Five tips for making the right choice

Wanting to update your professional skills, embark on a career transition or fulfill a personal interest, you set out to find the most suitable training course to achieve your goal. But then you realize that there is a plethora of courses on offer, and you don't know which one to choose. Continuing education represents a major investment. Here's a brief overview of what you need to consider to make an informed choice.

Identify the need

The identification of this need can be carried out by the person undergoing training, as well as by the company employing him or her. Does the training respond to an intrinsic motivation or an external constraint? In both cases, the training will have to fill a perceived gap, and it's important to identify this gap before embarking on the search for the right course.

Whether the initiative comes from the employer or the candidate, it is essential to define the objective. Is it to fill a need for legitimization in a given specialization, to familiarize oneself with a new standard, to obtain a diploma to add to one's CV, or to take time out to reflect in an appropriate setting? The answers to these questions will enable the candidate or employer to make the right choice for the desired purpose.

For example, someone who wants to quickly acquire knowledge on a technical subject, but places little importance on sharing experience with other experts, will opt for an e-learning solution, whereas someone who wants to take the time to exchange with other experts and broaden their professional spectrum will opt for face-to-face training.

Evaluate activatable resources

The choice of a training course will also be guided by the resources available. Time is the most important of these resources. How much time can you personally invest in achieving your goal? And how much time will your employer give you? Will this investment affect the time you spend at the office, with your family or friends?

The second resource to consider is financial. How much money do you have at your disposal? Does your employer finance this investment, and if so, what conditions does he or she impose? How soon will you be able to change employer after completing your training? Will you have to reimburse part of the cost? If you finance the training yourself, do you benefit from any subsidies? Do you have to factor in additional costs for books, travel or even accommodation?

The third resource, not to be underestimated, is cognitive and motivational. Following a training course requires you to devote energy to it. It requires concentration, reflection and regular teamwork if you're embarking on a long-term academic course, for example.

Learning as a team or on your own

Teamwork, which is encouraged as part of university-level continuing education courses (CAS, DAS, MAS), promotes what is known as "socio-constructivist" learning, where exchange between peers at similar levels reinforces the acquisition of knowledge and skills. While learning and working as part of a team brings many benefits, it also requires a greater commitment in terms of collaboration time.

Some will prefer to take continuing education courses where learning is individualized, even if it takes place in a shared classroom. There will be informal exchanges between participants, but assignments and exercises will be carried out individually.

Others opt for completely individualized training. Using a personal trainer, for example, allows you to prepare for an exam, but requires greater financial resources. The ISFB often offers this solution to candidates wishing to prepare for an exam with an expert who will devote several hours of one-to-one time.

Choosing the right format

Over the past 20 years, the world of continuing education has undergone profound changes. The Internet has brought about a veritable revolution in access to knowledge and exchange between individuals. It is no longer necessarily necessary to travel to a training center to acquire skills; you can now take a course from the comfort of your own sofa, or even learn at your workplace.

There are many different formats, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:

Onlinee-learning solutions offer videos, readings and a variety of interactive formats that are very useful for tackling theoretical issues. Their behaviourist approach makes it possible to acquire knowledge by repeating exercises and MCQs, for example, at free times and without social interaction. These virtual solutions are very useful for theoretical refresher courses, for example in the fields of IT security, compliance or, more generally, regulations. At ISFB, we use the Moodle platform, which is accessible to our participants 24 hours a day.

Live distance learning has become increasingly popular since covid. There are now a number of solutions that enable you to follow a course given by an instructor live but remotely, from your own computer via Zoom, Teams or similar. When cameras are switched on and microphones used sparingly, following a training course via video interface is particularly practical. Candidates no longer need to travel hundreds or even thousands of kilometers to attend a course. They can join their class remotely, at a precise time. The downside of this format is that interaction and spontaneity are limited, and technical problems can disrupt the dynamic of the course. Nevertheless, when the rules of use are well specified and the broadcast studios are of high quality, this format is well suited to the need for skills acquisition. This is typically the format we use in our SAQ recertification packages, which bring together participants from all over French-speaking Switzerland on the same subject. At ISFB, we have a professional live broadcast studio.

Classical face-to-face training, which takes place in a physical location where participants gather, enables us to exploit a multitude of pedagogical techniques, but also to share the experiences of different participants in a richer way. In this way, taking a training course is not just about accumulating information, it's also a time for exchanging ideas and discovering personalities and places that will help to anchor the knowledge acquired in the memory. Over and above the acquisition of skills, face-to-face training enables you to expand your network and build your professional future. For all these reasons, ISFB, as a Skills and Career Center, favors and encourages face-to-face training. We have two fully-equipped multi-purpose rooms and a relaxation area conducive to interaction.

These different formats can be combined according to the objectives being pursued. Hybrid curricula, which combine face-to-face teaching with remote exchanges and MCQs, provide a variety of stimuli throughout the course. For example, theISFB's Moodle space enables students to review their electronic readings online, take formative MCQs, and in certain situations even ask an expert for a remote interview.

Assessing the training institution

Before taking the plunge, it's also a good idea to take a close look at the institution offering the courses and awarding the diplomas.

Professional associations, which by their very nature bring together the economic players in their ecosystem, offer training courses that correspond to the specific and immediate needs of their sector. In this way, the skills acquired during the course are directly applicable in the field by the end of the course. In this type of training, participants come for pragmatic skills. These courses lead to attestations, certificates or diplomas recognized by the members of the professional association, or for certain professions, to federal patents and diplomas.

This is why ISFB offers participants the famous ISFB Certificates, recognized and appreciated by the job market for their impact and immediate activability. In addition to the diploma awarded at the end of the course, the sharing of experience with experts in the same sector is valued, contributing not only to maintaining one's professional network, but also to familiarizing oneself with other professional practices within the same sector.

Universities, universities of applied sciences and federal institutes of technology offer a wide range of longer-term continuing education courses, awarding ECTS credits and leading to CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies, generally 10 to 15 credits), DAS (Diploma of Advanced Studies, generally 30 credits), and MAS (Master of Advanced Studies, generally 90 credits). These courses, aimed at the working public, last between six months and two years, depending on the program, and are open to holders of a Bachelor's degree or a qualification deemed equivalent by the program directors. Participants are generally looking for a more conceptual way of thinking, enabling them to take a step back from their day-to-day lives, or to obtain a university degree confirming a specialization.

In addition, many private players offer quality training courses. Among them, many offer diplomas and certificates whose value is commensurate with the reputation of their brand and teaching staff. For example, an MBA from a prestigious university will not have the same value as one from a less reputable institution, and the cost will reflect this.

It all depends on what you want to achieve. To sum up, before embarking on a training course, we advise you to ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. What do I want to achieve by taking a training course?
  2. What are my motivating factors?
  3. What resources (time, financial, cognitive) are available to me?
  4. Which learning format will best help me achieve my goal?
  5. What impact will this training have on my career development, from a motivational, technical and managerial point of view, as well as on expanding my professional network?
Which solution to choose?

Mathias Baitan


General Manager

"The choice of training will also be guided by the resources available".

Which solution to choose?

Strategic Business Area 3

Skills development

Alongside its range of technical and managerial training courses, the ISFB offers its member banks' human resources departments a range of guidance and career management services.

Discover our skills development offer