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Article: Five Questions To Ask A Technical Training School -- BEFORE Signing Up

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by tripwire45, Oct 27, 2005.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    The article's author is Chris Bryant who occasionally appears here at CF. I thought what he wrote would be particularly useful in this forum. -Trip

    As with any field, there are good technical training schools, and bad ones. When you sign up with one of these schools, you've made a significant investment in time and money.

    You deserve to know everything about the school and your job prospects after leaving that school before you put down your hard-earned money. The problem is, sometimes it's hard to know the right questions to ask.

    The point of this article is not to bash technical training schools. That's how I got my start in IT eight years ago, and today I'm a CCIE™ and own my own Cisco training company and my own consulting firm.

    Before I ever put down the first dime, though, I asked some tough questions. So should you.

    To read the rest, click Here
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  2. The_Geek

    The_Geek Megabyte Poster


    Had I asked that question when I started I wouldn't have made a $10k mistake.
    Certifications: CompTIA and Micro$oft
    WIP: PDI+
  3. intuicja7

    intuicja7 Bit Poster

    for a track of courses like from ECDL / A+ to MSCE

    1 Guaranty of workplacement
    2 Payment should be from a salary of your future job
    3 the price of course should be on the website, not given on an interview
    4 the interviewer should talk about courses not half time about your future salary
    5 Wait after the interview and ask somebody who already is on the course

    I,ve never been on any course, I was only on a interview
    Certifications: CCNA
    WIP: 70-270 (MCSA 2003)
  4. Connectivity

    Connectivity Bit Poster

    Its a well written and informative piece chris has wrote, i would always advise speaking to the companies the training organisation recruits for.

    I would also be wary of companies that offer;

    Subsidised training -
    cash back schemes -
    Full certification in 3 months -
    aptitude tests with questions like 'what does durable mean?’

    And as Chris also pointed out are more interested in talking about your salary once you have completed training.
  5. trislloyd

    trislloyd Nibble Poster

    I also made a £4,500 mistake (they went into liquidation before i completed my course so i'm paying my career development loan and didn't get the qualifications to go with it) I'm now putting myself through the exams as i don't want to give anyone else thousands of pounds for nothing! Or even for course material which i could buy from any reputable book shop or even Amazon! Not sure whether i would be allowed by the moderators to name them? Might get a bit dodgy as they are now trading under a new name, i reported them but have heard nothing! Waste of time!
    Certifications: Comptia A+, Comptia Network+, MCP
    WIP: MCSE, specializing in Cisco
  6. tomhayward

    tomhayward New Member

    Having worked in the IT industry for 14 years (and left 2 companies because I could not believe in the product I was selling) I would suggest the following are points to consider BEFORE parting with any money:-

    1. If when you phone up you get a message "All our advisers are busy, leave your number and we will get back to you" - You may be speaking to a one man band operating from a small office above a shop (I know of three such companies who would appear to be quite big organisations)

    2. It is not realistic to expect companies to publish costs on their web-sites, simply because, some people may not know the difference between an MOS and an MCSE so how can they assess value? - BUT - they should be prepared to pass you to someone who WILL disclose prices.

    3. Ask to speak to someone who has done a course - if they 'hide' behind the Data Protection Act cross them off your list.

    4. Who actually owns the company - One organisation which has appeared on these pages regularly changes their trading name. Could this be because they are always getting complaints?

    5. If they say you have a job guarantee cross them off too. The only way anyone can ethically make such a promise would be if they were prepared to employ you themselves. But, any company that has been trading for some time should have in place a good careers department, and as above, let you talk to people.

    6. Some salesmen tell you that unless you sign 'on the night', someone else will get your course place. What a pathetic sales pitch that is - but people believe it!

    7. Finally, the salesman is not selling you a product, he is selling himself. If you trust him it should be because he really does beleive in the product.
  7. NickyYates

    NickyYates Bit Poster

    There is more than one type of so-called "job guarantee". It could, for example, be a legal contract ("If you don't get a job within three months of completing the course - we give you double your money back and a month in Barbados to deal with the trauma we have put you through"). Alternatively, it can be based on a statistical probability - "We have a 99% success rate going back 20\40\60 years" (no-one believes they are going to be in the 1% losers category). One thing that applies to both of these is that they are probably based on a series of total lies. They are usually lies that are easy to spot, and so these companies will seek things that give the schemes they are peddling a bit more credibility. This will usually involve collecting "kite marks". The only problem with these is that they are easy to get - something that even applies to accreditations that are regarded as the most prestigious designations this industry can offer. Gold Partnership anybody?

