In the past 115 years, the Ten Brinke family business has grown into an international construction and development company. More than 850 employees work on projects or at one of 26 branches in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal, England and Greece.
The Ten Brinke Group's mission and vision is to establish the best developing construction company in the Netherlands and Germany. "Development has a double meaning for us: in order to be able to develop beautiful projects, the development of our employees is indispensable".
We talked to Ronnie Witte, Training Manager and Project Leader at Ten Brinke Group. "In the construction industry, on average, 8% of turnover is spent on failure costs, which is quite a lot". This was similar for the Ten Brinke Group, and they were convinced that they would be able to reduce this by means of structural further education.
"One percent profit on the failure costs of an entire construction project already pays off enormously, but at the same time only one percent of our employees received structural training. So that was a nice challenge for me."
The solution was to set up an Academy. When they decided that they wanted to train their employees more structurally, the most important question was: 'how'? Of course, there are many different forms of training that you can choose from. Because Ten Brinke Group are located all over Europe, e-learning seemed to be the best training option. Technical know-how can very well be shared via e-learning. What's more, it saves a lot of extra costs and travel time when it no longer needs to be trained in a classroom. This gave Ronnie carte blanche for the implementation of the Ten Brinke Academy.
"For the implementation of the Ten Brinke Academy, we first looked at what was already available in the field of e-learning in the construction sector," says Ronnie.
There was almost nothing and the learning platforms they saw at other construction companies only offered classroom training to external trainers.
"We believe that sharing our own knowledge works best, so when the solutions we came across didn't match what we were looking for, we decided to make the courses ourselves. Ultimately this is more efficient and effective, because we have the knowledge in house, and we are the first to know about new developments.
Flexibility to adapt things yourself is key and The Courseware Company had a handy tool for this, Articulate Storyline. This is how they met each other.
For the development of the training courses, Ronnie has gathered a large pool of consultants around him. These are all employees who convert their own knowledge and skills into content for e-learning.
"In five years' time, we have developed around 100 modules with this new department. I dare to call myself an innovative player, because within the construction sector we are unique in this respect. I don't know of any other construction company that looks at the structural training of its employees and makes the e-learning itself."
Totara Learn as a Learning Management System
"We started the Academy with the development of e-learning. But at some point, you also want to be able to offer this to the employees. We looked at several providers of Learning Management Systems, the most important criterion of which was that the output of Storyline remained unchanged, in other words: the form and content of our e-learning. That's why we once again chose The Courseware Company, because it's nice to sit down with the same party at a time when Storyline and the LMS don't correspond well with each other."
The choice for the LMS finally fell on Totara Learn. Totara Learn is a versatile learning portal, in which e-learning can be easily imported and used by large groups of employees. It is also a good entry-level model for companies that are starting to offer e-learning.
"It is very easy to assign a foreign language to the system. When we create a new user, we click on Dutch or German and the environment is offered in that language," says Ronnie.
Everything related to training and further education is administered in the Ten Brinke Academy via Totara Learn: employees can register for a training course, progress is monitored and reports can for example be printed out for a job or assessment interview.
"We recently started offering blended learning: a combination of online and offline learning. All the knowledge we can transfer through e-learning is still done online, such as safety on construction sites, protocols, changes in laws and regulations, etc. We train softskills offline, such as communication skills, teamwork or solution orientation with classroom role-plays or 1-on-1 coaching. We still planned this via Outlook, but now it is nicely integrated in Totara Learn".
With the development of e-learning and the implementation of Totara Learn, the Ten Brinke Academy now trains 72 percent of its employees structurally.
"In 5 years' time, that means an increase of 71 percent, which is a huge step. And despite the fact that the (online) training courses are sometimes seen as a burden - we do build quite heavy modules and some are also mandatory - the response has been positive. Especially since employees can now follow an education or training in their own time, when it suits them".
The next steps
"Now that we have recently merged the e-learning and classroom training courses, we can only see more opportunities. For example, together with The Courseware Company, we are now investigating whether we can add a forum function. So that employees can chat with us as an Academy when they have questions or that questions can be posted to which we - but also colleagues - can give answers".
"It's nice that The Courseware Company thinks along with us. This is something that we have noticed in the cooperation over the past few years anyway. Of course, there are times when things don't work or when we don't get an update of the system. That is sometimes difficult and frustrating, but fortunately The Courseware Company is open-minded and we always work together to find the solution that suits us best."