How has the pandemic impacted professional development in the AEC industry?

How has the pandemic impacted professional development in the AEC industry?

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In an industry that is making consistent strides into the digital world, architects, engineers and construction professionals are among those who need to continuously develop their skills sets to realise the potential of these emerging technologies.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has seen an enormous shift in ways of working – and this has impacted the way we learn.

Cadventure’s Sales and Training Manager, Claire Russell has been working to support businesses throughout the pandemic.

Training with Cadventure

“What we teach hasn’t changed over the last 18 months – the same skills are still needed, but what we have needed to change is how we deliver our courses.” said Claire.

Having managed mostly face-to-face classroom-based sessions for more than eight years, Claire and her team have had to evolve quickly to a completely virtual classroom setup.

Claire has managed the remote delivery of courses for regular and bespoke courses since March 2020, and during the first lockdown helped develop a series of free weekly ‘Tech Skills Online Workout’ sessions.

“In some cases when staff were furloughed, skills training was a legitimate use of their time.” Claire said. “By doing something practical with their downtime, this enabled them to continue to feel connected and valuable to their employer. By running these sessions, we helped support our clients during this difficult time and received some fantastic feedback.”

“Our clients were still committed to staff training and development, so our first task was to plan how best to deliver that training and secondly educate clients about this new online learning experience. One of the benefits of this was the opportunity to respond to our clients who are individual learners. They are often contractors or working within smaller architectural practices who have identified a skill they are lacking, such as working in 3D for example, but previously could not take time out to upskill.”

“Within the industry, a pause on training can never be an option. Construction projects, for the most part, have continued throughout the pandemic, with staff working from home rather than in the office. This means that they still needed to keep their skills up to date, and to learn new ones in order to keep pace with the new technology.” said Claire.

“There is a huge call for our ‘OpenRoads’ training courses right now. As it is being used on major infrastructure projects like HS2, we have seen a massive rise in demand from Tier 1 contractors and teams wanting to develop their technical skills in order to meet client requirements. So, we did what everyone else did in the pandemic – we developed an online proposition.”

How does online training work?

“We run the curriculum in exactly the same way – it is just delivered via a virtual classroom” explained Claire. “It is fully interactive with the trainer, and delegates can share their screens so that they can receive real-time feedback – just as they would in a classroom.”

“I actually feel that people find it easier to participate in a lot of cases. Because it is quite personal – the groups are sometimes smaller online – the delegates benefit from more one to one time with the instructor.”

However, Claire thinks that without physically being in the office, line managers may not see for themselves the benefits of continuing staff training.

“I worry for those who are working from home and have concerns over their job security. They may feel that they do not want to ask for budgets for training, for example. The issue then becomes that they could find themselves left behind skills-wise, which is not good for either the individual or the business.”

“The irony of the situation is that from the perspective of both the line-manager and the employer, online training is an ideal solution. It saves both time and money – therefore rather than covering travel, expensing lunch and losing a team member for the full day, it becomes a convenient online solution.”

What’s next for training in the AEC sector?

Whilst there has been a slight slump in professional development throughout the industry, projects themselves have continued as normal.

Claire explained what the next steps could look like to bridge the skills gap: “With staff returning to the office we need to ensure that everyone has the skills and confidence they need to develop further, providing added value to their projects. Even though the level of training may have dropped slightly, I am confidence we will very soon witness a surge in growth and high demand for good quality training.”

To discuss your future training needs or to have a ‘skills needs’ assessment, please contact Claire directly on

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