Assessing live training delivery is a cornerstone of a new trainer certificate awarded jointly by BCS and the Institute of IT Training (IITT). Helen Wilcox looks at how the certificate was developed and asks the first successful candidates about their experiences.

The first group to make it to the finishing line of the Institute Certified Training Practitioner (ICTP) certificate formed part of a BCS pilot for its train-the-trainer standard, with courses and assessment run by two training providers.

BCS began developing its own train-the-trainer standards, Accredited Course for Tutor and Trainers (ACTT), three years ago. However, with government standards changing, BCS decided it made sense to work with other bodies and incorporate ACTT into the ICTP. The ACTT therefore no longer exists in name, although its essence is part of the ICTP.

The ICTP came into being as a result of the BCS and the IITT wanting to create one train-the-trainer standard. Previously, IITT used to run the Trainer Assessment Programme (TAP), BCS was developing its standard, plus there were further occupational standards developing.

'Trainer standards used to be all over the place,' said managing director of the IITT Ed Monk at a ceremony in January to award the certificates to the successful pilot candidates. 'For the first time, we have achieved uniformity in IT training. We're delighted that we have a group of people who have achieved ICTP.

'We're interested in raising standards - for us, today is a celebration of working together.'

Following BCS teaming up with the IITT to launch the new certificate in September last year, the successful candidates on the pilot ACTT course became eligible to receive the ICTP certificate.

To achieve certification, the candidates had to show that they were meeting a set standard in training delivery. As part of a three to five day course they attended, their live delivery was assessed. For ACTT, they also had to submit further evidence of competence for elements that were not covered in the 20 minute assessment during the course.

This ICTP has been designed so that the resultant assessor's report can be used as part of a wider portfolio of evidence submitted against the Qualifications Credit Framework Level 4 accredited qualification - Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS), which is awarded by OCR.

Chief executive of the IITT Colin Steed said to the successful ICTP candidates: 'If you add additional evidence to the assessor's report then you can put yourself forward for a Level 4 accredited qualification. You're well on the way in getting a nationally recognised qualification.'

BCS was keen to set a standard for IT trainers that did not mean they had to follow a long assessment procedure. The ICTP provides this as it offers recognition for IT training professionals and provides a stepping stone to achieving a Level 4 accredited qualification.

Jooli Atkins of Matrix FortyTwo and chair of BCS Information and Technology Training Specialist Group said: 'Development and support of the ICTP by BCS shows its commitment to support and encourage the training profession, providing evidence that the BCS acknowledges and supports IT trainers as IT professionals. This follows the setting up of a specialist group for IT trainers in BCS about two years ago. We now have around 1,000 members, so clearly there is a need for this type of recognition within the BCS.'

The ICTP certificate on its own is recognised for IITT Professional membership at the grade of Associate. The ICTP, with a Level 3 accredited qualification in the learning and development space, is recognised for IITT membership at the Professional grade of Senior Associate. Other train the trainer courses (including TAP, MCT, CTT+) are also accepted for IITT membership at the Associate grade. 

Steed believes that more companies will take up the train-the-trainer approach in the coming months. 'I think the government is putting a lot of money into developing employees, and pushing for employers to develop their staff,' he said.

'If you are taking on such a role, we suggest that you attend a train-the-trainer course at an IITT Authorised Qualification & Assessment Centre. Short courses can quickly equip you with the necessary skills. Reaching the ICTP standard proves to your colleagues that you have those skills, as well as providing a possible stepping stone for those who wish to progress to achieving a nationally recognised qualification.'

Ten training companies have either been approved or are nearing approval by the IITT as Authorised Qualification and Assessment Centres for the TPMA service leading to the ICTP certificate. Others are in the process of being authorised, and Steed said he hoped that there would be 25 by this April. Internal training departments can also be accredited, so that they assess their own trainers.

The students' viewpoint

A group of engineers from Yahoo! took a five-day Matrix FortyTwo workshop leading to ACTT, so that they could train their peers. Their roles in Yahoo! are varied and therefore they are using what they learnt during the certificate for quite different purposes.

Manav Meehan, head of process and programme management at Yahoo!, is involved in a lot of coaching and mentoring, and found the skills taught in the course useful for that area. 'We were told how not to be trainer-centric but trainee-centric,' he said. 'And how to be assertive in softer ways, and about influencing.'

Christopher Lacy-Hulbert, engineering manger on the Yahoo! FrontPage, specialises in information security. The plan is to deliver security training to engineers around Yahoo! Europe. In the past Yahoo! trained staff on security via a boot camp, but that approach using PowerPoint slides was seen as boring and not helping staff retain what they learnt. With what he learnt on the course, Lacy-Hulbert is hoping to change all that.

Artur Orteja is a software engineer, working in the international part of Yahoo!, on platforms for the media. As an add-on to his job, he trains others in accessibility, advising on how they can apply accessible tools to their web development projects.
'Colleagues ask for ideas,' he said. 'It's a nice interchange. I was already working on this before I did the course. All through my career I’ve been asked about accessibility because I'm blind.

'Matrix FortyTwo adapted the course for me when necessary - so, for instance, instead of drawing a diagram, I would describe it, for instance saying an arrow would go from here to here. The course was different to the lecture type of training. For instance, I learnt about the different ways you can reach delegates.

'Our delivery was videoed. We had to take a training session of 20 minutes and apply what we had learnt. We discussed it afterwards with the peer group. To complete the qualification, I then had to write about areas that didn’t come up in that 20 minutes.'

The other course leading to ICTP as part of the ACTT pilot was a four-day one with Training Synergy. Among the participants was Brian Rowlatt, a consultant specialising in ITIL® at Logica. His role includes writing ITIL® course material and delivering it.

'My audience for courses is normally internal,' he said. 'We give courses on ITIL® to our staff who are delivering IT services to Logica's customers. We have also started to provide courses to Logica's customers. Internally, I can tailor courses to Logica and give examples of how we use ITIL® here, which I think makes them more relevant.

'Last year I was training all the time. Now I'm developing new courses. I have used what I learnt from the workshop in both aspects.

'I used to be a teacher around 30 years ago, so the ACTT course brought some ideas back. It went into theories of how people learn in different ways. A major benefit of the course was the focus on tying theory in with the practical side of planning and delivering courses, and so improve the quality of training.

'I also got some spin-off ideas from the course, such as using post-its in group exercises to write down and present their ideas. That way every member of the group can contribute their ideas, rather than having a scribe, who is too busy scribbling to be engaged, or who only writes down their own ideas. It's fast, so opens up opportunities for very quick group exercises when otherwise time pressure might imply that lecturing is the only option.'

Professional bodies pull together

The launch of the new ICTP has strengthened the ties between the IITT and BCS.

'The jointly awarded ICTP certificate highlights what we can achieve by working together to develop services to suit both sets of members,’ said Steed. Both of our bodies are aiming to raise the professionalism of the industry, and pooling our joint knowledge strengthens the quality of such certifications.'

Atkins said: 'Having these standards developed by the BCS and the IITT, in alignment with national standards, means that nationally recognisable qualifications are now in easier reach for trainers in the IT profession. This simplifies the choices for someone wanting to join the profession as a trainer, and means that courses will lead to set standards that will help employers to easily understand a trainer's level of competence.'