When our team in New Zealand began transitioning to a digital platform in 2019 to make it easier to deliver training to technicians, they had no idea just how important it would become in 2020.

In early-2019, our New Zealand telcommunications team began developing digital tools to support the delivery of safety and capability training for our subcontractor workforce.

Little did the team know just how important this online resource would become in 2020. With the country rapidly moving to a level four lockdown in March due to COVID-19, the race was on to ensure that our technicians could be adequately supported to continue to carry out their role under the restrictions.

For the technical training function, that meant a rapid move to deliver core compliance training remotely. Thankfully with the team well ahead of the game, they were able to shift to technicians booking in and completing their training with a trainer - all online. The seamless transition occurred within a couple of days of the Government announcements.

Whilst basic online training has always been a feature of our learning and development, the real step-change has been taking classroom-based activities and reworking them to a fully online course - complete with trainer.

I was watching the COVID crisis unfold overseas, so knew we would end up having to do remote training in New Zealand at some point," said Ventia NZ Learning and Development Manager, Louise Diack.

"Thankfully the work that we had already done meant we were able to respond fast, including rolling out COVID safety training to 1,500 people within two weeks.

"Whilst there was a rush to get it fully rolled out ahead of the lockdown, it's really been an 18-month journey for the whole team in expanding our digital capability."

Louise said collaboration between the learning and development training team and the tech workforce was a key to the success of the new system.

"I give the trainers a whole lot of ownership and I know they're proud of what we do and how we support the business," she said.

The team have created a digital ecosystem that includes a site for contractors with booking-in system, digital classrooms, digital assessments and automated processes, including the ability to issue certificates of achievement for upload into our VisRes System and generate reports for the business. They create bite-sized learning animations and instructional videos too.

"Once we started innovating, we didn't stop. Each innovation has opened up other opportunities to innovate further," Louise said.

Technician Manoj Kumar is one tech who has enjoyed the conversion to online training and loves the flexibility it provides.

Recently while out on site he needed to complete core compliance training specified by our client. Instead of leaving the site he was able to go back to his van and complete the two hours of training, with the same trainer he would normally work with in the classroom, using his phone.

"It cuts down on travel time, but it also meant that I could provide instructions to my crew during breaks in the training," Manoj said.

"The best part is I still get the experience of the trainers that I have previously worked with. The quality of the training experience is still very high."

Technician Sharad Patel also enjoys the flexibility the online training format provides. For Sharad, who is new to the online training, it was very easy to adapt

"It saves me time and it means I can do my training in the morning and still be working to support our customers in the afternoon," he said.