If you wish to change your career path or develop yourself in the current role and you are thinking of attending training, let me draw your attention to five things worth considering regarding the numerous opportunities offered. Eventually, you will, of course find out for yourself if it was worth investing in the various courses but you can increase the chances of getting value from them by being clear about their suitability for your needs.
Considerations when choosing training
1. Time -Your biggest investment in your development
Before starting anything, it is worth spending time on researching the right kind of training by subject, cost, provider and level. Once you have started your studies, reading, reflecting, talking, writing and networking will take up much of your time and some of these will be likely to continue even after the actual event is finished in order to retain and increase your knowledge. You may do all this in your own time or during working hours but, in that case, you may be expected to catch up on your work afterwards, which will undoubtedly cut into your own personal time. Understanding the length and depth of the course in which you are interested will make it clearer whether you have the necessary time to commit fully to its undertaking.
2. Career or Vocational Interest – Fitting into the bigger (career) picture
Aligning your next move to learn new skills with your personal occupational interest will enable you to make those skills work for you in the long-term, instead of just becoming another line on your CV. If you are unsure about which direction to go or what level to aim at, make sure you research your own vocational or career interest and personal fit before being drawn into making an impulsive purchase of a course, no matter how well it is advertised to you. To do so, you can find free vocational interest questionnaires online or complete and reflect on one used by AJW Careers.
3. Learning Style – How you learn best
If you learn ‘by doing’, group setting with competitions or role-play exercises will give you the best opportunities to learn. If you learn through studying the theory behind something, emphasis on models and statistics in the material will be helpful for you. If you learn by observing first and then applying your learning, discussions with a peer or a mentor and feed-back could suit you best. If you feel that you can’t wait to put the theories into practice, real life experimenting might be the way for you. Understanding your learning style and checking it against what type of work and exercises the course offers can reduce your risk of low return on your investment. One of the most used Learning Style Questionnaire is by Honey & Mumford, a test I use as a coach and which may be very familiar to university students and many others in the UK.
4. Association with Accredited Professional Bodies and Chartered Institutes
Many businesses offer courses but not all of them will be using training material accredited by a professional body. ‘Assured’, ‘Accredited’ or ‘Chartered Institute’ are good indicators of quality standards of the professional training and endorsements by further educational institutes or future employers. Completing an accredited course will also allow you to become a member of a professional organisation, which will give you credibility and further access to development opportunities.
5. Financial Cost
Finally, let’s talk about the costs, the most subjective element of career development. The associated cost of gaining qualifications, paying for annual membership fees and attending networking events can be as high or as low as you wish it to be set. The perceived gain however will not always directly correlate with these things. Whilst all training is beneficial to some extent, whether it was worth the price depends on how much it will improve your career prospects and development in the long run and how much it will increase your ability to stand out among others.