Training and CPD: how to cut the costs

Training and continuing professional development (CPD) are important not just in keeping your skills up to date but also in increasing your job satisfaction. Training should also act as a signal to savvy clients that you take your business – and them – seriously. It underscores your professionalism.

But training events can be expensive. There’s the cost of the courses themselves, plus travel, accommodation and meals. I’ve just attended two website usability workshops (on Copy Tactics and Optimisation and Search Engine Optimisation) run by the Nielsen Norman Group in London. And then it was straight into the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) conference over the weekend. So five days out of the office, train and plane fares to and from London, four nights hotel accommodation, meals and all the incidentals.

Training grants

That adds up to a lot of money. Luckily, I was awarded a training grant from Skills Development Scotland (SDS), a Scottish government scheme that promotes training for small businesses. SDS pays up to 50% of training fees (the maximum grant is currently £500 per course). And their application process is mercifully simple.

Local councils sometimes offer help, especially if you live in a regeneration area. For example, Glasgow City Council offers grants to local businesses under its Skills and Business Growth Programme. Chambers of Commerce are another possible source of help.

Even if grants aren’t available, your council or chamber might provide free (or reasonably priced) workshops in business skills – it’s worth checking out!

By Marian Dougan


By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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  1. If there is government funding for training, all the better. But I figure that at least some of the investment should be seen as not just honing your skills for future assignments, but simple *marketing*. At industry events — including, in particular, non-language industry events — you learn about hot topics for clients *even as you meet and mingle with those clients*. Which, assuming you can avoid being too salesy, gives you a chance to become their preferred supplier. It’s an investment in time (and money, sure), but at this level CPD is far more effective than four-color brochures and lots of the social media networking people tend to rabbit on about. In my experience, in any case. 🙂

    1. Hello Chris, and thanks for commenting. I agree: training/CPD should be multi-faceted and include attending industry events in our sectors. Participation in such events – and indeed in courses, workshops and the like – should also be a signal for clients, and something that marks us out from the ranks of “translators” who quite simply couldn’t give a damn about quality, customer service or their own professionalism. On the topic of social media networking: I’ve received work through recommendations by translators I’ve met on Twitter. And I find it a great way to keep up with colleagues (some of whom also post links to interesting articles and resources: just this week, I found the Financial Times Lexicon and Writing for Translation via Twitter. Both of which I promptly added to my website’s resource page (where you feature too). So CPD through Twitter too?

    2. Hello again Chris – I’ve just remembered, I got a government training grant to attend last year’s Université d’été in Paria too…

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