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Coaching education: Wake up to the new digital and AI coaching revolution!

J Passmore, W Woodward International Coaching Psychology Review 2023

In this article we argue that coach education has been through three distinct phases of development over the past three decades: 1990-2020. These phrases reflect changes in the coaching industry, which itself has seen significant change over the same period. These phases include ‘pre-profession’, reflected in ad hoc and non-qualification based training, ‘practice based professionalisation’, which saw a growth in small scale coach providers using professional body competencies, and ‘evidenced-based professionalisation’, which stimulated the growth in university based coach education programmes focused on evidenced based and research informed training. We argue that as we enter the Mid 2020’s we are witnessing a new shift in the coaching industry from ‘professionalisation’ to ‘productization’, with the emergence of large scale digitally enabled coaching providers. These new providers employ thousands of home working coaches and are focused on delivering coaching at scale to tens of thousands of coachees in enterprise size organisations using digital channels. This industrial change calls for a need to rethink and modernise coach education. Coach educators must acknowledge the shift towards the management of industrial scale delivery and the focus on data, the integration of AI into the coaching process alongside a movement towards mastery of the technologies which have enabled coaches to work globally. We conclude by suggesting coach education should offer two new career pathways: one for those commissioning and managing coaching services and a second for those working in digital coaching firms in coaching service management, in roles such as Customer Success and Coach Relations, alongside a revitalised coach training which equips coaches to operate in digital environments through a mastery of the communication platforms, tools and apps which they employ and a deeper understanding of new technologies such as AI, VR and MR.

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