    A fact that should be borne in mind is that, in terms of its potential for profit, the ability to "guarantee" people well-paid IT jobs ranks alongside the recipe for Coca Cola, a patent on the English language or the code for Microsoft Windows. We live in an era where inequalities are greater than at any time since the feudal era. OK - so it's relative inequality - no-one is actually starving. This fact is irrelevant - the stigma of failure is as painful as absolute poverty in a land where, if you're not a winner, you're a loser.

    Bearing these things in mind, if I were a manager of a training company that genuinely had a 99% success rate going back 10 or 15 years, and someone was stupid enough to complain about the advert where we boast of this success rate - the Advertising Standards Authority would be totally SWAMPED with incontrovertible evidence of this on day one of their investigation. The resulting adjudication would be the best advertising money could buy (except that it would be free) and I would spend the next ten years ramming this down the throats of the competitors who probably made the complaint in the first place.

    This NEVER happens, and - trust me on this one - the explanation of this fact is that job guarantees are baloney from start to finish. The unfortunate thing is that if one training provider is allowed to offer a so-called "job guarantee" and is not required to provide substantiating evidence of the ability to back this up, everyone has to do it. It's a simple fact demonstrated time after time... a company with 20 years as the best training provider in the land will lose out to the cowboy outfit set up last week if they believe the latter can offer an advantage in the job market. One reason why they do believe this is that they imagine that we have a regulatory system that would quickly shut down blatant scams. They also want to believe it - a fact that makes people extremely easy to dupe. They know it's bullsh1t - but they convince themselves that it must be true because they want to believe.

    We have just come through a recession in which people with 20 years in the industry could find no work whatsoever. However, the "job guarantee" scams continued to promise total novices their £20-25,000 jobs. They were totally unaffected by these blunt facts because they operate in a fantasy world with no connection to reality. If you are considering a training provider, and find an advertisement between 2002 and 2003 that offered novices a guaranteed £20,000 salary - they are con men. They can do this because no-one ever gets to the point of being in a position to invoke the so-called guarantee.

    A good training company is one that has a policy of investing in the human capital of the business - which is a management-speak way of saying they have the best trainers. Unfortunately - in the totally unregulated times we live in, these companies are forced to live on the crumbs that are left after the "job guarantee" scam merchants have taken their cut. Take an example, and I promise you that I have no connection with this company (it probably only employs a few people anyway). There's a company called The Skills Gap (www.theskillsgap.co.uk) in, I think, Yorkshire. They look like an excellent company who take a real interest in their students and who have good trainers. They even look as though they do it for more than just the money. They are a Microsoft Academy, use MCTs etc. However, they also look like a company that has, as I suggested, has been a victim of the mis-selling down the years (they even have a rant on their, not very impressive, home page about the scams in the industry). The fact is, when you're comparing this company with an outfit with a Flash website, several Gold Partnerships and Gold accreditation by the IITT - you will choose the Flash outfit every time. You will give them anything between £4-6,000 and they will spend some of this on looking even more flash and the rest will go to the MD, who earns more from your course booking than a car dealer does by selling three BMWs.

    There is a rule that I have never seen broken. It's this... the scams end when they run out of suckers, not a day before. I have never seen any of these scams have a single day knocked off their natural life expectancy by the intervention of any regulatory body. There are companies out there at this moment claiming to pay people to train with them (the course costs £10,000 - and you get a £1000 per month for two months, after which you will be employed errrr....probably!). One of these is a company with three Microsoft Gold Partnerships. The fact that this company's published accounts show a turnover of only £300,000 since 2003 doesn't seem to have prevented them from receiving Microsoft's endorsement of the scam they peddle.

    When it comes to choosing a training provider, you're on your own - the IITT, Microsoft, ISO 9000 - these "kite marks" have nothing whatsoever to offer because they are so easy to achieve. However, if you would stop colluding in your own deception - it's really very easy to see a scam. Good luck.
  8. theskillsgap

    theskillsgap New Member

    Glad you can see a little through the mire - aka known as the IT Training industry.

    As you may guess by the namedrop, I actually run theskillsgap.com, and yes we know the website is in dire need of a rehash, but who cares, it'll happen eventually.

    I had a review of us undertaken by Peter Labrow in IT Training magazine -about 4 years ago, and he loved the idea of a young upstart training company having a go at the industry rules.

    A potted history of why we do what we do, I (justin) run the compnay and I have Mike(MCT, MCPs x 30 just been to Tech Ed to train for Microsoft in Boston) and Richard (MCT MCSE, SQL etc...) no sales guys and no admin, we look solely ater MOD service leavers and function as a referal business, we train one, and another two follow - the analagous link is that if we do not look after the first, we wouldn't still be in business after 7years. If other training companies followed such a lead they'd be onto a winner.

