A couple of articles have got me thinking this week about the state of our profession. In his article For Trainingzone Donald Taylor paints a fairly bleak picture of the troubles that may lie ahead.

If you’re working for a classroom training provider, you probably already know the answer. In the smaller dip of 2002/2003, classroom training companies suffered as clients cut back on classroom delivery costs. It’s a simple calculation: no classroom training means no fees and no travel, a quick saving in tough times.

“Right now, the manager wielding the knife over the budget has no hesitation in cutting all external training beyond what is legally required.”
But don’t people still need training? Of course they do, but training is still seen as being rather like painting the woodwork on the outside of the house. Everyone knows you have to do it, but even if it looks really bad, you can let it slide for a season or two until structural damage sets in.

In 2002/2003 a number of classroom training companies went to the wall. We can expect worse in 2009, as demand plummets

The Education section of the Guardian today suggests that the Governments pleas to industry to maintain their training budgets are being ignored.

“a survey reported exclusively in Education Guardian today suggests that many employers are not taking any notice.

Half of the training managers questioned in more than 100 large companies say their budgets have been, or will be, cut. Barely a third of them expect their training budgets to come through 2009 unscathed, and just 16% expect their budgets to increase during the downturn.

More than two-thirds say they anticipate that they will need to “streamline their course portfolio” this year.

The managers surveyed work for organisations employing at least 1,000 people and include Xerox, Siemens, the NHS, Pitney Bowes, Deutsche Bank, WHSmith, GSK, JPD, AstraZeneca, Barclays and Oracle.

But there are opportunities; Taylor suggests that the type of training to survive the upcoming culls (and this applies equally to internal providers as well as those of us who sell training for a living) will be:


  • provided by niche players
  • closely integrated with the purpose /customers/culture
  • cheap quick fix off the shelf solutions



The Guardian suggests that it is general training programs that will be culled but that the demand for real leadership, business acumen delivered in a flexible , dare we say blended format.

Interestingly I don’t know a trainer (internal or external) who doesn’t consider themselves to be flexible, integrated, business savvy and fantastic value for money. The next few months will provide us all with an opportunity to work out whether we are as smart as we think we are and to sharpen up in all these areas. But here are the warning signals, that all is not well in your training business or training department.


  • If all your training solutions are organised into classroom courses and planned by the day.
  • If your training materials are broadly the same as they were in 2003 (new fonts and covers dont count!)
  • If you know more people who have left the company than those who remain
  • If you find yourself surprised and disappointed that this years Management Programme has been put on ice



Then now might be a great time for a serious step back.

The alarm bells are ringing and the coffee is pungent enough to stop a charging bull!

The only question is what will you do next?