Jon Graham, Chief Executive at JTL, explores the benefits of online learning and the importance of getting this sector up to speed.
Technology has transformed the way we learn – from online classes during lockdown to ‘how to’ videos spanning every imaginable topic.
However, for people wanting to get into the building services engineering sector or those already working within the sector but looking to upskill, learning from non-credible sources is a real risk.
Striking a balance
In my opinion, online learning doesn’t drive down the quality of teaching or the ability to learn, it instead provides versatility to the sector. Every individual learns differently, so using digital technology as a means of learning provides a greater level of flexibility – allowing individuals to learn at their own pace and at a time that is convenient to them. Although technology hasn’t compromised the traditional values in our sector, we still have some way to go to catch up, and I know first-hand how difficult this is to do.
With my background as a Chartered Accountant and within the financial training sector, I’ve come from an industry that had to change significantly. I remember back to the time when you originally wanted to be a qualified Chartered Accountant – the process involved you going into a classroom and learning with a calculator and pen/paper.
Nowadays, thanks to advances in technology, large firms can run simultaneous classrooms in 72 countries around the world at the same time. However, wherever there is change there are challenges.
Whichever sector you’re in, there’s always going to take a degree of persuasion and convincing when it comes to setting out modern changes – there’s a cultural challenge, whereby you need to adapt without undermining a sector that’s been doing it successfully in a particular way for decades.
Additionally, JTL recognises the impact of digital poverty and the learning barriers this poses – a complex issue that many sectors are facing.
An enormous advantage of going down the digital route is that you can manage the message to all learners. At JTL for example, this is a huge benefit. The power of online learning means that instead of all our centres and colleges delivering something different at different times, we can take a percentage of that syllabus and deliver it under our control and our quality measures – this in turn can benefit the whole sector and industry.
Nevertheless, this is all in the context of striking a balance as face-to-face learning will continue to play an important role in such a practical sector.
Championing credible sources
YouTube and social media are great platforms for individuals to generate their own content – you only need to type ‘how to’ into Google to see the plethora of videos that are available. But, despite these ‘how to’ videos being a fantastic source for some basic electrical jobs, there are challenges when it comes to monitoring consistency and safe practice that can be associated with this type of content. So, how do practicing and would-be electricians know where to turn?
Trusted sources and providers should be the go-to, which in turn will provide greater confidence to both the sector and the market. For example, the videos and content produced by JTL are in association with the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), so you can be assured that the content has been created using the correct approach, appropriate equipment, and is health and safety compliant.
The JTL Group, comprising JTL, CompEx and Develop Training, recognises the need to support the continued development and training of trade professionals, as well as the next generation of electricians.
Use the Toolbox
As a result it has launched ‘Toolbox’. This completely free online resource is full of interesting information, training and guidance related to the sector. As part of this offering, JTL has developed Power Up – free bite-size digital courses for engaging in CPD. Both JTL alumni and those working within the sector can sign up free to participate as a way of engaging in CPD and upskilling.
Visit the JTL Toolbox online resource by clicking here