How to ask for training and development

Career development

Requesting training can be a scary prospect if it isn't freely encouraged in your workplace. Here's how you can make those conversations a little less daunting and get the training you need to get ahead.

Why training and development?

Before asking for any development or training, think about why you want it in the first place. There's a whole world full of things you could learn, but some will serve you better than others.

Are you thinking about training because you want to acquire skills to make you better at your job? Is it in preparation for the next job you hope to get? Are you fascinated by a subject and just need to learn all you can? Do you want training because you're not feeling challenged or is it because you want to be seen as proactive? Whatever your reason, understanding your motivation can be useful in choosing the right training and also how you pitch your training wishes to your boss.

Be specific

Instead of approaching your employer saying that you think you'd like to learn how to do X, Y or Z at some point in the future, go with something specific. Take some time to do your research and choose one set topic or course.

If you're asking to attend a training course, be prepared to answer the obvious questions that could be fired back at you. Be clear on the details: Where is the course? When is it? How much does is cost? How many days out will you need? Who is delivering the training? How do you know they're any good? How will your absence impact your work?

Pre-empting these questions gets them out of the way and allows you to give your employer all the information they need to either decide straight away or to tell you that they'll get back to you with an answer. Either way, it puts the onus on them to make a decision. Do everything you can to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes.

Focus on the benefits

Unsurprisingly, your boss doesn't want to hear that you're requesting to go on a training course to plug a gap in your CV so that you look more attractive to other employers.

What is, or what could be, the biggest benefit to your employer as a result of your training? Will you become more efficient? Will you be able to take on more responsibility or different types of work? Will it allow you to fill in for a particular colleague when they're unavailable?

There needs to be a clear benefit to your employer before they'll sign-off on most training requests (unless you are incredibly lucky or have Jedi powers). So make sure you highlight all the benefits you can think of. Make your request all about your employer and show how this training will give them better results.

Take action

After all of the tips above, ultimately you're still going to need to actually ask that question. Even if you're nervous about the conversation and expecting to be turned down, that's ok. Just remember that the best way to make sure you don't get the training you want is to remain silent and keep the request to yourself. If you want it, your best bet is to go ahead and ask for it.