In common with several others I got an email last Friday morning telling me that TFPL will no longer be offering public scheduled courses from today (Friday, February 11th) onwards, and all currently scheduled courses will be cancelled. Apparently an earlier email had gone out from Chris Jones the Managing Director which said "Following a strategic business review, it has been decided that TFPL will no longer offer publicly scheduled training courses and will transfer our suite of Business Skills courses to ILX Group, another training business within Progility PLC." However, this didn't come to me, or to a lot of other people.
This is very sad news indeed - I'd been a trainer with TFPL since 1990, and they were an excellent company to work with. They had their own training suite at Farringdon which was run by various different people, including my great friend Val Skelton. TFPL did move around quite a lot, and with each move their interest and enthusiasm for training waned. In the last couple of years they would hire external venues to run courses - when they did actually run, since a lot of them were cancelled. I'm really sorry for the two people who ran the service, and who are going to made redundant on Thursday of this week. They did their best working in an organisation that really didn't seem to care about the product they were employed to market.
As well as sadness, there's anger as well. What professional organisation just snaps its fingers and cancels everything immediately? What about the people who were booked on courses, who may already have purchased rail tickets and booked accommodation? Apparently nothing. What about trainers who may have been updating and working on course presentations that they were due to provide in the near future? (Hint, I was one of them!) It's one of the most unbelievably unprofessional things that I've ever witnessed, and that's saying something. Now, I'm not going to go all sob stories and violins at this point, but several of TFPL's current trainers, such as myself and Karen Blakeman have worked with them for 25+ years. To learn about the closure of the service second hand as it were is astonishing. If they can do that to trainers and delegates alike, what chances do consultancy and recruitment clients have? I'm not sure that I'd want to put any kind of trust in an organisation that clearly doesn't care and acts in such an off-hand a rude manner. It's really disgraceful.
What it does indicate, at least to me, is that the one day training course, where people pay a large sum, travel to London, often staying overnight and then travelling home at the end of the day, is all but dead. Organisations just don't have the money available for training, and even if they do, they're not going to have much of a travel budget any longer. Some companies can of course run their own internal courses, just for their own staff, and can employ a trainer to come in from outside to run the course tailored to their needs, but that's only a small number. What about the 'average' librarian, who may be part of a very small team, or a one person band, who doesn't have that option available to them? CILIP groups run courses of course, and there are one or two other suppliers, but in general, there isn't really very much available. I'd predicted this in July of last year with my blog post that said 'Training as we know it is broken' and it doesn't give me much pleasure that I've been provide right.
I want to do something different, as I explained in my post of last July. Short face to face training, local to delegates, backed up by videos and access to wikis, with online chats into the future does, at least to me, appear to be the best way to go. I ran several courses like that last year, and I'll be running more this year (if you're interested in hosting a course, do let me know!). People can learn when they need to, at their own speed, in the comfort of their own homes or at their desks at work. People still need to be trained, we just have to be inventive about how we do it in the future.