Always something to learn

DIA Insurance ADI News

CPD. Three little letters that hold so many opportunities. CPD is about continuing education. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to enroll at your nearest further education college however, as CPD has many avenues to explore. 

You’ve heard the phrase, ‘every day is a day at school’ and it’s true. We are taking in so much information all the time and constantly learning. We’re finding out about how our pupils best learn, incorporating industry changes into our work and learning about new technology for cars. 

We’re reading that we won’t be able to purchase a new petrol, diesel or hybrid car after 2035 so we need to explore other options and the implications of this for us as trainers – do we need to make any changes to how we deliver learning? What do we need to learn about electric cars and what are the differences between how electric and petrol cars behave? What about charging, range, cost of servicing and parts? Will the MoT rules change? What about licensing if your pupils learn in an automatic electric car and then have a petrol manual as their first car? There is a lot to work through and lots of questions to be asked. 

All this falls into the category of continuous professional development as you are exploring information and finding out about what changes all this means to you as a trainer, your training vehicle and how it impacts on your learners. 

Professional skills 

A skill is the capability to perform a task with some expected results that are often within a specific time, with certain resources available. We could categorise skills into two types – general skills for your role and role-specific skills. 

Role-specific skills include skills that are needed only for performing a particular type of job or task, so for an ADI or rider trainer a couple of examples include:

  • Subject specific knowledge
  • Understanding how the law relates to this area
  • Industry process and procedures

Professional skills can include the career competencies that are often not taught as part of the learning pathway into a profession. Everyone running a driver or rider training business, or any business come to that, will require a set of core professional skills. These include:

  • Problem solving
  • Self-motivation
  • Adaptability
  • Conflict management
  • Leadership
  • Time management
  • Decision making
  • Communication
  • Confidence 

These are essential to running a successful business and are often skills that are acquired through a previous career, or simply life experiences. 

An important point to mention with CPD is to say that it is personal to each of us, and what we choose to do will depend on what goal(s) we want to achieve. What is right for one trainer, isn’t necessarily right for the next as we all have our own goals to aim for. There are many CPD opportunities and options for each of us, and this is partly what can make it all a bit mind blowing. 

In order to stay up to date with industry changes and gain additional benefits to you as a professional trainer, joining a professional organisation such as the Driving Instructors Association will go a long way towards this. We bring you the latest news, important industry changes, what you need to be aware of on the horizon, membership support and benefits, plus much more. 

Being part of a professional organisation will provide cover on certain aspects of your career such as professional indemnity and public liability insurance that are essential to hold when working as a driver or rider trainer, or financial cover should you not be able to work through accident or injury. 

The purpose of professional development is to continuously improve your knowledge and skills as the trainer, so that individual learners are receiving the most up to date training approaches that fit with their preferred way of learning, plus school-wide improvements for the purpose of increasing learner achievement. 

Benefits of professional development include allowing the trainer/business owner to perform better through ongoing learning by keeping existing knowledge, skills and business practices current, plus acquiring new information and putting that into practice. 

Good quality and relevant CPD means less risk for the trainer and/or business owner you’re keeping up to date of changes. For example, understanding the DVSA complaints process and what type of complaints people can make against you, and knowing how to respond accordingly. 

Just as a side note, on the subject of complaints, always make sure you have a clear complaints policy including what people can complain to you about, where to send the complaint, what information they need to include, and how to send it i.e. email or recorded delivery, and a timeframe of when to expect a reply from you/the business owner. Include what to do if they are not happy with the outcome and want to escalate their complaint further.

Having such policies in place demonstrates that you are running a professional business and this can give members of the public a certain level of reassurance. You are also adhering to DVSA’s ADI Code of Practice. 

To provide some guidance in developing your own CPD plan, also known as a Professional Development Plan (PDP), consider these five steps to help make sure your plans are on point.

Step 1: Consider business goals

Have a think about the service and the product(s) you provide. What are you doing differently to the trainer on the next road? Have you identified a gap in the market for a new product or service? 

Step 2: Talk to your customers and know your competitors

Gather feedback on your product and the level of service you have provided from your customers – both direct customers i.e. your learners and also indirect customers i.e. parents and other stakeholders from different means. This can be a satisfaction survey and/or general discussion to find out what they like about working with your business and any constructive feedback they can provide. This is valuable as understanding this can help you to drive further improvements in your service. 

Know your competitors. Are they offering anything that you are not? What can you do about that? Remember an initial threat to you could be turned around into a new opportunity for your business. 

Step 3: Recognize potential vs. readiness

We might want to offer the world on a stick to our customers to keep them happy and loyal, but be wary of over-promising and under-delivering. For example, you hear that another ADI in your area has started delivering fleet training to local businesses and you want a piece of that action. Before you panic and sign yourself up to offer the same, take time to carefully research what this is all about before jumping in. Yes it is something potentially you can offer, but are you ready to offer it? 

Step 4: Consider all types of training and development

Training doesn’t have to be in a classroom for it to be effective. Online learning has been around for a long time and can be more convenient and more accessible. Never lose sight of what you are trying to achieve and choose the most appropriate method for learning, fitting in with how you best learn. You can sit in a classroom or do a bit of eLearning to gain some knowledge about training someone to drive, but there is no substitute for being in a car. 

Step 5: Create a plan 

Your plan can take a few different forms and it needs to make sense to you. For example, you can set goals that are short-term, medium-term or long-term, or you could create a plan that looks at the situation as things are before the plan, work out what you want to change with reasons why, and then look at how things are progressing mid-plan and whether or not the goal is still valid. Are there any changes you need to make to meet this goal? 

Finally, what has changed after the goal has been met? Have you achieved what you wanted to? If the answer is no, understand why you didn’t achieve what you set out to do, as there could be many reasons for this including, did your goal change, and is the goal still valid? Create a new plan to address what you need to do if you still need to achieve the outcome.  

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Source: ADI News

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