Power Plant Training Courses – What Are the Options?

It is somewhat ironic that, in times of crisis, one of the first responses of top management is frequently to freeze a company’s spending on staff training. In practice, this decision will more often prove to be counter-productive. It is precisely when such crises occur that the need for experienced and knowledgeable workers will invariably be greatest. Many of those in the electricity generating industry are currently facing an unprecedented challenge. Investing in power plant training courses will undoubtedly play a significant role in the various measures needed to resolve their problems.

For several years now, the growing demand for electricity by consumers in many countries has left service providers battling to sustain a continuous supply to all of those in need. Whether poor management or inadequate government funding may be at the root of the problem matters little. The fact remains that many providers will need to renew and extend their infrastructure and bring more generators online. Providing suitable power plant training courses for the additional personnel required is sure to play a crucial role in their recovery process.

As if increasing and maintaining an adequate power supply with conventional generating technology were not challenging enough, the increasing pressure to leverage clean, renewable energy sources and the impact of related legislation is only adding to that challenge. In some countries, nuclear fission is rapidly replacing fossil fuels as the main source of electricity. The contribution of wind and solar farms is also increasing steadily, fuelling the need for additional power plant training courses.

That said, the methods used to conduct training have also evolved. These changes leave today’s employers to decide which of the available options will best suit their employees’ needs. Let’s take a closer look at those options. There are essentially four possible choices, namely, classroom instruction, on-the-job training, online study, and the use of life-like, interactive computerised simulations. 

Classroom Instruction

Although the more traditional “chalk and talk” approach, typical of yesterday’s classrooms, when conducting power plant training courses might be of little benefit, the modern use of visual aids has done much to improve the impact of this form of tuition. While this may be a great way to acquaint trainees with their job’s theoretical aspects, many feel that an alternative approach is needed to impart practical skills.

Nevertheless, classroom instruction for plant operatives is widely available from technikons and private institutions.  There is no doubt that it can also be a helpful adjunct to on-the-job practical sessions or as refreshers for experienced operators who do not need more practical power plant training courses.

On-the-Job Training

There can be little doubt that this option offers a better way for trainees to develop their essential practical skills than watching videos in a classroom, however realistic and informative those productions may be. However, instructing trainees in the workplace can also pose a few problems. Firstly, this form of instruction requires removing an experienced employee from active duties to act as the instructor, which is not always feasible.

However, to achieve its purpose, one of the most important aims of a power plant training course should be to coach new trainees on dealing with all possible emergencies. Needless to say, creating emergencies purely for training purposes is a non-starter, and trainees must generally wait for an opportunity to watch how an experienced operator handles a genuine emergency. In practice, the same is equally valid for any mission-critical operation.

Online Study

One of the transitions that have been driven by the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the migration from the live environment to the digital one. Interactive platforms such as MS teams and Zoom have been steadily replacing face-to-face contact. However, when conducting power plant training courses, online study offers the convenience of studying from anywhere but displays the same constraints as attending live lectures.

Simulations 

Most educators agree that learning from one’s mistakes is a powerful teaching tool by providing an interactive computer simulation that duplicates or closely resembles the live working environment. Rather like a sophisticated video game, these simulations allow trainees to both succeed and fail at the tasks set for them.

In the virtual environment, power plant training courses give trainees the chance to repeat a failed task over and over again until they have perfected it, with no real-life consequences. There are options for all types of plant including nuclear. Why not speak to SimGenics about creating a simulated training experience for your operators?

Contact us today for more information.

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