I wouldn’t normally promote ways for L and D professionals to get free training but with the general uncertainty in the economy (don’t mention the B word!) and a real need to develop our people the following tips are a useful way to plug the gap while your waiting for new budgets.

1. Use your existing staff
There are several ways to use your current employees to assist with learning and development. Find out if your members of staff and in-house volunteers have any skills they can communicate to others, and appoint internal mentors to guide the development of more junior staff. This is particularly useful for ‘soft skills’, such as communications and team management.

You could choose to make one member of staff a ‘champion’ for a particular topic. Once they have received training, they should then be responsible for communicating their learning to other employees. This has the added advantages of cementing the knowledge in the employee champion and creating an in-house support service for queries regarding that topic.

Encouraging your employees to take part in internal secondments or shadowing also allows them the opportunity to learn from other members of staff and teams.

2. Share resources
You can get more from your training budget by partnering with other organisations. For example, banding together with sister organisations or other similar businesses to offer joint courses will bring down your training cost per head. Or do a skills swap with another organisation, where you share knowledge and experience between you.

3. Look for freebies
If you know where to look, there can be many opportunities for free training for your staff. The key is to make the best use of your network of suppliers, partners and membership organisations.

Membership organisations, such as the NCVO, IoF or CIPD, often run training sessions that are discounted or free for their member organisations. Investigate what is included in your membership and make sure you are getting the most from the fees.

Go to exhibitions and conferences as they often offer spots to training organisations to demonstrate what they do and these can be really great effective sessions that only cost the ticket to get in to the event and there are usually many to choose from.

4. Investigate online training
The huge growth of the Internet has brought a wealth of resources for online learning and development, and a simple search could find something that would at least cover the basics. I’m not a fan of e learning for soft skills but it can be great for learning a simple piece of software for example.

5. Get value for money
Sometimes, paying for training is unavoidable, so you need to make sure you get the best possible return on your investment. Investigate running courses in-house using small training providers or consultants, as this can be less expensive than sending multiple staff members on external courses. It also has the added advantage that the course content will be tailored for your organisation.

If you are investing with any new suppliers, eg of any new software, make sure that training is included for free or at a discount in the initial agreement.

As you can see, there are ways to continue to provide opportunities for learning and development to your staff while keeping training budgets tight. However, your organisations will always need to invest some funds in training to make sure employees remain efficient and productive. At DTS we offer free demos to help with the decision, as we know it can be hard to decide the best fit for your people. Also because we use actors in our training that are also trained facilitators we can take larger audiences and you will be surprised; we can run a day with 3 performance facilitators for 25 people for as little as £2450.00 which is less than £100 per head, ok its not free but its exceptional quality and great value for money

If you are interested please get in touch.