Expanding our online training offering

Chris Ellis, Training and Assessment Manager for NEA supports our training team to be a major contributor to the energy skills market through the development and delivery of quality assured, certificated training courses supporting organisations who assist vulnerable customers.

Chris writes about the experiences and developments of NEA’s training team since lockdown begun.

Covid-19 has been a huge challenge to many of us both personally and professionally, but our NEA Training team has risen to the challenge and managed to expand our established e-learning and digital training offer.

Covid-19 created a huge amount of challenges for the energy industry and for frontline workers – whose usual ways of working have been primarily face-to-face so adjusting to working solely using online platforms and via telephone brought its own set of challenges. My team are no longer travelling to different ends of the country and are now working from home – outside of missing the sights of the East Coast mainline, many of us are facing other challenges whether that’s sharing an office with your partner or having your two kids as special guest stars in team meetings. But for the NEA Training Team, working remotely has given us a unique opportunity to deliver a sector-leading comprehensive online training programme to frontline workers.

While it wasn’t clear at the beginning of the year how much Covid-19 would impact the UK and our delivery, we developed a Covid-19 action plan for training which included the development of a webinar programme – meaning that these sessions are a culmination of nearly 6 months work as opposed to reactionary ad-hoc sessions. The programme is based on our established courses that we have been running for years and we have been constantly updating so learners can find out about what support the energy market is providing in relation to Covid-19.

e-learning isn’t new to us, we’ve successfully delivered our Energy Awareness course online for nearly a decade and our Fuel Poverty and Health course for the last 4-5 years. Since lockdown was announced, the team have worked tirelessly to design and develop a webinar programme including webinars such as  Vulnerability in the Energy Market and  Fuel Poverty and Health (more to come!)  We have been given permission by City and Guilds to allow us to deliver the Energy Awareness course assessment online meaning learners can gain the level 3 qualification without leaving their home. This makes our training much more accessible to smaller organisations and those delivering advice to remote communities.

Covid-19 has made funding of many organisations unclear – which is why we are thrilled to offer free training to front-line staff and volunteers of non-commercial organisations that regularly encounter those in or at risk of fuel poverty. Many organisations have already taken advantage of this – choosing this time to upskill their staff and volunteers with the knowledge to help those most vulnerable in society.

The demand for our training and webinars has been high but it would have been incredibly irresponsible for us to have rushed into delivering webinars to hundreds of blank and muted Zoom screens which is why when we launched our webinar programme – we limited each session to ten delegates with NEA two trainers delivering to and supporting the learner. Like all organisations we have targets to meet – but we will not compromise the experience for delegates as we’d be doing a disservice to you and to your clients who need your help more now than ever.

The webinar and training programmes are not merely our trainers sharing their screens and talking from a PowerPoint, we’ve delivered training for over 30 years and we know that isn’t a way to truly engage learners. So the team has worked incredibly hard to embed interactivity throughout the sessions meaning that learners can fully consume the content, ask questions to the trainers and interact with each other.

We fully recognise and respect that digital training is unlikely to fully ever replace face-to-face training but in a time when vulnerable customers need us more than ever, we’re pleased that we’ve been able to develop training to support frontline workers to gain the information they need from where they are. E-learning has huge benefits to many organisations, learners can learn in their own time and save time and money on travel and accommodation. But as restrictions lift – we need to remember the fantastic work that the team has done as we move towards a more blended learning approach.

As I finish this blog, I’d like to pay a huge testament to my team for the incredible work they’ve achieved this year. I’d also like to thank everyone who has taken part in our training so far since lockdown began and on behalf of my team, we look forward to meeting new delegates.

If you’re a staff member or a volunteer for a non-commercial organisation, you can book onto a free e learning and/or webinar place please email lynsey.thompson@nea.org.uk. If you are a commercial organisation, we can still support you, please get in touch to discuss requirements.



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