What are the barriers facing the Trainer in the multicultural business training environment?

The discussions of multicultural barriers are an immense and broad topic of discussion in the worlds of both education and business. The term multicultural in its self is so all encompassing that it in fact not as clearly defined as it would initially appear. When we say multicultural the majority of people consider this to mean multinational, which is of course a major principle and consideration of multicultural principles and especially for training purposes, yet multicultural education and research has been seen to go so far as to encompass considerations towards economic backgrounds, social status and even sexual orientation on occasion.

When considering a realistic view of a trainer or teacher in modern business environments, they will not have knowledge or even access to information about an individual’s economic background or sexual orientation for both professional courtesy and legal reasons. However if considering multicultural needs they will predominantly focus on the multinational aspect and approaches. It is important to define this perception now as this is to be the key element of the research area and how individuals possibly perceive multiculturalism. The goal of multiculturalism is to appreciate and accept multiple cultures in a specific place or organization. In this sense multiculturalism is a means towards respect for diversity, which means for a trainer that all individual approaches and ideals from training participants must be taken into consideration. 

This can make a huge difference to the needs of the individuals in training when we consider aspects like, did the participant come from a background of teacher-centric or student-centric learning?, or are they more accustomed to active participation compared to others who prefer lecturing scenarios? We also must consider the more obvious barriers to the class of language skills and usage, accents of the person delivering the training and colloquialisms that can be used by the trainer themselves.

The current research undertaken into multiculturalism and multicultural barriers would lean towards a view centred on student perceptions and challenges. These types of research tend to be, what are the challenges that a specific ethic group may face in a learning scenario? The details also seem to be taken from an American or English perspective towards education, or at least from a native English speaking perspective with a western educational view towards learning. What about the trainers themselves in this type of learning scenario? What do the trainers perceive to be the challenges and barriers to the delivery of their training? If we look at trainers who are themselves of multicultural backgrounds are there similarities in the challenges they face? We will consider these aspects whilst also looking into a various multinational views on this research.

To these ends the use of subject matter experts will be called into use for this research, so as not to be limited to English or American delivery and to compare and contrast the views of trainers who are themselves facing on occasion their own cultural barriers. This will allow for an insight into the actual individuals who work and have experience in these scenarios and how they themselves perceive the barriers to their delivery. It has been said that ‘despite the fact that both learning styles and cross-cultural differences have been important research topics for decades, surprisingly little work has been done on comparisons of learning behaviour across cultures and its impact for teachers working in culturally mixed settings’(Palfreyman & McBride, 2007).

The reasoning for this research is to investigate the real barriers to the trainer, which from the previous research done when amalgamated and reviewed would give the perception that it is not language being the primary barrier but in fact the perception of information depending on how and to whom it is delivered. The idea behind this is that the different people, depending on their cultural setting, would relate to information in different ways and with no adjustment to their culture they could come to different individual interpretations (Kendall and Wickham, 2001). Whilst a trainer will have specific learning objectives of which they wish to have the audience to be able to leave the training with, this for business is even more important as the need for component trained staff is essential to maintain a professional standard and competitive edge.

Stereotypes would also appear to play a predominant part in preparation of these trainings as it is an alleged method of which to meet the needs of an audience without having an actual understanding of the person’s background. In saying this it may not be the best way to actually manage a group like this as it may still isolate individuals who do not conform to these supposed social norms, and also when we consider the general social stigma attached to stereotypes and them being used how can they be deemed as appropriate for educational needs.

Both of these considerations themselves could insinuate that trainers when planning a training scenario may actually deliver the training in a different way than how they conscientiously planned it out. Trainers would appear to be able to adjust to a singular ethic group and consider language to be a barrier in both singular and mixed group scenarios, but resort to use of stereotypes when actually managing the class and the initial approach to the students themselves. Only later during the training can the trainer identify the actual people and their personal needs in the training session. From a trainers perspective which we are taking to be the main focus of this research we are going to consider the barriers including the stereotypes attached to them and how they need to compensate for them. To account for this we will be using a base of multicultural trainers who themselves are of a mixed cultural background.

The trainer needs to identify the needs of the group the question that is proposed is, what are the barriers that prevent the trainer in delivering their training in business environments? and how they perceive these barriers personally. We will see if the different cultures of the trainers themselves bring about any specific challenges or if the challenges presented are of common themes throughout the trainers regardless of personal ethnic backgrounds or business scenario.

The aim is to see how trainers perceive the barriers facing them in providing students with information consistently across multiple cultures in a singular delivery scenario, also to gain possible insight and understanding of how the trainers currently facilitate an integrated learning experience that does not exclude any of the class due to their societal and cultural background as how people learn can be greatly dependent on their prior experience of learning from their own culture, especially in tertiary and adult education, our concern is however the business environment. We will review existing literature on individual and cultural differences among students and how these are currently perceived, how these differences affect students learning and beliefs about education, although our goal is to identify how these differences are barriers to the trainers themselves.

During the research we will search for data on the methods used by the trainers, in addition to how and if the trainers devise learning strategies or personal approaches that address individual differences and that influence the learners experience helping to progress them to the learning objectives intended by the trainer. The research undertaken will assess the recognition from the trainer of cultural differences in learning and how trainers provide a meaningful learning environment for a range of individual and cultural differences.