When you are a developing your contract training course, it is essential for you to understand the needs and the demands of your target industry. If you want to present truly effective course material, you’re going to have to do some research into the needs of your prospective clients.

Contract trainers create successful training modules by assessing their clientele’s industry, demographics, location, and their own specialties. This will not only help you design your course, it will help you narrow down your field of potential consumers.

1. Examine local companies and industries

What are companies and industries in your area lacking? What are they looking for in new employees? What new skills do their current employees need to learn? What skills do their current employees need to improve? Research job postings to find out what they’re looking for currently. You can also focus on your area’s big industries and research their current needs. For example, Charlotte, NC, and Richmond, VA, have each become home to several financial firms in the past decade; California’s Silicon Valley, on the other hand, is famous for tech companies. Schools in those areas could tailor their course material to the skills those companies want.

2. Look toward the future

As the world changes, so too does the economy. Once-thriving industries struggle to adapt to the modern age. These companies might evolve into providing new services or products, or they might rebrand and refocus on a different aspect of their existing products. However they handle it, companies must change. Research companies and industries to see how they or others like them are adapting to today’s marketplace.

3. Research current concerns

Smart companies keep pace with society. With the advent of the #MeToo movement, for example, many companies are revamping their harassment policies. When political powers shift, federal (or even state) regulations often change. These are just two examples, but there are many more reasons why companies need to adapt to the social or political landscape. Employees will need to know the current policies, and who better to teach them? Companies will suffer if they are not compliant with federal guidelines, so it’s a good thing that your contract training course covers those standards! Look at current events or public concerns and consider their impact on a corporation.

4. Network

Ask people you know–coworkers, students, family–what skills they want to learn. If your school has several adult students, ask why they chose to return to school. You can find out if they wanted to switch industries or if they are trying to further their careers. You might also look at professional organizations for professions that require continuing education. These aren’t just limited to doctors and lawyers: engineers, architects, accountants, and social workers are just a few of the many fields that require continued education.

Once you’ve decided which skills are most important, you can further tailor your course. If you plan to utilize instructor-led training, you might want to center your research on local industries. Schools specializing in virtual training programs and e-learning can cast a wider net and research national trends and needs. Of course, who says you couldn’t do both?

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Author Rick J. Stern

Entrepreneur Rick Stern built Xenegrade Corp with a focus on service to educational organizations. With an MBA from Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester and over 20 years continuing education management, his experience provides valuable insight into the needs, demands, and trends of the continuing education market.

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