TRANSCRIPT: Removing barriers in skills development
Episode 234 sees the return of ‘The VocTech Podcast‘ series, supported by Ufi VocTech Trust. In this series, we look at vocational learning technologies and improving opportunities in the workplace, and in the latest episode, we discuss how to remove barriers in education, how to boost learner confidence, and how to build a use case for tech in learning.
Diane Morgan (00:00):
We found that confidence is the biggest barrier and especially imposter syndrome. And it’s everybody who suffers with this. I think, you know, it can be somebody you look at and you think they’ve got the best background and the most transferable skills and, you know, a great opportunity and yet totally suffer with this. So we work incredibly hard at addressing that head on.
Sophie Bailey (00:27):
Hello everyone. And welcome to this next series of The Voctech Podcast on The Edtech Podcast. This series is all about taking a look at vocational learning technologies and improving opportunity in the workplace. This series is supported by Ufi VocTech Trust, and we’ve got loads of great episodes coming up, including a chat in January with author of the book End State: nine ways society is broken and how we fix it. That’s James Plunkett. So I’m very much looking forward to that. But before this week’s episode, huge congrats to our podcast partners, Ufi VocTech Trust, and Century Tech for winning gold at the Learning Technologies Awards for best use of learning data analytics to impact learner and business performance and a Ufi VocTech Trust funded projects, including iDEA. And the NYA youth work academy also picked up a silver and bronze respectively. So big shout out to them and also to LAS for winning learning organization of the year.
Sophie Bailey (01:30):
It was a great night and ended late with a diminishing set of returns as the night progressed. As you can imagine, a quick reminder that if you would like tickets to the reimagine education conference, which runs December the sixth to the 10th online, if you’d like to pick up some free tickets, there were $300 each via tech podcasts as a partner of the event has kindly been given an allocation of tickets to send out to our listeners. So do get in touch or if you’re on the website for re-imagine dash education.com you can use the promo code re judge R E J U D G E all in caps and enjoy the show. Okay. This week’s episode was recorded, live and features everything from how to remove barriers in education, how to boost learner confidence and how to build a use case for tech in learning within a corporate or workplace environment. Here we go.
Sophie Bailey (02:50):
Hello everyone. And welcome to this kickoff event for the Week of VocTech brought to you by Ufi VocTech Trust in collaboration with partners, including the RSA, the AOC Ault, and many more. The week of Week Of VocTech is the annual celebration of all things, learning technologies to support work-based skills this week, we’re going to hear all about creating positive impact for the learners who aren’t always well-served by the mainstream. So without further ado, let’s meet our guests. So first up we have Mark Baxter. So Mark is the technical director and co-founder for Digitalnauts. Digitalnauts is an immersive learning program and in-system assessment platform for upskilling across industry, including the construction Naval and energy sectors. So welcome mark.
Sophie Bailey (03:45):
Next up, we have Dr. Andrea Cullen, who is lead tutor, and co-founder for CAPSLOCK. CAPSLOCK is an online cybersecurity professional training program where you don’t pay a penny until you get hired. It’s created by university cyber lecturers who wanted to provide something better and more accessible, currently retraining taxi drivers, dancers, and stay at home dads among many others in the world of cyber to fill the skills gap in names like the BBC. And finally, we have Diane Morgan, director of talent for Zinc VC. Zinc brings together the brightest minds to build and scale a brand new way to solve the most important societal problems faced by the developed world. So welcome Diane and welcome Andrea as well. And why I brought these particular guests together is that there are some common themes among them all. So in some capacity, their work all involves improving access to knowledge and skills and puts another way that might mean removing barriers and bureaucracy, and also supporting learners who have not gone down the perhaps traditional pathway. So we will kick off, we’ll get straight into things. Mark, let’s start with you. Could you tell us a little bit about what you do at Digitalnauts?
Mark Baxter (05:03):
Yeah, no problem. So they just do not we provide end to end solutions for the enterprise. So basically that means we help support all the, the, the difficult questions when it comes to adopt and XR solutions and by XR, I mean, VR and augmented reality solutions, which I’m sure at this point, most people are probably quite familiar with or have at least heard of at some point. So I would mention as a business is to really bring that into companies who don’t know how to do it. They don’t know where to start. They’ve never approached it before and really bring it in, in a meaningful way. Most of the industries that we tend to service are traditionally the industrial sectors. So these are places that may not have done the traditional e-learning before either of these construction sectors. People who’ve maybe not been through the standard education pathways, as you say, and they’ve now ended up in construction and it, so it’s a chance to give them a new, safe, way to train.
Sophie Bailey (05:55):
And, and when we spoke before, you were sort of saying, when you started this, people thought you were kind of mad and you know, the low hanging fruit and the easy option would have been just to develop another LMS platform. So can you tell us a little bit about what that was like right in the beginning and then how that’s evolved over time as well?
