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The trainer’s perspective

In-centre, on-site or remote training? Gary Cooper, MD, PPL Training assesses the different styles of training delivery

When it comes to competency training for engineers and facilities staff, the importance of real-world scenario based training and hands-on practical experience can outweigh the convenience of e-learning. But which training delivery method is truly the best for FM professionals?

Our discussions with training managers from disciplines such as high-voltage / low-voltage electrical, mechanical and water hygiene and our own internal commercial analysis have helped us identify the benefits and challenges of providing learning and development opportunities for the FM workforce within three main settings:

  • Remote
    A live, tutor-led ‘virtual classroom’ session with a set start date and time. Hosted on video conferencing software with screen share.
  • In-centre
    A traditional classroom and/or workshop-based environment, in training centres on set dates throughout the calendar year.
  • On-site
    At the client’s premises where suitable equipment and classroom space is available to deliver practical elements of any course. The date and time of these sessions can then be more flexible to suit client needs.


Remote training is not a delivery method that we offer universally for all training courses. However, Water Hygiene Training Manager, Tony Green and his team have been responsible for hosting over 500 remote training delegates in 2023.

“Minor challenges associated with this method of delivery stem from delays in delegates logging in or enabling their cameras… Occasionally, this can stifle conversations that may have happened more naturally in a classroom setting,” says Green.

There are of however potential cost, environmental and wellbeing benefits. Green explains: “Our clients benefit from reduced costs, travel time and environmental impact but the biggest positive we have found is work-life balance. Where tutors would have previously had to travel they can now deliver courses from any of our centres, or anywhere in the world, theoretically.”

Remote training courses account for around 16 per cent of all training we deliver. While there is a possibility that more courses could be delivered in this fashion, through listening to feedback from our clients, and adhering to guidance and legislation, we can conclude that this delivery method is better suited to building services contractors and non-technical FM professionals, where practical competencies are not a priority.


Thirteen of the UK’s top FM companies train with us and a third (33.1 per cent) of training courses delivered by us for these companies are on-site at a location of our client’s choice.

Andy Cresswell, Training Manager for mechanical disciplines, identifies an unfortunate regular occurrence: “It happens quite a lot where people go off for a break and are hooked back into workplace challenges. It can be the nature of the beast with mechanical engineers.”

However, Tony Green cites a key benefit: “Because we’re there on-site with the delegates, we are able to assess and give advice based on the challenges faced by the organisation who is hosting the course.”

While external factors such as emergencies, or staffing issues can interfere with learning and development opportunities the delivery of bespoke training to suit the built environment that the engineer or maintenance staff find themselves in on the day-to-day, is a clear advantage.


Proving competency is an ongoing challenge for many who hold high level positions within organisations. It could be argued that this need is amplified when held by FM contractors, embedded into an organisation’s safety structure. Staying on top of recent guidance updates can be a challenge in itself, and acting upon the requirements in busy day-to-day workflows is equally as challenging.

For this reason, taking time away from site to attend in-centre training is advisable.

For example, there have been recent updates to HTM 06-03 ‘Electrical Safety Guidance for High Voltage Systems’. HV/LV Training Manager Graham Taylor spoke about the benefits of in-centre training for individuals.

“There sometimes aren’t the opportunities in day-to-day working environments for our delegates to get to grips with high voltage switching – because of this, we have developed training exercises and course handouts to aid in demonstrating competency.

“The biggest advantage of coming to one of our centres for an open course date is networking. The variety of like-minded people and cumulative knowledge that can be gained, outside of that being passed on by our tutors, is sometimes worth the course admission fee itself.”


There can be no one-size-fits-all approach to training delivery, and while in-centre training is the most popular, compelling arguments can be made for other delivery methods. For example, the implementation of 3D scans / photogrammetry can serve as reasonable substitutes for hands-on practical demonstrations.

There is also a good case for offering self-paced e-learning for specialist engineering disciplines which can include Continued Professional Development (CPD) for staff between longer formal courses. These can be offered through webinars and conference recordings and can also include providing aftercare services, such as logbooks, model forms and sample permits.

As we adopt the latest technologies and further develop our existing training delivery methods to respond to changes in the environment and in demand, our training options are continually adapting to ensure the delivery of excellence as standard.

About Sarah OBeirne

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