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What is a 'Training Provider' and how are they different from each other?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Arroryn, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    I have decided to start this thread, to discuss the ambiguity of and ascertain definitions with regards to 'Training Providers'. What they are, what they do, and how they can work for you.

    In a seperate thread, BM mentioned that Boson is a 'training provider' and rightly so, because they provide training materials.

    When we discuss companies such as Skillstrain (Scheidegger), Computeach, Joskos, Koenig et al, they are also put under the umbrella term of 'training provider', despite the fact that they perform a very different function to Boson, to Transcender, CBT and other 'material providers', and perform different functions when compared to each other - Koenig being a bootcamp, and the others being a long-distance study provider.

    Ambiguity on these terms can't possibly help those new to the industry, who may already be floundering in the quagmires of information Google has to offer them.

    Then there is the much-lauded 'self study'. But again, this is an ambiguous term, as it sets the method apart from TPs only in insuating that it is the only study method where you have to sit down and do the bulk of the brainwork.

    The way distance-learning providers make their money is by luring people into the idea that IT is a high- and quick-return career. When they [the prospective student] receive a package on the doorstep with a folder, a course structure and exam objectives for technologies they currently have no conception of, they claim 'mis-sold' and frantically try to cancel their 'learning agreements' before the 6 day cooling off period. And because distance learning providers rarely break the contracts they make you sign, students end up paying the money, without the providers ever having to provide a scrap more material or, the more lucrative of the course element, the precious exam refunds. If students give up at the start then the return on investment is minimal. If you sit the course out, the provider will end up refunding you a vast amount of your outgoings in materials and exam refunds.

    But there is a point in the above - the provider sends you materials, and you sit on your own at home, studying them. Computeach, Skillstrain (Scheidegger) and similair distance learning providers do no more than Boson, Transcender at the like - they give you materials, and you self study through them. It is your own impetus that carries you through the courses, which is why so many half-hearted people fall at the first hurdle, realising that it's going to take time and effort to get their hallowed first Cert and first job in IT.

    The fact that their prices are grossly over-inflated makes no odds with regards to the function they perform. In a way, it can only strengthen the idea of 'independent study' as you can purchase the material from the other mentioned training providers and still study at your own pace. (A lot of the long distance providers claim 'study at your own pace' but still put time limits on the course - normally between 7 and 14 months - 14 months being generous, but a limit nevertheless).

    The self study method is independent study, where you source your own study material from valid training providers - as mentioned before.

    When you take up with a distance learning training provider, you will be expected to self study through their courses, but you can expect to use their materials, as opposed to sourcing your own.

    Boot camps take the least amount of self studying, but would require more existing knowledge on the technologies to keep pace with what the classroom is attempting to offer. Due to the time frames into which a lot of bootcamps are compressed, I personally find their overall benefits to the industry still quite ambiguous.

    As someone who has studied successfully with a distance learning training provider, I can still see their worth and benefit so long as you are aware of what you are embarking on, and are motivated to see the course through to the end.

    Yes, they are expensive, but as I believe I have previously mentioned, seeing my course through in its full with recoup me more than 70% of the overall cost of the course. I understood from the start that there would be some overhead - but I understand that they were a business and had to make money somehow. The point was, that they would make as little from me as possible.

    Any other thoughts on the distinguishing features of 'training providers'? I do truly believe it's an umbrella term that has been bandied around for too long - and discussing the function of each can only be helpful for those setting out on their studying paths.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  2. mickaveli2001

    mickaveli2001 Byte Poster

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    thanks, good read

    Could you elloborate more on the 70% recoup of course costs though?
     
    Certifications: NC Communication/Computing
    WIP: A+
  3. UKDarkstar
    Honorary Member

    UKDarkstar Terabyte Poster

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    Well put Arro.

    Back in 2000 when I started an MCSE I knew what the TP was like (Amraf who went bust) and I also knew of their sales tactics. However, I wanted the "security" of a classroom environment with a trainer that I could collar and ask questions of. I already had experience so was just interested in getting the access to "hands-on" training with some backup.

    Today, I still struggle with staying focused on self-study and there is always that nagging thought at the back of my mind that if I mis-understand a basic concept then with no-one to ask (and I may not even realise the misconception) the self study route may not be the best.

    In terms of distinguishing between providers and types of course they offer I feel that common sense should come into play.

    You research the alternatives, canvass views from other people (pref independent) and then make an informed decision.

    What seems to happen with the shall we say, sales-based, providers is that the customer doesn't seem able to say "stop, I want to think about this and look at alternatives" and that is perhaps partly due to the sales methods used but surely some of it is down to the individual.

