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Facilitators, Freelancing and being a Big Fish
As a result of the incentives government provides, the training sector has immense growth potential. However, employment is often haphazard for even the most expert facilitator, assessor and moderator.
The training sector appears to be characterised by two typical business models, each posing barriers to success for the training experts. Below is a basic description of the two typical business models that have gained traction in a highly competitive market.
Two Typical Models
These two types of business models are not based on any kind of literature research in the field but upon own experience and narratives received from industry stakeholders. As such, they are open to debate. If you can suggest more model types or offer different names, please post it in the comments section below.
- True Teach
- A training company established by someone with an expertise in education and training
- or with industry related technical expertise that they wish to impart in a formal learning environment.
- This company likely focusses on specific or niche learning areas and industries.
- They often permanently employ a limited number of facilitators, assessors and moderators who have these specific industry capabilities.
- These same employees may be crucial in selling and promoting the organisation’s services or there may be a small sales team to support business development.
- Sales Adapt
- This company adapts services to respond to demands, often struggles against like minded competitors
- A company that sells training solutions and possesses little or no in-house education and training expertise.
- They tend to employ freelance trainers as required, based upon sales.
- Sales Adapt companies have no particular area of specialisation and tend to offer generalist or generic qualifications that can be applied to a variety of industries.
- These companies are driven by sales and use sales teams to drive their focus areas.
There are other nuances but based on these two generalisations, here’s advice on how you can find your fit as an accredited facilitator.
- These organisations can be difficult to break into as their niche focus can result in limited employment opportunity.
- You must offer these organisations more. For example, ensure that you have skills outside of facilitation. If you can produce learning material, show them a sample. Provide evidence that you are multi-skilled.
- Their biggest challenge could be sales and sustainability – as a facilitator you should have the ‘gift of the gab’ and be able to invoke passion in anyone listening to you. Apply this to sales and offer to market the company and sell its services. Even do it for free on condition that you are employed for the projects you secured – or negotiate a commission.
- These companies usually live and breathe their QMS and probably developed it themselves. Show your knowledge of accreditation processes and develop tools that they may not have considered. Demonstrate these tools. For example, ‘Learner Behaviour Analysis Tool’ or ‘Reporting a Possible Learning Disability’ etc.
- Develop tools specific to your learning areas. For example, if you’re accredited for an NQFL4 qualification, bear in mind that the fundamental component requires a second language. Develop stimulating second language activities related to the program. The second language component often poses a challenge as companies can’t afford to have their content translated. You as the facilitator should step up and show off.
- If you’re only accredited as an assessor it’s no good. You must have both the moderator and assessor accreditation.
- These organisations are market driven and will pride themselves on their flexibility and market adaptability.
- They tend to have strong sales teams at the core of their business and build a database of freelance training experts that they become dependant on.
- The more accreditations you have, the more you will appeal to them. (Again, you must be both an accredited assessor and moderator.)
- They require facilitators who are solution driven and can independently manage the learning experience. If you facilitate at this company and have a disciplinary issue with learners, you will most likely be met with a blank stare when asking for advice.
- These companies often brush the QMS aside as it was developed by a consultant and is often generic, not customised. You must ask for a copy and follow it.
- Emphasise the fact that you are a learning manager – not just a facilitator, and that you manage your learners throughout the process, not just in the training room. You can do this by offering email support in order to keep it time and cost effective. See yourself as a smaller organisation within a larger commercial vehicle.
Don’t be managed – Manage.
This isn’t all you can do!
- Befriend your SETA. Find an expert reason to go in and meet with them.
- Read the SETA sector development plan and school yourself in their issues and achievements. Identify a problem that organisations in your market face with regards to the SETA and meet with them to discuss a potential solution.
- Attend SETA workshops – it doesn’t matter which ones, attend them all. SETA workshops provide free intel and fantastic networking opportunities. Never attend and then start ranting about something – it’s a total turnoff and unimpressive. Be professional, voice a concern and ask a question. Never set yourself up as a spokesperson for negativity as everybody has an axe to grind, that’s stale news. The SETA system is constantly evolving in its efforts to improve, sometimes they do it wrong and sometimes they get it right.
- SETAs have a massive pioneering task so be identified as a solutions contributor. A positive, balanced demeanour goes a long way. I’ve been in meetings where people made valid points but chose to become dramatic and storm out. Their points of contention are then diminished. Don’t frikkin go there ok!!!!
- Be accredited with as many SETAs as possible. Expand your range. I know there are limitations to this – but push those limitations, be flexible and willing to engage.
Be a Big Fish: Marketing Management
- If you’re a freelancer you’re a business. Accept this no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. If you’ve survived this far, you’re an entrepreneur – OWN IT and give yourself a pat.
- Understand your target markets. All training providers accredited to deliver the qualifications you are accredited for are your primary market, perhaps the only market.
- Quantify your market. You will find their names on SETA websites and SAQA. If not, go and complain to the DHET as this is unacceptable. There are SETAs guilty of hiding this information, it’s shortsighted, damaging to the industry and defies our legislation. SAQA also contributes to this malaise by not updating qualification details on their website.
- Get into content marketing – write and post about what you know, how you impart knowledge, what you believe in and adhere to as a professional.
- Contribute and build knowledge capital. Show off and make your presence felt. You are a business, learn from other businesses and emulate best practices.
- Subscribe to marketing websites and learn new skills and approaches.
Represent your own interests
Facilitators should collaborate more with each other and consider becoming managers as opposed to freelancers.
Operate together, pool your skills and secure strategic work based on your numbers and what you’re accredited for.
Contact training companies and ask them how many facilitators they expect to require during the year and where their biggest challenges are.
Negotiate rates by helping them with a massive problem – securing compliant facilitators.
Start a website, a blog, a campaign – anything, make your EXPERTISE visible.
Any pointers you can add below in a comment will be appreciated. Let’s strengthen this vital workforce.