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Training of Trainers – The key to Effective Skilling Programs

India is close to reaping the rewards from it’s much talked about “Demographic Dividend” and to ensure we harness this opportunity, there is no denying that skill development of the youth is the key. In the recent past, several groups including the government, not-for-profits, and private institutes have taken up this task and dedicated significant resources to initiate various skill development programs that focus on bridging the skill gap.

However, despite the aggressive initiatives, the transfer of skills and knowledge is woefully inept. All pointers indicate that the trainer/facilitator who is the key driver for this activity is, in fact, the weakest link in the program design. The methodology used to impart knowledge & develop required skills leaves much to be desired and often the “trainers” themselves need a dose of solid training!

The so-called “experts” might have degrees and subject knowledge in their field but often they are at a loss when it comes to transferring the knowledge or skills to aspirants. As a result, apart from the huge drain in terms of money and time, young people feel cheated and employers frustrated.

While designing skilling initiatives the key components to focus on include

  1. Curriculum
  2. Teaching Learning methodology
  3. Trainer

 

Arguably curriculum and content development are the easy to address components of the design. Today with the abundance of information that is available to all, if a trainer is competent, he/she will be able to source or develop the content. But should the trainer not have the acumen to understand and engage the students, then despite the best content, infrastructure, SoPs, teaching methodology etc, learning outcomes will be poor if not appalling.

In short, the quality of a ‘capacity building’ initiative is directly linked to the aptitude of the trainer and therefore to achieve good learning outcomes it is important to invest on developing quality trainers for the ecosystem.

“Training young adults calls for a mix of knowledge and aptitude which ingrains patience, and commitment. And at the ToTs, we can guide them about the transfer of knowledge, but the empathy and commitment to training are blind spots and it can swing either way” says Bhasker Babu – Head Learning & Development at DRF, elaborating about GROW programs extensive 33-days residential ‘train the trainer’(ToT) program.

 

GROW program insists that all potential trainers enroll for a three-phase course. Since 2016, DRF has trained more than 300 trainers with 95% success rate.

Calibrating the trainer’s ability to train

DRF designed a three-phase course followed by final assessment & certification which is valid for one year. A re-assessment is taken every year in order to ensure that the trainers are keeping pace with evolving requirements of training. The three phases of GROW Training for potential Trainers include

Knowledge building

Trainers come from different backgrounds and have different skills. Some might have great soft skills while other trainer’s strength may be in MS office. The first phase ensures that all trainers have adequate knowledge of all the modules through basic training and peer to peer learning approach.

Teach Back” session

Facilitation is a crucial skill and “teach back” or review sessions are designed to develop these skills among all trainers. It is a hands-on session and every trainer has to demonstrate their teaching skills even as they are monitored for content, articulation and body language.

“ToT helped in improving facilitation skills by shifting to student-centered learning for teaching from traditional ways of teaching. This includes appreciating candidates for their efforts in class, encouraging them to ask questions and using “learning by doing” approach.” – Pooja Singh,  Trainer

“Micro” Teaching session

Peer-to-peer teaching helps improve facilitation skills but teaching a class which have an audience who do not have a basic knowledge of the topic is not an easy task. The last phase of the training module, tests the trainer’s clarity, ingenuity and ability to think on his/her feet apart from his knowledge of the subject. The session is followed by appropriate feedback and grading by the students.

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