    I do feel, particularly with youger people, there is an element of gullibility out there that I did not see or feel when I was a lot younger. Maybe it's an age thing !
     
    Certifications: BA (Hons), MBCS, CITP, MInstLM, ITIL v3 Fdn, PTLLS, CELTA
    WIP: CMALT (about to submit), DTLLS (on hold until 2012)
  4. Mr Machfisto

    Mr Machfisto Nibble Poster

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    What a great read

    I am a great believer in TP's and I too have used my TP to the greatest extent.

    I paid £3900 for an MCSE and I knew nothing about IT beforehand, the course included the following modules.

    Introduction to Windows
    Introduction to Internet
    Introduction to Computers

    Microcumputer Hardware

    A+ (including a 4 day workshop)

    N+ (Including a 3 day workshop)

    MCP (Including a 3 day workshop)

    MCSA

    MCSE

    OK the course fee was around 4 years ago, so I'm guessing it might have increased since then, but my point is for £3900 I have received all of the materials, 10 days worth of in house workshops, exam fees, recruitment support and unlimited tutorial support.

    I must admit, I ring the support team most weeks and still do now as they never close the door on students. I'm also a keen member of their own Student Website where you intereact with other students who are on the same course as you.

    For me it was money well spent and I wouldn't hesitate to reccomend it studying with them to anyone who wanted to better their career.

    MrM
     
  5. tbone152

    tbone152 Nibble Poster

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    Completely agree with Arroryn/Mr Machfisto. I too am with a TP and have found them very helpful and use all resources provided by them. It does seem people like to jump on the band wagon and slate these companies so I thought I'd throw my 2 pence in with some positive comments. As long as you know what to expect and have a clear goal then you shouldn't have a problem with them.

    The only downside is their promises of walking into IT related jobs just because you have a few certs and the huge amount of cash you'll be making once you've finished the course. You just need to do your research and ignore the sales patter. If this is the way you want to go, and have the resources to pay for it then go for it.

    T:D
     
    Certifications: A+, MCP, MCDST
    WIP: 70-270
  6. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    Sure :)

    I paid £3,500 for a course that takes me through the A+, the N+, the CCNA and the CCNP.

    I completed the N+ some time ago and have started the CCNA - I find it tough going without getting access to the routers at work, but this will hopefully change soon (with regards to obtaining practical hands on experience). So hopefully the info may begin to stick :)

    Having already completed the A+ and the Network+ I estimate the following:

    A+ course materials - I wouldn't value at more than £50 (including their outlay on postage)

    A+ - two exam fees refunded at a total of £214

    Network+ course materials - £50

    Network+ exam refunded - £184 (inc VAT)

    Then there are the CCNA and CCNP elements. For this, I am enrolled onto the Cisco Academy program.

    I'm not sure how to base the 'cost' of this - I know that the OU charge in the region of £750 for the CCNA academy course. I also know they're going to introduce the CCNP in its four seperate parts - at a cost of £1275 for the first element (which knocks my charges out of the water!) linky

    However, if I simply say that I will complete CCENT (ICND1) and ICND2, and then the four required CCNP exams then the exam refund cost alone is as follows:

    £145.70 (inc VAT) for the CCNA

    £358.70 (inc VAT) for the CCNP

    Then 1 book (which we know isn't enough really) from Cisco Press for each exam at RRP:

    ICND1: £28.99
    ICND2: £42.99
    BCMSN: £42.99
    BCSI: £42.99
    ISCW: £42.99
    ONT: £42.99

    The exam fees plus one book per exam alone comes to £1250 - just over a third of the overall course cost.

    The Cisco Academy is a valuable course to be enrolled on, and the cost Skillstrain charged for this was underestimated, I think on the basis they thought not many students would stick it as far as CCNP(!)

    Then there is the more difficult to calculate additions of tutor support, TMA marking and live labs provided for each course.

    Therefore, if you see your course through, the recoup value quickly stacks up...
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  7. mickaveli2001

    mickaveli2001 Byte Poster

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    I didn;t know TP's gave you money back at the end - well a percentage at least. Suppose it's a good way to cover themselves
     
    Certifications: NC Communication/Computing
    WIP: A+
  8. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    They don't *give* you the money back - it's just a cost justification if you see the whole course through :D
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  9. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    This is part of the problem, there is a real incentive for the providers to ensure you don't complete your course.

    How can you be confident they will be on your side helping out if this is the case ?

    Many bad TP's make it virtually impossible to complete the course.

