As sites across the country begin to open with strict social-distancing guidelines in place, accompanied by updated risk assessments and method statements as a result of the impact of COVID-19, the industry continues to be in need of expert training and education.
While Coronavirus is rightly the nation's greatest concern currently, the wheels keep turning and the day job goes on for many. That means that the geotechnical investigation sector still has a requirement to keep engineers, technicians, drillers, and other associated workers safe, educated and compliant.
Health, safety and general geotechnical training, much like school education, has traditionally always been conducted in a face-to-face environment. Considering this, Equipe Group has been busy adapting and shaping its suite of courses to suit the current climate and to best serve its customers' needs. This has meant the development of online courses delivered in a live environment and to achieve this, Equipe has created a bespoke online-training studio in its offices for trainers to deliver their usual courses via webcam to the learners who are safe in their own homes or working environments.
A flexible approach
While COVID-19 has undoubtedly massively disrupted the UK's geotechnical industry it has also forced us to innovate, evolve and undoubtedly improve on our cumulative offerings. Whether that is through increased or newly developed on-site health and safety measures, a healthier work/home-life balance with working from home becoming the new normal, or in Equipe's case, a more flexible approach to training and education.
Although Equipe is still of the belief that in order for paying customers to get the most out of a training course, they need instant access to the experts delivering it. The company has therefore developed new ways of getting that expertise direct to its paying customers without being confined to a physical classroom. Equipe has adapted a number of its courses to be deliverable online via the GoToTraining platform that enables trainers and learners to instantly interact and receive real-time questions and feedback, while the course is being delivered. The platform also enables trainers to webchat direct with the trainees for one-to-one tuition if required.
In addition, Equipe will shortly be launching a new on-demand geotechnical training platform - GEO Academy. Combining elements of in-person classroom activities and assessments, as well as media-rich teaching materials, the new platform will provide specialist geotechnical training, short-courses and general CPD content for all levels of expertise. The platform will be a centralised catalogue of expert geotechnical knowledge and training, with courses written and delivered by a range of specialists from across the UK. Courses will range from expert insights into in-situ testing, instrumentation and monitoring; to wire rope and LOLER awareness; commercial and contracts deep-dives; to optimum sampling or core bit selection for rotary drilling.
Without question, in-person, classroom-based geotechnical training and education still has its place and countless geotechnical and geotechnically related training courses will continue to be delivered this way in the years to come. However, on-demand and live online courses broadcast by webcam could well open the door for a far greater number of technicians, operatives, drillers, engineers and everyone in between to further their professional development.
An increase in knowledge and expertise will not only help learners to stay one step ahead of the competition in the geotechnical and land drilling markets, it will also raise the standards of performance and results across the board for the entire UK geotechnical sector.
While Coronavirus has done huge damage to humanity, both in terms of the population's health, wellbeing and, of course, wider social and economic consequences, it has also brought out the best in innovation, adaptation and evolution of the way we communicate, work and learn. Normality will resume in due course, however, in the meantime, this is a fantastic opportunity for the geotechnical sector at large to upskill, learn and be in a better position when working sites come back thick and fast.
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