Despite the uncertain time we’ve all faced since 2020, many business owners remain optimistic and are now looking to diversify by turning their organisations into training centres. At SKL Training, we’re currently working with a number of places on centre set-up projects and have met those businesses at various stages of their training centre-set up journeys and across multiple industries; however, there are several common themes when it comes to mistakes and now it’s time to talk about them! 

1. Starting with no policies 

It’s likely that your new awarding body (the organisation that will issue your exam results/awards/certificates/diplomas… think Open College Network, City and Guilds, NOCN, CPD, AQA…) will want to see various policies and procedures when you apply to work with them. They want to see that you’ve got all your ducks in a row. A robust policy reduces risk in any organisation because it tells people what is supposed to happen, how and when. Everyone is safer with a decent policy in place: staff, you, your students and your customers. Some examples of some policies or procedures that most awarding bodies will want to see include health and safety, equality and diversity, complaints and safeguarding. 
 
It’s time consuming and often not the most thrilling of tasks, which is often why people put it off! You can get various templates online for those policies and that is of course fine, but it’s really important to make sure that they apply to your business. With that in mind, it’s much more effective for you and your staff (and future learners) to write from scratch, taking your own business set-up fully into account. Consult with your team. What does safeguarding really mean in your place of work and how can you realistically put a procedure in place that works for your business? 

2. Starting with no trained staff 

This is huge. Your staff are great at what they do and you want them to deliver courses when your training centre is set up. Sounds great, apart from one small issue. They don’t have a teaching or assessing qualification. Again, this is highly likely to be a requirement of your new awarding body. Your awarding body will want to know that your staff can be trusted to deliver qualifications on their behalf to their standards. One way they are likely to be more satisfied about this (and hopefully give you Direct Claims Status as early as possible, which will mean fewer visits from them and will enable you to claim for your learners’ certificates as often as you need to with no extra charges) is if they know your staff hold teaching and assessing qualifications. 
 
The most up to date teaching qualification is the Level 3 Award or Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training. These qualifications give you or your staff the knowledge needed to be able to teach. If they already hold PTLLS from years ago, that is fine: the Award in Education and Training is the updated and upgraded version of that. Of course, as with anything, the higher the qualification the better and it may be that your staff can start straight away at level 4
 
Some awarding bodies are less concerned with whether your staff hold assessing qualifications but some are strict about it. It is a good idea to have at least one person at your centre with the Level 3 Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement (CAVA) as this gives all of the essential knowledge relating to understanding the principles and practices of assessment. It’s also the most up to date assessing qualification. If your staff already hold this in a different format – for example the A1 Assessor Award or D32/D33 – they won’t need to do CAVA, but if they do need a reminder of how it all works then simply grab hold of a copy of Refresher Assessor and keep it in your centre. 

3. Choosing the wrong awarding body 

There is a recurring conversation that we have with business owners who are looking to set their organisations up as training centres and it revolves around choosing an awarding body. 
 
Centre: “We’re choosing City and Guilds!” 
Us: “Why?” 
Centre: “Because we know them!” 
 
It is great to have an awarding body attached to your centre that everyone has heard of but that should not be the main reason to choose them. City and Guilds are excellent; there is no doubt about that. But so are many, many other awarding bodies and the right one should be about the right fit for your business and potential learners rather than anything else. 
 
The right awarding body is up there with one of the most important decisions you’ll make when setting up as a training centre. Consider the costs involved: how much do they charge to set you up with them initially? What are their rules about qualifications and quality assurance? How much do they charge per registration? What is their yearly registration fee? What qualifications do they offer? 
 
Some centres choose the wrong awarding body then have to find another one, two or three to register with down the line. This is really cost-ineffective and a lot of hassle. 
 
We support new training centres to choose the right awarding body for them within our centre set-up service package and it is one of the most time-consuming elements of all! It has to be right. 

4. Poor quality resources 

We’re so lucky to have the internet now as we can simply go online and get free resources to use in our courses… do you agree? We’re not sure we do. Free resources are likely to be free for a reason. And that reason is because they are not great. 
 
Course and resource design takes time. We’ve all been on awful training sessions where we’ve come away with a naff PowerPoint notes print-out and 500 other bits of paper and promptly lost them in the nearest bin… or we’ve been given a nice little folder that we’ve then stuck on a shelf and never looked at again. Don’t do this to your students. If you have spent time, effort and energy on getting your staff qualified, writing your policies and setting up with the perfect awarding body, you need the icing on the centre set-up cake and that is an incredible set of resources so that your students can complete their qualifications with you in the best possible way. 
 
Again, this takes time but we can help. SKL Training has a full course design and writing workshop that is individually tailored for each centre that books on to it. We also have resource writing services that you can dip in and out of as you need. We can support you to make your own or simply do it for you. It’s your choice. 

5. Not asking for help 

In business and life in general, the most successful people know when to ask for help. And what’s that saying… a wise person learns from their own mistakes but a wiser one learns from the mistakes of others. This quote is attributed to several different people but whoever said it first or last is right. 
 
Setting up as a training centre is often a confusing and difficult process and it can be hard to find the support you need. SKL Training offers pay-as-you-go hourly-paid consultancy that is there as and when you need it by Zoom or phone; or you can purchase a full centre set-up package which can save almost £2000 on the cost of purchasing each element individually. 
 
We’ve been there and know what it’s like; plus we have worked with multiple businesses across sectors such as construction, beauty, aesthetics and first aid – as well as charities – to get them set up as successful training centres. 
Give us a call today and see how we can support your business to become a training centre! 
 
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