To keep ahead of the game, it’s always good to check out what’s happening in the trade press and keep up to date with the latest legislation. We also talk to our customers about what issues they are facing and how we can help them.
It’s all about ensuring that we’re providing the best training possible for our delegates. So in our opinion, here are a few pitfalls/pointers that can either improve or mar a customer’s experience of a training course.
Keep non-course specific information as brief as possible
Just to give an example, I attended a course recently (not food related) and the tutor spent 20 minutes telling us all where the safety exits and toilets were and the importance of filling in our answer sheets – something that could have been covered in less than five. The less time spent on this, the more time spent on learning….
Remember why people are attending the course
Several trainers can fall into the trap of giving too much background information. Yes, it might be interesting and, indeed, a little background information can be useful to set the scene, but don’t waste half of a one-day course going into the history of a subject.
When delegates go on a HACCP course they want to understand what a critical control point is, how to identify it, how to prevent contamination and how to develop their own HACCP plan. So for background for a HACCP course, the simple (and interesting) statement that ‘HACCP was developed for NASA’ should suffice. Then you can get down to the nitty gritty of what it actually is and how to apply it to your own production facility.
Give them examples – but make sure they’re relevant
A good trainer will do research on the company/companies where his delegates work. He’ll also have worked (as all our trainers have) within the food industry itself. This gives him first-hand experience of the challenges facing his trainees. It also means that when he’s providing examples he can ensure that they resonate with his audience. Plus it makes the information easier to understand and specific to the delegate’s own experience of work.
Another point to note is that in the UK we have our own legislation relating to food safety, so make sure that this is covered. Don’t (like one course we attended) give endless examples of what’s happening in the USA under the FSDA. You also need to make sure that any information relating to guidance or regulations is up-to-date.
Encourage questions and interaction
Giving people the chance to ask questions throughout the course and encouraging them to take part in group exercises will enable them to derive greater benefit from the course. They’ll also swap ideas, advice and experiences with other delegates which they can take away to their own workplace.
Provide printed material
Every delegate on a Verner Wheelock course is provided with a course binder containing printouts of the PowerPoint presentation they are watching. This way they can jot notes alongside, rather than trying to copy down everything on the screen before it disappears.
Stick to the syllabus and give regular recaps
Delegates on Level 3 and 4 courses are required to take and pass an examination in order to receive their certificate. The trainer needs to ensure that she has covered all aspects of the syllabus in the allotted time and also given pointers on how to answer certain types of examination questions. We’re proud to have an excellent pass rate in examinations. In fact last year our delegates collected 50% of the available RSPH Awards, meaning that they achieved the highest examination marks in the UK!
Get customer feedback
We always ask for feedback at the end of our courses. Not only do we like to be able to pass on positive comments to our trainers, we also want to find out if there is anything that can be improved. If there is a particular area that customers would like to provide more focus on this sometimes leads to the development of a specialist course – like our TACCP course for instance.
For information on all our current courses, please visit www.vwa.co.uk. If you’re already a trainer and want a few tips on how to be more effective, why not consider our Trainer Skills Refresher course?