After several years of work with digital learning for the wind industry, I have no doubt that digital learning can both streamline and qualify the training of workers in the wind industry. And, for that, there really is a need.

By Kristine Bilgrav-Nielsen, Digital Learning Strategist, Cadpeople A/S (Read the article in Danish here.)

The developing markets, North America, China, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil, Vietnam and South Korea, are charging forward – and according to the GWO (Global Wind Organisation) and the GWEC (Global Wind Energy Council), there will be a shortage of 77,000 specialized workers over the next four years. So, for training not to become a bottleneck, the wind industry must act now.  Let me just take you through an example of why digital learning provides value – at many levels.

Digital learning sets both training and people free

One company that has really managed to utilise the many advantages of digital learning is MHI Vestas Offshore Wind (MWOV). Their main office is in north Aarhus, but their training is alive across digital platforms and national borders worldwide.

The newest shoot on MVOW’s digital vine is the training app Safety’N’Mind. Through gameplay, knowledge, exercises and rewards, the employees who have to refresh the theoretical part of their GWO Basic Safety Training now have the opportunity to better themselves through the training. It also means that they avoid having to sit in front of a PowerPoint presentation all day long. And MVOW avoids all of the costs associated with bringing employees into classrooms the whole day. When the training app is downloaded in Appstore, training can take place offline, exactly when it suits the employees. The trip from land to the offshore wind farm or the waiting time in the airport, for example, can be used as learning time.

For me, it’s an outstanding example of how digital learning sets both training and people free.

Digital learning does not outstrip human interaction – to the contrary

Others set free by digital learning are the instructors. Think if all of the trainees had more or less the same theoretical starting point when the practical training starts. Then the instructor is in a dream situation and can focus on all the things that really provide value in learning contexts: practical exercises, group work, feedback and clarification of questions. And if the classroom training is further supported by digital learning such as, for example, digital training simulators or technical training in AR, then there is even more room for hands-on exercises – although in safe environments where it’s not dangerous to make mistakes. This is possible because the theory and the technical starting point for training are now moved out of the classroom and onto digital platforms.

Therefore, I don’t buy the premise that digitalisation takes place at the cost of human interaction – which I come up against from time to time. In fact, I think the opposite is the case. Because if we use digitalisation’s possibilities in the right way, we can create more effective and qualified time between the instructor and the trainees.

The advantages speak for themselves

If 77,000 employees must upgrade their qualifications and be trained over the next four years, then I would do the following:

1) digitalise extensive parts of the theoretical training, and

2) digitally support the practical training so that the training takes place in safe digital environments where mistakes are not fatal.

Examples of digitalised training in the wind industry

  • Digital QHSE induction
  • Site induction in VR
  • Troubleshooting on simulator (digital copy of the turbine)
  • Training app (GWO Basic Safety Training, theoretical training)
  • Technical training in AR (group work on hard-to-access components)
  • Digital course in management

Advantages of digital learning

  • Many can do training at the same time – and across nations
  • Training can be versioned and updated quickly
  • Travel costs are markedly reduced – the training comes to the trainees
  • Instructors and trainees are set free
  • More hands-on exercises in safe environments
  • The training can be compressed