With the recent announcement of the finalists of the 2019 Learning Awards, we continue this new series of L&D QuestionTime in which we hear from this years finalists.

Today we hear from Michael Harcourt shortlisted in the Rising Star category.

In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

Although I embrace it and love VR as an example, for me, one of the main anxieties within learning and development (L&D) is the transition into the digital arena. No doubt it offers accessible learning and when used can and will enhance learning experiences. It keeps learning modern, creative and fresh. But my fear is the gradual decline and potential removal of face to face delivery and interaction which I feel plays a key part in the learning process and offers great fulfilment to both learner and tutor. A combined approach will strengthen training, and this is the way to go!

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

We live and work in a multicultural society and for many, at a time of austerity, it creates a barrier and limits accessibility to L&D. We must seek initiatives to ensure everyone is able to learn, develop and meet their personal learning goals in a way which is fun and achievable.

Adding to this, the Organisation I work for, Essential Site Skills, are always keeping abreast with LPI and other accessible forums and philosophers about L&D changes, thoughts and innovation to continually upskill our own tutors and support staff.

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

The most exciting innovation within learning is through virtual reality and the limitless potential that exists within it. This is fantastic for the Industry in which I work in, the Construction sector. It will allow high risk training to occur that was inaccessible or unsafe before. VR offers no real threat of danger to the learner but allows them to receive a greater experience with scenarios, simulation and role play. Coupled with face to face theoretical and practical support it will enhance learner competency.

What “game changers” would you like to see and why?

Financial investment to support new trainers who enter the learning sector that’s outside of educational institutes such as schools and Uni’s. Greater mentor support and routes of entry into training that will enhance other industries such as construction, retail, manufacturing to receive more accessible training and help bridge skill gaps.

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2030?

I hope learning will be inclusive to all but remain cost accessible to both the learner and the organisations that provide it. I foresee greater emphasis and exploration on fingertip learning with integrated VR apps and also more availability of UK wide virtual training experiences from the learners own home or place of work but interacting via video and other means with other learners they’ve never met before.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

I would say to not be so hard on myself in terms of my own learning and development career wise. What seemed like disappointments at the time were great learning curves and stepping stones to where I am now. Working for a company where I am valued and have learnt and developed my own skills and delivery styles have made a real difference which has potentially saved lives across the UK – something I am proud to be a part of and enjoy thoroughly.

About Michael:

Michael is responsible for managing varied Training and Consultancy outputs to ensure our clients receive the very best possible training and learning experience. Assisting in the development of market leading training courses and materials who also routinely contributes to the progression of our more junior trainers across varying aspects of H&S training; Michael plays a key part in upholding our quality driven training standards.

A multi-skilled and experienced trainer himself, he delivers a vast array of technical safety courses, both non-accredited and accredited, with clarity, passion and a wealth of knowledge whilst accounting for the learners every need. He thrives on watching learners surpass and exceed their desired goals. His attention to detail and meticulous preparation before, during and post training is testament to his professionalism and conduct and one of the many reasons why his training acumen is sought after and requested across the breadth of the UK.

A conversant H&S industry contributor, you will often find Michael educating and speaking in support of UK wide events in Respiratory Protection and Management making a real difference and improving cultures surrounding Health and Safety.

Connect with Michael on LinkedIn