Why training is so expensive

Training is big business. From online courses to workplace workshops, skills development is a Big Thing. But why does it cost so much?

The price of training comes down to time.

When you attend a workshop or a webinar, listen to the trainer as they introduce the ice-breaking exercise and know that a lot of work happened before anyone laid out the coffee cups. The trainer or trainers have done a lot of background work, talking to the organisers to determine trainee’s needs. Based on that they’ve prepared training materials – slides, exercises, scripts, videos, handouts. And sometimes they’ve reworked those when it turns out that the CEO actually wanted something else, no matter what the actual trainees thought.

At a college or training institution, there’s also marking of tests and exams, not to mention setting the exams according to whatever protocols are in place at the institution.

Long-time trainers will often have a bank of pre-prepared training materials and lesson plans and resources. But those will always have to be adapted a little (or a lot) to meet the needs of any given set of trainees (or that pesky CEO).

How the time gets priced

My experience as a trainer tells me that I need to factor in two to four hours prep time for every hour I spend teaching (so one hour of training time could be three to five actual hours of my time).

What preparing for training can entail

Planning: I plan training sessions down to the minute, with lots of interactive work and with a set of handouts to support what’s happened in the session. That applies both to in-person and online training.

Logistics: For in-person training, there’s the nit-picky work of finding out what’s available at the venue – do I need to bring paper and pens? Will there be a projector? Online training means working out what video platform is going to be used, and making sure it will do what’s needed.

At the end of training: Any good trainer will evaluate how a training session went, so as to plan adjustments for the next time the session will be delivered.

Emotions: there’s always a level of nervousness about public speaking, and the “holding” of a group of people with varying needs is tiring. Those emotions can derail other work that needs to be done, making the time impact of training even greater.

How that works out in actual money

If my everyday rate for work is R500 an hour, then the time taken to prepare and deliver the training is already worth a bare minimum of R1500 for an hour of training. But if I say that my years of experience and training know-how are worth more than R500 an hour, then the price rises accordingly.

Can training be over-priced?

It can, and it often is. It’s often seen as a catch-all solution to a problem in a workplace, or as a way of pacifying restive staff. Managements bring in a trainer to run a group session, a workshop or a course of some kind, hoping that the intervention will fix things. And in those circumstances, they are often prepared to pay whatever it apparently takes to get the job done.

But my years as a manager and as a trainer have taught me that group training very rarely addresses individual issues, which are often at the heart of difficulties in the workplace. And so whatever the organisation pays for the training, it is money wasted because nothing will change.

For that reason, my first step as a trainer is to do a needs analysis and suggest the kind of training that is actually needed.

Based on the needs analysis, it might be found that specific individuals need mentoring. That can be often done by someone within the workplace, rather than paying money to an outsider. Or it might be clear that what’s needed is skills training, which can often be done successfully in groups.

Bottom line? If you are paying a trainer, whether it’s for personal or organisational needs, know that there’s a reason for the terrifying quote. But also: make sure that what you are paying for really meets your needs.

READ MORE: Trainers – how to tell the good from the bad

Main picture: Christina @ wocintechchat.com, Unsplash

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