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What’s Train The Trainer And Why’s It Such A Big Deal?

Whether you’re a beginner, mid-level, or advanced trainer, if you aren’t taking part in train the trainer sessions can you confidently say you’re operating to the best of your abilities? These sessions are designed to help professionals upskill, and in this article, I’d like to explain who can benefit from these programs all the way to how I typically structure my train the trainer sessions. To top it all off, I’ll provide a rundown of my career as a trainer just so you can see the changes I’ve gone through so far.

What Does Train The Trainer Mean?

What does train the trainer mean?

A relatively straightforward definition, train the trainer refers to the act of training others. By others I mean other trainers, specialists, or, in many cases, professionals in the workplace. When training the trainer, two things are vital.

RELATED: Read about our Professional Skills Development Services

  1. Trainees must understand how people learn

This allows them to trigger a desire for learning.

  1. Trainees must understand how people retain information

This makes train the trainer sessions useful as people gain and keep knowledge. 

Who Benefits From Train The Trainer?

The Trainee

It should come as no surprise that the trainee benefits from train the trainer sessions. After all, these programs are made with the development of the trainee’s abilities in mind. 

In terms of what the trainee can actually learn, they’re usually split into hard skills and soft skills. Here are some examples of each.

Hard SkillsSoft Skills
EngineeringBetter communication 
AccountingHow to give feedback
MathEffective leadership
ScienceEmotional Intelligence
ProgrammingCreative/Critical thinking

Depending on the train the trainer program, you can learn any one of the above skills. While hard skills tend to be thought of as subjects learned at school, soft skills don’t receive as much attention until you enter the workforce. However, ever since the pandemic, the proportion of companies addressing empathy and interpersonal skills has doubled, according to McKinsey & Company.

The Trainer

While train the trainer programs have obvious benefits for trainees, the trainers also profit in a few ways. Ultimately, it comes down to one key idea.

  • There’s no better way to learn than by being on the job

Every session directly improves a trainer’s skills. Speaking of myself, I’ve been building and running train the trainer programs for 15 years now. The experience I’ve gained through this time has been invaluable and it’s why these programs are so important for trainers. In the end, it all comes down to time spent on the job.

How Are Train The Trainer Programs Structured?


As you would expect, beginners start off simple. Programs at this level focus:

  • How people learn
  • How to deliver training programs
  • A few principles on how to build training programs

What’s important here is that trainees come out feeling confident moving forward without being overwhelmed by why they’ve learned.


Moving onto mid-level trainees, the focus here turns to effectively building training programs. At this level, we’ll figure out how to break down a topic into its varying parts before tying everything together. To give you an example, let’s look at a few components that make up leadership:

  • How to lead yourself
  • How to influence others
  • How to run team meetings
  • How to delegate

Let’s say I’m going to teach these four parts of leadership in a session. I have to make sure each concept is understood before putting all four into the context of day-to-day management. This allows trainers to build well rounded programs in the future.


Advanced trainers are given one special element to add onto their training arsenal. They learn to become partners to a business.

When businesses talk to inexperienced trainers, conversations tend to be one-sided. Usually, a company will require a training program and ask the trainer to build it for them. 

The problem is, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to build that training, or the way it’s built needs to be re-evaluated. 

Advanced trainers ask the right questions and challenge a business to get to the root of what they need.

My Journey As A Trainer So Far

  1. Though I joined Google in 2004 as part of the AdSense team, I had an interest in training from the get go. When a position opened to join the learning and development team as an AdSense trainer the following year, I jumped at the opportunity. 
  2. Upon receiving my full training inside Google and getting certified as a trainer, I moved onto a role as product trainer for AdSense. Learning training principles from external coaches and receiving feedback from managers gave me a great foundational knowledge of training. 
  3. Thanks to coaches and managers, I built up an array of skills not only in AdSense, but also in areas such as presentation skills, digital marketing, and onboarding workshops. As a result, I became the head of onboarding training for Google at their Ireland headquarters
  4. Returning to the Netherlands in 2009, I worked for Bosch and Siemens for two years. During that time, I built their whole e-learning program.
  5. In 2011, I joined Apple Netherlands and did all the sales training around B2B, B2E, and B2C.
  6. In 2014, I joined Apple’s EMEIA team (Europe, Middle East, Africa, India). As head sales trainer, I ran all the training for trainers in that region–Around 220 at the time! This role continued until 2017, when I made the move to Vietnam.

What Have I Learned So Far?

  • What Companies Need

Working for companies like Apple and Google have given me the experience and knowledge to understand what companies need when it comes to training. This can mean anything from training support to how to communicate effectively. 

With my company in Vietnam, I’m able to use the knowledge I’ve gained to effectively pinpoint a company’s needs. From there, I can tailor it to what they require

  • Never Stop Learning

Even though I’ve held leadership positions in some of the world’s largest companies, I cannot stress the importance of continued learning. Being complacent is one of the biggest traps I believe a trainer can fall into, which is why I continue to participate in trainer the trainer sessions myself. 

It’s no wonder why BuiltIn considers upskilling and reskilling to lead to higher pay, better job security, and improved confidence, among other benefits.

  • Always Keep An Open Mind

Keeping an open mind has also allowed me to stay fresh and innovative in my training approach. There’s a reason why I’ve adopted things like NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and Psych-K in my training and coaching methods.

How I Can Help

With 20 years experience, including impactful roles at Google and Apple, I, Thijs van Loon, am here to help. My suite of services has been meticulously designed to propel your team to new heights. 

One area of expertise is in Professional Skills Development, which can cover anything from sales training, team management, and train the trainer. 

By leveraging training certifications from Google and Apple, in addition to my certifications in NLP and Psych-K, I offer tailored, practical solutions that deliver immediate results to your business. By working together, I can help you empower the individuals in your company and your business at large, whether this be in Vietnam or other locations around the world. 

Interested in learning more about train the trainer programs? Get in touch now.

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