We live in exciting times: the world of lighting and controls are in the midst of three revolutions. Solid-state lighting, better known as LEDs, have become the dominant light source, with traditional lamp types being phased out in the continued quest for increased efficiency. Meanwhile there’s a revolution in control systems networking, with the Internet of Things and remote connectivity growing in usefulness. Thirdly there’s a revolution in controls’ user interfaces as voice-control (e.g. Alexa, Google Home or Siri) add to the new options offered by tablets and smart-devices.
Lighting and controls simply don’t function in the same way that they once did, with incandescent lamps and wired-controls being replaced by LED fixtures, their digitally-controlled drivers, and wireless systems. Lighting design and control is now a highly scientific process, for which a wide-ranging education in both electrical, lighting and networking topics is required in order to deliver good performance on a project. In order to achieve light that dims smoothly, to give occupants the best experience with lighting that doesn’t flicker, and to install controls that are reliable, more expertise is now required than ever before.
To stay abreast of all these radical technology changes, and to gain commercial advantage by being able to offer high quality system performance, continued education for designers and installers is vital. The good news is that training and learning materials are now available in a wide variety of formats.
If you’re considering training for yourself or for your staff then do investigate the various training programmes offered by your suppliers, and also by industry associations. Providing training to your staff demonstrates a commitment from you to them: a very overt message that you see them as having a valuable future with your company, and that you value the skill and continued education of your team. The costs of providing training are small when compared with the costs associated with recurring recruiting (due to staff turnover). Prioritising training is widely reported as a key factor in successful staff retention.
Your time, invested in traditional classroom-training, with hands-on access to the latest tools and equipment, is never wasted; as long as the training received is of a high quality. Therefore, before signing up for any training, it’s worth checking that it will deliver exactly what you need. A good training provider will be very happy for you to ask probing questions about their training syllabus, or the delivery methods and course assessments, as it shows that you’re fully engaged, rather than just turning up or sending employees to tick an attendance-box.!
Ask for reviews from previous attendees: can they enthusiastically confirm that the training was useful and engaging? Do the trainers have first-hand practical experience of the subject matter which they are presenting? Do the trainers from the company you are considering also provide non-product-specific training for trade-associations or at industry events? If they do then it’s a good indication that their own product training is also likely to be of high quality too. The opportunity to experience peer-reviewed classes such as those delivered at trade events are a useful guide to courses being useful from an engineering point of view, rather than an extended sales-pitch!
There’s nothing worse than sitting through “death by powerpoint” so it’s worth probing a little deeper in order to be certain that you’re getting training with a high quotient of hands-on: learning by doing.
For many people, for whom their last formal education may have been many years ago, courses covering the fundamentals are also a useful way of ensuring that there are no gaps in foundational knowledge. Does your supplier provide these types of courses too? Some manufactures will provide this training free-of-charge, to ensure that delegates applying for more advanced courses will be able to make the most efficient of subsequent course time too.
If your suppliers don’t offer exactly what you need then start a dialogue with them. The best manufacturers are always looking for ways to ease your pain-points or to give deeper insight into technologies that at first might seem confusing, by creating updated courses that have up-to-date curriculums and learning objectives.
Staying current with training is essential. However, making sure that the courses being provided are what you need must never be left to chance. There is a very broad spectrum of training quality on offer in our industry, and so you have a duty to make sure that you’re getting training that will give you a good return on investment, and that will be of benefit to you and your team.
By Sam Woodward, Customer Education Leader, Lutron