Competencies of a Master Trainer

NL 43

By Iman Fiqrie Bin Muhammad (LCDR, USN ret)
Lecturer, Malaysian Maritime Academy

If you think training is expensive, try ignorance”  Unilever.

How to recognize a master trainer

The purpose of this article is informative in nature with the intent being to persuade maritime institutions to pursue by  master trainer skill (MTS) attainment for their facilitators.
One of the most important questions an institution of learning can ask itself is– “How do you recognize a master trainer or  facilitator” (Biech, 2008). In the ATD (Association for Talent  Development) book, The Best of ATD, Vol 2., Chapter 20,  25 Competencies of a master trainer, suggests a master trainer  must possess skills in “… delivering training… facilitation and trainer… virtual training, training for multiple cultures—to help…. skills [that] keep pace with the evolving profession… and knowledge necessary to engage… learners” (preface).

25 competencies of a master trainer

The book suggests that of beginner, intermediate and  advanced trainers — the first two may only possess about 3/25  or less than 12% of the required advanced master trainer (MT)  25 competencies. As a consequence, it goes without saying
that if such a learning institution wants to differentiate itself  from the competition– organizational programs aimed at  “enhancing facilitators’ skill sets” should be able to identify  benchmarked required master trainer competencies (MTC)  and then facilitate a program aimed at closing those gaps.

Certified professional in learning performance

To  emphasize those individuals and programs capable of delivering  such demanding requirements, ATD has differentiated them  by the designation CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning &  Performance). The CPLP is based on an ATD Competency Model  shown below in figure 1, “the CPLP credentials also provides  talent development professionals the ability to prove their worth  to employers and to be confident in their knowledge of the field”  (, accessed 29/01/15).

Top 5 Reasons to Become CPLP Certified

 Build and validate your skills.
 Increase your earning potential.
 Differentiate yourself in a competitive job market;  knowledge and performance.
 Broaden your career opportunities.
 Join an elite professional community.

Delivering training

That said, one of the first things regarding qualifications like the  CPLP is costs and possibly a campaign encouraging cheaper  alternatives and methods. The focus, however, should first be on  the soundness and legitimacy of MTC program and its potential  impact on stakeholders and the brand, then the required capabilities to deliver such training  and lastly, cost and ROI. Let us begin our focus here by asking should  MTC even be a part of Maritime Education and Training (MET) to  begin with or is that taken care of already by the IMO Train the  Trainer (TOT) and Assessor Programs (AP)? If so, surely concepts  like ADDIE, Blooms Taxonomy (at the support, operational and  management level), Gagnes 9 Events and a number of other  competency systems and assessment mappings schemes have  to be a part of any MT skill set. At this point it seems instructive to  compare master trainer versus IMO TOT competencies as to their  relation, utility and getting the job done in MET.


Figure 1 – ATD Competency Model,  © 2015 by The Association of
Talent Development (ATD). All rights reserved  The comparison chart below attempts to map ATD master trainer required skills against corresponding MET TOT and
AP required skills for the purpose of seeing whether the IMO  TOT requirements suggest one has obtained the required  competencies to be called a “master trainer”.

ATD Master Trainer Competencies IMO 6.09 Train the Trainer Course Objectives IMO 6.10 Asessor Course Objectives Description
Performance Improvement (PI) Develop teaching strategies based on suitable learning theories. -Developing written tests-Performance criteria, ship-Performance improvement plan

-Maintenance of standards

Deals with the application of systematic processes of human performance analysis, design, development, solutions and the monitoring of results
Instructional Design (ID) -Understand and describe how STCW requires competence based training-Design a course of study -Competence based standards Designing and creating formal and informal learning solutions appropriate for strategies and incorporating technologies to maximize results
Training Delivery (TD) -Plan an effective teaching environment-Use a range of teaching methods effectively-Produce a relevant lesson plan Delivering the formal and informal learning in a certain manner to obtain desired results
Learning Technologies (LT) -Use appropriate training aids[ course needs updating of virtual and e-learning aids] The identification, selection, application and adaptation of appropriate and specific learning technologies
Evaluating Learning Impact (ELI) -Evaluate teaching and learning Gathering, analyzing evaluating learning information and is impact
Managing Learning Programs (MLP) Providing required leadership and adjustments to implement the learning strategies
Integrated Talent Management (ITM) Building and aligning the organization’s culture, capability and capacity
Coaching (CG) Make full use of a rapid interactive process for goals, decisions, actions and improvement
Knowledge Management (KM) The capture, distribution and archive of KM for sharing and collaboration
Change Management (CM) Applies processes for the individual, group and organization to shift desired states

Correlating ATD competencies to train the trainer

As one can see, the comparisons that can be made are  approximate only and lacking in direct correlation when trying  to compare them to that of the ATD MTC, for example many in  the TOT and AP seem to be at a descriptive or understanding  level and demonstration– quite a bit below the higher levels like  analysis, synthesis and such as required by a MT; a number of  ATD MTCs are referred to as “Areas of Expertise” (AOE) and imply  something greater than mere knowledge and understanding  and beyond the Bloom Taxonomy terms of Comprehension or Understanding; more like Analytical and Synthesis where  deeper understanding for those creating and delivering material  is required in order to be called a MT. In addition, several MTC  could not be directly articulated with corresponding TOT or AP competencies. This may be because the focus seemed to be less  on human performance analysis, talent management, change  management and such as with ATD. Also not considered in the  Table (as there were no corresponding TOT competencies to  compare with) were the several “Foundation Competencies;” Business Skills, Global Mindset, Industry Knowledge,  Interpersonal Skills, Personal Skills and Technology Literacy.
In conclusion, “knowing what we don’t know,” improving our  core competencies and driving innovation are key to improved  ROI and the bottom line. As such, the ATD CPLP or CIPD U.K.  equivalent (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)
should be part of MET MT development. While the IMO TOT and  AP courses have application in MET and industry– they in no way  suggest that an individual has then acquired competencies to  be called a MT as denoted by the ATD CPLP certification! Just as  attainment of a COC in no way expressly suggests an individual
has acquired the necessary business fundamental skills to run a  company or drive innovation.

Recalling why one would want the CPLP in the first place, the  aforementioned reasons near the beginning of this article are  germane and summarized again here; build and validate skills, differentiation and marketability (knowledge and performance)
and belonging to a professional community. Branding, return  on investment (ROI) and something called Social ROI are all  increased as a result of a professional certifications like the CPLP.
Again, the recognition by the Maritime Industry for Certificates  of Competency (COC) for seafarers should be testament and  acknowledgement that asking those involved in demanding  jobs like MET with large impact to also obtain higher level skills  and competency certification beyond mere understanding and comprehension.

ATD (formerly ASTD) was 70 years in 2013, started its first  international partnership with Japan in 1957 and today has  more than 41,000 members in 126 countries on six continents; raising standards, impacting through community, content, and  customer experience (Annual Report 2013).
References and Further Reading
ASTD (2013) Annual Report

Biech, E., (2008) American Society for Training and Development.  Alexandria, VA. ASTD Press ASTD handbook for workplace  learning professionals.

Biech, E. Editor. (2014). ASTD Handbook: The Definitive Reference  for Training & Development. Alexandria, VA. ASTD Press

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