Safety critical industries such as energy and power, medical, transport, defence, construction and first response have many years’ experience in exploiting simulation and wider technologies to support their training and education. Such industries are well served by their dedicated publications and conferences but SCT has been established to share simulation and training (S&T) insights and experiences across the safety critical sector, ultimately with the goal of driving performance improvement. Building on Halldale’s well established CAT and MS&T publications, and incorporating Medical Training Magazine, SCT provides a regular eNewsletter to share the latest S&T news and information of relevance across the safety critical sector supported by conference and webinars. This will inform and benchmark S&T activities in a world with increasing digitisation and automation of activities and rapid societal and demographic change.

COVID-19

“... stronger, more innovative, and more resilient”

In a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted the SCT community with training centres closed and activities curtailed. Training has however rapidly moved online and physical establishments reconfigured to accommodate social distancing. The pace of innovation and change has been unprecedented with technologies and ways of working that were hitherto slow to embrace becoming the norm. What are some of the emerging and future themes of COVID-19?

Remote Training and Working - Where training was previously delivered through training centres individual and team training is being delivered remotely. It will be important to capture the lessons learned during this period as remote training is likely to be here to stay. The immediate shift to working from home (WFH) appears to be functioning and many S&T companies are reaching out to the community through webinars. Managers must decide in future what tasks must be done in the office, for example where security concerns are paramount.

Building and Maintaining Resilience - Almost overnight organisations and individuals have had to make very significant changes to ways of working often under considerable financial and personal stress. COVID-19 is hopefully an extreme event but there will inevitably be more focus on building and maintaining resilience in organisations and the individuals who work in them. Enhancing their ability to anticipate, absorb and adapt to the kinds of challenges and changes that can destabilise such as COVID-19.

Skill Fade – Perhaps by definition not all SCT-related activity has ceased but undoubtedly many day-to-day tasks are not being done or have ceased. This will inevitably lead to some skill fade and vital skills will need to be identified, prioritised, and trained for whilst restrictions are in place.
Preparing for Recovery - The pre-COVID-19 world is behind us and there will be a “new normal” which we will need to face with opportunities and challenges. Organizations will have to reimagine the future and prepare their workforces to face and embrace it.

Modelling and Simulating Uncertainties - The modelling of the pandemic is a reminder of the balance of political and scientific judgment and bias that surrounds the use of models. It has also stressed the need for timely quality data to validate the models but also the challenges of the many variables behind the modelling. There is much to learn from the current crises and its (mis)use of models for the SCT community and beyond.

New Priorities and Interoperability - Politicians and populations may call for reprioritization of resources towards civil defences against such pandemics and greater integration of civil and defence operations. Wargaming and training can play a significant role in improving such integration and interoperability.

Innovation - The pandemic has already swept away many certainties and convictions and innovations that would in other circumstances take years have been brought in overnight. The SCT community should look to come out stronger, more innovative, and more resilient.

Looking to the Future

With all eyes on the present COVID-19 crises talk of the future beyond may seem superfluous but many technologies were already poised to disrupt the S&T community and the current crises may only accelerate the adoption of technologies. So, at the start of the decade, what is the future of S&T and what are the challenges ahead?

Will we still need training in the future? Given the current conversations around automation and AI one might think we will not need humans at all. However, although we see striking developments in both civil and military domains, it still seems that it will be a long time before machines can be as versatile and agile in thinking as humans. It is more likely that the nature of tasks will change and that there will be more human and machine teaming, so there will continue to be a need for training for the foreseeable future.

What of the people we need to train? It is generally perceived that the newer recruits have different aspirations and learning styles to those of previous generations. Recruitment and retention are significant issues in many industries so it is vital to understand what recruits are seeking from their careers, how they learn best and how to maintain their motivation. Excellent training, transferable skills and a working environment which supports diversity will likely become increasingly important.

Reducing cost and time to train. Training will need to be faster, carried out anywhere, anytime and at less cost. In addition to technologies like the cloud, 5G and XR, approaches to training such as competence-based and gamification are likely to become standard with greater emphasis on tackling skill fade. The importance of instructors is unlikely to diminish; there may be less of them and AI may play a bigger role, but human interaction, storytelling and versatility may remain key.

When do we know we have trained effectively? Training measurements are currently carried out using predominantly qualitative methodology, but our ability to measure, analyse and store training data may in time lead to the adoption of a more quantitative approach. This will not only help in training design and optimisation but also provide better evidence managers to support investment in S&T.

If you have views on future trends and the current COVID-19 crises that you would like to share with our readers please let us know and we would be delighted to share with the S&T community.