27 November 2013 by Ian Gurling, FIA Awarding Organisation Manager

Picture of Roy Castle playing the trumpetI’m sure many of you will remember the legend that was Roy Castle and his classic ‘Record Breakers’ theme tune. If you don’t Google it and you’ll understand the connection.

Well, Roy isn’t the only one with dedication, we have it at the FIA too. In the form of dedicated training courses. Dedicated in two senses – they are put on just for your company and engineers but also they show our dedication to providing fire technicians with the very best training.

So, just what is a dedicated course? It is a means of training a number of your technicians at the same time in same place. You provide the learners, venue and refreshments; we provide the trainer and the training materials.

So what are the benefits and where is the catch?

Obviously, there is a cost difference. To book a dedicated course for up to fifteen learners you will pay for the equivalent of ten on an open course. More than 15 learners and you will actually make a saving per learner compared to an open course (for FD&A courses. Portables courses have a different price structure).

Assuming you have space within your own premises to hold the training, the savings kick in quite quickly and so the financial benefit is immediately apparent. Add to that the savings from not having to send your technicians to a venue, which may be some distance from their base, and the possible cost of overnight accommodation and the financial benefits start to appear quite significant.

But if the cost saving is the only reason for running dedicated courses, why is it that 21% of dedicated courses run since April 2013 have been attended by less than 10 learners? Surely, businesses would train as many technicians as possible? Cost isn’t the only benefit to dedicated training. Location also comes into it; if your business is in a more remote part of the country or an area not so well served by open courses it may well be easier, cheaper and timelier to hold dedicated training. For example, in June and July we ran dedicated courses in Northern Ireland with just three learners on each day. The same open courses are not scheduled until November and March but, by arranging dedicated training, the customer has saved time. Similarly, we’ve run a series of courses for a company based in the Hebrides whose nearest open course venue, Glasgow, requires a sea or air crossing to the mainland and most probably at least one overnight stay in a hotel. All this would take their technicians off the road for longer than dedicated training.

Holding a dedicated course means that all of the learners are in the same place at the same time. This in itself presents the opportunity, outside of the actual course, to hold a team meeting or to brief staff on new standards and products. Start and finish times can (to a certain degree) be tailored to suit; we have even run courses at weekends on occasion.

Open courses shouldn’t be totally dismissed, though. Such courses allow learners to share ideas with industry peers, often resulting in cross pollination of ideas, working practices and understanding of the course subject. Having the ability, through face to face contact, to discuss interpretation of the subject is often cited as a major benefit of our training. The benefit increases significantly when that is through learners from different companies.

In both cases the trainer and course content remain the same and the average pass rate changes very little - 96% on dedicated and 98% on open courses. What does change is the choice of location, convenience, price and the nature of the learners attending.

Interested in finding out more? Contact the FIA training team on 020 3166 5002.