Evaluating Requests for External Training Solutions: When You Can’t Do It All

external training

Evaluating training requests can be overwhelming—even when you have to say no.

While there can be a process for declining training requests, you should also have a plan in place to provide contingency training: those external resources that would make for a perfect fit for your employees when the L&D team simply can’t develop the training internally.

However, your contingency planning can start with the training request process itself. Below are a few questions you can add to the training intake request form in order to determine as soon as possible whether external training will be the better way to go.

Is there an existing course on this topic or skill currently in the LMS?

If there isn’t, then this may be your first red flag. Via the requester’s other responses, you will need to determine the resources needed to fulfill the request internally.

How many employees other than yourself will derive a benefit from this course?

If there aren’t any other employees who would participate in the training and use it to do their jobs better, then the request seems like a good candidate for external training.


Do you believe a subject matter expert on this topic or with this skill currently works at our company?

If the answer is no, it’s pretty obvious: seek an external course. If there isn’t an internal subject matter expert, then you would need to hire an outside consultant, who would probably be pricey.

Will you need to keep updating or improving this skillset even after the first training course is administered?

Skill obsolescence is a very real threat. According to eLearningIndustry, the average shelf life of a business competency has dropped from 30 years in 1984 to 5 years in 2014. And it’s only getting shorter.

You probably have enough on your plate keeping your current slate of training up to date. A training request for a new skill that would need constant updating (i.e., every 3 months) would be an enormous strain on your team’s resources. Go external.


How to select the right external training

Once you and your team have decided that employees should take certain courses from external providers. How do you evaluate them?

There is certainly no shortage of online learning available. According to EdSurge, the total number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) launched by the end of 2019 stands at 13,500. The five largest providers had a total combined of 100 million learners.

However, the external learning needed by employees may not necessarily be a MOOC. Here are some considerations when selecting the external resource:

Employee research. In evaluating external resources to license, the first question would be to ask the employee making the request whether they have already begun to evaluate courses on their own. Chances are, the employee has already eyed a few courses and has a really good idea of which ones are the best. This can prevent you from starting your research from scratch and reinventing the wheel.

Pricing. Of course, as with any vendor evaluation, you want to negotiate. You may be able to split the cost with the business unit.

Bigger picture. An online university or course portal may have just the right course to meet that employee’s specific training needs right now, but think ahead. Determine whether that resource could be tapped for future training needs in the same area. If so, negotiate a subscription or a number of seat licenses.

Struggling to collect the information you need during the training intake process?Try this free downloadable training request form!

Content Curation Heroes

At the end of the day, you are trying to create an environment of continuous learning. As such, curating content is a must, according to eLearningIndustry.

“Ignoring all of the recent developments in an industry could be fatal to your career. But so could trying to keep on top of everything.”

In this way, today’s L&D professionals can serve as “content curation heroes.” You might be simply seeking additional, outside resources to fill training gaps. However, your employees will rely on your ability to prevent information overload and let the right information in.

This is a win-win for everyone.


Interested in learning more about the strategic value of
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Evaluating Requests for External Training Solutions: When You Can’t Do It All