Mark Baxter (06:17):
Absolutely. So we started the business back in 2016 for me as my background prior to that was still e-learning, but mostly traditional e-learning. And, and I just said before I made Land Management Systems, I’m very much a technologist and being the CTO of the business. So for me, I didn’t want to then come in and start making new learning management systems for VR. But one of the biggest gaps that we realized was that it was, it was necessary, there was no solution in place to actually get content as VR, this new type, this new medium, get it to the users in a meaningful way. That was as simple as you could do traditionally, where you just enter in a URL, open up your LMS, select a course and run it. So there was a big gap there. And so for the first two years up to about 2018, I just felt it was as if we were on our own saying, yeah, VR is good.
Mark Baxter (07:03):
Trust me, it’ll work, but there’s some gaps and we need to address it. We need to get it sorted. Since then, thankfully there’s now a lot of solutions in place that can do it. Again though, because there’s already so many learning management systems out there. We don’t want to just go and create another one just for the purpose of doing VR. So what we’ve ended up building is actually a solution that sort of sets in the middle and it facilitates the connection between the Land Management System and the VR treatment itself. So it’s a little bit different.
Sophie Bailey (07:33):
And what are some of the use cases that, you know, some of your clients, your customers? I think I mentioned construction, naval. Could you enlighten us as to what the problems are and how they’re using immersive technology as well?
Mark Baxter (07:47):
The industrial sector is prime for accidents. People are enjoying themselves all the time in this space. VR is such a good solution for being able to take away that opportunity to make mistakes or to have these accidents. So it completely reduces the rest. So any sector involves physical hands-on training with particularly big equipment, expensive equipment. It’s a no brainer for you to do it. And it’s all very much process-driven as well. So it’s all quite straightforward to translate from what you do just know. And two, what would you like to do in VR and the cost reductions and benefits tend to be quite immediate as well.
Sophie Bailey (08:24):
We spoke also before because I didn’t know, you were really busy with COP 26, but also one of the past guests on The VocTech Podcast was also the Head for Neurodiversity at the BBC. And I know there are some really interesting applications of VR for sort of empathy, building soft skills training, being empathetic, perhaps for people with autism in the workplace and that kind of thing. Have you seen any of those applications?
Mark Baxter (08:52):
Yeah, yeah, very much so. In fact these are some of my personally more interesting applications for VR. The traditional training stuff is really straightforward in terms of the process-based training. But when you’ve got to look at the soft skills you really want to have a sort of emotive connection with what you’re engaging with and if you can create a course or a module, and you can leave the person who was in it. You can, they can come out of it and leave that experience feeling a change internally. So some sort of infrastructure then that is a, really a successful and training application, but it’s not something that’s easy to do. In the case of like autism, for example, you get to experience perhaps what it’s like to be in the shoes of somebody with autism and going around, but there’s a lot of experiences out there that are quite, quite serious, quite dark, but you really do feel that presence and being in there and that connection to what that person’s gone through, which otherwise you wouldn’t have ever been able to experience.
Mark Baxter (09:49):
So it’s very, very good for, for, for giving that emotion.
Sophie Bailey (09:53):
Fantastic. Diane, let’s come over to you. One of the reasons I brought you into the discussion is because you’ve got this amazing involvement long-term with education and educational technology in various guises, but also with your current role at Zinc, I think the, the approach and the investment thesis and the support for founders has many similarities to Ufi VocTech Trust and try in terms of supporting perhaps those who aren’t always recognized and thinking about how to actually problem solve, rather than just repeat what we’ve done before. So yeah, again, I’d love for you just to share with our listeners you know, your experience in the last sort of 10, 15 years, and, and then what you’re doing currently.
Diane Morgan (10:43):
So, you mentioned Zinc and our founders. So I will, I will start there. I’m head of talent at Zinc. And what we do is pull together founders who may be founders, or maybe about to become founders from all over the world, who care deeply about a mission area and looking at society’s challenges and thinking something has to be done, what we’re doing isn’t good enough. And how do we make that happen? So zinc focuses on four missions; mental health, those left behind by automation and globalization, longer life and the environment. And the idea is to pull together people who come from all different disciplines, all different walks of life, pre-team, pre idea. So we’re bringing people together on the main passion for this mission, and then training them over the course of 12 months, investing in them, investing in their businesses about how to build a brand new business.
Diane Morgan (11:40):
So it’s not throwing away everything that exists. But for instance, our mission this year is looking at the mental and emotional health of children and young people. It’s looking at the systems, it’s looking at education, it’s looking at the networks of parents and carers. So the people that are founders within the Zinc community have experience and are serial entrepreneurs, some are product people. We have a huge chunk of people who are domain experts, school teachers, NHS workers, clinicians commissioners, professors, researchers looking at what’s going on in this space and how can we come together and do something differently. So what I liked when I was talking to you about this is that they are coming with a different set of skills on day one, which was two weeks ago, they were the title of founder, and then they build their business up from that really looking at problems in different ways.
