Over 1.25 million officially declared dangerous goods shipments fly on board of the world’s airlines every year. In an industry where the number one rule is ‘Safety First’, the correct identification and handling of dangerous goods is a crucial skill – one that is strictly regulated, requiring clear, solid training and regular refresher courses. Until recently, all dangerous goods training was classroom-based. An enterprising 3-person team successfully endeavored to take it online just prior to the unforeseen outbreak of the global pandemic. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) spoke to Lisa Milton Horner (LMH), Director of Dangerous Goods Online Training Ltd. about its recent IATA accreditation and how online training functions.
CFG: You recently became the UK's first and only IATA Accredited Competency Training and Assessment Centre for online Dangerous Goods training for specific well-defined job functions,
alongside having already been the first online training center to have its air cargo DGR courses approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. So, congratulations on your IATA accreditation! What
made you apply for it and what will it bring?
LMH: Because our training is borderless, customers from outside of the United Kingdom have wanted to explore online training, but our UKCAA approval is not recognized in many other countries, particularly in Europe. This accreditation brings international recognition to our training. Many of our customers are IATA accredited agents and to maintain their accreditation, they are required to show copies of IATA certificates, which we can now supply for learners who successfully complete an accredited online dangerous goods training course with us. The timing of the accreditation is important, too, given that ICAO’s training provisions for the safe transport of dangerous goods by air stipulated that a competency-based training and assessment approach is now mandatory for DGR (since 01JAN23).
CFG: When was Dangerous Goods Online Training established by whom? And why?
LMH: Dangerous Goods Online Training Limited was established in November 2019 by long-standing dangerous goods instructor, Scott Dimmock, Paul Horner, a former manager of Dangerous Goods Standards at IATA, and myself, a qualified teacher. The company is run by the three of us. We work with a number of contracted invigilators. The reason why: there was a gap in the market for online training in the UK, at the time - particularly for dangerous goods training.
CFG: What services does it offer and how are these received?
LMH: We offer online dangerous goods training for air cargo, covering all the new requirements from 7.1 through to 7.10. This includes training for: packers, shippers, freight forwarders, cabin crew, flight crew, flight despatchers, passenger handling, flight operations officers and security screeners. As to how these are received, our website highlights number of testimonials with positive feedback regarding the mode and pace of study, the course content, and the convenience – one person even sat a refresher course on a rig in China and conference-called the exam: “Without this, course, I would struggle to continue in my role,” was the summary.
CFG: Is the online training all purely computer training, or does it include live online classroom training?
LMH: Our training is conducted purely online. The training includes videos, interactive exercises, and a workbook. We also offer access to a training session with an instructor if required. Participants are granted 12 weeks’ access to the training, and invigilated examinations are held one-on-one, online.
CFG: How can you prevent "cheating" when it comes to online training?
LMH: We have a robust learning management system in place to ensure students complete the training independently. For our courses that require an invigilated examination, our processes are approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
CFG: How can it be made sure that the course participant has understood and answered all the questions themself?
LMH: Our system monitors students’ progress for all the different job functions. We can identify areas of strengths and weaknesses throughout the training. We use this data to assist our students to identify areas to help to further develop competence. We analyze exam data and course results to further enhance our training throughout the year.
CFG: What is your client spectrum? Has there been any kind of shift over the past few years?
LMH: We have worked with customers in Australia, Falkland Islands, St Helena, China, the Middle East, United State of America, Bermuda, and multiple countries in Europe.
The Covid pandemic was a challenge and forced us to adapt our business model with regard to the training that required formal examinations for the courses formally known as CAT 1,2, 3 and the CAT 6. Up until the pandemic these had always been invigilated in person. However, with everyone in ‘lock down’ Students were unable to attend the examination. Therefore, we got permission from the UKCAA to hold examinations remotely.
This also enabled us to enhance our training delivery to a wider audience and made online training accessible to those unable to go attend a traditional classroom training course. The pandemic broke the stigma attached to online training and meant many people gave it a go for the first time. As a result, many have returned to revalidate their qualifications with us.
CFG: What is your assessment of the training landscape in the UK, and company attitudes to training? Is training likely to fall victim to inflation in 2023?
LMH: Dangerous Goods training is mandatory irrespective of the financial situation. One of the advantages of our online training is that our customers can fit this training around their workload which means that there are no hidden costs to training like as with traditional classroom training for example, staff cover, hotel accommodation and travel costs. Because our training is a competitively priced, this encourages our customers to choose this method of training.
CFG: Not to mention the Sustainability aspect: Participants no longer have to travel to the training location, thus saving on carbon emissions as well as time and money. Finally, what
advice do you have for people looking to select a training provider? What are the pitfalls/benefits?
LMH: There are multiple ways of completing dangerous goods training; it depends on the requirements of the student. Some will prefer classroom-based training courses with an instructor at hand, others prefer to take their time and therefore complete our training over multiple sessions. One of the main advantages of our training, is that the students have to work to achieve a pass in the course before we permit them to sit the examination. Students are expected to show competence in the different modules, and if they have not, these need to be revisited.
CFG: Thank you, Lisa.
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