Interim jobs for training and learning and development managers

Interim work for training and learning and development managers has grown in recent years and can pay well – if you can find a post.

Training professionals considering taking an interim job had better brace themselves for a tough market, where opportunities are few and far between.

Recruitment experts throughout the UK say interim training positions are scarce, with most positions requiring specific skills.

In the north of England office of MDH Interim, a specialist agency that places interims across all industries, senior consultant Esther Farrington calculates that as far as training positions go, she gets “one or two a month.”

Farrington, whose remit covers Birmingham and the North, says hiring companies are typically looking for someone with past expertise in a specific area. So, for example, a call centre business will want someone who has previously trained call centre staff and a distribution outfit will give priority to a trainer with experience in that field.

Farrington is also regularly asked to find trainers who can help an organisation through a period of change or a tricky merger and acquisitioninterlude but, again, the client company will generally be looking for experience in these areas.

“They want trainers who are confident in where they are working, so they can hit the ground running and have a positive impact from the start,” she says.

Down South, the situation is the same, according to Jo Skipper, head of MDH’s London office.

But, she says, the lack of jobs coming through the recruitment agency process may not be a sign that the interim training market is really tight. It is just as likely to be a reflection of the fact that many interims in this area get their contracts through word-of-mouth and personal contacts.“A lot of companies use their own training networks,” she says.

“They will know people who have been inthe company before on contract or have kept in touch with ex-colleagues who are now interims,” she adds.

It is, however, by its very nature difficult to pull out any definite trends in the interim job market, points out Paul McMurtie, a director at Essence Resourcing, a dedicated training and development recruitment agency based in Wolverhampton.

He says because companies want interims for a host of unforeseen and unexpected reasons – maternity, illness, short-term projects or sudden changes in the business – demand can rise and fall ina very short time.

A case in point is the experience of Kate Fisher, the business manager at Reed Training Professionals, a recruitment agency. She reports that so far in 2007, interim training roles have made up 20% of the people she has placed.

This high percentage is virtually solely down to one particular client, a major EPOS manufacturer, which is rolling out a new system across retail stores, and requires a number of regional training people to train staff in the new technology.

Fisher says these training contracts are between three to six months long, depending on the size of the trainer’s region. Talking to other recruiters, these periods tendto be the norm for an interim contract.

As far as pay is concerned, Farrington believes interim trainers in the North are far more likely to be paid pro–rata as opposed to be offered a potentially more lucrative day rate. She says typical interim training wages can be anything between £30,000 and £60,000 pro–rata.

However, McMurtie says he has not seen any regional distinctions in this area. He says how an interim is paid is far more likely to depend on the size and type of business that is doing the hiring and its ability to pay.

He says with this variance among hiring companies, trainers who may have been paid a day rate once would be wise to lower their expectations when looking for another contract rather than hanging out for another day rate contract.

“If they get paid that way once, some think it is the way they should always be paid,” he says. “But if a company is taking you on for six months, you can’t expect them to pay you a day rate for that whole period,” he adds.

Case study: Essence

Sometimes a short interim job can evolve into a lengthy contract. This was the case last year when Essence Resourcing was approached by a professional services company looking to improve its senior management development programme.

“They were looking for an interim trainer with a strong personality who was confident of training at board level,” said Essence director Paul McMurtie.

“The person we were looking for had to be a good negotiator who could influence and be credible with senior executives,” he added.

Essence drew up a shortlist of three, and the chosen candidate was identified at interview.

“When placing a candidate at this level you can’t just parachute them in. The client had to be involved at interview stage to ensure the candidate was right for the role,” said McMurtie.

The initial interim contract was three months at a pro-rata salary, albeit above the market rate.

Thanks to a job well done, the contract was extended for another three months and the project rolled out into other divisions. This continued until the candidate had been working at the company for a year.

“This experience suited our candidate who was very driven and was keen to get stuck into a meaty role,” added McMurtie.

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