How Algonquin College Corporate Training adapted to stay the course for its clients

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Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by the Algonquin College Corporate Training Centre

Like the employers and individuals that it serves, Algonquin College Corporate Training (ACCT) endured its own trial by fire over the past 15 months. 

With rapid shifts in technologies and labour force demographics, employers and individuals alike must reskill and upskill more often than ever before. For several years, ACCT was exploring the best way to serve these needs through in-class, hybrid and online forms of delivery. ACCT established a new 8,800-square-foot modern learning environment in downtown Ottawa at 700 Sussex Dr. This facility opened in the fall of 2019, just months before the pandemic hit. That’s when ACCT’s research into new delivery forms became invaluable.

From the start, ACCT took a hybrid approach. Corporate or individual training could be delivered in-class, online or at an employer’s premises – whatever it took to deliver value and results.

Keeping individuals and employers on track

This flexibility made it that much easier for ACCT to shift gears amid the pandemic and offer more of its training remotely. Some training did continue to take place in-person, with appropriate measures in place to ensure the safety of all participants.

With the first lockdown, ACCT offered hundreds of free online courses to support the ongoing educational requirements of Ottawa-area businesses and the wider community. The team added additional new short courses on a variety of subjects through the spring of 2020 and provided a 25 per cent discount on paid courses.

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ACCT’s offerings have continued to evolve through the pandemic, with new platforms and online teaching tools, as well as the addition of virtual moderators to assist students and instructors. Program structures were also adjusted to help participants better juggle family and work obligations as children attended remote classes from home.

‘Dual delivery’ is here to stay

As we look to some return to normal life, the precedent has been set for a dual delivery model that has in-person and remote participants in the same class.

“While some programs – such as labs or soft skills training that is highly dependent on role-playing and reading body language – will continue to be best delivered in-person, I don’t feel that training will ever return to primarily face-to-face,” said Kathyrn Leroux, acting executive director of business development at Algonquin College. 

“Many instructors have said there is an interesting dynamic among remote students now – they can be following what is happening and they can also ask questions and share info with each other through chat tools.”

ACCT’s strength doesn’t come only from this flexibility in program delivery, but also from how it will custom-build a program based on individual needs.

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Thinking way outside the box

That’s the work of senior learning consultants like Joanne Snell. She will sit down for a needs analysis with any prospective client. If the requirement is simple upskilling, this may be well served through “open enrolment” in existing curricula. For complex requirements, Snell will work with the client to develop a custom curriculum of “dedicated training” that may include some combination of remote and in-person instruction.

As we move out of the pandemic, Snell believes employers and individuals alike face a challenging period of reintegration.

“The past 15 months have led many of us to re-evaluate our priorities when it comes to how we work, where we work and the kind of work we want to do,” she said.

How can ACCT help you adapt?

It’s not just about hard skills, but also creating a workplace environment led by empathy that prioritizes emotional well-being.

“Employers will have to take a fresh look at how they manage people and what it takes to build a strong corporate culture when some of the team may still work from home,” Snell said. “Many individuals will have decided it’s time for a change in career path. Whatever the case, ACCT is here to listen and develop the critical training and support to help with these transitions, whether it’s in the form of technical skills or those all-important soft skills.”

To learn more about how ACCT can help your organization prepare for its next phase of growth, or help you with the next phase of your career, contact the team at 613-727-7729 or visit www.algonquincollege.com/corporate for more information.