Learning beyond the Computer Screen!

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Online-learning has its place but it’s certainly not in Retrofit!

E-learning has never been more important and more widely used than today. All businesses are having to quickly learn how to harness the power of digital for training and development more broadly than before. With a lot of our workforces still working from home and companies quickly reskilling and reshuffling roles, it is imperative that your online learning stacks up to expectations and ensures productivity. But will the perceived convenience of “all theory” based online learning ever replace the practical side of applying your knowledge to ‘on the job’ tasks?

In some disciplines and industries it may well move closer that way. But an area where the fusing of practical and theory goes far beyond the computer screen is in the delivery of Retrofit training. I want to dedicate some time today to highlighting the CRITICAL IMPORTANCE for Retrofit training to be a blend of BOTH theory and practical. Raising awareness for the dangers candidates may face when tempted by an online-only approach as this will NOT land the job they aspire towards. Sure, it taps into our “I want everything now” culture but I can say Is that these courses aren’t up to scratch and don’t deliver the level of training that’s required. Likewise for businesses, online-only Retrofit training will NOT yield the high-quality resource and manpower you seek to prepare for the green revolution.

“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” – Anton Chekhov

Theory & Practical – why we need both

1. It caters to different learning styles

Education paves the way for a bright future and a good life. The sole purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open and an inquisitive one. Education is a must as it gives everyone an opportunity to learn skills and gain knowledge. It is also the only key to nurture responsible human beings who can absorb good teachings and can impart it to many others but then there is a question as to what type of education should we follow?

Most employees are keen to learn and improve, but struggle to find learning to help them develop their skills when they need it most. The beauty of learning in both a theoretical and practical fashion is that you, as an employer, can tap into different strengths from different learners. By leveraging a range of learning styles, you can better support the diversity within your team. Take a second to consider it now. I bet you can easily list on one hand the members of your team who are driven by the textbook. Keen to get under the skin of ‘why’ we do things within your industry. On the other, who is the more practical within your workforce? The ones who prefer to get stuck in and learn by simply ‘doing’. Particularly within a Construction environment, roles are split very clearly by the trades who actively carry out the work and those who take a more advisory and managerial role. (The old Blue and White collar roles). When we delve deeper into the concept of Retrofit, there is appetite for both learning styles to be used. For example, a Retrofit Coordinator or Assessor is the brains behind the operation, clued up on all PAS legislation. Whereas a Retrofit Installer brings the plans on paper into reality. The key however comes in understanding that it isn’t simply theory-only for one role and practical-only for another. Retrofit, no matter your role, requires a level of learning that spans both.

2. It creates a well-rounded candidate

Retrofit is all about teamwork. It’s about collaboration and working together with ONE vision and ONE mission to improve the world around us. Though there may be set roles and departments that underpin the overall Retrofit operation, gone are the days of viewing roles simply in isolation. Due to the ever-changing and evolving landscape that Retrofit was born into, the need for adaptability and versatility across your workforce is essential. For that reason, it is JUST as important that a Retrofit Coordinator understands, and even has experience in the hands-on execution of what a Retrofit Installer does. In the same way a Retrofit Installer should exert a confident degree of knowledge when it comes to the regulatory frameworks like PAS 2030/35 to guide them in their day to day.

Let me ask you this – Would you expect a Coordinator to confidently manage a project they haven’t had any first-hand experience of? No. And would you trust an Installer to carry out Cavity Wall Extraction on behalf of your business with no practice? Absolutely not!

As you can see, Retrofit requires a degree of levelled learning. By this I mean varying combinations of theory AND practical to bring successful roles to fruition. That’s why we work hard at RE:geon to offer a range of Retrofit learning pathways. To dial up, or dial down the level of theory and practical needed to best serve the candidate.

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We recognise that not everyone needs the same amount of practical but you cannot simply omit one to serve the other. Online learning as the name suggests, strips any opportunity for face to face or hands on learning to take place. For Retrofit, it’s simply not fit for purpose.

3. It is ESSENTIAL for Health & Safety

Above all, a lack of practical experience in Retrofit presents a major Health & Safety threat. Thankfully I have never met a Construction employer who would allow anyone to deliver Retrofit with no manual or practical experience so it’s simply a non-starter. The roles are so intricate and the training so specialised, it’s a risk that could never be taken. We’re passionate about promoting a positive health and safety culture, and it starts with us in education.

4. Online learning lacks an Employer led approach

A real differentiator of ours at RE:geon Training is our employer led approach to programme delivery. It’s something that still seems a fairly new concept within Further Education but it’s provided us with some of our highest progression rates so it’s not something to be ignored. But what is an employer led approach?

Taking an employer led approach refers to the process of involving employers in the design and delivery of programmes from Day One. The benefits come three-fold. Employers can design and ‘mould’ the candidates they seek. The learners can get unrivalled access into the employer they intend to work for. Immersing in their brand culture and values way before they’ve even stepped foot into full time employment. And we hit our targets. It’s an incredibly powerful tool but a large proportion of it must be done in a face-to-face learning environment to be truly realised. We’re human beings after all, and it’s a people-person industry. To build strong connections with future employers and future employees alike you must have the opportunity to spend time together in person.

There’s no denying that by embarking on the Route to Retrofit, you are taking a very courageous step to futureproofing your business and your career. But i cannot stress enough that it has to be done right. Retrofit is underpinned by both theory and practice. Two things which should be completely interwoven. It’s useful to consider the process as plaiting a rope where the two aspects are continually connected and bound together.

Online learning has a fantastic place in this world. It’s a key component to a lot of what we do here at RE:geon Training but it’s certainly not at the forefront of delivering Retrofit.

To find out more about our employer Led approach or to request syllabus examples of our Retrofit learning pathways to determine what’s right for you, please contact me > nadia@regeon.co.uk

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