From 1 June, the British International Freight Association (BIFA) is taking its comprehensive industry training programme online, utilising web-based video conferencing.
Director General, Robert Keen explains: “Once lockdown measures started, BIFA's face-to-face training, which has received really positive feedback for its interactive nature, came to a halt. The question for us, was: How could we replicate that online?
“Over the past month, our four-strong training team has been modifying the course content so that it can be delivered by video conferencing in a virtual classroom setting.
“Time was on our side, as we didn’t need to have it ready the next day – there were more pressing issues for our members – so it was more about getting it right and adapting our materials for web-based delivery.
“All the topics are short sessions, not designed to be delivered in one day, so they are very adaptable, which we think is more suitable for business. We could also tailor a package specifically for members, combining the different modules.”
Initially, the online training programme will consist of 18 freight and customs-related topics spread over nine modules, with more subjects to be added in time.
All of the interactive online training will feature live trainers with over 25 years freight and customs experience, and delegates will receive workbooks for each module.
In 2019, BIFA’s freight and customs training activities continued to be popular and achieved a record number of courses, with BTEC course numbers, in particular, showing a four-fold increase, whilst 271 delegates achieved BTEC diplomas.
Brexit was a major reason for the increase in numbers, especially with three phases of Government grant funding being made available to help educate large numbers with Customs declaration knowledge.
To support this demand, BIFA also launched an eLearning course in March last year, which was developed to provide support and information for anyone that wants to gain a better understanding of Customs regimes and how to complete a Customs declaration.
The wholly online digital course has 11 modules in total and proved incredibly popular, with 1,298 delegates undertaking the online Customs Declaration Training in 2019.
Keen adds: “In order to keep up this success in training activities during the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis, we have made the decision to replicate almost our entire course range and deliver it via video conferencing.
“The good news is that government guidance allows furloughed employees to engage in training, provided that whilst undertaking the training the employee does not provide service to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation. Furloughed employees should be encouraged to consider BIFA's online training opportunities.”
Carl Hobbis, BIFA training development manager adds: “We see these courses being a permanent part of our training calendar in the future. One of the outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic is that people have embraced web-based solutions due to remote working, so I feel that people will think twice about travelling for meetings and classroom training in the future.
“Whilst it is difficult to beat a live face-to-face session with a trainer, this hybrid solution is much better that solo eLearning, or a webinar.”