Having attended the Essential Install Show at Manchester yesterday, it has left me with a three main perceptions that I feel are quite encouraging; 1. We are in an industry that is still vibrant and forward looking, 2. Training opportunities are definitely available to up skill individuals in Connected Home technologies and 3. Everyone appears to be busier than last year!
My first impression upon entering the exhibition and looking around the stands was that there were fewer exhibitors than last year. Whilst this could have been alarming, after meeting and talking with many of them, they all indicated that they have been extremely busy!
Now my background as you may or may not know is consumer electronic servicing, signal reception and training within these industries and, whilst many organisations have fallen by the wayside over the years as these industries have evolved, there are some shining examples of exhibitors (Antiference, Asheridge, Promax, HD Anywhere and Triax to name a few) that have survived, adapted and (importantly) are still enthusiastic about the industry, their products and the future.
What was also very encouraging was the belief that training was still an absolute necessity and discussing this with people representing KNX training and CEDIA gave some important insights as to how training may also need to adapt to learners’ requirements.
Both of these training providers (and many others) develop and deliver very high quality training courses aimed at up skilling installers with Connected Home competencies and developing the knowledge base of learners towards Connected Home technologies. But here is the rub; the courses on offer are on a block release basis – in other words, the most relevant courses last the duration of 5 continuous days.
Now for a larger organisation this is less of a problem (though it can still be a barrier) as the work that the learner is absent from whilst they are away on the course can usually be covered by another employee. But the real problem is for the small organisation (and in particular for the single man business) who not only has to pay for the training (at a reasonable cost and good value for money mind) but who also takes the hit due to lost earnings which will normally be more than the cost of the training!
This barrier for most individuals in insurmountable and is disabling many very competent individuals who want to diversify into the Connected Home arena. What is clear to me is that if independent installers and small business want (and need) to develop into Connected Home and Smart Home technologies, the industry must have a rethink as to what training and development looks like to make it more accessible for everyone.
This can be overcome though! I’m not necessarily banging the drum purely for e-learning as, whilst this is an excellent medium for transfer of knowledge, it cannot deliver competency based training; this can only be done through demonstration, understanding and replication; delivered in a training room environment by a competent trainer.
I believe that the answer may be provided by utilising a blended learning approach where the knowledge base can be delivered via eLearning with assessment and practical consolidation delivered at a training venue; this would decrease the amount of time spent at the training centre and enable the trainer to concentrate on the up skilling of the relevant competencies. The suppliers and manufacturers have the kit and are very keen to sell it and for it to be installed.
I would like to suggest that training providers consider these ideas and work with RDI to develop them further so that within the next year we have a viable training pathway available for the individual installer to make the most of what is coming up and to ensure that high quality work is consistently carried out.
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