Identify Your Training Needs
There are no magic formulas to training or educating your workforce. It is not always easy to see what training each person needs to undertake to do their job. Each person could potentially have different requirements. For example, look at some of your staff members. Some will have headed off to college or university to study a course in a certain field while others may have come straight into employment and are learning on the job. Some could also be studying part-time.
Regardless of the direction we take, education and training are key aspects to our own personal development.
The first stage of the training process is to determine whether training will indeed be needed and will it address the problem(s) which may have been identified. In addition, you need to determine if the training needs to be focused on the industry, the overall job, or specific tasks.
It is a good idea to set up an organization-wide training requirement schedule and then one for each individual. If your company doesn't have a schedule, then create one of your own and request the company help you fulfill it. Identify the company’s training needs and those of each team and employee.
Consider the skill levels of the employees, as you don't really need to have everyone skilled in everything. Develop a user skill set. For example, not everyone is going to need to undertake RC detailing, so train a small group who can undertake all necessary RC detailing.
Consider setting out objectives for employees and areas to work on within a reasonable timeframe. Also find out what areas they wish to focus on, as this could be completely different than what you expect.
Bear in mind that people learn in different ways and at different paces. Be prepared for some who don't wish to be highly skilled and are happy just undertaking their normal tasks. Don't push them into doing something they might struggle with.
Figure 1: University
With industry-related training, which could include studying at university for a specific degree such as civil or structural engineering, you are likely to learn about design, detailing, and construction of structures such as buildings and bridges. It is likely when you graduate you may have some basic skills in using software such as Autodesk® Revit®, AutoCAD®, or other software such as Robot Structural Analysis.
Figure 2: Autodesk Revit
Industry-related training could also include attending a professional institute’s training course on a new code or standard. At the end of the day you will come away more knowledgeable than before.
Job-related training is related to a particular part of your job. Say you need to learn how to design and detail post-tensioned beams or slabs. Your training will focus on how this can be drawn or modeled using the software you currently use or are in the process of purchasing. This type of training is also useful when the company standard or a process or procedure has been introduced or updated.
Say you have a large project in the office and your colleagues have started creating reinforced concrete models which now have all the rebar detailed in the 3D model and not exported into 2D drawings to detail. Task-specific training will focus on helping you understand how to detail reinforced concrete in Revit.
Eventually you’ll have to investigate where you can obtain the training you’ve determined you need. Fortunately, there are multiple sources of training today such as the following:
Certified Autodesk Training Centre – This is generally a traditional classroom format in a formal training course with a Certified Autodesk Training Instructor at one of the many Autodesk Training Centers across the globe. (https://www.autodesk.com/training-and-certification/authorized-training-centers). These can be costly if you’re paying for it yourself, but if your employer is sending a number of staff members, cost can be reasonable. The trainers are generally users of the software and experts in the field in which they are training you.
I have personal experience with this. I was self-taught in Autodesk Revit, but then went on to be a trainer for five years, training hundreds of users in various Autodesk products. Is it worth the money? I feel it is, as it allows you to ask questions directly to the person training you. If something goes wrong, they are there to help you.
Training Manuals – Another option is self-paced learning by book. Although this a good learning tool, it does not allow you to ask any questions and there is nobody to ask if you get stuck. But it is a less expensive option.
Online Learning – Alternatively you could consider using online learning tools such as CADlearning, Global eTraining, or LinkedIn Learning, to name a few. These are generally cheaper than attending a training center and can be undertaken anytime and anywhere. These services also offer support if you need help.
Free Open Source Training – A word of caution about this type of training, which might include viewing videos created by users on YouTube: you cannot always rely that what they are showing is correct. Other types of training in this category includes reading through some of the bloggers’ how-to guides. A great free tool I recommend to everyone is using the Autodesk University online learning pages (http://au.autodesk.com/au-online/overview). There are hundreds if not thousands of classes covering every discipline and Autodesk product.
In-House Training – Some organizations are now training certain staff members to be their trainers, ensuring uniform training across the organization. Another option in this category is peer-to-peer learning (i.e., training buddies). The in-house employee-turned-trainer will be knowledgeable in a certain area and then can train others. This can help with team building, personal and professional development, and is usually quick and easy to organize.
Figure 3: Training schedule
I must admit some of the best things I have learned over the years came from others working in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry. Autodesk University is one place where you can sit in a class or lab to listen and learn from others from around the world about how they undertake their daily jobs. This often reveals how you can use the software tools in a different way. You, too, can share your skills and knowledge to help educate others.
Don’t forget: it is not always about your own education or training. It can be about making sure your team or other members of your organization have the skills and knowledge they need to perform their jobs and collaborate with other teams or organizations.
Never stop learning—consider undertaking some refresher training in areas or tools you don’t use every day. Refresher training can identify and address those skills that need to remain current.
If you wish to check that training has been useful, then consider undertaking a regular skills assessment with your staff, and maybe an annual software assessment. These can identify areas staff members need to work on and point out areas where they are excelling. Skills assessments don’t need to take place every week, but should be regular enough so you will know when and where you need to upskill, if required. Don't forget to gather feedback from your users on how the training has gone. Tools such as KnowledgeSmart (https://www.knowledgesmart.net/) have online tests to help with this.
And don’t forget about your current (and future) employees’ professional qualifications and designations such as Autodesk Certified Professional status. This recognizes their proven skills level in that application. To find out more, check out the following link,
Figure 4: Autodesk Certified
Ensure that all your staff members have some form of training and their skills are to the level they need to do their jobs. Remember that it is better to have skilled, trained staff who may leave your company than staff who are not skilled and untrained. This can hurt your business more than doing nothing at all.
But leaving it up to employees to “learn as they go,” gaining knowledge only on live projects can be a potential cost to the business, not to mention the time employees take to figure out how to do things. You risk missing key deadlines or issuing bad or incorrect information because the staff members don't really know how to use the software or don’t have any idea what they are doing.
Consider that one user might be a great modeler in Revit, but doesn’t understand how to detail in reinforced concrete. This is where task-based training can help.
Software is evolving all the time and you need to keep yourself and all your users up to date with these solutions. If not, you risk falling behind the industry and ultimately losing business. But remember: spend wisely. Don’t buy software just because everyone else is. Investing in training will give you good returns on investment (ROI) if done in the right way.
One final thought to consider: It is not about the tool, but about the time and effort you put into it. Making sure you get your training right is best in the long run.
Figure 5: ROI