Sophie Bailey (12:33):
Yeah. So refreshing it’s such a different approach to, you know, then sort of starting with an idea and it’s fully-fledged and then seeking the funding. And I love you know, I think we could all learn a lot from, from actually just getting interesting people in a room and sort of knocking heads together in that way. And then, you know, supporting the best, the best innovations that come out of the back of it. And when we spoke before you, you talked also about your prior work in education and then educational technology. Could you tell us a little bit about how that started and then your work at Trilogy as well?
Diane Morgan (13:08):
Sure. So my whole career has been in education. It’s really been something that’s been driving from my own personal background and what I’ve seen with family and colleagues and the ability of education to open doors and that’s education of all kinds. So I really started to get involved in education technology in 2000 with the New York Times where, what we did was we built something called ‘The Learning Network‘, which took stories from the paper that were about to be published the next day, worked overnight to create lesson plans and snippets so that teachers would be able to come into the classroom and speak about, with their students, either in a 15-minute lesson plan or a two-minute exercise, so that you could talk about what was happening in the world and feel really comfortable with that. And sometimes it was just daily news, but sometimes it was some really uncomfortable issues.
Diane Morgan (13:59):
So it was giving teachers, teachers aids, the parents even, the tools to be able to do that. And I love that that happened overnight, that we were able to try to distribute it and bring that to as many people as possible who had an internet connection, who could access that. I then went on to work at universities and Imperial College in London Business School, really focusing on career development and focusing on how do you actually help people go through transition? How do you remove barriers? How do you psychologically get people to think differently about what their capabilities are and what they have the ability to do that other people see, and then look at some of that training to be able to help people? And I got involved in Trilogy education, which was a U.S scallop company that was moving really, really quickly.
Diane Morgan (14:49):
We did something really interesting, which was to say, we need to skill up people on digital skills in the local areas where they want to work. So there are some phenomenal online courses, but they don’t necessarily tie directly to the employer situation that’s happening in the local area. And the premise behind this was the best way was because we were unknown to partner with somebody that had a brand and those brands were universities. So in the UK, we partnered with the University of Manchester in the university of Birmingham. And the idea was, could we train people on web development, on full-stack? I know Andrea is going to talk on cyber. We touched on it a little bit, but I think your programme is more advanced than that, but it was about training up with a brand sitting behind you where people trusted it, and they recognized it with a very, very strong curriculum.
Diane Morgan (15:40):
And then also working with local employers to say, what kind of tech stack do you need? What is it that you need for people to have so that you can make this transition? So there were a number of people who were recent graduates in that program ages went up to, there was actually unlimited. What we were most excited about was about 25% of the students who came to us had not gone to university. So they were school leavers, and they were really facing this big transition to the idea of having a program that they could trust that they could learn from. And then there was this employer piece sitting at the end where they knew that the things that they were learning would be applicable in their local area.
Sophie Bailey (16:17):
Fantastic. Thank you so much. Yeah. I’d love to come back to you in a little bit as well, and, and dig into some of the startups that are coming out of zinc VC that you’re seeing as well. There’s a few things there that the points of trust around, you know, new innovations as well and how do you build that in? I thought it was really interesting, but we’ll go to Andrea and then I’ve got a question as well for Mark that’s come in.
Sophie Bailey (16:41):
So, Andrea, I think some really interesting points there from Diana around access to new skills, and I love what you’re doing, and I love your founder story as well in particular. So could you share sort of how CAPSLOCK came into being and, and what your main mission is as well? Yeah, sure.
Dr Andrea Cullen (16:59):
Great. Great to see you all actually. And good morning. Yeah. CAPSLOCK really care about over a long period of time. I think from working within a university, I worked as a lecturer for over 16 years and saw the benefits really of education in that environment with some of the rigour and some of the, kind of expertise behind it. But also at that point realized it wasn’t an option open to everybody a bit like, you know, others have said around accessibility and opportunity. And I think taking environment moving from there and working in consultancy and industry, saw the benefits of training and development in the industry too, with the flexibility and, you know, the agility that that brings and CAPSLOCK came about really by bringing the best of both, both worlds together. So that kind of rigour and depth of learning that you can get in a university, but the flexibility, agility and industry readiness that you would get from working in the industry, I guess the whole ethos behind CAPSLOCK is its accessibility.
Dr Andrea Cullen (18:00):
And I believe that is still the thing that we are most proud of. Our whole idea was really to remove as many barriers as possible. And I know that’s one of the themes of what we’re talking about to do. So it’s, how do we make this education as accessible as we possibly can for anybody looking to re-skill and move into the cyber industry. And that’s at the heart of what we do with that in mind that we’ve removed barriers around financial barriers through using income share agreements, but it’s also really clear about how we structured our learning and our days, the times within it. So we don’t start till, for example, it sounds really simple, but we don’t start till half nine and we finish at half two. That means anybody with caring responsibilities is able to attend, or we do evening classes.
Dr Andrea Cullen (18:45):
So if you’ve got to work, you can fit those, those in and around your lifestyle. So I think it was all around that removing of barriers, really, that was, was key to us.
