LONDON, ENGLAND — UK Flour Millers, the trade organization representing the United Kingdom’s milling industry, over the last two years has undergone a significant transformation that includes a name change, the hiring of a new director and revamping its educational platform.
Known as NABIM for its first 150 years, the organization rebranded in 2021 under the new name, UK Flour Millers, as part of an effort to “raise the industry’s profile.” More recently, it was announced that longtime director general Alex Waugh, who has been in that position for more than two decades, was stepping down and would be replaced by Alistair Gale on June 1.
The other significant change is occurring in the organization’s educational outreach under training manager Steve Faerber, who was hired by UK Millers last May. In an interview with World Grain, Faerber explained that while the educational content is not changing, the way it is presented is.
Faerber said after consultation with its training and executive committees, UK Flour Millers is introducing level 1 and 2 training programs aimed at all new employees to the milling industry. The package includes “bite-size” interactive content that can be accessed on the move via smart phones and other portable devise.
He said the micro-learning material can be translated into many different languages and includes engaging videos, infographics and “rapid brain boosters” to enhance the educational experience.
He noted that in a recent survey of its membership, 98% felt that the group’s distance-learning program supported their professional development. However, challenges in achieving work-life balance prevents training, with time being the biggest barrier.
“The barriers to learning that really stood out in the survey were time, access and support,” Faerber said. “The way we overcome a lot of those is through micro-learning. It’s quick, provides easy access and involves lots of repetition.”
Because modern mills are highly automized and require fewer employees to operate them, pulling employees off the mill floor for online training can be problematic since milling companies don’t have a deep roster of employees to fill in for them.
“Micro-learning involves 10- or 15-minute segments,” he said. “You can do it on your break, pre-work, after work, or on the bus ride to and from work. Like social media, you can consume it when it’s convenient for you.”
An example of a micro-learning segment offered by UK Flour Millers can be found at www.ukflourmillers.org/micro-learning.
While the content for the level 1 and 2 micro-learning programs are geared toward beginners and intermediate levels, the level 3 micro-learning program is targeted toward experienced millers looking for the highest level of training. Faerber said levels 1 and 2 will be introduced this year, with level 3 to follow in 2024.
The UK Flour Millers’ Virtual Mill, which was launched on the organization’s website several years ago, will be a primary tool used in the online training, Faerber said.
Beginning in April, UK Flour Millers will release a free sample of the new training. The first will address the topic of health and safety in flour mills.
“Every month after that we’re going to release a training sample,” Faerber said. “Anyone who signs up will receive a push notification on that content. Then, come September, we will start offering our new courses.”
The UK Flour Millers is keeping its popular online distance learning program in the same format with seven modules that cover every aspect of flour milling, from the technical process to management issues.
“It will be held mostly in the Virtual Mill,” he said. “Students will still be given a tutor and a mentor. There’s still the option to talk and ask questions. The only real addition that we’ve made is that in the Virtual Mill there is going to be some self-guided learning. During the virtual walk-through when things break along the way, they will be able to fix them or adjust them. They will be able to make safety improvements, increase efficiency or reduce energy — all those types of things.”
For more information, visit: www.ukflourmillers.org.