Trade association will provide a comprehensive online service to offer learning, assessment and CPD functions for individuals and employers, while also supporting third party training providers
BESA hopes to revolutionise the delivery of online training and assessment across the building services sector with the launch of its new web-based skills and learning platform.
The BESA Academy is intended to provide a definitive collection of resources and services for remote learning and testing, as well as continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure workers have up-to-date qualifications and competencies.
All modules provided through the academy will be accessible via a smartphone, tablet or laptop with the aim being to provide total flexibility in how individuals learn key skills. This development is seen as a vital development after months of disruption to HVACR training and accreditation processes as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
This focus on flexibility will include giving training providers the option to outsource online learning elements of their courses to the BESA Academy. The trade group said it can deliver training support for institutions dealing with social distancing and space restrictions when trying to plan how best to house their students.
Another proposed benefit of the academy focus will be to offer more cost-effective training for engineering specialists working across construction, according to BESA.
Helen Yeulet, skills and training director for the trade group, said this was an important focus at a time when colleges are having to consider discontinuing some engineering apprenticeships that are more expensive and complex to deliver, even before the onset of the pandemic.
She said, “Delivering more of the course content remotely will make it more economically viable.”
The academy is expected to provide greater employment support during the pandemic, such as by assisting in the redeployment of workers at risk of redundancy by allowing individuals to quickly pick up additional skills needed to move to other sectors of the construction industry.
Ms Yeulet said, “Whole life learning is a crucial part of the academy model. There will also be demand for re-skilling suited to modern methods of working, such as the increased use of digital systems and off-site manufacture.”
BESA president Neil Brackenridge said that the pandemic had shown the importance of online training and accreditation that will continue to be vital to industry, even when blended with on-site learning.
Mr Brackenridge added that he hoped that providing greater training flexibility would help to address an urgent need for a larger and more diverse workforce in the building engineering industry by opening up opportunities for people from all backgrounds.
He said, “The growth in online learning reflects the evolving way modern engineers work and will help us promote our careers to a much broader audience – many of whom would have previously assumed our industry had nothing to offer them.”
Mr Brackenridge said BESA plans for the academy were well advanced before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he said that demand for providing blended learning that combines online and in-person training had seen the organisation accelerate work on the project.
“The industry is moving rapidly into a new era and needs training that can adapt to our changing requirements.”
BESA said that several affiliate members were already supporting the academy with training resources. The organisation claimed that more courses would be added to the project over the rest of 2020.
These initial focuses include a BESA Health and Safety Environment course and test programme that has been established in partnership with manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric. A total of six modules are offered through the programme that include ensuring compliance with revised site operating procedures and other safety concerns.
BESA added that the academy also offers a suite of free CPD courses with the help of members such as Airflow, Altecnic, Flamco, HASL, Kingspan, TATA Steel and Swegon.