Sophie Bailey (18:55):
Fantastic. I don’t know if it’s entirely appropriate, but I do feel I have to share with the listeners that you started this whole thing after having four children as well, which is quite phenomenal.
Dr Andrea Cullen (19:04):
Yeah. It feels like the birth of a child is CAPSLOCK. I think it is very much our thing that we’re incredibly proud of. So yeah.
Sophie Bailey (19:14):
And you should be, and well, we’ll come back to some of your use cases, cause I’m particularly interested in the appetite for reskilling existing employees within some of the employers that you work with into cyber and away from other areas. So that, that was quite interesting, but I must tackle some of these questions that have come in so, Mark. But a question here would be useful to hear from Mark on the advantages of VR over say video for health and safety training. So what are the particular benefits versus video?
Mark Baxter (19:45):
Yeah. so this one comes up quite often. The obvious answer is, is that you’re actually doing it physically. You’re, you’re getting hands-on experience. So when it comes to this process based training and you’ve got that muscle memory, so it tends to stick. So it’s much more sticky of the actual training itself. But for me, what I think is a little bit more interesting as I touched on earlier is the actual cultural change that you can have this idea of being able to experience and empathy within, within the training. So to give you an example, in the construction industry, an industry, which traditionally, they don’t tell on each other. You know, because you’ll see that most construction sites it’s been X many days since we’ve had an incident on-site or we’ve had an accident, and nobody wants to mess with that.
Mark Baxter (20:29):
Nobody wants to be the person that takes it from 400 days back down to zero because they cut their thumb. So, and that industry in particular, and a lot of similar industrial sectors, they’re scared or hesitant to speak out when something happens. But if you force somebody within their training to have a fall off a height, for example, or a fall off a ladder or experience electrocution, or have that surprise moment where they didn’t expect someone to go wrong, because they weren’t paying attention, you can do that safely and they will all fall virtually of course and, and experience what it’s like to be in that position, but actually not take any of the rest of it. And what that does is it has this strange effect that people in the future, when they go back onsite, they’re more likely to speak up if they see somebody else behaving in a similar way.
Mark Baxter (21:15):
So if you forgot to attach your PPE or your piece of equipment to your climbing ladder as your climbing up it but you see somebody else doing that, you’re more likely to stop them and intervene rather than just let it go and say nothing. For me, I think that that’s quite a powerful one. I think that’s really, really one of the sorts of super weapons of virtual reality. The other thing that I find that’s quite interesting about it that came up before and this is similar to what you were talking about assessment earlier, this is somewhat related to assessment. And one of our customers asked us to do an assessment of the clean room, of people putting together the equipment; basically, just a bunch of chemistry equipment and they have to put it together. But when we looked at the data because it’s virtual reality and you can capture literally everything, it turns out they expected people to be putting things in the wrong order, in terms of connecting the papers together and the wires and fitting to get out of the expected that it would be doing it in the wrong order.
Mark Baxter (22:10):
And that was where the focus was from these points of view. But when we looked at the data at the time though, actually what most people, everybody was getting the order, correct, but what most people would neglect and was the fact that they were in a clean room and they were dragging these paints across the ground. And as soon as something touches the ground that becomes contaminated and it can no longer be used. And if it was real life and it contaminated the solution that had hundreds of thousands of dollars of effect, because the whole thing would have to go to waste. So for me, one of them’s more focused on sort of data, it’s a little bit more interesting and then the other one’s actual cultural changes. So for me, that, to me is more beneficial than certain watching the video. You will never be what you get in any other way. And then the obvious ones, obviously the fact you’re getting the experience and the hands-on training and doing it physically. So there wasn’t,
Sophie Bailey (22:55):
So it’s like the unknown unknowns and it, and actually, sometimes we’re, we’re sort of measuring the wrong things or looking, you know, looking the other way, something interesting is happening. And actually just, just to throw it out to everyone, because we’ve got a question here about what the panel had to say on the scaleability of VR solutions. But I think if I take that slightly wider as well, how do you see that play out in a, in a broader sense you can think about VR, but if we think about technology more, more broadly, does anyone want to jump in?
Dr Andrea Cullen (23:27):
Yeah, I would say that in terms of technology, I think at the forefront of that is creating accessibility to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access learning. I think it also helps you do some really clever stuff. And for us, it’s around the ability to simulate the environment, pretty similar to what Mark was saying really, but in a different context. So I guess in terms of learning if you look back to the 1800s, I know it’s a long time ago and before it learning was all about a lecturer or a learning person standing at the front of a room and reading from a book to a large group of people. And that was done mainly because resource was limited. So you wouldn’t book 800 people. How do you share that? Well, one person stands up and reads it and 799 of them listen. It was the only way to do things. I think technology has advanced, obviously, in incredible ways. And it facilitates all sorts of different ways to learn, which makes it really scalable, but also very accessible. And I guess sometimes that learning style doesn’t always move alongside that change in technology.
