Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading resource for security and fire news in the industry. James was previously Editor of Professional Heating & Plumbing Installer magazine.
March 31, 2020

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Whitepaper: Normal service resumed? How video technology supports our new reality

Viewpoint: Plentiful e-learning opportunities in the security and fire sector

With communities across the globe currently undergoing social distancing measures and reduced face-to-face contact, the usual method of classroom-based training is currently unviable for many. But, as the efforts of so many associations and training providers in the security and fire sector demonstrate, installers, engineers and end-users alike can continue to develop skills and enhance their knowledge with e-learning courses and materials.

While many are still coming to terms with working from home or remotely – whether it be on a rota basis or a more permanent position for the foreseeable – there continues to be a variety of ways to develop skills. Training is vital to continued success and to ensure you’re keeping up with standards in any industry, but it’s often difficult to find the time when the day-job takes over. Inevitably, it’ll be something that’s pushed back, as a day out the office or off the tools is, it often feels, a day wasted.

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Perhaps now is the perfect time to take a look into the opportunities presented by e-learning and online modules, then? There’s been a visible growth in online training offerings since the early-2000s as capabilities and connection speeds are faster and more reliable – according to TechJury, e-learning for companies grew by a huge 900% between 2001 and 2017. Whilst with social distancing measures in place, Linx International Group, which runs PerpetuityARC Training, recently reported a surge in demand for online courses, covering everything from Security Risk Management to Crisis Management & Business Continuity.

Yet, many continue to prefer to attend training sessions in person. This is understandable. For both installers and users, it’s often easier to understand a new method of access control or the technology involved in an IP surveillance camera via face-to-face, ‘show me how’ style classroom-based interaction. And, quite rightly in many instances – this type of learning isn’t going to disappear and certainly still holds a valuable place in development.

But, does e-learning offer different opportunities?

As many get used to the process of social distancing, now is perhaps the ideal time for both employers and employees to get on board, and explore what subjects or methods of online training best work for them.

It’s certainly a less time sensitive option. Modules can often be paused and picked up at a later time, if there’s suddenly an incident requiring urgent attention, for instance – the kids are only going to stay silent for so long without school, unfortunately! While when normality does return, it might be much easier to spend an hour in a meeting room listening to a webinar with a live Q&A than driving two hours in traffic to an external training centre – certainly for more theory-based training, at least.

Andrew Saywell, from Tavcom Training, highlights why this could be an ideal time to expand skillsets you may not have had time for otherwise: “From speaking to so many of our valued clients over the past few days, we know that many security systems installers and integrators have been seriously affected by the rapid spread of Covid 19 across the UK. As a responsible industry following government guidelines to safeguard employees and clients, work is having to be postponed or rescheduled.

“However, time spent away from work in isolation can still be put to good use – look to use this time wisely to reflect on past performance and to focus on future growth, or look to develop some firm plans to develop your organisation and yourself. Now might the perfect opportunity to expand your skillsets. Whilst your specialism might be intruder and fire systems, perhaps you’ve always wanted to branch out into CCTV (VSS)? Now is a great time to start making it happen.

“For a systems integrator/installer having accredited and recognised qualifications is now more important than ever. Tavcom offers many courses covering all aspects of physical security, that you can study at your own pace, all from the comfort of your home.”

What is the security and fire industry doing to support remote learning?

Numerous training organisations, manufacturers and associations have quickly adapted to supporting their customers and members via remote methods. And, it’s encouraging to see that the FIA’s first online CPD day was a success on Friday 27th March, where 56 delegates attended.

SSAIB has recently announced a partnership with Tavcom and FIA to support its members, in an effort to raise standards throughout the UK security and fire industry, while the FIA has transitioned to remote learning to deliver many of its courses and exams remotely.

FIA-RemoteTraining-20The BSIA’s apprenticeship training affiliation, Skills for Security, has also adapted quickly. As David Scott, Managing Director, explains: “We are using several remote platforms to communicate; firstly our whole resource is stored on a cloud based system called SharePoint, which is great for document control and quality management of resources that are sent out to apprentices.

“For us to deliver our daily teaching to our apprentices we are using GoToMeetings, a paid conferencing call system which allows us unlimited access to deliver our high-quality learning and teaching. The daily teaching tasks are made up of a mixture of online webinars, tasks, question and answers, reading and report writing.

“On the first day we ran this with 13 participants joining the call. It has been a great success thus far with loads of positive comments from those that joined. The investment from the business and the team to get this up and running in such a short period of time is nothing short of amazing. Two days training and the team ran with this rolling this it out to over 180 apprentices across the whole of England.”

The Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) offers a wide range of online resources to educate those involved in the built environment. For example, its online Introduction to Passive Fire Protection course consists of 13 short online videos, each around 10-15 minutes long. Alongside this, it offers an array of guidance documents, most of which are free to download.

Many are also offering discounts and fee reductions to support those who may be unable to work during this difficult period. Tavcom, for example, has reduced all its course costs by 25% for the next three months (using the discount code Tavcom25).

Clearly then, the infrastructure within the sector is there to support those who are looking to develop skills and knowledge. While there will always be instances where face-to-face is still best, those who take advantage of e-learning opportunities may learn new ways of working and ensure they keep their CPD standards up to date, even while social distancing obstacles are in place.

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