Training its human resources is an important function of any modern organisation. Training is mostly classroom-based, usually at a centrally located training institute, coupled with a few field visits. Online live training, popularly known as virtual training, was a rarity in organisations before Covid-19. Even those who were aware of virtual training technologies had never realised its full potential earlier. However, the situation has changed dramatically after Covid-19, which has forced organisations to search for alternatives to traditional classroom-based training for their personnel. Corporate Training Institute (CTI), the training arm of Transmission Corporation of Telangana (TSTRANSCO), has embarked on online live training programmes for its employees. Recently, CTI, TSTRANSCO conducted a 14-day online live training programme for 198 members of its O&M staff, on the maintenance of substations, lines and safety.
About Corporate Training Institute/TSTRANSCO
The Corporate Training Institute ofTSTRANSCO was established in the year 1991 as part of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board (APSEB). It catered to the training needs of employees from the power generation, transmission and distribution segments of the combined Andhra Pradesh. After the formation of Telangana state, the Corporate Training Institute /TSTRANSCO began imparting training to employees of TSTRANSCO and TSDISCOMS and improving their skill and competency to meet the challenges of the power sector. It has conducted national-level programmes in association with the CBIP and has organised DRUM programmes for employees of discoms from various states in the country.
Even in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, CTI/TSTRANSCO has not stopped its core mission of sharing technical knowledge with the employees of Telangana’s power utilities and embarked on its job of spreading technical skills by initiating online live training programmes.
14-Day Online Live Training Programme for 198 Employees
CTI organised a 14-day Online Live Training Programme for 198 members of the O&M staff deputed from TSGENCO to TSTRANSCO, from July 30, 2020 to August 19, 2020. Due to the vast expansion of network and substations in the state of Telangana, there is a shortage of manpower for charging 400 kv, 220 kV, and 132 kV substations and EHT lines. To meet this requirement, the management of TSTRANSCO decided to utilise the services of 198 members of TSGENCO’s O&M staff, on deputation for various substations and EHT lines divisions. TSTRANSCO instructed CTI to organise a14-day training programme for these employees to impart awareness on the maintenance and safety aspects of the transmission system.
Due to the widespread Covid-19 pandemic, it was not possible to organise a classroom training programme for such a large number of employees at the Training Institute. However, conducting online live training sessions for the employees posted in 41 EHT substations located in interior remote places in the state of Telangana with poor or zero internet connectivity, was a real challenge.
Preparations for the training programme
As the participants were located at 41 different remote locations, it was decided to nominate coordinators and assistant coordinators from the assistant divisional engineer and assistant engineer cadres, drawn from the above 41 EHT substations, to ensure internet connectivity, proper grouping of participants, and assistance during the training programme. Chief coordinators from the divisional engineer cadre were also appointed at the division level to oversee the training programme. Necessary infrastructure was acquired, along with CISCO WebEx meeting licenses, to conduct the live online training programme.
Three WhatsApp groups were created for chief coordinators, coordinators and assistant coordinators, and for the participants separately, with CTI staff duly added to each group to coordinate and issue instructions from time to time. Guidelines for the coordinators/assistant coordinators and instructions for the participants were prepared and communicated through the WhatsApp groups to conduct the online training effectively. These three groups were given a basic orientation programme on using the Webex platform, covering basic operations like connecting to the platform, sending messages through chat, raising one’s hand, muting, etc. Desktops were arranged for participants who did not possess smartphones. Participants from locations where internet access was not available were shifted to nearby substations with internet access. After the faculty for the various topics in the module were identified, they were given orientation training on online teaching and using the Webex platform.
The module was so designed that every technical/theory class would be followed by a field visit, in which coordinators/assistant coordinators nominated from the field were assigned to explain the contents of the module covered during the classes. All participants attended the online classes and field visits from their respective substations. A series of WebEx meetings was conducted with the coordinators/assistant coordinators over the course of the training programme to get feedback. Accordingly, necessary modifications were made to the training programme.
At the end of every class, Q&A, interactive and feedback sessions were organised. Participants actively participated and clarified their doubts. The coordinators/assistant coordinators were also very enthusiastically involved in clarifying their doubts and guiding the participants during field visits. Feedback from the participants and the coordinators/assistant coordinators on the training programme was very satisfactory. The feedback was obtained through Google forms.
The PowerPoint presentations/soft copies of the course material were uploaded on the WhatsApp groups at the end of every session, which helped the participants as well as the coordinators/assistant coordinators improve their technical knowledge.
Field visits and line maintenance and electrical and fire safety demonstrations were held at the 41 substations. During the visits, coordinators/assistant coordinators explained the contents of the classes and guided the participants.
Videos on the classification of fire extinguishers and their operation were prepared at CTI to give participants an idea about the actual operation of fire extinguishers.
At the end of the training programme, an online examination with 50 questions was conducted through Google forms to evaluate the performance of the participants. To familiarise them with Google forms, mock tests were conducted with both the participants and the coordinators/assistant coordinators.
The major benefit of this programme was that the participants could attend the classes from the comfort of their respective places of posting and were thus readily available to attend to any emergencies. Apart from saving money and time, it also ensured a risk-free environment for the employees during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the experience gained from conducting the programme, TSTRANSCO is now planning to extend it to all3,000 members of the maintenance staff in the organisation, in six batches over six months, to upgrade their skills in the fields of maintenance and safety. TSTRANSCO is willing to share its experience and extend similar programmes to other power utilities as well.
Overall, the online live training on the transmission system of Telangana imparted to 198 members of the O&M staff deputed from TSGENCO to TSTRANSCO was successful and boosted the confidence of the participants in handling adverse situations in EHT substations and lines.
Corporate Training Institute