The key to assuring a safe and enjoyable swimming experience is directly connected to the higher education of the professionals that maintain pools and spas. It is critical now more than ever. The pool and spa industry is at a crossroads, where the path leading to success depends on continuing education.
Whether industry members want to improve their economic situation or are looking for ways to stay competitive, education is critical to achieving those goals. Education can take many forms too—from practical knowledge to higher level degrees—and can be found in classrooms, at conferences and trade shows, in a hotel meeting room, and even online.
Online education allows people to learn from anywhere, at any time, and in the convenience of their office, home, or even while traveling. Online interaction often leads to greater student effort and more student learning and, thus, increased satisfaction in the learning experience. The online format makes it possible to offer a global study program that enables schedule flexibility and increased access to those currently employed.
Further, online learning makes it possible for more professionals to take advantage of continuing education. It has quickly become the preferred classroom for people of all ages and professions. In fact, more adults than ever are looking into online training opportunities. Whether it is through traditional college courses like the Keiser University e-Campus or through other pool industry initiatives, such as the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF), which offers more than 100 online training classes, industry professionals are finding their way. Learning is a continuous process; new technologies in the pool industry demand a higher degree of understanding of hydraulics, electrical, construction, and water chemistry. Building a keen commitment to employee education is a universal business priority throughout the world. The ability for employees to take online courses and participate in an educational forum with people of other nations also generates a broader education alliance. Sharing ideas and experiences throughout the world helps to provide a better understanding of different technologies and techniques.
Dr. Malcolm S. Knowles, often referred to as ‘the father of adult learning,’ defined and advocated his Theory of Adult Education based on a five point premise. He maintained adult learners:
- are self-directed, as opposed to dependent;
- bring a lifetime of experiences that are resources for learning;
- learn based on their social roles;
- want immediate applicability for what they are learning;
- are less subject and more problem-centered.
Examining Knowles’ theory closer and applying it to continuing education in the swimming pool and spa industry, professionals can combine initial educational training with hands-on experience. What was originally taught in the classroom now has more meaning. Today, learning is now multiplied when this new understanding and shared experiences are coupled with taking online classes alongside other pool industry professionals.
Online education has improved
In addition to online education, the pool industry offers numerous avenues for knowledge advancement. Each year, the two-day World Aquatic Health Conference (WAHC), hosted by the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF), offers more than 50 scientific and practical symposia, plus a scientific poster session, in critical topic areas, all with the mission to help keep pools open, safer, all while attracting more users to help grow the industry. Regional and international trade shows such as the Pool & Hot Tub Council of Canada’s (PHTCC’s) Pool & Spa Conference & Expo, also bring industry professionals together and offer three and four days of educational tracks all based on raising the level of knowledge. Manufacturers offer focused learning opportunities through their own venues as well.
Include training in the business plan
As owners look towards the coming season, training initiatives should be included in the business plan. This proven and effective strategy will help increase profits and maintain a sustainable future. Designing an education strategy starts with a review of each employee’s knowledge of current industry technology. From this, an education program can be created based on their weaknesses in various areas to give employees the tools they need to increase their knowledge. Employees should be tested on their understanding of pool design, construction techniques, and energy-efficient pumps and motors. Internet-based webinars are available that can do just this. Mike Kami, a strategic planner for major corporations such as IBM and Xerox said: “The ability to learn faster than the competition may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.” In 2015, the business challenge for those in the pool and spa/hot tub industry is education. This means a commitment to a solid education business strategy. Learning never stops; therefore, empower employees with education because knowledge is powerful and profitable.
- Customers prefer to purchase from people who know and understand the products they are selling. In this highly competitive business environment, the organization demonstrating the most knowledge will capture the customer’s trust and enjoy their loyalty—ultimately resulting in a solid customer base and higher profits.
- Online compliance courses are a must for managers, while business classes are available that can help those understand what it takes to make a profit. Instilling in the minds of employees that achievement and success comes from learning will benefit the entire company.
- Evaluations indicate people who attend seminars and participate in active learning have a greater degree of business success. They are adult learners who are engaged in applying what they learn to their everyday business objectives. It has also been shown that employees who are encouraged to take online courses or attend live presentations are more committed to their jobs and their employers. This is a win-win for any organization as a more knowledgeable, resilient team equates to a greater competitive advantage in the workplace.
- In the early days of Internet learning, skeptics stated people would not learn as effectively online as they would in a classroom. This has been proven false, and now an increasing number of prestigious universities are offering online continuing education. Improvements to learning vehicles bring the students closer to the instructor through live chat environments. Adult learners have the ability to work within their time frames, often juggling work and family with education. They can also participate with other peers through live, online conversations.
This article was written by Connie Sue Centrella and originally appeared on Pool & Spa Marketing [link].