No one knows the value of training better than EIT’s International Engineering Education Manager, Kevin Baker. This year, he celebrates his 21st anniversary in charge of the institute’s group training department, a stewardship that has seen the company run courses for everyone from; Coca-Cola to NASA, the major oil and gas players through to the United Nations.
While EIT prides itself on providing in-person training for any class anywhere in the world, for the past 13-years, there has been a steady migration to the relatively new territory of remote (virtual) teaching.
“Once we had laid out an effective delivery mode, we knew live instructor led online training would be a very close match to the traditional classroom instructor-led offerings,” says Kevin. But while he and his team were confident their method was a winner, there were considerable obstacles to overcome. A key concern was pre-conceived notions that online training was poor and less effective than tried-and-tested methods. ‘Wouldn’t it be harder to engage with a class remotely?’ And; ‘wouldn’t practical learning be limited if the teacher was not there in person?’
Fortunately, EIT’s course offering spoke for itself, with a focus on interactivity for students.
“The learning almost becomes entertainment,” says Kevin. “There is no question vast swathes of money was being wasted – and probably still is – by companies paying for training where learners sat, glassy-eyed, for two or more days. All that was delivered in many cases, was a loss of dollars and time. Our model ensured students are engaged in the training – they actively participate at every opportunity.
“We achieved this surprisingly simply by understanding that for many technical and engineering roles, workers’ interaction with the plant and equipment, comes via a keyboard and screen. This lends itself perfectly for us to engage the hundreds of experiments, labs and simulations we have developed, to emphasize and reinforce the concepts being communicated in the course.”
It wasn’t long before growing demand required a rethink in how EIT supported group training requests, and a dedicated course manager was created, with Kevin taking the role in 2000. At the time, the company offered around 20 short courses, with eight to ten booked each month.
“We quickly saw the growing demand,” he recalls. “Word had spread that our training was not just a theory session, but delivered real skills and knowledge that could be applied on the job immediately.
“Much workplace training in the past had been rather intangible, in terms of results and demonstrable benefits. Those who attended our courses came out with real benefits that were obvious to their employers, and it also helped them on their career paths. Repeat business blossomed, as did requests for courses we had not yet developed.”
“From the beginning we received regular requests to customize the training materials to better suit the needs of our clients,” Kevin says. “We quickly evolved a publishing department to keep up with the requests for tailored courses, and to keep our detailed technical reference manuals up to date.”
As a result, bespoke training has become something of a trademark offering. “The process we have developed now is extremely efficient. From a request for changes, to revised draft course outlines is generally no more than a day or so. We can be ready to deliver a customized course within a week or two of approval.
As a result, the company expanded its technical writing crew, introduced a steady stream of new courses, and saw its list of offerings grow to around 200 titles, with 50 to 60 being delivered each month around the world. "It’s this capacity for evolution and flexibility that has become one of our greatest strengths.” Says Kevin.
“Every course we provide is designed with input from industry to ensure the outcomes are real for the learners, and for the company paying the bill.”
While in-person training continues to be popular, for employers, it quickly became apparent that online options came with additional benefits.
“The costs for delivering training to groups has been considerably discounted from days of just instructor-led classroom courses,” Kevin explains. “The elimination of travel and accommodation expenses – not only for an instructor, but often for learners – is in itself a major economy. Sometimes up to 50% of the cost of training were defined as these ‘expenses’.”
By switching to live virtual course delivery, many of EIT’s group training clients have also been able to take advantage of increased flexibility, with training deliverable in bite-sized portions during the workday, outside of normal working hours, or – increasingly important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – from a variety of scattered locations.
We have the skills and knowledge to custom design training courses to suit your organization’s needs. Each course is affordable, convenient, and highly effective, and is deliverable either in person at a venue of your choice – no matter where you are situated in the world – or remotely via our live online delivery system.
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“Critical staff can also attend and still be available to deal with major issues or breakdowns, preventing lost production and associated loss of revenue,” Kevin says. “More than one of our multi-national strategic partners have cut their learning-and-development budgets by over 50% since migrating the majority of their training to live online, without sacrificing outcome or benefit.
“Businesses can now decide for themselves the exact content for training, precisely when and how it is delivered, with minimal or zero negative impact on operations, maintenance and, critically, production. Plant efficiency, safety and employee morale are all enhanced, ultimately contributing to the biggest saving for a business: a reduction in the turnover of staff.
Having spent more than two decades arranging training for thousands of engineers, technicians and technologists, is it fair to say Kevin has learned plenty himself?
“I have; EIT has always been flexible, but the past year, with the effects of the pandemic, has taught me how important that really is,” he says. “Things can change overnight, and it’s important that everyone – not just EIT – has the ability to adapt quickly.”
“I have also learned the importance of learning itself. The employment market today is enormously different from when I started. The pool of talent employers can draw from has grown so much, travel has made everyone more accessible, and now people aren’t just competing against local rivals for work, they are competing globally, so they want to learn more, to cross-skill, multi-skill and continually improve and stay ahead “Really, when it comes to learning, there’s always something new. You never stop.”
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