    We are based in the Pennines -so we have proven you do not need to be city based to work, how un-corporate can you get? Best of all we become good mates to our students, train small groups and don't expect to see more than about 100 a year.

    I worked at Comtec, then General Physics and as good as the trainers were, if the sales person can't even be arsed to be your mate, or the trainer for that matter, why would you ever trust, nor, ever want to cross their palm with further silver...although that is exactly what happens.

    As a tin pot outfit we do get overlooked, but believe this is to our advantage, we never promise jobs or certifications as they must be proven on self merit.

    I get so much pleasure from seeing training companies fall by the wayside, but, one specific links creates and then kills each of them. The training head is always an arogant, self promoting individual, and the company is always run by an ex-purchaser of training and hasn't got a clue what training really is beyond getting the cheque.

    These companies go bust consistently by forgetting the basics, get a brilliant trainer and make sure the student walks away more than happy- oh, and take an interest in the student, go for a pint with them and get to know them outside the classroom, this can easily be done on the first dinner time, -how many times have I seen students exchange details on the last day, as a tonken gesture, our guys and gals keep in touch post course with us and their colleagues .... Quite basic, but beyond most training outfit.

    Must work as our six week residential courses are pretty much full till the end of February next year

    Thanks for allowing for a spent spleen.

    Oh, but I waste my money on an really old Lotus Esprit...hence why we should be charging £5k+

  9. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

    Sorry about this Justin but your reply is quite difficult on the eye. Any chance you could paragraph your post?
    Certifications: MCSA , N+, A+ ,ITIL V2, MCTS
    WIP: MCITP 2008 Ent Admin, Server Admin, Exchange 2010, Lync 2010, CCNA & VCP5
  10. Justin Credible

    Justin Credible New Member

    Hi. I know this was posted quite a while ago, but I'm new to Certforums and have only just read this.

    I find myself in the dilemma of whether to sign up for one of these courses or not. Like most people I've been tempted by the possible salaries that have been sold to me during the interview, and the guarantee of the placement.

    I have qualified for a career development loan and am just stalling before signing on the dotted line - the more I read on this site the more confused I get and less sure of just beneficial this course will turn out to be.

    This course covers CompTIA A+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA & MCSE done as self study over 2 years, and with a "placement" after the first part (CompTIA A+) is completed. They provide all the course materials, guides etc, all exams are included (with re-sits), drop-in workshops and mentors + help desk. However, when something sounds too good to be true - it usually is.....isn't it?

    How bad was your experience?
    Can you name the companies involved?
    What have you done instead?
    Certifications: NONE
  11. Clyde

    Clyde Megabyte Poster

    just a point re theskillsgaps post - I don't see why a trainer has to become the 'mate' of the trainee. It doesn't happen in schools, colleges, or training establishments in other industries. I can train a student without being their mate. Dont see the relevance of that particular point.
    Certifications: A+, Network+, Security+, MCSA, MCSE
  12. Richard

    Richard New Member


    I have worked as a Technical Trainer now for 5 years and have also been on the receiving end of numerous other trainers. You question the need for students to be a 'mate' of the trainer.

    Building rapport with you students is probably one of the most important things you can possibly do as a trainer. I've seen whole groups of individuals switching off after 2pm whilst your typical Techy Trainer goes more and more in depth on a subject. If the trainer stopped talking for 1 minute and asked his class what he had just been talking about he would probably receive a number of blank faces.

    I for one have always believed in befriending the group, if you don't know the people you are teaching, how can you possibly understand their individual learning styles. Just because you class a student as a mate, it doesn't mean you are going to be inviting them to dinner on Christmas day. Occasionally going for a pint after work may not fit in with your jobsworth 9-5 life however the rewards are outstanding...

    One of the main reasons I teach is the number of interesting people I get to meet, I learn so much from them and their experiences. By befriending my classes it allows me to get them to open up much more. As I am sure you are well aware, in adult learning, the emphasis is on empowering the learner. If you are one of the sorts of people who just stand in front of a class and deliver training by the book, and piss off home as regular as clock work, I feel sorry for your classes...

    Techy trainers don't in fact have to be monosyllabic Geeks why not lighten up a little?


  13. AndrewPS

    AndrewPS New Member

    Has anybody ever tried to sue, or known someone who tried to sue, one of these scam providers? If so, what was the result?
  14. tune

    tune Bit Poster

    Clyde, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried.
    Certifications: 70-270, 70-290, 70-299

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