SQA Regional Manager’s delight at visit to new training facility

In this article, Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) Regional Manager Sarah Stevenson describes her first ‘in-person’ meeting at Via East Midlands since lockdown.

14 July 2021 - sqablogs - Categories: Employer & Training Providers

Qualifications 2022

After an incredible 15 months of remote working, it was the most joyous feeling stepping through the doors of Via East Midlands, an SQA approved training centre. Having completed SQA’s health and safety checklist prior to the visit, I was welcomed at the Via East Midlands gate-house, face mask on and hands freshly sanitised. I had panic-bought a new pair of work shoes – although trainers and expandable gym attire have been the go-to over the past few months, it wasn’t going to cut it for my return to in-person meetings!

It was back on 11 March 2020 when I had my last in-person engagement. On that day we conducted a Construction EV Network for our training providers in the rest of UK. Who knew that this would be the last time we would experience business interaction and engagement as we had always known it?

Although we have all had to adapt to change quickly, including getting to grips with virtual meetings, our customers have always been keen for face- to-face visits to resume.

Most of our centres in the rest of the UK have remained operational throughout lockdown. This is particularly so for Via East Midlands, who have been kept very busy by the opening of a brand-new training facility. Smaller classes have been required, and the canteen facilities are still restricted. Like all other businesses, Via East Midlands had to implement extra measures to maintain a COVID-secure environment.

Nigel Given, Via East Midland’s Training Centre Supervisor, greeted me at the entrance – without shaking hands, of course! He gave me a tour of the facilities, where some very lucky learners were completing their training and assessments in the bright, brand new facility.

There was plenty of hand sanitiser available throughout the centre, as well as signs reminding people to maintain social distancing and to wear a facemask. At Via East Midlands you can remove your mask when sat down, but to keep staff and learners safe, you must wear a mask when moving around.

We continued on to one of the training rooms where myself, Nigel, and two of his colleagues sat down to discuss Street Works, First Aid, and the other SQA approved qualifications in Via East Midland’s portfolio. I also answered some queries relating to SQA’s Solar platform. We sat at different corners of the large desk – although strange at first, before long we were chatting comfortably.

I believe that a combination of virtual and face-to-face meetings is the way forward. I get my energy from being around people, so working from home by myself has been extremely tough. This visit to Via East Midlands gave me the boost I needed and quashed any feelings of anxiety around being in a room with people again!

Via East Midlands offers a range of SQA approved qualifications in the highways, construction and engineering sectors.