Industry view: Training the trainer

By Bob Banks, lead technical authority at Dron & Dickson, which specialises in design, supply and maintenance of hazardous-area electrical equipment. He has influenced a major change in the way offshore and onshore health-and-safety training is being delivered in Aberdeen.

Hands up those of you who have sat through an interminable training course, willing the hands of the clock to turn a little more briskly? Training courses are frequently met with an attitude of “I’ll do it because I have to, then I’ll forget about it”.

I’ve experienced my fair share of this type of training, from both the teacher and pupil perspective. So when Dron & Dickson received certification to offer CompEx training  – the industry standard in core competency safety training  –  the company saw this as an opportunity to alter the way traditional health-and-safety training is taught.
 We wanted to do things differently and so approached Aberdeen-based training and change specialist imorph.

Practical Approach
I believe the ideal training is all about interactive learning. As a rugby coach for schoolchildren, I was aware that the best way for them to learn was to get them actually playing rugby – not listening to me talk about it.
 Helping them find out what they can do, rather than encouraging them to watch what I do – that’s an example of the activebrain™ approach adopted by imorph, and that’s when they go home with a real understanding of how to apply what they have learned. The same is true when it comes to training adults.
However, the average technical training session is the complete opposite, revolving around trainers imparting their knowledge when,  ultimately, it’s not about them.
Facilitating class discussion  and a trainer having the ability to identify the gaps in individuals’ knowledge before helping them reach the correct answer for themselves – that’s constructive learning that sticks. At the moment,  though, that type of training isn’t the industry norm.

No More “Chalk and Talk”
My biggest challenge lay in learning how to assess the different elements within a group, draw out their knowledge through questions and encourage group interaction to fill in those knowledge gaps.
I worked closely with the team at imorph to develop the course’s training materials and their coaching support has meant that it is now second nature to observe and facilitate discussion and group work, rather than the traditional “chalk and talk” style of teaching.
It’s a big undertaking, as no two groups will be the same. My input has undoubtedly increased, through constant assessment of the group’s engagement. But I’m convinced that this is what makes the training so enjoyable and valuable.  

Not Just About the Pass Mark
In many training courses, the objectives begin and end with a pass mark. Whilst we identified that this is clearly required, it was vital to establish the outcomes of the training, too.
What did we want the delegates to be able to do and remember when at work? With a vast range of required outcomes, this is easier said than done, and requires a commitment on the part of the trainer to gain a true understanding of the sector – but this is what differentiates this from standard industry training.

By uncovering exactly what a successful holder of a CompEx training certificate should understand and be able to do, we’ve created a suite of adaptable training materials, allowing delegates to demonstrate to themselves and each other the knowledge they already have, whilst highlighting requirement for additional knowledge.
 This flexible approach means that a class with differing requirements can learn together and from each other and subsequently focus on the areas that need the most attention.

I believe this is the key to future successful industry training. Courses should be designed with more than an exam pass rate in mind. The content should allow delegates to explore and reinforce what they already know, identify gaps in their knowledge and address that through interactive, non-linear course materials that suit the whole group.

It’s a significant investment of time and money, but the future of successful industry training lies in a company’s willingness to assess its trainers’ techniques and learning materials.
 Our collaboration with imorph has ensured the promotion of a step change in the way oil and gas training is delivered across the industry.
That’s going to have a positive effect upon the candidates’ working lives and the success of their company.

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