Dr Andrea Cullen (24:34):
So I think industry agility particularly of small businesses is driving some of that change. So I think it’s kind of around the accessibility nurse and different, just different ways to learn really.
Sophie Bailey (24:46):
And you gave some examples before of you know, some of those learning experiences where it is very much set in, in the workplace. And so you are tackling real challenges that, you know, your BBC or other clients will have to deal with. Could you shine some light on some of those experiences as well, and some of the challenges that your students would have to face?
Dr Andrea Cullen (25:09):
Yeah, sure. I, I guess the key to what we do is around problem-based learning, which helps people look at, well, I guess rolling it back slightly. We learn more when we’re doing, we learn less when we’re listening.
Dr Andrea Cullen (25:23):
So I think if we’re listening to something, we maybe return 5% of what… If we’re doing something we’re likely to return 60 plus per cent. And if we have the opportunity to teach others, then we’ll return 95% of what we’re learning. And so it’s not just learning by row listening to something it’s actually getting involved, hands-on doing and teaching others. So our curriculum is all around, team-based learning and problem-based learning. So it’s problems you would see in the industry, like, for example, in a cyber context, how do you deal with joiners movers and leavers within an organization? How do you make sure you implement the right kind of technology and that you’ve got the processes and other things in place to facilitate that? Now, if we were to talk to somebody about that, they would probably listen to some of it, but actually given learners that problem to solve within a group setting within a company as the care study, when it comes to windows, they’ve already been there.
Dr Andrea Cullen (26:19):
You know, they’ve got that as an example, they can say, actually, I know how to solve that problem because I’ve already done it. So it’s great at developing technical and other skills, but it’s also incredible at developing what we call impact skills. And I think they are critical to industry. That ability to think on your feet, to be a critical thinker, to be an analytical thinker. I think all those things are incredibly important and a methodology like that is brilliant at building those skills.
Sophie Bailey (26:46):
Fantastic, thank you. And Diane, I’d love to find out a bit more about some of your founder builder organizations that have come up. I think we talked about Bellevie and Yuno, before I think those are great examples of setting the workplace and, and problem-solving
Diane Morgan (27:02):
Sure, and I think it really fits nicely with the conversation on technology because part of what we do is really early on in the process, we go out and we talk to users. So the technology is something that will enable and allow businesses to scale, but it’s not necessarily where we start. So just last week we were in Bristol talking to parents, we’re talking to going to schools, talking to university students. And the whole idea is for when you’re building a business to get out there as quickly as possible. So you’re not set behind building something that nobody wants or that nobody would pay for, or wouldn’t be useful. And I think that’s nice when you think about how the technology fits in. Cause sometimes it might be quite simple and sometimes it can be really advanced. So one of the examples that you just mentioned is, you know, and, you know was really developed to use machine learning and psychometric profiling to help people and employers find a good match where jobs are threatened by robots and automation.
Diane Morgan (28:03):
And that first started out, looking at electricians and construction is now working with data cabling and looking at utility companies, industries that have, as I would say as almost second careers where people could go and get a bit of training and then actually enter that segment. And the front end of that is quite basic. So it’s really an app where you’re testing out things that you like. So I as a user would be asked, do you like to wake up early? Do you care about other people? Do you want to, is MES important to you or can you function within it? Some really basic questions where I’m seeing a picture and then also there are some texts underneath. And I either swipe that I agree or I don’t agree. So that’s actually pretty basic technology, the really interesting pieces, the backend in working with the employers and gathering up enough significant data to say, okay, what are some of the personality traits of the people that would make a really nice transition to be trained up, to go into data cabling?
Diane Morgan (29:06):
And what are we seeing there? So it’s not based on people’s CVS or the experience that they had, but it’s based on the potential of what they can do. So I, for, for, you know, that’s really exciting for industries tons of difficulty, right? It’s harder with electricians that go through a four-year apprentice. It’s a little bit easier in some of the others, but trying to reduce those barriers of how people get in and also for the company, how you’re looking at what somebody can bring to the organization. You know, also does a lot of work in adult social care as does Bellevie. Bellevie was started by looking at healthcare workers. There was a lot of assumptions about healthcare workers that they were doing this job in home care because they couldn’t do anything else or they were filling in during the time.
Diane Morgan (29:53):
And the team went out, the founders are Trudy Fell and Violane Pierre, and spoke to home care workers who absolutely loved what they did. They love taking care of people. They had a huge amount of empathy. They wanted to continue doing it. Their biggest challenge was loneliness and not having colleagues and getting caught up in a whole bunch of paperwork and tracking their work by the hour, which felt really transactional when they were dealing with people that they really wanted to take care of. So what Belvy has done is put a fairly basic infrastructure using slack so that people can communicate using a team-based organization. So the team there’ll be a group of care workers that can actually organize their rotas themselves. So if one of them’s needs to step out, they organize who steps in, and that allows them to and, a monthly subscription. So rather than being paid by the hour, they actually get a salary. And then the person that’s being taken care of is paying by the month. So it was a completely different feel to what that experience is like posts on the supply side for care workers and both on the people being taken care of and the technology will get there in terms of how sophisticated that gets on the back end to help the workers, but using slack is really quite basic to be able to allow the care workers to have a much better experience.
