Growth in demand for digital plant operator training

An explosion in demand for training and upskilling due to the adoption of digital technology is being experienced in the plant sector.

Hirer Plantforce has developed the industry’s first internationally recognised plant operator BTEC level 2 diploma in GPS machine control.

Plantforce digital plant manager Dale Hawkins says: “GPS machine control is not something you can train in a day: it’s a vast subject. You are not just asking operators to follow a satnav in a car; you are asking them to embrace high-tech engineering tools.

“We have been working on this vocational qualification with Weston College for two years, making it available to other training organisations since March.”

Leica Geosystems has reacted by introducing its ‘school with a sandpit’ to train operators, managers, and engineers to use surveying and machine control tools.

It includes hidden utilities in a mock-up of a road, grass area and footpath for training in the use of ground penetrating radar. And there is a dig area for an excavator equipped with the latest semi-automatic MC1 machine control system and a specialist tiltrotator attachment.

Another training facility is the Operator Skills Hub in Birmingham, a joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Flannery, which has a bank of three Tenstar simulators. These are helping to train new operators like Jessica Holmes. She swapped a career in the police to become one of its first ‘trailblazer’ apprentices.

The hub will help train operators for the vast HS2 earthworks operation. Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, says: “The Operator Skills Hub will play a vital role in ensuring local people have the opportunity to upskill in readiness for employment opportunities on Britain’s new railway.”

Top image: Tenstar training simulators in the Netherlands; the technology will be used at Birmingham’s Operator Skills Hub

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