How to get out of a training course

Q: Since my company is not giving out pay increases this year, our senior management team has decided we will all be sent on external training courses.

Although these courses are not connected to media, my management believes they may be useful in our day-to-day working lives. The courses that have been chosen range from learning Japanese to wine-tasting at Berry Brothers. Unfortunately, my allocated course is first aid.

I feel a bit hard done by and cannot think how a first aid course could possibly benefit me. What excuse can I give to get out of doing the course without sounding ungrateful?

A: My father died some years ago and I'm sure that, had I had some knowledge of first aid at the time, I would have been able to help him.

Sadly, having a heart attack while playing charades was incredibly bad timing and repeatedly shouting at him to give me a better clue is not something I am proud of.

Courses that help you focus on areas of your life outside work are very valuable and should not be readily dismissed.

While these courses may not seem relevant, my guess is that your company has not just picked names out of a hat, but has put together a structured programme of courses they believe could benefit both the individual and the company.

You could ask the person coordinating the courses to swap you onto something else. However, it's not unusual for companies to pay an allowance to staff who are trained first-aiders and, before you are too hasty in asking to be moved, this could be a back-door route to giving you a pay-rise.

Personally, I'd stick with it. Having done a first aid course myself, I can honestly say that had it not been for this training, a good friend might no longer be with us.

After a night out, my friend stayed over on the couch and when he felt hungry in the middle of the night, he decided to raid the fridge.

At this point, I came into the kitchen for some water to find my friend naked and choking on a piece of pizza. I immediately grabbed hold of him from behind and started doing the Heimlich manoeuvre in order to dislodge the food.

However, just as I managed to dislodge the food and stop my friend from choking, Mrs Emin walked in on us. Fortunately, my explanation that this was a first aid technique that I had learned the week before on a company training course not only saved my friend's life, but my marriage as well.

David Emin is director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers. Send your dilemmas to

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