Sophie Bailey (31:14):
Yeah, really interesting. So, yeah, don’t obsess about some sort of technology right at the start necessarily. It’s kind of what I got from what you’re saying is, you know, the importance of speaking to users and then also building that trust as well. And the, you know, example made me think of I think Ufi VocTech Trust has a collaboration with The Resolution Foundation. And now there’s this sort of, this idea of worker tech. So, you know, actually using technology, using connections to one another and the transparency that technology allows to put ourselves in a better position as employees as well. So I thought that was a great example.
Sophie Bailey (31:55):
Andrea, when we spoke before you, we had a conversation around sort of the scale of the skills crisis now being so big that traditional ideas of recruitment and then, you know, people leaving the business and more recruitment don’t really stack up anymore. And so re-skilling is becoming, you know a sort of burgeoning area. And I just wondered what you’re hearing from clients that you work with on how they’re thinking about employees within their organization and giving them the confidence to sort of re-skill as well.
Dr Andrea Cullen (32:29):
Yeah, it is a crisis. And like you say, kind of looking at your own talent pool is one way to start to address that. I guess there’s a couple of types of organizations and a couple of types of relationships who worked with it might be that an organization has a particular individual that they think actually they would benefit from going through this training program. So they’ve kind of done that on a one to one kind of personal basis. Other organizations have a potentially bigger problem and they might have a number of people within their organization whose roles become redundant.
Dr Andrea Cullen (33:03):
And rather than naturally letting somebody leave the organization who has all that backend around experience, who understands the context, who understands the business, there’s an opportunity to look at re-skilling those people within the business. So actually saying, you know, we’ve got this talent pool, it already exists, already understands the business. Can we look at putting those people through a program like this? And re-skilling them. So that can come into a different part of the business and work within cyber. And that’s just starting to get a little bit of traction, really, because for a couple of reasons; I think going out into industry in general, to look for cyber professionals, it’s tricky, there’s a shortfall of individuals more generally. So I think it’s 10,000 a year on filters growing year on year. So it’s difficult to get the skills you need. If you’ve already got talent within the business who understand the business, who are loyal to the business, then it’s great actually to look at that repurposing of roles, that moving people into other areas, it kinda makes sense.
Sophie Bailey (34:02):
And what are some of your favourite learner stories or learner journeys that have gone through sort of CAPSTOCK as well?
Dr Andrea Cullen (34:09):
I’ve read every learner’s my favourite. Yeah, but I think some, some great stories really. I think, you know, I talked a bit about removing barriers and one of the biggest barriers people first for getting into training or kind of career change is what they’ve done in the past. So it’s actually, did I get these A levels? Did I get these GCSEs? Have I got that degree? Have I got that experience? And all these things can actually hold somebody up from moving on with, you know, in a direction they want to go. And that was the biggest barrier we removed. So instead of looking back into somebody’s history and saying, do they have the right background, for us to be ought to be able to train or re-skill into cyber it’s actually, do they have the potential?
Dr Andrea Cullen (34:51):
So it’s taken an individual giving them some pre-course opportunities so they can go in, learn a bit about cyber do a number of tasks, write a personal statement about determination and all those things are more of an indicator of success than did I do an A level 20 years ago. You know, that it’s no longer relevant to that individual. Your choice’s you made in the past should not, I feel influence what you’re able to do in the future. So I think that was the biggest barrier we tackled as a result, without some incredible case studies and stories. Really. So, people who in the past have been cleaners, taxi drivers, dancers chefs, police, officers, music, teachers, midwives, you name it, they’ve come through this program. And they have created the most diverse and incredible environment because they’re all bringing in such different experiences and different skills that when you’re looking to solve these problems, they’ve got completely different ways of looking at it. So I guess to me, we celebrate every single learner hire but it’s been brilliant to see them.
Sophie Bailey (35:54):
That’s very interesting to hear because UFI did a really interesting piece of sort of dialogue with different stakeholders involved in learning technology and supportive learners who are developing work-based skills. And one of the things that came out of that, and they’re sort of green paper and white paper, was this idea of learner confidence being, you know, something you have to really tackle, understand the background of a learner, what their motivations are before you engage in any kind of onward trajectory of sorts. So sounds like that is a key piece of what you’re all working on is gaining that insight of those users or learners and then how to support them you know, with the work that you’re doing, but any, any thoughts on that and any examples of you know, where that has played out in your own work.
