It should be easy with the power of the internet to find appropriate training courses that can get you to the next level of your career, shouldn’t it.
Yet identifying what courses are being offered, at a time that suits you, in a convenient location (if face-to-face), on a topic you need, is affordable, and delivered by a trainer you can trust, is anything but simple.
The search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) produce plenty of results: a quick search of “surveying training” produces 36 million hits. But search engines have their own motivations, irrespective of how much they insist that the results of searches are objective and based on ‘magic’ algorithms that will match your query perfectly. Too often results are based on the popularity or social media links to a particular website. It’s a little like getting “McDonalds” when you search for local restaurant - just because it is nearby, value for money and popular doesn’t mean it’s what you were looking for!
There are numerous “find a course” websites (e.g. www.findcourses.co.uk, www.hotcourses.com) that promise accurate information on suitable courses but they are invariably advertising driven, so pushing certain suppliers and activities. In practice they rarely deliver concise listings of quality courses specific to your requirements. They also tend to focus on the larger suppliers so they cut out or demote quality niche providers.
Online training suppliers such as Udemy and Lynda are doing an effective job of promoting quality online courses and the informative customer feedback is particularly useful in gauging how relevant and beneficial an individual course is. One of the challenges with these sites however is that the courses only make sense for the providers to develop if there is a wide and large audience so the content can be too generic or focused on mainstream topics. Again since these websites make a margin on every sale they may promote certain suppliers and content.
Career tracking sites such as Degreed and Pathgather allow users to aggregate internal and external learning, such as articles, books, courses and websites, into a picture of a user’s overall career education. One excellent feature is the way they link content based on what your peers are studying. On the downside these sites don’t incorporate current knowledge assessment so you still end up trying to sort through content to find what you require.
Of course, there is the training promoted by individual professional bodies. The positives are that you have a good chance that these will be relevant to your industry, be well run and have relevant experts providing up-to-date content. The cons are that the courses can be expensive, the content may again be too generic (like the online course providers they want as many attendees as possible) and the content can lag actual practice due to the time taken to create and arrange the courses.
Finally, there is your HR department; often held responsible for selecting training appropriate to your needs. The problem is, where they have a training budget, HR departments are usually focused on ‘soft’ skills (i.e. do you play well with the other kids in the sand box) rather than the technical knowledge you need for your role. Moreover HR tend to process individuals through a pipeline of standard courses irrespective of the different levels of knowledge between individuals.
In short, finding the right course is still not straightforward but the creation of new convenient intuitive career focused micro-learning, tracking and assessment tools is changing the training landscape for the future.