    They do this through various methods :-

    1. Short time periods to perpare for exams after lessons.
    2. Fixed timescales for overall course duration.
    3. Large gaps in the study schedule between courses.
    4. Their own exams which you must pass before you can take the real exams.
    5. Limiting places to labs / courses.
    6. Limiting exam slots.
    7. Hidden costs which are not made clear, some make you pay for accomodation, food, exams etc.
    8. Unrealistic timescales for advanced certifications for people without experience.
    9. In effect bootcamp style tuition where a newbie only gets 35 hours tuition to pass an exam on an advanced topic.
    10. Not allowing further courses until previous exams are passed.

    I'm sure I've missed many more...

    All these generally lead to people trying to salvage their £3500 by using braindumps as its the only way they can complete the courses/exams in the time allotted.

    All the TP's have to do is put in a few loopholes in the contract and all you have is a £3500 piece of paper...

    With the OU your costs are split at least by course/module, plus you can also pay in installments, they are a large we recognized and supported distance learning accredited university. The risk of a bad experience is therefore significantly reduced and you also make a 30% saving ! Take into account Tesco vouchers for a further saving ! Take into account other offers and discounts and government grants, means tested benefits etc. Taking into account OU tutor support and study groups, TMS marking, online resources, DVD resources, summer camps...
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  10. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    If they truly obstructed you from passing the exams, I'm sure a decent enough lawyer could get you your money back :D

    I honestly thought the same.

    When I was doing the Network+ I felt I studied at a pace far quicker than the send and return of TMAs was allowing me to.

    I did the N+ before ever completing the final TMA for the element. I took a risk, really, and I called them and asked if, despite not completing the TMAs I could still have my exam refund. They asked for evidence of my passing the Cert - so just a copy of the cert - and proof of exam booking. I received a full refund with, to my amazement, no obstruction.

    Now, this may be a rare case but if you don't ask you don't get, and if you jump into a situation with negativity things will probably invariably go wrong.

    Even if I see my course completely through, then they will have made their money out of me still - just less than they would get with a student that dropped out part way through.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  11. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    Can you clarify - the 30% saving based on what? (wasn't sure if you meant in relation to Tesco vouchers...)

    My distance provider had tutor support from Cisco certified staff (for the Cisco course) and an online student portal to discuss things. TMAs were marked, there are online resources, live labs, and the A+ and Network+ had 'practical days' where you could go to get hands on.

    The main benefit of the OU is obviously its credentials when compared to a less-favourably known training provider such as Computeach.

    Yes, the module split is a great benefit - but the CCNP has four exams, and they'll be charging £1250 for one. I hope they have a summer school in that cost, and I hope it is very, very good - otherwise their charges would make those of the distance provider pale in comparison.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  12. Obinna Osobalu

    Obinna Osobalu Banned

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    Totally with you mate....
     
    Certifications: MCITP:SA,MCTS(x5),MCSE2K3;MCSA2K3:M;MCP
    WIP: EDA7,70-652,Project+,MSP(70-632)
  13. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    I have never personally used a TP, I have only used recognised colleges and universities and the odd non cert related professional course organised by an employer.

    We both know that the law and reality are two different beasts. They have the lawyers and the contract, what does the student have in the way of proof ?

    It appears you have a good TP, however how can anyone else make sure they get a good experience ?

    Yes and what happens if enough people don't drop out ? The TP's have budgeted for a % dropout rate. Some training providers declare insolvancy when this happens. What happens to your £3500 then ?

    Its your 30%, you said your TP costs 30% more than OU no ?

    I agree the OU has issues too but at least does not demand a large one off payment. Their MSc level courses are far too expensive IMHO.

    I've seen local colleges running CCNA in four modules for £1300 with labs etc.

    The higher end certs by definition are going to be rarer and this is where self study is necessary or in some cases specialist providers may have some value.

    My main problem is with the zero to hero approach (A+ to CCNP etc) and the large upfront payment and contracts with unfair terms.

    Why not just charge a subscription fee each year and give out X training tokens with a fixed exchange rate against courses at beginning of the year ?
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  14. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    It's all down to personal attitude, at the bottom line. If you are organised, sensible, and not scared to approach the TP about factors to do with financials in the course, then you probably will have a good experience.

    I went into my course knowing about the subject matter I was getting involved in. I was aware of the costs, and though I wasn't aware of the saving for independent self study, I was aware that I was handing money over to a business, and there possibly would have been a cheaper option - but I didn't have the confidence at the time to 'go it alone'.


    No, I believe I said that I could recoup in the region of 70% of my initial outlay through refunds and materials, should I go the duration of the course with my distance learning TP.