Dr Andrea Cullen (36:49):
We’ve found that confidence is the biggest barrier and especially imposter syndrome. And it’s everybody who suffers with this. I think, you know, it can be somebody with you look at and you think they’ve got the best background and the most transferable skills and, you know, a great opportunity and yet totally suffer with this. So we work incredibly hard at addressing that head-on. We talk about imposter syndrome all the time. We do one to one coaching. We’ve got mentors and support systems. And I think that is the chapter list that through the weeks of the boot camp, watch that confidence grow and watch people start to believe in themselves. And I think it is all around just opening up and say actually I suffer with it too, you know? So it’s not just, you don’t feel like you should be on your back foot. Everybody feels like this. And let’s just speak about it more openly.
Sophie Bailey (37:40):
Mark, do you, have you experienced any of that within your own work, in terms of who you collaborate with and building that up?
Mark Baxter (37:47):
I mean, we kind of come at it from a slightly different point of view and that the barriers that we’re trying to remove or more on the enterprise barriers. So we’re looking at the, higher level, the stakeholders and the C-level to sort of try and get the buy-in to sort of trickle that down to the rest of the organization. That approach isn’t always the best and most successful because, at the end of the day, it’s the learner, the person that’s involved is going to get training, is the most important person in all of it. And if your training isn’t effective, there’s no point. And I think that for us, we always encourage people to bring the […] as early as possible, even if it’s high level what the, as I say, its the industrial sector. So it tends to be a lot of older generation, people who have been doing this for years.
Mark Baxter (38:27):
And one of the difficult parts we get is they look at VR is that gimmick, as a toy, as a console. It’s like, Why would I need to do that? So I’ve been doing that on my hands for years. And, you know, if I make a mistake, I will tell myself not to do it again in the future because I hurt my thumb or whatever it may be, but that’s just, you know, that’s not really the way that the technology’s going and training is going to be going from forwards. So it’s hard to convince these people. The other side of that is as I’m Andrea, you touched on it as well; people leaving the company as well and they take all that knowledge with them and that knowledge gets left. So how do you capture that? And then put that into one of these virtual experiences or any kind of training?
Mark Baxter (39:06):
It’s something that’s really difficult and it’s a real problem in a lot of industries at the moment. If you look at renewables, the renewable sector is booming. So a lot of people are leaving the oil and gas industry and moving over to work on turbines, etc. The skills are very, very transferable. But it’s a very different approach. And because renewable is in some ways, a little bit more modern, a bit more innovative. The training also does that because the training needs to be done at scale because there are hundreds of thousands of wind turbines all over the country. And, you know the short of staff to try and get booked in, trying to put people through and upscale them as quickly as possible without actually taking them to, and when I was in and doing it in that regard. So it’s, it’s really about changing the attitudes of people that actually know themselves to look at it as a benefit to them rather than a gimmick or why’d I have to do it, you know, it doesn’t matter. So it’s slightly different,
Sophie Bailey (39:59):
Fantastic right. I’m very conscious of time. We’ve got a few minutes left for some absolutely brilliant insights. So thank you all. I’ll try and tackle one question very quickly, and then we’ll just go to sort of final thoughts or resources you’d like to share with everyone listening in on this topic. So I’ve got a question here about how to overcome the possible technology and cost barriers. So I think we’ve, you know, I suppose there’s some cultural resistance to technology you’ve just touched upon Mark. So any, any experience of the cost barriers as well, and thoughts on that around training and innovation and use of technology?
Mark Baxter (40:36):
Yeah, I’m quite simply, honestly, in my opinion; technology is just a delivery mechanism. It shouldn’t be the focus. Don’t do technology for technology’s sake or our company just pick it up because it’s a buzzword. It’s alright now but it doesn’t help if it is not put in place properly. So for me, the most important thing is people and processes. And if you can identify your business case as to where the best place to put your training is. I know that it’s an investment by headsets and things of that, but, you know, in a large company where you have to your L and D department has got a budget that they have to maintain. They’ve got so many learning days, trading days, that can provide all different departments. What you really need to look at is maybe reduce one of those training days; that could be the cost of a headset. And it’s just, it’s just all around the business case to be perfectly honest.
Sophie Bailey (41:19):
Diane, any thoughts on cost barriers?
Diane Morgan (41:23):
Yeah. And I think taking this from two sides. So if I think back to you know, and Lorenz Fisher, who’s the co-founder, he really wants to design this for individuals, but, for them, the tech has to be fairly low tech so that it feels really accessible and then has to work with the employers. And I think with the employers, the barriers, and not as Mark said, tech, the barriers are hiring on the same indexes on the same points that you always used to hide around and thinking, well, you have this huge gap with tech, but also what Andrea said, there’s this huge potential within the workforce. So I would say it’s what you know, has done has surveyed the existing teams that already are there to say, these are the capabilities of your existing team. And when you’re trying to add to that, it’s actually not so much what has to be increased with tech.
Diane Morgan (42:18):
Therefore, the barrier is your own perception of what type of person is doing the electrical work. What type of person can do this? And then the tech can actually support all of them. So I guess I would say I’m less concerned with some of the cost barriers. And then I also think that some of the tech will get there, right? If we think where we are a few years ago, if we build towards what we want to build, and then actually the tech can meet us. I think by the time we change the culture and change how people are thinking, the tech will match up with that.
