Module 4f - Trainer competencies

 Professional skills
As a trainer, you are normally a skilled worker in the trade. But your own training may have taken place many years ago. Or your work experience can be limited to only a part of what is required, if the apprentice is to learn the profession correctly and completely.  Therefore, a professional update or supplemental education may be necessary.

As the person responsible for education in a company or as the manager, you can get advice and support from different sources, for example:
  • Professional organisations and trade unions
  • The Chamber of Commerce or the Chamber of Crafts
  • The local vocational college
  • Private providers
Often there is a need for competence clarification to find the educational programmes and courses that can prepare the trainer for the job.

In some countries, such as Germany, there are obligatory trainer courses for those wishing to work as a trainer in a company. You must have a trainer’s certificate, which you can qualify for in special courses. These certificates, regulated in the AEVO (Trainer aptitude regulation), offer several advantages; for example, the uniformity of training leads to greater possibilities for employee mobility. And of course, the trainer profits from this additional qualification. In these courses, you will meet other professionals and you will benefit from the network and exchange of knowledge. Therefore, many young professionals are adding this qualification to their careers.

Example haulage company Frode Laursen
The driving instructor 'Bingo' has just taken part in a course in fuel economy. Before the course, he thought:”They can't teach me anything else after 40 years of driving.” But he was wrong! ”A habit is terribly hard to break. But you can always keep learning!" Bingo discovered that even ‘an old hand’ like himself could save up to 13% in fuel under certain conditions.
 Personal skills
Being a trainer means that you need a number of personal competencies that aren't all necessarily required in your job as a skilled worker.

You have to be able to:
  • Communicate with the apprentice in an appropriate way
  • Guide the apprentice
  • Give the apprentice feedback
  • Know something about youth culture
  • Plan a training programme together with the apprentice
  • Know about your company's possibilities for training
  • Etc.
If you don't think you are well-equipped for these tasks, talk to your boss or to the education manager. You can find out together which additional qualifications are necessary. Remember, you are a role model for the apprentices, and they will profit from if you practise ‘lifelong learning’ actively.
 Continuous professional development
We are constantly learning, but sometimes education is necessary.

Further education means achieving qualifying skills, documented with a certificate. In many trades, you can move upwards in the official professional system, on the basis of an apprenticeship or journeyman's certificate. You can, for example, take an additional educational programme on the basis of your training as a skilled worker.

Continuing education means to update your skills, so that they fit the current needs of the employment market. This is usually done through short courses outside of work, either in the company or at a vocational college.
 International education

Employees responsible for education can, in some cases, apply for support for continuing education abroad. Check module 3f and read more!
 Trainer courses
There is a need for trainer courses in many companies.

The companies would profit from higher quality training and with that, ultimately, also gain apprentices with good skills.

Quite a few trades and professions have already introduced trainer courses. And more are on their way…

In connection with this TrainerGuide, several short trainer courses have been held - but a standardised systematically provided and officially approved continuing education programme for trainers is still in the making!

Contact your trade committee for more information.
 Courses for external examiners
In connection with journeyman's examinations or other professional exams, it's common that external examiners come from companies. They can represent both the employers’ and the employees’ sides.

You can also become an external examiner. For accreditation you have to contact the trade organisation, which then will recommend you to the commission.

Some of the trade committees have yearly conferences for external examiners. Here you can share experiences and practise evaluating final examinations.
 Pedagogical courses
Teachers at vocational colleges have to have advanced pedagogical training, before they can be permanently employed. This doesn't apply to trainers.

For many trainers, it's a great challenge to plan, organise, execute and evaluate workplace training together with the vocational college.

A few larger companies have chosen to send their trainers to a formal Adult Education Training Programme.

The German obligatory trainer courses contain each of the aspects mentioned above – besides the professional knowledge, the courses include pedagogical knowledge and soft skills.

Example Michael Krämer, trained restaurant specialist and qualified restaurant operations trainer, Germany:
“My own training did not turn out the way I expected it to. My trainer constantly violated regulations, for example maximum working time. The other trainees and I weren’t doing well with this and often we didn’t feel like going to work at all. Some of us dropped out of the vocational training. We weren’t allowed to work independently and the boss critically checked and monitored everything we did. I was trained in a really great profession – but my trainer just wasn’t able to get this across to me. After my training and an immediate move to a new company, I quickly registered for the advanced training course to become a trainer. This was where I completely understood for the first time how many mistakes one can make, but more importantly how to make things right, to motivate your apprentices for work. And I succeeded. My apprentices often do project work and are therefore constantly acquiring knowledge, skills and work experience by themselves. I often get feedback that they enjoy working in our company. And as a result, these apprentices perform very well during exams. What else can a trainer wish for?”

4 - The trainer