Lance Hitchins, head of training at Mitsubishi Electric, looks at what digital learning can mean for your skillset.
So, we're one year on and we have all had much more time on our hands that we would have liked.
So what have you been doing with it? And would you like an easy and straightforward way to add new strings to your bow?
I, for one, have been busy. Firstly, as a father of a boisterous pre-school toddler, I've been making sure he has enough going on in his day to distract him from his noisy and accident-prone habits!
I've also been busy turning my hand to some carpentry and justifying all the money spent on tools to kit out my workshop. And I've had some notable success, with family and friends benefitting from some beautiful bits of carpentry – though I say it myself!
At work, though, it's another story entirely as I've been leading the team looking at our training to enable customers to continue learning and increase their skillset, even during lockdown.
And we have literally transformed our training programme to reach more engineers than ever … and this is just the start.
Lights, camera, action
When we realised that we couldn't physically get engineers into our training rooms, we had to take a step back and see how we could deliver the training that our customers – and the country desperately needs.
After all, we are on the cusp of the heat pump revolution, so who on earth is going to match the demand for 600,000 heat pump installations each year within the next five years, if we can't get training out to them?
And all of those air conditioning systems still need installing and maintaining, so we started experimenting with our existing courses and bringing in bits of equipment and iPhones, and GoPro's and microphones etc.
Bit by bit, we put together a good enough programme to promote to our customers and we've been refining it ever since, until I can hand on heart say that I think it is second to none in the industry.
It wasn't always easy, and we had quite a few glitches and made a couple of basic mistakes along the way, but we learnt our lessons and bought better cameras, microphones and lights. Now, we are really proud of the virtual training we can put on for our customers.
And the feedback has been fantastic, with 100% of the attendees saying they would recommend the training to colleagues.
Another tool in your arsenal
At this point, we can offer three air conditioning training courses and two heat pump courses.
We've designed these virtual courses so that they can all be done in half a day modules, and doing them online has also meant savings in both course fees, travel and time away from the tools.
Since we launched our online courses last September, we've trained more than 1,600 engineers and have had some fantastic feedback from them, with our trainers praised for making the course so accessible, clear and easy to understand.
We're just about to start heat pump service and fault finding, and a course on controls, along with Hybrid VRF air conditioning. We're also looking at developing virtual training on mechanical ventilation, which is an area of huge potential growth, given the need to bring fresh air into our homes and buildings.
You can be sure that other manufacturers will be looking at their courses as well, so for anyone who is unsure what to do next in their business or career, I would say look around at the courses that will help you capitalise on the opportunities from any COBID recovery.
If you are a DX engineer, why aren't you looking at heat pumps or ventilation to increase the products you can offer customers? And if you're a gas or oil engineer, then you really need to get some heat pumps training before you're the only one who hasn't joined the heat pump revolution.
After all, it's been made so simple, what could be easier?
Lance Hitchins is Head of Training at Mitsubishi Electric UK & Ireland Branch