    Oooh I certainly agree with this, although their MSc courses do look very interesting. The distance TP will ask for a large payment, but this is not in a lump sum - the dreaded 'learning loans' cover this and were quite manageable for me to afford.


    Quite right with the zero to hero statement, and I do not like their ham-fisted marketing techniques. Although the contracts do not have explicitly unfair terms - I have found it flexible and non-restrictive.

    The unfair terms are the limitations of refunds - ie they only offer refunds under the terms of the doorstep selling act (whatever it may be called) - the 6 day cooling off period. In this net they trap people who don't research properly and drop out of the course as I mentioned earlier in the thread. I wish it weren't like this, but people will keep falling for hard sales tactics so long as they are used. I hope threads like this will be used to educate people, and allow them to make independant and informed decisions, knowing what training providers should be like, and can provide - and what independant alternatives exist should this not be the case.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  15. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    My point is personal attitude will not save you if you get a bad TP, you will be under a contract and will have handed over a large sum of money. Possession is 9/10ths of the law...

    You have not outlined a way to identify a good from a bad TP by a prospective candidate, nor have you said how they can limit their exposure to risk.

    The fact you are in hock to a third party does not alter the fact that the TP already has the money and have not yet delivered the service. They can walk away without getting burnt, you can't. That is the essential point. Any agreement between two parties requires a balance of power.

    If you were to try to abandon your credit agreement after the cool off period you will find some rather nasty consequences.

    Correction you have not found your contract to be unfair, unfair TP contracts do exist.

    There is no need for a TP contract to require credit or doorstop selling, so these laws are not the answer.
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  16. tbone152

    tbone152 Nibble Poster

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    A lot of people on here have never used TP's but are more than happy to slate them. Obviously there are people who have had bad experiences and are right to complain. It looks like people that have never used them are quite happy to listen to the negatives and use them to undermine TP's.

    This all looks like I'm really pro TP's but I'm not. As these forums prove there are some bad ones out there but I just wanted to make it clear that I've had/am having a positive experience so far. And lets face it, you could set up a forum for pretty much any subject and any company's that members pay to use their services will have negative feed back at some point.

    T
     
    Certifications: A+, MCP, MCDST
    WIP: 70-270
  17. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    I do not have to personally experience something to have an opinion. I don't smoke but I still know it causes cancer. I do however personally know people that have used TP's and I know their experiences.

    Let just make the assumption that 10% of TP's are bad ? What can people do about it ?


    Yes and thats why people take insurance, pay in installments, check the goods/service, take legal action, check for recognised standards of quality, ask for references, and the million other ways people ensure they get good and fair service in the world.

    Asking people to cross their fingers and hand over £3500 to a relatively unknown entity because you think it will be ok is just nuts... :blink
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  18. tbone152

    tbone152 Nibble Poster

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    Which is why I said do your research in the previous response!:)
     
    Certifications: A+, MCP, MCDST
    WIP: 70-270
  19. Arroryn
    Honorary Member

    Arroryn we're all dooooooomed

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    The TP contract is separate to the methods they use to promote it to you.

    You say the OU you can pay in chunks - yes, you can - but it is still a credit agreement, and the OU will charge you interest on this as opposed to the 0% of a learning agreement.

    But the TP I have been with has been damned and blasted on this board as well as others - so the personal attitude of the student can have a factoring difference on the outcome of their learning experience.

    I have covered this in an article, if people find it useful. Link - Studying with Training Providers.

    I can't, no, and I do find it distasteful that the contract has such a short termination period. In co-operation with their hard marketing targets, students that haven't researched will, yes, find themselves on the end of a tough deal.

    What I'm trying to do is inform people of the reality, and that with levelled research, show that distance training providers can be a viable solution.

    I am trying to point out that people go for distance training providers disillusioned and ill-informed. If the training provider hasn't delivered the service then rest assured you will. But if you sign a contract clearly seeing the 6 day cooling off period (and that's it) without researching why you're spending £3K+ well... that's foolhardy, if putting it politely. I'm not saying that there isn't a trap... I'm trying to clarify what lays past the bad press and the students who believed without researching, that they truly would start in IT on more than £30K per year....
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, 70-410, 70-411
    WIP: Modern Languages BA
  20. UCHEEKYMONKEY
    Honorary Member

    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    :hhhmmm That’s an interesting point, regarding long distance learning TP's although you obtain the learning resources through a TP (unlike self study, whereby you obtain them). You are in a sense still doing self study!

    So one might say “you still need the same discipline and commitment" with a TP (long distance learning) as you would if you were self studying?:blink
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+

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