How To Solve The Biggest Problems With Training

Thanks to for the research on this one.

It seems those that are not students of history are destined to repeat it, and problems in the Training industry in Australia are no exception.

People who live in the past don’t dream of creating a better future, but learning from past mistakes and deciding what NOT to do can be a valuable tool when deciding what TO DO.

Mistrust, from both providers and customer in the training “industry”, has reached dysfunctional levels, but why is this so? People know why, they just don’t know what to do about it, but everyone seems to have an idea of how it “should” be fixed.

To explain what is apparently actually going on in the training industry, and it will take more than one blog, but continue reading and let’s look back in time, to another sector, and a company called “Enron energy”.

If like me, you didn’t have the pleasure of completing an MBA during the Global Financial Crisis, here’s a recap… It was common in the deregulated energy market in the US to use “off books” accounting practices. To transfer liability so that it would not appear in a company’s “accounts”.

Although this practice was found to be fraudulent misleading investors, it transferred into the financial sector Bonds Market.  “subprime loans” were born. The bubble burst with the collapse of Lehman Brothers…



The largest bankruptcy in the world’s biggest economy

The title that was previously held by Enron now passed on to Lehman’s. To prevent the whole system from crashing, the US Federal Government had to step in and take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They were “too big to be allowed to fail”, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Is history repeating in the training industry? Well, I hear the term “subprime learning” being used, so the question is was Vocation Ltd Lehmann Bros, and is TAFE SA Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac?

For those in the training industry saying the government regulators should get out of the way and we’ll sort it out ourselves… History shows this situation does NOT end with less Government intervention!

What can you do?


Well, firstly, don’t try to re-invent the wheel, but it is more like you need to decide which vehicle to put the wheels on.

To answer this, you must understand the current situation in the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector starting the following categories of learning, defined from the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTO), 2015:

  • formal learning refers to learning that takes place through a structured program of instruction and is linked to the attainment of an AQF qualification or statement of attainment
  • non-formal learning refers to learning that takes place through a structured program of instruction, but does not lead to the attainment of an “AQF qualification or statement of attainment”
  • informal learning refers to learning that results through the experience of work-related, social, family, hobby or leisure activities (for example the acquisition of interpersonal skills).

The perceived value of Training


For each of the three types of learning it varies greatly depending on individual needs. This all makes up what is called “tertiary” education.  As in after your leave “school”.  My question is, have people really left school? And, do they think that is where learning stops?

The high value placed on collaborations for business success has increased demand for experienced Mentors networking make business connections through networking events. People with pay a premium to get advice from consultants they know, like, and trust.

High value is placed direct connections in informal and discovery learning opportunities (usually as information and/or networking sessions). Giving one’s time is not considered “free” training in the informal system. It is often repaid referrals and testimonials which generate income.

Mentors focus is product praise. If you want to try to be the best, you can pay the best to learn what the best do in the informal system.

Coaches may not have the experience of mentors. However, they generally have greater instructional design skills to identify the needs of the learner. Coaches tend to duplicate innovation, so tend to focus on non-formal learning opportunities, generally called “workshops”.

Coaches tend to use process praise to get people heading in the right direction, and (intrinsic) reward for effort is of high value to both parties. However, once the original objectives are achieved, it is difficult for coaches to retain clients as learner seek out the more experienced mentors.


Trainers provide awareness and gage understanding of concepts, which are then applied to demonstrate competency. This requires ascending levels of thinking and a high degree of instructional design.

Business trainers are most recognizable as formal training. Trainers do exist and to a lesser extent in non-formal and informal learning. The problem for trainer’s in the formal system is time. The rapid diffusion of innovation and new technology and maintaining industry current practices.

There are dyadic relationships developing between mentors and trainers. Trainers gain the trust of mentors who will then pass on the emerging industry practices trainers need. In exchange for exposure to different thinking and questions from those new to the market to overcome groupthink.

Coaches, placed in the middle, have battles from both sides, just like parents do. If this sounds like you, there is your first clue.


