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Andy Baker

Head Trainer

Andy is the director and head trainer of Able Training, he has been training for over 10 years. He started Able Training in 2008 and since that time he has grown it to where it is today with the assistance of a small team of dedicated staff.

Why did you start Able Training?

I had been freelancing as a trainer for a number of years working for lots of other companies providing various courses and over that time I received a lot of positive feedback. I didn’t always feel then that those training companies took note of that and looked after me as a freelancer. One of our philosophies is to look after and reward our training team. We expect high standards from our trainers but we also aim to look after them and reward and appreciate those high standards so that they persist. Another reason I felt I needed to start Able Training was because the positive feedback I received often took the phrase “so much better than the other training we have had”. This also made me realise that there are lot of poor standards of training out there. Some people are highly knowledgeable, others highly experienced but that doesn’t make them good teachers/trainers. We try to ensure that all are courses are fun, engaging and thought or feeling provoking as that is how information is more likely to stick and be used. Training does not make for better staff it is only if the staff then use the training that it improves a service – and staff have got to feel engaged to retain and use the skills we teach.

Has the training industry changed in the last 10 years?

Massively. Training has progressively become more and more important to regulating bodies – it is a way that most industries including the adult and child health and social care settings and education settings are judged. It demonstrates a culture and attitude that the organisation is focused on maintaining or improving standards. Regulators like the QCQ and Ofsted want to see more and more evidence that specific skills are being developed which are organisation / risk specific but also that the basics and fundamentals are being addressed and maintained for existing and new staff. This increased pressure to implement training has put additional strain on budgets for many companies, so many have had to explore alternatives. E-learning is one route that many companies have taken, especially for the more theoretical mandatory courses. They tend to be cheap (e.g we have awareness courses that only cost £4 + VAT per person) and the staff can achieve them in their own time or working them around shifts. The downside of these courses is that they do not allow the same level of personalisation by the trainer and the staff cannot ask questions to confirm understanding or clarify details. There are also certain courses that we feel should not be learnt from e-learning alone, subjects like first aid , moving and handling of people and physical intervention are not suitable to be taught as theory only courses, staff need hands on practical training.

What is your funniest moment in a training course?

I was teaching first aid and we had reached the point in the training for recovery position training. I demonstrated what we were supposed to be doing and then lay down to act as the casualty while the attendees rolled me into the safe airway position. The first lady came to my side, checked me for response but then proceeded to attempt mouth to mouth rescue breaths. I opened my eyes just as her head was coming down, eyes closed, mouth open about to give me the “kiss of life”. I called a halt and the poor lady turned the most amazing shade of red, I think I may have looked a little flushed too.

What is the hardest part of the job?

I love what I do. I have a passion for teaching and I am so glad I do what I do. I am so proud of my company, my staff and what we offer and achieve. I don’t struggle to get up in the morning to come and work, except sometimes when its 4.30AM and I have to travel for 4 hours to get to a job but I am always fine when I get there and if I could eliminate traffic jams my job may be perfect.The only thing I really find hard is that some sessions are emotionally draining. Some of the courses I teach like challenging behaviour and self harm can cause attendees to look for answers to their individual difficulties which is fine and understandable but sometimes their situations are extremely complex and more than I can assist with on just a half day course. However, I do get emotionally affected by their struggles, stresses and worries as I listen and empathise with their concerns and stories. I would never not want that to happen or dismiss it but that can be a hard day – when I can’t give a person the answer they are hoping for, but I feel their distress.

How do you see Able growing in the future?

I want Able to continue its growth and become a highly recognised brand, however it must maintain its person-centred approach to training and customer service. We look after our customers and our trainers and want people to feel they know us as a company. They know our service will continue to be reliable, affordable and enjoyable.

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