Virtual training in the construction sector is here to stay    

Upskilling and Reskilling, Labour market insertion
2020 was a challenging year for virtual training, especially for the practice-oriented construction sector. Through the Construya project, Swisscontact had developed a training offer for construction builders on safe building practices with public and private partners, which was upgraded to a virtual platform in mid-2020.

Since 2011, the Construya project, financed by the Hilti Foundation, among other donors, and implemented by Swisscontact, has promoted safe and sustainable construction in poor neighbourhoods in Colombia. During the Covid-19 crisis, construction workers and hardware merchants did not have great facilities to access 100% virtual and interactive training. The project developed an e-learning offer taking into account the participants' previous learnings and experience in construction. The tool introduces key concepts during the tour of the virtual platform and uses technology that allows simple and intuitive navigation through the site suitable for any mobile device.

Virtual resources are now being adapted by different partners

The virtual resources are currently being adapted for the platforms of the different project partners (Cemex, Cementos Alión, Home Center, among others). The technical and entrepreneurship courses include modules on safety and stairs, lighting and ventilation as well as marketing and financing, among other things.

Strenthening digital competencies continues to be key

The lessons learned from the design of these virtual resources were manifold. Among them, the following stand out: 

  • Adaptability: Offer resources that respond to the user’s needs and are adapted to the profiles of construction workers. Transform face-to-face training into digital tools that are user-friendly, understandable and dynamic.
  • Coverage: There is a pronounced digital divide in the country. In many cases, members of the target group do not have a computer, so the resources have been designed to be easily accessed from cell phones.
  • Organisational and sectoral culture: Coming out of the pandemic crisis, one of the challenges within this sector is the reduction of the illiteracy gap and the strengthening of digital capabilities because virtual platforms are here and will remain to be one of the components in training.
Upskilling and Reskilling
From student to instructor – Nevardo's story
Nevardo Hernandes Babativa started out as a student in construction at Colombia's most important public training institute SENA. Today, he is one of the instructors at SENA who teaches construction workers in informal neighbourhoods on safe building practices. In response to the pandemic, an online training option for construction workers was set up. He is now responsible for training the team of SENA trainers in a hybrid form: through in-person classes as well as through virtual courses developed by Swisscontact together with methodologists, SENA teachers and technical experts.

The Construya project is financed by Hilti Foundation, among other donors. As part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, it is co-financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA).