Trainer Ultilisation, trainer quality and learner outcomes

How many hours a week should a trainer deliver Face to face training?

What is a manageable, reasonable and maintainable number of hours a week in which a trainer can deliver face to face training, and does delivering very high hourly levels of face to face training have an adverse effect on the quality of the training and the learner outcomes?

So the old TAFE award in Queensland said 21 hours a week was the amount a time a trainer could be scheduled for face to face training, so in my book that is three days of training.  The rest of the time was for preparation, marking, administration, professional development and other related activities.  However and this I think is where the question gets interesting, what if the Trainer is a full-time staff member, so 38 Hours a week, and the training is all already developed, there is only a small percentage of marking/assessment involved and most of the administration is done by dedicated administration staff.  Is say 4 days of face to face a sustainable level, where the trainer wont burn out over a period of time and quality and learner outcomes wont suffer?

Before I continue I will say that I think 3 days of face to face a week (60%) of workload, is a good minimum standard.  I say this because I have over the years been involved in roles where the levels of face to face training were much higher and after a while (and really to be honest not all that long), the quality of the presentation and the outcomes for the learner decline.  In my single biggest year as a trainer I trained over 3000 people face to face and worked in excess of 190 days, which works out on average to be 4 days a week. (The fifth day of the week was more often than not taken up with travel)  This I can tell you from first hand experience is unsustainable in the long-term and perhaps even in the medium term.

The other part of this question then also relates to assessment.  Through our RTO we have a fairly large number of students, a lot of whom are doing, assessment only, RPL, distance learning for most of their learning, so for a number of our trainers rather than delivery of face to face training making up the bulk of what they do on a daily basis, assessment is the prime component and for others it is about s 50/50 split.  So therefore a follow-up question is, is it reasonable to expect a trainer might be fully utilised (100% 5 out of 5 days) doing only either face to face training plus assessment?  If that doesn’t seem unreasonable what then is a reasonable split between training and assessment or is it just a scheduling and workload issue at that point?

I have to admit that I have reservations however about suggesting that a trainer/assessor could be for all intents and purposes 100% utilised simply doing training and assessment, without there being a decline in the quality of both the training and the assessment activities and as a result a decline in the learner outcomes.

The final question then is should utilisation be made part of performance reviews, particularly in a situation where the trainer has no control over the amount of training or assessment that will be required on a week to week basis as it is really not about their performance, it is just a question of volume of work.

I would be really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks about this and how (if at all) they use trainer utilisation within their organisations.

About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

2 Responses to Trainer Ultilisation, trainer quality and learner outcomes

  1. Amy Boleszny says:

    Interesting points because my position as RTO chief wallah wallah (I can’t say CEO because that has a legal meaning) I have to balance out training, assessment, instructional design, business development and assessing. Compliance management has to fit into the cracks somehow but I am working on delegating that.
    At the moment I have about a 50% F2F training load as I am two trainers down and what started out as a webinar series for a medium size group splintered off into individuals all at difference stages of completion in the same course as participants tend to have lives that defy course programming.
    Firstly, this shows that quality flexible delivery takes a lot of logistics, and secondly that a 50% load is a lot to carry when we are talking one-on-one mentoring and monitoring with learners who are not classroom based.
    What makes my load unmanageable is not the training per se but the constant need to write and rewrite perfectly good curriculum because of minor changes in Training Packages plus keep them current with the latest Codes, legislation and industry trends. This has gone from an annual review to one conducted every six months, which is a lot when one is managing 15 qualifications, with over 200 resource packages. A lot of this I cannot delegate.
    About 75% of our work is in RPL with gap training, and I am fortunate to have an excellent team of trainers and assessors to carry most of it. However, this results in a one-on-one training scenario for them too because no two candidates are at the same stage or undertaking the same units at the same time.
    Why, might you ask, does someone who is an owner/manager keep so much hands on? It is not through ego, or because I feel I am the only person who could do the job, I assure you. It is partly because I think it is important for me to keep current in my VET skills and the interaction with learners leads to improvements in instructional design. I need to know personally what works and does not work for them in flexible delivery so I can repackage my products for e-learning without losing the essential quality of on-job learning. Secondly, it helps me allocate training and assessment across the team, because I know what is ‘too much’ to expect, particularly if a trainer is in a regional area and it involves a lot of travel.
    I would suggest that a 30% load would be less likely to lead to burnout and loss of quality for trainers and assessors with a range of duties, especially if they are delivering TAE qualifications and AQF 5 and above in other Training Packages. I would consider this a constant across all our qualifications.

  2. I think the experience level of the trainer impacts on this issue to a huge degree. The more knowledge and expertise the facilitator has in relation to the content, the better able they are to deliver multiple sessions per week without burning out.

    Passion for your subject matter – and indeed for the art of training and facilitation – will also impact on how many sessions a facilitator is able to deliver successfully in any timeframe. Creativity, flexibility and quality of delivery are all boosted by the practitioner’s mindset. And we rarely discuss self-care for trainers – but those of us who maintain healthy lifestyles and engage in regular professional supervision seem to have an extra ‘energy’ about them.

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