Cost vs Value of training: the difference is you

Cost is what you pay, value is what it’s worth

More specifically, what it is worth to you. That will depend on what you want to get out of it, what you do get out of it, and what it allows you to do next.

It’s Not just about the difference in being a trainer, coach or mentor, industry currency is a big factor. It’s not just RTOs out there teaching the old stuff as claimed by many, and you compete for the same customers.

People don’t know what they don’t know. The Public doesn’t know what’s old stuff, and how old it is, until they get training from (usually) a trainer certified by a reputable industry body.

Why can’t everyone go to certified people to learn?

One issue is people who provide certified industry training have high industry and technical experiences, and as such make their money as “mentors”. A mentor’s value comes from being able to improve your “proficiency”. If the mentors have to train, or even coach you, on how to use a system, you don’t really have the required knowledge and you may not be ready for the benefits that a mentor can provide you.

The sad fact that has developed is that technology is changing so fast, that even people providing workshops on Facebook advertising regularly need to do a workshop themselves to get training from the blueprint certified marketers to find out all the latest trick, so this constricts the mentor’s time even further.

The Facebook example is of interest to many people as out of the 55 million Facebook business pages, only around 5 million get help from a certified marketer, and Facebook estimates that only another 5 million pages are doing their marketing right. That means over 80% of the Facebook business pages are being done wrong. What does that say about the quality, or more correctly, the currency of the Facebook marketing courses to see advertised everywhere?

Any time you have high demand and low supply the cost of meeting the demand goes up. The supplies get to set their price. The cost is not justified simply because of the absolute crap load of time and money people invest into getting their certifications, the return on investment for a business is also higher. The certification process is usually a measure of the person’s ability to use the system, and platforms like Facebook have a minimum pass mark of 80%.

The ability to understand why you have to pay so much to do a mentor’s workshop is actually one of the entry requirements for them. If you can’t keep up, they don’t get a great testimonial, so you are a problem for them if they let you in.

Most of the mentor’s clients come from referrals and testimonials. You don’t hear testimonials of “I learnt so much on that course I didn’t know”; you will usually only hear “he said (this), we did (this), and it improved our business by (this much)”. The entry requirement to a high-level mentor’s workshops is being able to use the system well enough that you can see the benefits from learning how to use it better. It’s that old jewellery shop line:

“if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it”.

What are you paying for?

What you are paying the Mentor for is actually a different type of thinking, and a higher complexity on a scale known as Bloom’s taxonomy.

Mentor’s deal with the pointy end of the pyramid… creation thinking, which translates into the diffusion of innovation model as the 2.5% of the population as known as an “innovator”.

If mentors work on performance, what do coach do? Head down the pyramid… they teach you how to apply knowledge, but if they are not also a mentor, they can only teach you how to do it in a limited range of situations based on their experience. Not all coaches can mentor, and not all mentors can coach as coaching required “instructional design” skills identify the knowledge creation process required to get a leaner to the desired outcome.

Why is this so?

Some mentors have so much tacit knowledge (know-how) that they just do things automatically. People only has so much RAM in their heads, so if their focus is on performance improvement, and that is what you are paying them for, asking a mentor to go back down the pyramid is not really an effective use of your limited time with them.

How mentors would overcome this, and not take up time in your workshop, often is corrected by doing up an e-book for people that sign up to each of the workshops to download and read before they turn up. That way mentors can focus the workshop on completing the tasks and showing them how to do it specific to their business. It is more than just a ploy to value add extra content for their workshop, Mentors don’t need that. If you don’t read the book, they’ll know.

How much is being in the top 2.5% in your industry worth to you, but getting there is the easy part…. How long can you stay there is the next question? There is an incentive for a Mentor to keep you there; ongoing success is a great testimonial, and follow-up support programs are also an indicator of how long it should take to implement and see results.

Why do coaches charge so much?

This is where it comes down to perceived value. It is common practice when teaching people how to monetise their expertise that if you charge $500 for a course, customers will assume they are getting less than a course that costs $2000. This technique has been around with rug salespeople for centuries; “we can do you a special price at 50% off if you sign up today” and they will still be better off.

