09 December 2021
Ben-Bartle-Ross on how industry awards have helped spread the word about new ways to develop skills.
So, we’re in awards season but I’m not talking about the Grammys or the Oscars. Whilst our industry isn’t able to boast as many celebrities as Hollywood or the music industries, we do have our own ‘stars’, and our own prestigious awards ceremonies.
I’ve written before about how we had to take a step back with our training programmes in spring 2020, when the Covid pandemic stopped all face-to-face interaction.
My fellow trainers and I were suddenly faced with the challenge of finding ways to continue providing training support to air conditioning and heat pump engineers, without being able to invite them into our training suites.
So what we did instead was invent a whole new way of delivering training and the benefits have been tremendous for both our customers and the business.
And with shortlisting for four industry awards and a recent win, this hard work has really paid off.
For me, though, this is less about recognition for our training team’s hard work and more about amplifying the online training message to a wider audience.
We developed online training courses that have made training on heat pumps and air conditioning more accessible than ever and reached far more engineers than previously possible.
Our new approach with a blended learning programme has also reduced costs for customers by 65%, saved significant ‘off-tools’ time for engineers, whilst lowering their carbon footprints by removing the need for travel, and made the courses accessible at a time to suit individual requirements of the attendees.
Rather than coming in to one of our training centres, 80% of the learning is now done in the customer’s own time through an online portal and this learning is followed by virtual workshops which are delivered in 2 hours.
This approach has increased the number of attendees on any course from 12 to 90 and increased delivery efficiency by over 800%.
Nearly 4,000 people have attended courses since the first pilot was launched in July 2020 and there has been fantastic feedback from them with an amazing 99% saying that they would recommend the training to others.
We believe that we are now market leader with our blended learning offering, which is why it is fantastic to be shortlisted for awards as it helps publicise the benefits of this approach. Perhaps it has changed the way the industry delivers training for ever?
A new approach
Engineers working in our industry have always faced the need for change and today is no different. New products and technologies constantly emerge and the pressure from legislation increases year on year.
We quickly realised that finding ways to effectively continue improving the skills of HVAC professionals during the COVID pandemic was vital for existing HVAC engineers, who still need training on new equipment and ongoing compliance with F–Gas.
So we developed and launched a pilot in July last year and refined and reworked it so that today, we are able to offer courses to up to 90 people at a time.
Lance Hitchins, head of our training and development programme, has written before about the changes from being classroom-based to becoming a blended learning programme.
The reason we were so keen to enter these awards is that it helps get the message out to a wider audience that as an industry, we have the technology, the people and the skills to effect positive change on our built environment – and minimise the effect modern life has on the planet.
So, whilst recognition by our industry peers has been a fantastic reward for the hard work and dedication of our training team, for me winning awards is more about giving us a wider platform to talk about the importance of our industry in delivering comfortable buildings whilst helping cut energy use.
If we can help more HVAC engineers realise just how vital they are – and show them how they can continue training, the regardless of any trophies, it will have been worth all the hard work and effort.
Ben Bartle-Ross is a technical trainer for Mitsubishi Electric