Sophie Bailey (42:46):
Fantastic. Thank you. Right. I think we’ll go over by one minute and I don’t think anyone will tell us off. So I’m going to make an executive decision there. In that last minute, then any final thoughts that you’d like to share with our listeners or viewers or any resources or people or projects that have influenced your way of thinking in this space? Mark, I’ll pick on you first.
Mark Baxter (43:11):
Yeah, no problem. I know VR is quite a physical mentor, but if anybody’s looking as you’re starting from complete zero, you’ve no idea where to go. I would suggest that you pick up the book by Charlie Finks, called The Metaverse. I know it’s a buzzword right now, but it’s actually a very good book and it covers a lot of and is quite detailed as well. But it’s still very approachable and it covers a lot of this on where the direction that the industry is probably still going today, even though it’s quite old. It’s still good.
Sophie Bailey (43:38):
Fantastic. Just say the author’s name again. It’s Charlie Fink. Brilliant. Thank you. Andrea.
Dr Andrea Cullen (43:46):
Yeah, I’ve got a couple of thoughts, really wounds more generally on cyber. If you’re interested in cyber CAPSLOCK has got some great free resources, we’ve got a free pre-course where you can go and register and spend some time and use any of the resources in there to find out if it’s for you. You know you can, you can do that and then leave. It’s absolutely fine. So I would say if you’re interested in cyber, it’s a great first step. More generally actually, it’s a little bit left-field this, but I think a book called Invisible Women by Caroline Perez, I think for anybody interested in diversity in the workplace or diversity in society, it does a lot of explaining why it is the way it is. It’s non-judgmental. It’s not, you know, it’s not calling anybody out, but it’s actually talking you through history and why we are in the position where we’re in. And I think the more people who understand why we are where we are, the model addressable, it becomes. I would say invisible women by Caroline Perez as well.
Sophie Bailey (44:41):
Fantastic. Thank you. And finally, Diane,
Diane Morgan (44:45):
Sure. I have Invisible Women here, Andrea. It’s a great read. And I wanted to just mention one resource, which is called the dots, which is a new type of recruitment tool, that new app that looks at teams. And I just think that’s interesting when you’re thinking about how do people get into different areas it’s really team-based and focused on, and it’s designed originally for the creative industry, but spreading out to say your CV may have a whole list of short projects that don’t seem like they add up to the skills where you can do a job, but if you’ve worked on a project with a team member, then you can see kind of this team benefit of who recommends. I think it’s also an interesting model.
Diane Morgan (45:27):
The book I’m kind of taken with these days is called Street Gangs. It’s the history of Sesame Street and it is all about how different diverse people came together. Television producers and academics and parents and children to create a really good educational experience with television. So it kind of speaks to does the tech has to be so advanced. Can we leverage the technology that already exists? And it was a new way to take advantage of the fact that so many young people were watching television in the early seventies. And could you actually change what they were getting out of that to have more of an educational focus?
Sophie Bailey (46:10):
Yeah. I love that one and slice aside, but I very nearly by mistake named my children Bert and Ernie, and then I realized what was happening and I stopped that immediately. On that subject, here’s a great campaign at the moment, a tip for children who are watching cartoons to turn on subtitles and it increases your reading capacity.
Diane Morgan (46:31):
Yeah. Olly Barret is doing lots of work. It’s amazing how much the retention is and how you can actually the language fluidity coming from that turn on this.
Sophie Bailey (46:44):
So all the guests here, thank you so much for your time, both in the run-up preparing for this and today everyone watching in thank you for tuning in, and if you’re listening back, thank you also there’ll be tons more episodes of The VocTech Podcast to come. And we’ve got authors who are looking into this space and researchers and many other innovations. So thank you again. Do you go and check out the Week Of Voctech and the work of all the guests on today’s show and otherwise have a fantastic week and thank you very much. Bye-Bye.
Sophie Bailey (47:25):
So thank you for listening everyone and a huge thank you again to my guests. Don’t forget that if you enjoyed this episode, you can rate and review wherever you listen in. And don’t forget also about these free tickets for Reimagine Education Conference. If you want to make the most of that. We’ve got another episode coming up in a few weeks, or which features the Lumina Foundation, who are doing some excellent work in terms of mapping credentialing across the US, with the view to getting at least 60% of US adults, all equipped with a meaningful credential to support their workplace endeavours. So check out Lumina foundation, and we’re also chatting to Lambda and Lambda, many of you will know one of the original coding boot camps based on an income sharing agreement model. So to chatting both of those, it’s quite a quick episode, 30 minutes or so that will go out the same week as Reimagine Education Conference, which is December the sixth to the 10th again. So until then have some great times have a wonderful week and make sure you’re subscribed if you’re not already because then you’ll get our episodes first. So that’s all, take care listeners. Bye-Bye.