The Benefits of Online Learning for Manufacturing Apprentices

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According to Statista, 13% of Britons used e-learning in 2020. However, over the past two years the approach and mindset of e-learning has accelerated significantly. Online learning can offer much more than just helping businesses and educational institutions through the pandemic.

E-learning can transform the way engineering apprentices learn and master new skills, making it simpler, faster and more efficient for both learner and employer. Here, Kevin Flint, senior lecturer at manufacturing trade body, Make UK, highlights some key benefits of e-learning for engineering apprentices.

We don’t usually think of apprenticeships when we talk about e-learning because they mostly focus on hands-on work. However, where the apprenticeship program includes the opportunity to obtain a nationally recognized qualification, the practical work with the employer will often be supported by classroom activity.

For example, apprentices will visit a training provider’s site once a week to complete the assessments required for their BTEC. This means that employers are limited to partnering with training providers in the region, while apprenticeship candidates are limited to joining training provider programs they can travel to. Rising fuel prices and access to public transport further limit their options. Online learning can therefore help fill skills gaps faster by increasing the number of students who can apply.

The flexibility of online learning means that apprentices do not have to reside in a specific area with access to training facilities – they can learn from anywhere. This approach is also suitable for cohorts with different learning styles – a blended approach is more likely to meet these needs than a traditional classroom experience.

Real life experience

Apprentices enroll in e-learning programs for a variety of reasons. For Rachel Greenwood, an apprentice level 5 improvement specialist at GESIPA, the flexible nature of the web is a huge advantage.

“Finding a class that could fit into my schedule was really important. When I add up my shifts and commute time, I’m out of the house for almost twelve hours a day. My ability to access online resources around my schedule means I can go back to what I’ve learned at any time.

“The Make UK course is really well planned and I have four hours a week to practice what I have learned with my employer, which means I have the opportunity to learn skills outside of my main role only to support my development. Versatility makes it much easier for me to absorb information and learn at my own pace. I don’t think I could go back to learning in the classroom!”

Stephanie Potter, Level 5 Improvement Specialist Apprentice at AE Aerospace, enjoys the combination of in-person support and independent study that comes with a blended learning program.

“At the beginning, I struggled because I was straight from university and I didn’t have the same basic knowledge as everyone else. Make UK have been really supportive and put me on a lean course to help me catch up. I liked having personalized face-to-face support, as well as the freedom to create my own study program. I no longer need the level of support I got in school and so my education is my responsibility. Hands-on learning is my favorite, so it’s fun to apply what I learn online directly into my job. The hands-on work helps me retain and reinforce the information I get from online learning. »

Make UK currently offers blended learning for its Level Five Continuous Improvement apprentices. To register for an open day or view vacancies for the September 2022 cohort on the Make UK website, click here. Employers interested in offering continuous improvement learning with Make UK can contact Business Development Manager, Mark Farrant.

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