from past delegates, it is obviously not a good choice.

Finally look at the price. Very cheap training is often just that! High quality training does cost money, but this does (mostly) ensure that the time your delegates spend out of the office will be well spent – also don’t be tempted by something that looks too good to be true – it often is.

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