Licensing Training: Pros, Cons, and Best Practices

By: Angie (Min Ah) Park

What is licensing training?

If your organization is interested in delivering training at scale with the ability to leverage your own trusted in-house trainers, adopting a licensed training program is an effective, affordable option. 

Licensing training means arriving at a licensing agreement with a learning solutions provider (like The Humphrey Group) to deliver  one or more of the learning provider’s  training programs in house. Licensing is often accompanied by a Train-the-Trainer (TtT) model, where the learning provider gives your in-house trainers the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively deliver their training program. 

The TtT model ensures that the licensed learning program can be successfully delivered by your internal trainers with the same quality, methods, and intent as if the program were being delivered directly by the external learning provider’s trainers.

Fun fact: this TtT approach became popular in the US during World War II when the US government deployed a program called Training Within Industry (TWI) to train millions of civilians to support the war production effort. The TtT approach was popular because factories needed to train a largely new workforce quickly while enabling trainees to pass their knowledge and skills on to others. 

Although the TWI program ended after the war, its core model was embraced by Toyota in the 1950s and other non-US firms.The Train-the-Trainer approach is also widely used today in health care, education, business, and military fields around the world.

If you are considering a licensed training solution with a TtT approach for your organization, you are probably wondering about the pros and cons, as well as key considerations for best practice. This blog article will take you through these 3 areas and help you arrive at an optimal solution for your organization. The tips for your consideration are built into the cons list to help you think about better solutions.



Pros of Licensing Training


Leveraging a TtT model, allows you to develop trainers from any geographical location and from any functional business group based on your needs. These in-house trainers can then in turn deliver training to other members of their group or location at a lower price point, making licensing a fast, affordable way to scale learning throughout your organization. 


Your internal trainers, whether they are L&D professionals or volunteers from the business, can bring a level of institutional knowledge about your organization that an external trainer just can’t match. Internal trainers can draw examples of contexts, situations, or tasks directly related to the learner’s experiences on the job that can help the learner to grasp concepts and skills more quickly and effectively. This can also help the learners apply the skills that they have learned much faster, thanks to the clear connections drawn between learning and application from the initial stages.


When you bring the training in-house, scheduling is much easier and usually more flexible. Instead of coordinating with external vendors, you can determine the needs of your employees and teams and customize the timing based on your internal priorities.


Doctors and researchers that used the TtT model for public health preparedness suggest that by definition, this approach “allows for utilization and promotion of social capital” within an organization that can maximize the benefits of a training program.

Case in point: many of our clients that license our training programs choose to do leader-led learning when they bring the program in-house, which enables mentorship and sponsorship relationships to form and flourish. This is a great way to expose high-potential employees to the leaders who can shepherd them into their next role.

Leader-led training also capitalizes on established trust and credibility by employing leaders who are well-respected within your organization and can serve as influential role models and mentors.

Development opportunity for your trainers/leaders

Whether you choose to use internal facilitators from your HR or L&D departments or to tap on leaders in the business, it’s a fantastic development opportunity for them to hone skills in facilitation, coaching, communication, and presenting – not to mention what they might learn by osmosis from the program content itself. What better way to learn content than to teach someone else?



Cons of Licensing Training

More responsibilities

Once your trainers are trained and ready to go, you’re primarily on your own to administer the program, track its progress, and measure the program results. 

Tip: Before you decide to adopt licensed training, your teams responsible for administering and managing the program should first assess their capacity to deliver the programs with success.


While cascading learning across an organization can be a huge benefit, standardizing learning that doesn’t fit the needs of your employees at certain levels/departments can serve as a drawback. 

Tip: This is where learning goals come into play as a crucial consideration. Assess the learning objectives and needs of your potential learners to ensure that the skills and knowledge gained from the program are applicable to all learners. 

Keep in mind also that many licensed training programs are designed to be adaptable. When vetting programs, choose learning solutions that can be adapted and made practical for your learners, based on their level or function. 

Identifying and retaining trainers can be difficult

If you don’t have a large bench of internal facilitators in your HR or L&D department, it can be hard to convince busy leaders to take on the responsibility of delivering training. When identifying potential trainers, you also need to carefully consider the skills that they need to have in order to maintain consistent quality of learning experiences. These skills can include the ability to:

  • Present information effectively
  • Respond to learners’ questions
  • Lead activities that clarify or reinforce learning
  • Facilitate group discussions
  • Listen effectively

Once your internal trainers are identified and trained, keeping your bench full can also be challenging.

Tip: Think about who your potential trainers are and build a concrete list of skills that they need to have in order to deliver the training program effectively. Talk to relevant people leaders to ensure that your organization has the capacity to devote internal resources to delivering training and create a succession plan for internal trainers.

Too close for comfort

Sometimes, relying on internal talent is a detriment. External trainers can be perceived as more of an expert and/or more objective than internal trainers by your learners. Depending on the audience and topic, external trainers are also often better able to establish safer learning environments and/or facilitate more diverse and inclusive discussions.

Tip: Reflect critically about the learning objectives, the benefits to learning brought by the internal trainer(s), and the relationship between the trainer and learner. If your trainer’s position or relationship with their learners is detrimental to the learning goals or the experience of the learners, consider alternative solutions such as employing other internal trainers or external trainers.



Did you know The Humphrey Group makes many of its proven Signature Learning Experiences available for licensing, such as Speaking as a Leader and Inclusive Leadership? Visit our website to learn more about our Enterprise Learning solutions.

Based on our extensive research and experience, we can help your organization arrive at the best learning solutions based on your needs and make the onboarding experience personalized and seamless.