WHO WE ARE

Technical Training Solutions has its roots in June 1980 at the EETPU training college at Cudham Hall in Sevenoaks. The union wanted their members to embrace the electronic technologies that were emerging and since government and academia seemed unable to meet the challenge a more radical solution was proposed: an engineering skills training college with a no-expenses-spared approach to training so that the delegates would learn useful, practical, up-to-the-minute skills and knowledge that would help them in their daily work.

Throughout mergers with other unions (AEU, MSF and TGWU) over the years this single premise has been our guiding light. The union membership became less and less engineering-based but we maintained our determination to ensure that the training that we provide is practical and interesting engineering skills taught by experts in their fields, leading to the legally competent performance of these skills in the workplace.

In recent years the training college took on its own identity (earned over the years), and became a separate business to the union - a private company with three directors continuing the tradition of providing no-nonsense engineering skills training aimed at blue-chip companies throughout the British Isles.

Our directors are: Martin Smith, an MoD electronics design engineer and MoD graduate engineer instructor; Shaun Coster, a Marconi electronics commissioning and design engineer; and David Larner, a Chartered project engineer at GEC's research labs and technical journalist.

Martin Smith Shaun Coster David Larner

Our employees are our most important assets. Their talents in dealing with our customers, teaching the courses, co-ordinating the complex training assignments that we are given, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and striving for constant improvement are essential ingredients in the continuing aim for perfection.

WHAT WE DO

We set out to teach top-quality engineering skills training courses and we have achieved this - we constantly strive to make them as good as it's possible to - but over the years we have also refined our methods, adding several enhancements to the construction stages of course description, design of the courses, assessment, certification and consolidation stages. We believe that these are important to our customers: it's easy to see what the courses consist of, what value they will gain from attending them and how they can apply their candidates' new knowledge and skills in their workplace in a structured, evidence-rich way.

CLEARLY-STATED COURSE DESCRIPTIONS Electrical Maintenance Skills (Course 110) Description: Use the menu at the top left of the page to see the full description of this and other courses

Our engineering skills training courses have clearly-stated objectives. These are either skills-based or knowledge based, as appropriate. Each course has an intended target audience and is taught using methods best suited to that subject. As an example, our electrical maintenance skills course is described as shown.

Each course description answers these questions:

» What is the course about?
» Who is the course aimed at?
» Is the course suitable for on-site consolidation?
» How is the course presented?
» What are the course objectives?
» What do the candidates get at the end of the course?

This clarity helps managers and candidates to see exactly what the courses are about, who should attend them and what they can expect to gain from them.

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DETAILED COURSE PROGRAMMES

Each course has a detailed programme which specifies exactly what will be taught during each 'session' of the day - this clarifies what the courses will actually cover on a day-to-day basis, so that candidates attending the courses and managers booking the courses know that their time will be well-spent.
Detailed programme for the instrumentation course: Contact us for detailed programmes for other courses

Over many years of presenting these detailed programmes to companies we have been able to refine and streamline the standard courses so that any subject areas that employers commonly-held as irrelevant or unnecessary have been removed and any 'missing' outcomes have been added. The content of our standard courses are therefore the product of the input from hundreds of different employers around the British Isles, as they have all had an input to them. As a result, we see these as industry standard training courses, as they have not been developed by academic institutes or government funded agencies, but instead are the directly-requested response to the requirements of major employers around the British Isles.

Customised courses
The availability of detailed programmes for each of the courses also makes it easier for them to be customised. Companies are able to pick and choose the learning outcomes that best suit their businesses and add extra learning outcomes that our standard courses did not contain. For example, some employers like us to add: detailed coverage of pH, turbidity or density measurements to the instrumentation course; termination of SWA cable or maintenance of emergency light systems to the electrical maintenance skills course; or the use of particular hand tools to the basic engineering skills for operators course.

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LEARNING BY DOING: A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO TRAINING

Our registered trademark: Learning by Doing Our candidates don't have to listen to long lectures or be exposed to 'death by powerpoint'. Each subject is presented in its most straight-forward context so that candidates can explore the essential issues and engage with the learning experience intended. For example, if candidates are learning about isolating three-phase motors, we have specially-wound 40volt 3-phase motors custom-built for them so that they can connect the motor control gear and demonstrate that they can individually isolate the motors in a range of scenarios.

This approach is made possible by constantly investing in real industrial equipment to help delivery of the courses and ensuring that each course has small numbers of candidates (typically a maximum of 8) attending it. With manageable groups of this size, our instructors are able to ensure that each candidate is learning in an effective and enjoyable manner.

If you would like to have a look at some of the equipment that we use on the courses then please contact us to arrange a visit.

Some of the equipment held in our storage area for teaching instrumentation, plc and ac drives training courses Some of the equipment held in our storage area for teaching pneumatics, pat testing, wiring regulations and C&G 2391 training courses Some of the equipment held in our storage area for teaching electrical maintenance skills training courses

We know that there are certain subjects that candidates can't learn about in a purely practical context; the effects of electric shock, how the electricity at work regulations affect them, how plc programs should be structured, etc: these subjects are taught using methods that will engage the candidates and ensure that they are learning effectively - for example using methods like individually-assigned tasks, syndicate exercises, role-play scenarios, directed-writing etc.

