It’s been a few years now since I sat at a CFA Summer Ball and listened to Garry Bateman preparing for his role as CFA president. During his tenure, he emphasised a strong focus on training within the industry, something which I’d like to think we all support. The last two years have been a difficult time for all involved in the world of training, but as we move with hope back to a semblance of what life was like before Covid, perhaps it’s time for you to re-evaluate your training needs.
To me, the word ‘training’ is a bit broad and we use the term very loosely in our industry. I’d like to explain what I believe are the three typical types of face-to-face training. You can then decide which one best serves you or your team. There are distance and online training options as well, but for the purpose of this article we will focus on physical in-person training.
Firstly, there is formal, monitored and evaluated training – this is your apprenticeships and NVQ types of training. Depending on the levels being undertaken, it can involve training on subfloor preparation, subfloor evaluation and moisture testing, and the installation of textiles, resilient flooring, timber flooring and more.
The commitment required by both the provider and the trainee is extensive. The training will include theoretical and practical training carried out by qualified instructors to a predetermined syllabus with specific requirements, so the number of hours needed is significant. However, this doesn’t mean that all trainers and all academies will be the same, so do your research to see what’s on offer.
“[Training that leads] to a formal qualification … can be a career defining moment.”
More often than not this type of training will lead to a formal qualification to demonstrate the trainee’s skills and knowledge, and this can be a career defining moment. You will have learnt in the classroom, at the training centre and in the real world of flooring.
Secondly, there is educational training. This is where you spend a day or two with the trainer, quite often at a manufacturer or training school, learning about specific aspects of flooring. Depending on the manufacturer, this could mean learning how to: identify different subfloors; test for moisture and overcome subfloor issues; install or clean vinyl flooring; or choose the correct machinery to prepare subfloors or sand timber etc.
As a trainee, on these educational training days you should expect to get your hands on the products or equipment and use them yourself. Only by using products can you really appreciate their qualities and the challenges posed, then come away having learnt something. From this type of training you may gain a certificate of attendance or perhaps even a manufacturer’s ‘approval’ for use of their products. A short course like this will not provide you with any universally recognised qualifications though; the benefits are more likely to be for people in the industry who want to refresh their knowledge or for those looking at something new.
“Only by using products can you really appreciate their qualities and the challenges posed.”
Thirdly, there is familiarisation training. Almost exclusively offered by manufacturers, this is training on either their own or a customer’s premises. This is more likely to involve a showcase of what the manufacturer has to offer and how their products and application methods can help you out there in the field. Often, there will be demonstrations of how the products perform, any tricks of the trade to get the best from them, and what limitations they may have. The idea of using products within a system to get optimum performance and security will form a large part of this training, and you will go away understanding what the specific manufacturer has to offer, both in products and in services.
Before searching for any training, which of course relies on a commitment from yourself and not just the trainers, have a think about what you need. In fact, go a little further – consider what training would suit the individuals in your business and speak to the training provider to see what can be achieved. There is often scope and flexibility to create a bespoke session that can fulfil your specific needs.
As a company offering training, we appreciate good honest feedback and would suggest you always offer this – after all, you have committed time and resources just as much as the trainer has. If it does not meet your needs, then the trainer needs to know for the future. If it does, you can look at what else the trainer can do for you and your business to get ahead and develop a good working relationship.