As part of our feature on trainer development, we asked TrainingZONE members to tell us a bit about how they came to be involved in the training profession, and offer some thoughts on what it means to be a trainer today. We received a fantastic selection of responses, which will be published throughout the month. Here, Ray Bunnage, a vocational training Centre Manager and Equal Opportunities Advisor gives his response.
- What's your current job role?
I am currently a "hands on" Centre Manager responsible for the "day to day" management of a vocational training centre, (one of four), providing Government vocational training under the Work Based Learning programmes. In addition I am the Equal Opportunities Advisor for the Company and the ECDL Test Centre Manager.
- What did you do before this job?
A career in the Royal Air Force preceded my move into the world of vocational training. Although my main job role equivalent was Medical Practice Manager my last two years of military service were spent as an IT Systems Implementation Team Leader. The job included instructional duties teaching medical personnel in the use of computers.
- Describe your route into training
On retirement from military service in 1995 it seemed a natural progression into an IT teaching role but this proved anything but the case. Qualifications and previous experience were not considered compatible within a civilian training environment. Following re-qualification I commenced employment in 1998 with a national vocational training company providing a Government funded youth training programme.
- Did you always want to work in training and development?
I have long held the view that a considerable number of young people fail to progress after leaving school simply because they are unfocused and lack the support they need. Military service instils in you the awareness of the value of ongoing training and development.
- What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date?
This is a difficult one. In an environment were getting someone to talk to you can be a major achievement it can be difficult to identify any one significant event. Maybe work with a fifty year old with literacy problems who progressed into a management role with a large American company and was presented with a Trainee of the Year award.
- How do you think the role of the trainer has changed since you began your training career?
Although I have always considered the "soft skills", (politeness, commitment, timekeeping etc) as being equally important aspects of training as gaining a nationally recognised qualification its good to see a move towards a more holistic approach to post 16 training.
- What single thing would improve your working life?
Reduction in administrative bureaucracy.
- What's your favourite part of the TrainingZONE site?
I think the TrainingZONE website is worth a regular visit and cannot claim any single favourite part.
- Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in training?
Anyone looking to embark on a career in training should consider my comments at para 6. Although we are inclined to consider a sound knowledge of our particular subject as being important we cannot afford to ignore the soft skills. I tend to approach my training role as that of workplace supervisor ensuring that those aspects of behaviour that would not be tolerated in the workplace are not tolerated in the training room.
- What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the trainer today?
Of course the above does place additional demands on the trainer but the real question is, are you assisting someone to gain a qualification or helping them to improve their future prospects?