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Set a Criterion for Workplace Education: Hire a Certified Adult Educator

The Adult Educator in Workplace Education

Set a Criterion for Workplace Education: Hire a Certified Adult Educator

By Nancy Thompson, Executive Director, AWENS – Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia  @nthompsonED

When hiring a trainer, it is imperative that organizational leaders consider what professional standards the trainer adheres to. The reality is that many organizations hire internal and external trainers to deliver a wide range of training to employees without ensuring that these trainers have a background in Adult Education. Organizations are known to hire individuals based solely on the fact the trainer can demonstrate they have an established background in the topic they are to teach and are thereby a recognized subject matter expert. When someone is a subject matter expert, it does not qualify them as being a good or even satisfactory Adult Educator. Knowledge of a subject does not confirm they can teach adult learners.

Organizations need to set a criterion for which their internal trainers and external contract trainers must have or achieve. The implementation of a standard in Adult Education norms will ensure trainers who create and deliver training will not only accomplish the desired outcome of the training but also adhere to Adult Education standards of best practices.

Adult Education standards provide the organization and the learners with a high level of confidence in the services and delivery of programs they are receiving.  To be credible, standards must have certain attributes:

  • The development must be overseen by a recognized body.
  • The development process must be open to input from all interested parties.
  • The resulting standards must be documented and publicly available.
  • The organization usually utilizes a method to monitor and verify their compliance to standards.

Adult Education standards are developed through a set process. These processes and standards are established by a variety of organizations across Canada and apply to individuals who are facilitators, instructors or trainers working within an adult learning and education environment.

In the field of Adult Education, instructors and trainers who have been certified, understand how adults learn. This understanding enables them to create and deliver courses specifically designed for adult learners. Thereby providing a learning experience where adults can learn and apply the skills and knowledge to their work and home life.

Only instructors and trainers who have secured Adult Education Certification from established organizations are recognized as Certified Adult Educators. Programs such as the Workplace Education Initiative (WEI) Foundation Skills program from the Nova Scotia Provincial Labour and Advance Education Department, a Diploma in Adult Education from St Francis Xavier University or Dalhousie University, allows facilitators, instructors and trainers to brand themselves as Certified Adult Educators.

These Adult Educators apply Adult Education best practices to the work they do and adhere to industry standards. Though compliance to these standards are not always mandated by companies, individual instructors and trainers follow the terms of the standards simply because it is in their interest to do so. Standards improve the quality of a product and processes or services. Standards can reassure customers and open new markets. It is in the best interest of any organization who is hiring or engaging the services of a trainer, instructor or facilitator, that they consider what standards the educator hold themselves to.

AWENS is a collective membership of 60 individual instructors, trainers, and facilitators who are not only subject matter experts, but are Certified Adult Educators working across many industry sectors. Our strength is our extensive network of trained and established instructors, adhering to and providing a high level of adult education standards and best practices.

  • For more information on the various training and programs provided by AWENS, visit us at

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