Our trade mark was granted by the British Patent Office in recognition of the 'Learning by Doing' approach to training that we have espoused since 1980. This approach leads to better understanding, retention and enjoyability of the courses on offer, ensuring that the application of skills and knowledge back in the workplace is an easy and logical next step.

The ancient Chinese proverb captured this idea:
'Tell me and I'll forget, show me and I'll remember, involve me and I'll understand'.

Our logo constantly reinvigorates this approach.

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FORMAL ASSESSMENTS EMPLOYING NATURALLY-OCCURRING EVIDENCE

Assessment card used for the portable appliance testing course: Contact us for information about assessment cards used for other courses Every candidate attending our courses is assessed to ensure that he/she has met the course objectives. Our preferred method of testing for this is to ask the candidate to show that he/she can do what the course objectives promised. For example, an instructor might ask: "Let me see you calibrate that pressure transmitter to 3 to 103 inches of water pressure at 4 and 20 milliAmps". The candidate would be expected to perform the required task without any problems, using our equipment.

Because we have the equipment to teach the courses in a practical way it follows that we can also assess the candidates as the course progresses. We call this 'naturally-occurring evidence', and ensures that candidates do not suffer from examination nerves - an important issue to consider when dealing with the slightly higher age profile of our typical candidates, which often includes some that haven't been involved with education for a long time. It also means that candidates feel confident that they are progressing through the course objectives from an early stage of the course - a key issue when the candidates aren't used to training and assessment processes.

An example of the practical assessment paperwork that each candidate completes during their course is shown here. Each assessment card is specified using the S/NVQ parlance of range statements and performance criteria, signed and dated by the assessor and the candidate and therefore can be useful evidence for the accreditation of prior learning (APL) in the S/NVQ system: useful for when companies require the candidates to possess the necessary industrial skills and knowledge that our courses provide, but want to add a S/NVQ qualification to the intended training scheme.

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COMPETENCE-BASED CERTIFICATES

Certificate used for the programmable logic controllers course: Contact us for information about certificates issued for other courses Each course has a competence-based certificate issued when the candidate shows that he/she is able to meet the course's objectives. For example, if the course's objective stated that the candidate should be able to re-install plc programs then there would be an accompanying assessment that checked his/her ability to do this and the certificate would be couched in competence-terms, ie: "Dave Smith demonstrated competence in re-installing plc programs".

Employers see these certificates as being much more valuable than attendance-based certificates or certificates based on a candidate's ability to answer a multiple-choice assessment paper.

Our ability to provide competence-based certificates is a direct result of our approach to the training courses themselves; short courses with clearly defined objectives, course programmes that make it clear what will be taught, employing top-quality instructors who engage the candidates in our 'learning by doing' approach, and assessing the candidates as they progress through the courses.

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TRAINING NEEDS ANALYSIS Example of a training needs analysis matrix: Contact us for further information

We have systems in place that help to identify what training a company will benefit from. We use a process that involves establishing a clear brief from the company in question, issuing and reviewing potential candidate's questionnaires / interviews, and the production of a training needs matrix that reflects the potential organisational benefits (in terms of competence to perform new and existing skills) to be gained from a programme of training.

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CONSOLIDATION OF TRAINING
The consolidation scheme process: Contact us for further information

Technical Training Solutions offer a unique service which allows trainees to consolidate the new skills gained after attending a training course. This ensures that they get the chance to try their new skills and apply their knowledge in a safe and controlled way, thereby gaining the maximum benefit from the training.

How does it work?
When a trainee successfully completes a training course, a certificate detailing all the skills and knowledge that the trainee has gained is issued. An introductory seminar follows for all involved (trainees, supervisors and management) which explains how the consolidation scheme works.

A competent person appointed by the company will undertake workplace supervision. This 'mentor' ensures that the knowledge and skills the individual gained are applied in a safe manner and in line with company policies. This is essential for safety reasons, and also allows the skills to be tuned to meet the specific needs of the company.

Technical Training Solutions provide all the paperwork necessary for the consolidation scheme. Identification of the particular skills that are being practised is achieved by matching the details of a technical write-up to a skills matrix and over a period of time more and more of these skills will have been practised.

Where do we get advice on the consolidation scheme?
Monitoring visits from Technical Training Solutions can be arranged from time to time thus ensuring the scheme follows its intended path. Advice and support will be given, drawn from many years of experience co-ordinating consolidation schemes in many companies throughout the British Isles.

How long does it take to complete the scheme?
Once there is enough evidence to infer the competency of an individual from the skills that they have been practising, a suitably competent person at the company can make the decision that the individual is now competent to carry out certain tasks on certain parts of the plant and equipment. Further training needs can often be identified at this point, as the scheme is a powerful personal development tool, and is compatible with the NVQ/SVQ framework.

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