John Macdonald was asked by the owners of Trade Institute of Victoria (TIV) to have a look at how the organisation was functioning and running. That was around 2011. They must have been impressed, because he ended up staying on for over six months and was then invited to become CEO.
Role of the CEO
Overseeing the leading trade school in Melbourne is a role that John Macdonald values and takes seriously. His job is to work with the owners to establish the overall direction of the company. He also works with the senior management team to facilitate the day to day running of the business.
John likens his role to that of a boundary rider saying, “I ride around the boundary of the organisation, looking out and seeing what’s happening in the world.” The other part of his role he explains is “looking inside and at what’s happening inside, and how we bring the demands of the external world and the functioning of the internal world together, to make a better product for people that we deal with.”
Adjusting to a COVID World
Certainly, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March, presented a challenge to John and TIV. At that stage all courses were being delivered face to face, and some couldn’t be delivered any other way because of their practical component.
John knew that they needed to do something quickly to maintain students’ engagement in courses. They briefly considered online learning via Zoom or a similar program, but the technology just wasn’t reliable enough. John explains, “We chose to use a remote learning system, which was based on telecommunications rather than the internet. We were pretty certain that most people had access to a telecommunications system, and that it was very reliable. So we chose that instead. We developed a distance education model where we were able to deliver the course to students in their home or wherever they were.” John added that “the professional ‘buy in’ of our Trainers and Assessors was crucial to the success of this transition”.
“We developed a distance education model where we were able to deliver the course to students in their home or wherever they were.”
What Does the Future TIV Classroom Look Like?
The virtual classroom developed by TIV in response to the COVID crisis was a huge success, even though John admits, “It took us a little while to find our feet.” He says the “general feedback from students is that it has been overwhelmingly, a very positive experience.” Much of this success is owing to the structures TIV have in place, particularly their student support program. Students can reach out at any time and receive individual or group support for any problems they’re having.
John also notes that face to face classes were hard for some students to get to. It can become an issue when construction people typically start work at 7.30 am, have to battle after-work traffic to get to their training venue, and then leave at 9 p.m. to travel some distance home.
John is proud of the fact that, not only were TIV able to deliver virtual classes to existing students, but they reached a whole new audience of eager students. People from all over Victoria suddenly had the opportunity to enrol in the trade school and they did so. Asked about the possibility of extending courses beyond Victoria into other states, John said, “We’ve had those conversations and certainly we can now see a way forward logistically. Put another way, we don’t necessarily see any major obstacles in our way if we can satisfy the regulator that we have the capability to deliver it effectively.”
But the excitement of the virtual classroom and its success hasn’t meant face to face lessons have disappeared. Some courses by necessity will need to be face to face once restrictions are lifted. However, for other courses, people will have the opportunity to choose which model of learning suits them best. John says that “about 20 per cent of students would prefer face to face delivery” and confirms that they’ll be able to resume study in that way as soon as is possible.
Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) Full-Time
The Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) Full-Time is one that John is particularly proud of. He explains that it came about when they realised that there were people working in the construction industry who “really wanted to do some formal training.” Unfortunately, the nature of their work with long hours including weekend work, meant it was impractical for them to undertake a course based on two evenings a week over an extended period.
This is when TIV innovatively crafted a course that such people could do in January, a time which historically sees a lot of people in the industry taking their annual leave. John explains, “We thought why not craft a Program which contains exactly the same content as the standard course but where the bulk of the course content is delivered over a three-and-a-half-week period – 8 hours a day, six days a week?” Then, in conjunction with the Student Support Team, participants will complete the program, including accessing further training if necessary, at times that fitted their busy work schedules.
The idea proved a winner, with many taking the opportunity to complete the course work during that early period of the year. TIV has proven once again that it listens to the needs of its students and responds in innovative ways that deliver professional development solutions to its students.
“We thought why not craft a Program which contains exactly the same content as the standard course but where the bulk of the course content is delivered over a three-and-a-half-week period”
If you’re short on time but want to gain your Certificate IV in Building and Construction, please get in touch. We’d love to help you and support you on the road to success.