Virtual classes for master builders – when limitations become learning opportunities

Upskilling and Reskilling
Edwin, Francisco, and Martin are three of the independent master builders who demonstrated that in order to learn you have to “roll up your sleeves” and overcome the challenges that might arise in the process.

Despite the limitations of the pandemic and the difficulties they faced when learning how to use virtual platforms, these master builders knew that to improve their performance they had to continue training. Only now it was also necessary to adapt to the circumstances imposed by Covid-19. Participants attended online lessons complemented by on-site demonstrations under safety protocols. In this type of blended learning, limitations inevitably become learning opportunities.

Preventive measures against the spread of Covid-19 affected workers’ income in the construction sector, particularly independent workers. Not only did they have limited work in the first months of quarantine, but also, because face-to-face classes were restricted, they also suffered in terms of learning.

The Construya Peru project and its partners thus offered a virtual and on-site training programme in a format that allowed construction workers to continue learning. This strategy aligned with the objective of the project to improve the people’s quality of life by promoting good practices in the construction of safe, healthy, and sustainable homes, through a systemic approach.

Master builders trained online enhance their learning with a site visit in Carabayllo during the last quarter of 2020.

Martín was one of the participants who seized the opportunity to learn methods of safe construction. And although he had never taken online classes before, his desire to learn resulted in his developing of new digital skills. This has allowed him to continue his training in 2020, acquiring knowledge that he can apply in his role to build safer homes for his clients:

Martín Hernández, master builder

“I am a member of the training programme that has been carried out in person and virtually. I am very pleased and happy (…) I have learned a lot about construction processes, soil identification, footers, steel construction, and so on. It is very important to build well because then we can guarantee that the constructions we make won’t be damaged by seismic movements, that is why we have to put up strong constructions.”

Learners studied prepared course materials online in addition to participating in sessions in which they exchanged with instructors in real-time. Specifically, participants would study key contents of bad construction practices which frequently occur in house construction so they are able to identify them in daily work situations.

Edwin is another of the master builders who participated in the blended learning training during the pandemic. He was part of a group of construction workers who visited a construction site in the district of Carabayllo in Lima, Peru. This visit allowed them to see for themselves many of the concepts studied in their virtual classes. Under strict compliance of safety regulations, they combined the virtual training, with real experience on-site.

Edwin Villaorduña, master builder

“I participated in the virtual training. It is definitely a training that benefits us construction foremen a lot. With this training we learn every day, we put it into practice and that helps us improve our work.“

Watch the video (in Spanish with English subtitles)

Besides Edwin and Martín, Francisco also took the virtual course on new lightweight roofing technologies. This training was complemented by a site visit which he made together with 17 other master builders that wanted to know how this alternative works and its advantages compared to the traditional roofing techniques. Acquiring this knowledge not only improves his profile as a construction worker but also allows him to offer new and attractive alternatives to his clients, which has a positive impact on his demand for work:

Francisco Campana, master builder

“We now appreciate what this new way of roofing has to offer, because up to now we were used to doing it the old way, which means stacking bricks. This is a much cheaper and better system. I'm just finding this out and it seems fabulous. I'm going to put it into practice and recommend it to my clients so they can have access to this type of roof."

With these activities, the project reaffirms the importance of modular, flexible and ongoing technical training for construction workers, to meet the demand of families and homeowners for qualified labour and reliable construction services.

The Construya Peru project is part of Swisscontact’s development programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and is financed by the Hilti Foundation. Its objective is to improve the quality of life of people living in vulnerable urban areas of Peru through a set of integrated services that promote safe construction with the participation of local actors in the sector.