Its existing ‘Explosives Awareness' course will be the first to be adapted for the online timetable and is now available, with others being rolled out over the next few weeks.
The initial courses will be delivered ‘virtually' by knowledgeable members of EPC-UK's explosives engineers department. Each course will cater for up to 20 attendees, all of whom will be able to interact, ask questions and initiate discussions with the instructor and other participants.
The courses will be broken into several interactive modules, which will be taught over a six-week period. Each module will be presented twice a week to provide participants with two separate opportunities to experience the course ‘live'.
In addition, all modules will be recorded and students will be able to access these recordings for up to 30 days after the ‘live' date, allowing them to tailor their learning around work and family commitments.
There will also be the opportunity to study individual modules, rather than entire courses, providing even further flexibility in terms of learning and development and enabling students to create an educational path tailored to their specific targets.
"Introducing ‘Lifelong Learning Live' to EPC-UK's educational offering has always been in the pipeline as part of our ‘Blended Learning' initiative, but the onset of COVID-19 has given us the impetus to launch this resource now," explained Rob Farnfield, head of explosives engineering at EPC-UK.
A state of flux
"We understand that many industries - including our own - are currently in a state of flux, but we also know that this is not the time to be standing still. By creating new ways of delivering our courses, we are enabling people within our industry to continue their training or learn a new skill, placing them in a more positive position on their return to work.
"As well as helping our attendees continue their educational journey, this new initiative is also providing a development opportunity for my own team members. As well as enabling them to continue in their roles, they are learning new skills and ways of conveying our courses.
"For myself, being on the ‘at risk' register and having to self-isolate for a minimum of 12 weeks has made me realise how much people need continuity and as much normality as possible. By maintaining our training service, albeit virtually, we are helping to provide this continuity, as well as, hopefully, a sense of stability."
As with all EPC-UK courses, the online programme will be accredited by the Institute of Quarrying and will contribute towards attendees CPD (Continuing Professional Development).
James Thorne, CEO of the Institute of Quarrying, said: "Here at the Institute of Quarrying we are working hard to support our members and their employees, providing advice and guidance on how to navigate the coming months. We understand these are very challenging times. However, we also appreciate that wherever possible a normal service should be maintained, and this is where EPC-UK is coming to the fore.
"Allowing people to continue their training or further their skill set while working from home will be invaluable to our industry once we are able to return work, so we are pleased to be continuing our support of EPC-UK through the accreditation of its training courses."
Supporting the industry
EPC-UK was already re-evaluating the way it delivered its training courses through 2020. Managing director, Ben Williams, explained why: "At EPC-UK we take a committed, highly-focused approach to supporting the industry in which we work by providing unrivalled ‘Lifelong Learning' training courses that develop different sector specialisms, and because of this we attract attendees from across the world.
"As much as we advocate face-to-face training - and some of our online courses may require participants to attend a site-based lesson - we also understand that employee travel time and absence from work can be problematic for some businesses. The introduction of an online programme not only negates the need for travel or overnight stays, but it also opens our leading suite of courses to a much wider audience.
"The development of our distance learning programme is part of our greater ‘Blended Learning' scheme - a programme that will encompass in-field training, classroom-based lessons, online seminars and virtual reality modules, which when combined will create the most comprehensive training programme in the industry."
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