Skill up: how to find good BIM training during down-time
Training and continuous professional development are an important part of progressing your career within BIM. If it’s been a while since you updated your skills, you’re thinking about your next career move, or you’re just starting out, now is an opportune time to embark on training. A big growth in infrastructure projects over the next few years means there will be more opportunities on the horizon, and with many Covid-19 restrictions still in place and leisure options limited, it’s a good way to make use of your free time.
We spoke to two experts in the training field to get their view. Lisa Taylor at KnowledgeSmart explains why continuous development within BIM is so important: “Technology is evolving so fast that it is crucial for BIM professionals to continuously understand new advancements and maximize the opportunity to improve efficiency and drive innovation.”
Paul Woddy of WhiteFrog highlights how skilling up can boost your career. “Being the person who has grasped the new technology can bring real opportunities. You can be the one to drive things forward. It’s also important to keep up and stay relevant within your company.”
Identify your training needs
Before embarking on any training, you must first identify what you need. There are two approaches to this. One is to identify any gaps in your current skills set. “This might involve taking a skills audit or assessment, reviewing feedback from your team and/or manager, considering current industry trends or looking at professional certifications you wish to apply for,” says Lisa.
The second approach is to map out your career and determine where it is you want to get to. “The career map and competency framework on DBE Careers are invaluable for this – they show you where you currently stand and what you need to do to get to where you want to be. When you know that, you can plan your education and training accordingly,” says Paul.
If you’re just starting out in BIM, looking at what the companies you want to work for use can also be a good place to start. “If I were coming out of university now, I would identify the types of people I wanted to work for and skill up accordingly,” says Paul. “Don’t just be led by course marketing materials and what’s the most popular.”
Where to find the right training
There’s a wide choice of training providers out there, which can be daunting. Lisa suggests some ways to assess providers and find what’s right for you:
- Look for a provider that shows interest in your specific training needs. How many questions they ask before offering you a training course is often an indication of this.
- Be careful about responding to ads on social media. Always look at a company’s website, credentials and reviews as well. It might also help to ask on platforms such as LinkedIn for course recommendations as you will get feedback from different perspectives.
- Is there flexibility in terms of how the course content can be consumed, and can the content be customised to your needs?
- Is there blended content available (in-person sessions, video content, worksheets, checklists, slide decks)? Is the content updated regularly in alignment with industry changes?
- Does the content and training workflow help you achieve improved adaptability, efficiency, quality, speed, relevance and effectiveness?
- Look at the trainer’s experience and credentials.
WhiteFrog has its own online portal where you can learn at your own pace, with training in BIM and associated digital skills, and includes courses in Revit. Operam Academy is another self-learning platform with training courses written by Paul Shillcock, author of ISO 19650-2, an International Standard on BIM.
- Revit software skills are in high demand right now. As Paul explains though, it’s not just about learning how to use a software tool, it’s about understanding the really important changes in workflows and methodologies. “BIM is about data – if there’s no Information, it’s just 3D modelling. It’s not a given that people who are using Revit are actually doing BIM properly.”
- Sustainability is currently very much in focus within AEC.
- Laser scanning can improve efficiency and lower costs. “As technology expands in this field, the cost barrier to adoption should improve and it should be used more widely,” says Lisa.
- Digital twin concept, where real space and virtual space worlds are linked throughout the lifecycle of the system.
How to get the most out of your training
Lisa offers the following tips:
- Before you start a course, be clear of your goal. How will you know taking that training course was a success? What evidence would you and your organisation see?
- Use the opportunity to engage with other professionals as some of the learning often happens during the break-out or Q&A sessions.
- Get involved in the course conversation. There might even be related social media groups that you can access for continued learning afterwards.
- Always think about how the course content can be practically applied to drive innovation and improve efficiency.
- Once the course is complete, try to implement some of what you learned while it’s fresh in your mind. It’s also a good idea to share course feedback with your manager or colleagues.
Shout about your skills
Once you’ve completed any training, update your CV and online profiles to reflect your skills. “Younger candidates often don’t recognise that some of the skills they have give them an edge,” says Paul. “We work with schools, teaching Revit skills to GCSE pupils, then they don’t mention it on their CV – they don’t see it as anything special.”
Look at the DBE Careers competency assessment, so when you’re applying for a new role, you can see exactly what is required and bring to the fore any of your skills that correspond. Once you’ve put the hard work into achieving new skills, make sure you get the most out of them.
With thanks to:
Lisa has over 17 years’ experience in the AEC industry and training and development. She is Customer Success Aficionado at KnowledgeSmart, which helps companies assess their skills base.
Paul has over 20 year’s experience as a consultant and trainer. He is Director at WhiteFrog, which specialises in delivering training courseware and training the trainers within organisations.