The coronavirus pandemic has had significant consequences for every aspect of our daily lives, but the world of work in particular has been turned utterly upside down. With mass redundancies, extended furlough periods, and a looming sense of uncertainty, large swathes of the UK workforce have opted to take their careers into their own hands and learn a trade.

Over the past year or so, I’ve met people from all walks of life—including chefs, taxi drivers and solicitors—who were no longer able to rely on their pre-lockdown careers to support them. Tradespeople are ‘key workers’ and have been able to work throughout the pandemic, so becoming an electrician, a gas engineer or a plumber has been an appealing option for people seeking greater job security in these uncertain times.

It quickly became clear that we would have to adapt our teaching methods, not just to keep up with the increased demand for our trade courses, but also to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations. Over the past year, we’ve seen a huge influx in the number of people looking to learn a trade, but the spread of COVID made our conventional classroom setup a lot less viable.

For the past year, we have been offering learners a combination of interactive online classes and traditional hands-on training, allowing them to continue working towards that rewarding new career even during lockdown. The virtual training sessions have been a big hit with our students so far, and they’ve definitely appreciated the practical, flexible and engaging approach to learning that we offer.

Reacting to the COVID-19 crisis

It all started back in spring 2020, when we realised that there would be an ongoing demand for online trades training. This wasn’t something that we really offered at the time, but even with COVID-19 upending life as we knew it, we wanted to continue providing an outstanding experience for new and existing students. So, we created a bespoke online training platform called Access Training Online.

Students who enrol on our platform have access to live online classes, during which they can interact with our tutors in real-time. Afterwards, they have a chance for one-on-one interaction during our Q&A sessions. We knew that people were juggling childcare, home learning and a range of other obligations during lockdown, so we didn’t want students to feel disadvantaged if they missed a session; we also knew that students might want to watch the material multiple times during their revision period. So we made all training resources continually available to our students for 3 years after they enrol.

Even better than before

Online learning offers unrivalled flexibility, giving our learners the ability to select when they learn and to do it at a pace that suits them. This has resulted in an incredibly high pass rate for exams. The pass rate for people attending our live online learning sessions has been around 90%, which is higher than the pass rates we were seeing before lockdown.

We have received so much positive feedback from our students, who love the freedom of logging into the platform and attending the live online sessions from any location. Some people might argue that online learning can never truly replace face-to-face learning, but our students have certainly found it beneficial.

One of our students, who was previously working as a designer before the first lockdown hit, found herself working as a delivery driver to make ends meet. She quickly realised that this wasn’t going to be a fulfilling long-term career, and decided to sign up with us and retrain as a plumber. We asked whether she thought that doing the training online had impacted her learning or the overall experience, and she said:

 “No, not at all. You can do mock exams and different papers, and continue to do them until you get it right. Whereas when you're in a class, you only learn it once and then you leave. So again, I really like home-based learning; you still have to put the time in, but it definitely sticks in your mind more. I've enjoyed it.”

This just goes to show that it is possible for training centres like ours to adapt to the ongoing coronavirus situation and provide excellent training courses online.

Written by Ian Bennett from https://www.accesstraininguk.co.uk

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