Why Staff Training Matters - Q&A with Matt Fletcher

Matt Fletcher is one our Training & Consultancy Instructors at ESS. Working up and down the country delivering a range of training, Matt has come a long way in his time at the company. As a result of his great work over the past year, he is a finalist for the Rising Star at the Learning Awards 2020. ESS has a history at these awards, with another member of our training team, Michael Harcourt, receiving the silver award last year. We sat down with Matt to discuss his approach to training and how he delivers for learners.


Hi Matt, how are you feeling about the awards? Are you looking forward to them?Learning awards finalist

I’m excited! Initially it felt a bit embarrassing, I don’t particularly like patting myself on the back. But I’m really proud to be shortlisted. It shows what people think of how hard we’re working and what we put in. Ultimately, that’s what we’re about as a company.


Why do you think you have been singled out for this individual award?

I think I’ve got this nomination partly because of the vision of other people. After being given the opportunity to join the training team I have received such incredible support by the company. It has led to me being able to progress personally and professionally in short space of time.

But if I have to big myself up; I’ve put the hours in, I’ve put the work in, I’ve wanted to learn, I’ve wanted to progress. It’s about the quality we deliver. If we don’t deliver quality training and give the learner’s what they need then we are not being an effective provider.


You mentioned how far you’ve come since you started at ESS. Can you tell us a bit about your journey?

When I started at ESS there were 14 of us. I came in August 2017 to do profiling for NVQs. As the company was growing, they were looking for more trainers to continue building on and improving the quality delivered. The bosses were impressed with my training sessions, and from there I progressed to complete my Level 3 AET (Adult Education and Training) as well as shadowing other trainers and getting my knowledge up on our courses. Since June 2018 I’ve been going out to training on my own and building on that, finding my own personal way of delivering.


matt fletcher of Essential Site SkillsDo you think the experience of learning in this role has made it easier for you to relate to your learner’s journey?

Definitely. I can put myself on both sides of the table. I understand what they feel as a learner. I know it’s not all about tests and exams, some people can’t do that.

Prior to doing this job I hadn’t had any training for years in my adult career. In previous jobs, I was mainly self-taught and passed on that knowledge. Now, seeing it from a more formal perspective, I can look at a group of learners and pick out who’s going to need different types of learning. Who’s going to need more visual content. Who’s going to need talking to more. Who’s going to need to get on and physically do it.

Being a learner and a trainer really helps me understand what works. We never stop learning, I’m still very much in that phase of learning as well as being out training. I can relate to them more because of that.


How do you maintain a flexibility in your training while also making sure you provide all the necessary information learners need?

We have a structure in terms of the courses we deliver to keep the quality the same, to make sure they’re getting the information that’s required from the course, but it’s down to the trainer to put their spin on it. I’ve always been told that the quality has got to be high but the way you get to it is by putting your own stamp on it.

For me it’s about active learning; learners being involved in a training session rather than just being shown a PowerPoint. You need to get involved with them, the slides are there for those who want them, people who want to listen to me can do that as well. But as well I think it helps to be posing questions to people and getting them to do small tasks in groups to encourage them to use their initiative. We have incredibly skilled and knowledgeable people on these courses, sometimes we just need to help boost their confidence and make their input feel valued.


If you were talking to an employer who is on the fence about training, maybe is struggling to justify the expense and disruption, how would you convince them of the benefits of external training?

I’ve worked for employers that didn’t invest in training whatsoever. Even for manual handling, they just had someone in the office do it. They didn’t give people the information as to what can happen. Workers didn’t understand how and why they need to work safely. That led to an awful lot of people having physical problems because of poor manual handling.

There is nothing wrong with doing things internally, but I think this is best when backing up the work of an external training provider. Ultimately, a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. Trying to get this training done in-house often means that workers don’t take it seriously. Having a fresh perspective coming in makes the process more formal and thorough.


What courses do you find are the most popular and which ones do you see learners getting the most out of?

Our Face Fit testing is currently very popular. I do the testing and also deliver the Train the Tester course. When I first started, you’d get more people on courses who didn’t really know anything about it. But as a result of a wider understanding of the serious health risks, there has been a change of mentality in the industry. People are starting to understand it’s not something we can play around with, if we are not giving the right information people can get seriously ill or even die. It’s life-changing what can happen. That’s a course I believe in and have a great passion for.

Also, the rescue courses, such as the Tower Crane Rescue course. Without having those rescue teams in place, someone could be stranded. In a day’s course you see a huge journey from, “Have I really got to go up there?”, to them being able to go up there, work safely and rescue someone. Although it’s only a dummy, learners take it very seriously! You can see them progress in a very short space of time.

That must be incredibly rewarding for you.

On this course there are two trainers and you can see how our individual styles of supporting them can take them a very long way. Those courses do make you proud when you walk away from them. You can really see the benefit and can potentially be saving people’s lives.


Thanks for your time Matt, best of look at the awards!


The Learning Awards ceremony is on the 20th February 2020 from the Hilton Hotel in London


learning awards


Want to find out more?