Developing Courses to Meet Company Needs
Dr Michael Shakib
21 January 2020
Last year I was asked to produce and deliver a course entitled ‘Energy and Power’, and the first customer was to be a major steel manufacturer based in South Wales, with a view that this course could ultimately be delivered to multiple industries.
My first question was ‘where do we start’? The subject seems infinite, the company plant is vast, and their processes are immensely complex. How do I go about making a good job of this?
Well, I managed it and since then I have delivered many ‘Energy and Power’ courses to a varied cohort of students, learning lessons and having some fun along the way.
So now I want to share my top five experiences working alongside a large, diverse company:
1.Knowing the Value of Face-to-Face Communication
The course I developed gives a general overview of energy and power, and then covers the unique circumstances relevant to the company. This is something we offer and encourage, but in order to include company-specific information, it was important for me to gain knowledge about the actual processes and day to day activities of plant operators and management. We can lift physics and maths from textbooks but it takes mutual communication, connection and trust to build a course which is applicable and relevant. And when it comes to communication I believe you can only get so far with emails! Over a few months I had countless meetings, plant visits, and was granted access to drawings and manuals which were vital to creating content that was pertinent.
2.Keep Improving Content
In order to make a course the best it can be I think it’s vital to listen to the questions asked, take on board the student feedback, and appreciate all the experience in the room. Use this to keep on improving the course content - no set of course notes should ever stay the same for too long.
The course is perfectly balanced, the script is written, and the slides are looking great. But none of this counts if the audience have just come off a night shift and aren’t engaged to learn. Scheduling training with any company is challenging for obvious reasons, but through good communication and common sense, we found a time which suited the students and the business. We are flexible and able to meet our customers’ needs, whether that be 3 consecutive days of teaching, or spreading sessions over a few weeks. We can also offer teaching session in the evening if this is more convenient for those involved.
Energy, power and politics are inextricably linked, and of course in some cases internal company politics also have to be taken into account. However, many hours can be spent talking politics to no avail; in this case we tried to strike a balance and believe it worked.
5.Keep it Relevant
Something I am very conscious of when developing courses is avoiding wasting people’s time, and if the course isn’t thought through properly then this is a real risk. One way to ensure this is avoided is by finding out what is relevant to the company’s needs – what are they hoping to achieve by sending their employees on this course?
Hopefully this blog will spark some ideas of how we could work with your company to develop short courses relevant to your processes; or just to acquire some structured knowledge with a 10-credit qualification at the end. We are open for business in Wales and welcome training and learning enquiries.