However, seeing everyone else started doing the same thing, the ACCC would ask questions. To add “value” to the course, coaches may offer you “all the tools you need to do 1 million dollars’ worth of sales, using proven techniques, at no extra cost”.

You’ll notice they never say they with get you to use the tools, so they are just dealing in “explicit knowledge”, or knowing “what” to do. Coaches mostly deal with why you are doing it, and what to do in the instructional process. To learn how to do it, and if they can in different situations is the next two stages in the instructional process, which is when a mentor is most effective.

A coach could mentor, and it may be worth sticking with the person you know like and trust, but they need to have the know how to come up with the best way for you to do it, not just the best way for them if they had to do it. Big difference.

So what’s the pecking order?

The way it seems to work now is:

  • Mentors mentor coaches to analyses, evaluate, and create solutions for learners
  • Coaches coach trainers how to get people to understand and apply things, then
  • Trainers start people off getting them to remember and understand what to do.

Trainers give people competency….

Coaches give people confidence….

Mentors help you get better…at whatever you do, and whatever level you are at, but it’s still up to you to do it.

The saying goes “no one can make you happy, but they can get you happier”. Same goes with skills development; you must start with you head in the right place, because you can’t learn when you are under stress. That is why “mindset” has become such a buzzword in business.

People can’t make you happy, but some can sure make you sad.

If you think you can’t, you’ll be right! Every time. You can also choose who you listen to.

Business Services (BSB) Training package contextualised for RTO staff

Training Industry Courses

Here are a range of BSB courses contextualised with units selected to running an RTO as a business. Could be used for RTO staff professional development, and assist the RTO to meet the Financial Viability Requirements (FVR).

The courses were developed late last year after industry consultation with RTOs and RTO consultants, three of which are consultants that will be doing compliance presentations at the VELG conference this year.

They remain current after the addition to scope of TAE40116 to some RTOs, and the amendment to the Standards for RTOs (2015).

RTO administration/marketing team members:

The focus of the course is to develop the skills required to use software programs used by office administration staff and skills to train others (including RTOs students) in the use of the technology, with additional knowledge of the requirements to use this technology effectively as part of training and assessment programs.

Cert III Business Trainer Traineeship V1.0

RTO admin manager:

This qualification is suited to those working as compliance officers within an RTOs compliance department, or those supervising administration and marketing practices on behalf of an RTO.

In these roles, individuals use well‑developed skills and a broad knowledge base to apply solutions to a defined range of unpredictable problems and analyse information from a variety of sources. They may provide leadership and guidance to others with some limited responsibility for the output of others.

BSB4TBC_CertIVinBusiness_RTO Administration compliance_V1.0

RTO training manager:

This qualification is suited to those working as compliance officers within an RTOs compliance department, or as those supervising training and assessment practices delivered on behalf of an RTO.

In these roles, individuals use well‑developed skills and a broad knowledge base to apply solutions to a defined range of unpredictable problems and analyse information from a variety of sources. They may provide leadership and guidance to others with some limited responsibility for the output of others.

BSB4TBC_Cert IVinBusiness_RTO_T&A_compliance_V1.0

RTO Compliance Manager/CEO’s

This qualification reflects the role of individuals who apply knowledge, practical skills and experience in leadership and management of a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). The qualification cover integration of the standards for RTOs (2015) in a business context, so is suitable for RTOs CEO’s who many not have extensive experience in the VET sector.

BSB51915_Dip_LaM_RTO_ Compliance_STDs

Certificate IV TAE40116 Trainer Traineeship

This traineeship has been developed by relating the Industry engagement level definitions from the VET Practitioner Capability Framework to units from TAE40116 – Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, with consideration of skills sets required for job roles to work towards the TAE40116 – Certificate IV in Training and Assessment incorporated into a career pathway for trainers and assessors.

The traineeship covers the skills and knowledge required by employees of RTOs, industry enterprises, or self-employed industry expert, to deliver training in both accredited courses and non-accredited courses to work towards an AQF qualification.

VPCF TAE16 Trainer Traineeship V2.0