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The real cost of training

by Paul Eldridge7 minute read

Andrew and I (co-founders of Intellitrain) got into training and developing because we love making a difference in people’s lives. It sounds really warm and fuzzy, but the reality is that this is our real motivator.

I’ve always enjoyed helping other people to learn things or acquire skills, whether it was teaching my mate how to play golf (the basics, I’m not saying I have golf figured out) or a classmate who was struggling with algebra in year nine – I seem to have a natural affinity and desire to teach and coach. Unfortunately we both don’t get in the classroom as often as we would like because of the pressures on us to continue to build and operate a business with 29 staff.

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However, if you were to ask Andrew or I what we enjoy most and the answer would be the ‘aha moment’, the point at which the penny drops for a student and they acquire a new skill or new piece of knowledge. As a trainer there are two things you live for, seeing the penny drop for a student is the first and the second is when you hear from them that they are putting in place that thing that you taught them.  It really is a fulfilling experience.

One of the real challenges for us has been the commoditisation of training in the mortgage broking industry. Unfortunately, not everyone is in training for the same reasons and we have seen companies drive prices down and down and down to the point at which what is actually delivered is worthless.

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Training that makes a real difference for someone comes at a cost. You need to invest time and expertise in researching and building training content that is valuable and you need to ensure that the content stays relevant and continues to meet the needs of students. So there is an initial cost to build and then an ongoing cost to maintain. If you go to a course and the manual is five years out of date, it’s not a good experience as a student. Similarly, good trainers come at a cost and they too need to ensure that they keep their skills relevant and up to date.

Finally, students need support all the way through the learning journey, whether its administration, tutoring, help with understanding assessments or one on one support, this all comes at a cost to provide.  The quandary that we have faced as a company over the past five years particularly is that we have wanted to continue to provide a high quality and enriching experience for our students but at the same time we’ve not been able to charge a rate that was actually compensating us for the work going in to delivering our service.

Recently, we were successful in gaining VET Fee Help approval with the Federal Government. VET Fee Help enables us to offer a ‘study now, pay later’ option along the same lines as HECS at Uni. This also means that we can actually charge a true market price for our program without impacting students who are able to pay off the course fee once they earn over $50k per annum.

The true cost of training can be felt when nothing is gained.

What this means is that if you choose to enrol with an RTO based on whoever is the cheapest then don’t be surprised when you don’t learn anything.

When you go to University, you choose an institution based on who has the best course, the best lecturers and whose graduates get the best jobs when they finish Uni.  Vocational Education & Training (VET) should be no different. You should choose an RTO based on the same criteria, namely; which RTO produces graduates that can actually do what the Diploma or Cert IV is supposed to teach?

If you take 6 – 12 months to complete a Diploma of Financial Planning but you come out the other end and you are able to generate another $100,000 in income for yourself, is it not worth investing $9900 and 6-12 months of your time? 

You can do a Diploma of Financial Planning through some RTOs for $2000 and finish in 4 weeks having never spoken with a trainer, but if you never actually use it, then it’s actually just a waste of your hard-earned $2000.  One option is an investment in your future, the other is a cost.

So if you’re choosing your educational provider based on how cheaply and quickly you can complete then you aren’t getting an education, you’re simply swapping some money for a piece of paper.


Paul Eldridge, Director and CEO of Intelltrain
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Paul holds a Master of Business and Technology from the Australian Graduate School of Management at UNSW. He also has a Bachelor of Arts and a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment as well as being an accredited Franklin Covey and DiSC facilitator. Paul is an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management (AFAIM) and a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD). Paul is a founding director and current CEO of Intellitrain where he is responsible for the continuing growth and expansion of the business. Intellitrain is widely respected as a quality provider of training services to the Mortgage Broking Industry. The company has won several awards including Best Industry Service and BRW Fastest 100 companies in Australia (53rd) in 2012. Paul has developed authored Cert IV & Diploma units, training manuals, sales manuals and designed and delivered training programs for such clients as Westpac, LJ Hooker, Ray White, RAMS, AFG and Mortgage Choice to name a few. Paul’s style is engaging and dynamic and he is passionate about helping people to grow and develop themselves and their business. Sometimes controversial, always forthright and passionate, Paul will be sharing via this blog his insights and challenges faced in running an RTO in the Mortgage Broking industry.

The real cost of training
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