Now, I’m far from an expert in computer coding and software design but it seems to me that those techy developers have some pretty handy tools when going about their work. ‘Bootstrap’, or my personal favourite ‘GitHub’, provides essential help to deliver a user experience where you or I simply click a button on the front end of a website, blissfully ignorant of the effort that’s gone in to making the click as easy and seamless as possible.
In essence these developers are using tools to train a computer to perform certain tasks, and this got me thinking. Without those tools the computer will be less agile, so the end user will have an inferior experience. For a moment let’s consider that logic and apply it to vocational training in logistics.
For years now, we’ve had qualification profiles and competency frameworks for just about every aspect of logistics, and that’s really paid dividends. By having such processes (sometimes legally required, sometimes just good practice) we’ve been able to create a level of parity where an employer can be fairly confident of the training that workers have received simply by understanding the core elements required as part of that framework.
In real terms it means faster integration into company culture and working practice for the worker, and less cost for the employer through investigating the level of understanding and competence. The benefits are not limited by borders either; the European Qualification Framework is an example of a common system that aims to make qualifications more readable and understandable across different countries and systems, resulting in a universal language despite the, err, language barrier.
There are examples of similar approaches in vocational training too, and perhaps the most well-known of these is the rather catchily named ‘Directive 2003/59’, otherwise known as Driver CPC. This is a framework that sets out the objectives (albeit rather loosely) but allows the freedom to deliver content focusing on a broad range of subjects, often task-specific.
There’s no doubt it’s helped to raise professional standards among truck and bus drivers, yet by its very nature it’s proved divisive because countries implement it in different ways. Some allow eLearning. Others insist on mandatory testing for the periodic part. Some stick a code on the drivers’ licence. Others record it on a central database. While the principle of a common framework works well, in reality it’s a different beast altogether.
In recent years the UK body responsible for approving and managing Driver CPC has allowed the use of eLearning ‘… as a resource providing it does not impact the trainer contact time’. This means a trainer must oversee the delivery of eLearning; drivers can’t simply access a module remotely when it might be convenient to them.
Looking more closely at the requirements and while the use of training tools is not prescribed there are examples of methodology that the UK body like to see:
By limiting the methodology and creating a list of scenarios like this, the responsible body has effectively confined the driver to a classroom by virtue of the fact that most training providers will develop the content to be delivered in that environment. And as you probably know, it’s not a drivers’ preferred habitat.
This approach can be counter-productive, with drivers becoming disinterested or disengaged with poor knowledge retention and a general indifference towards the programme of training. Clearly this counts against the very reason that the framework was created in the first place.
Recently I’ve seen some good Driver CPC training despite the constraints of being in a classroom. Live action, interactive training that brings a subject to life. Blending learning where drivers use a fork-lift or bicycle providing a different perspective which, again, breathes life into the topic. And yet the vast majority of driver training is still delivered in a classroom using PowerPoint.
As we move into the new decade there’s a great opportunity to review mandatory, common training frameworks and to allow more flexibility over how and where training is delivered. Exciting new tech such as augmented reality, 3D projectors and immersive headsets should become more accessible to more people more of the time, while a training environment should be flexible enough to make use of theatre-based training and training ‘on location’
It’s time for authorities to take a look at how we implement training in the UK, Europe and beyond. For many, logistics is a difficult subject to get excited about, so we need to grab the opportunity to be more dynamic, more fresh and more accessible and move away from the old days of rocking up to a portacabin and sitting in front of a 7 hour PowerPoint presentation.
The future is arriving fast, and without the ability to create inspirational training within a mandatory framework the skills shortage will continue to affect our industry and give rise to global competition.