NSW Training Manager and Assessor Shane Rich outlines the holistic approach to teaching taken by the team at MPL Training.
A good pest manager or termite inspector is someone who enjoys playing detective. Essentially, we are problem solvers, and our clients rely on us to be the solution to their problem. As we know, termites are industrious creatures that can always find ways to do things differently! However, having a routine and being systematic in your approach to termite management will go a long way towards eliminating termites from the building, solving your clients’ problem.
At MPL Training, our experienced team have dealt with a wide range of termite problems over the years and this expert knowledge is passed on to our students. We train our students to work through the problem, remembering that no two termite jobs are ever the same. We emphasise the need to approach each situation with an open mind and to be prepared to learn something new every time. For this, termite professionals need to have a range of different techniques and solutions up their sleeve and feel confident in taking a number of different approaches.
Whilst many professionals are very comfortable with traditional techniques and methods, such as dusting and applying treated zones, baits and monitoring require a different approach. Thorough knowledge and technical skill are required to get good results.
The use of in-ground and above-ground termite baits is an area that proves challenging for many technicians. Some of the comments we hear from students are “We started using those, but we don’t anymore as we could not get regular feeding,” or “They started feeding but then stopped.” Others have said “We couldn’t get them to feed no matter what bait we tried,” or even “My boss couldn’t get feeding so he just mixed a sports drink in with it.”
With timber pest work, there is no single solution that will fit all situations. Except the sports drink or sugar comment — we don’t recommend that! Hearing this kind of feedback from students shows us how essential it is for technicians to truly understand termite behaviour and biology and to have confidence executing different strategies.
For most students that come through MPL Training’s facility, the instruction they receive is relatively simple: conduct a thorough inspection, have a great understanding of your product, have an in-depth knowledge of the termite species present, know where your feeding point/s are and be prepared to communicate with your clients. Alongside technical knowhow is the skill of customer service. We teach students the value of having open and honest discussions with clients regarding timber pest inspections and treatments as experience has shown that involving them in the process is essential for the best outcome. It sets their expectations, removes some of their concerns and demonstrates your expertise… and more often than not will also help win you the job!
One thing that sets MPL Training apart from other learning institutions is that we listen to the questions our students throw out to us, which make us stop and think about what these men and women are really wanting to learn. We know what they formally need to learn based on the units of competency, but what is it that really gets their head in the game? At MPL this is something we excel at — understanding that people have different learning styles and imparting our knowledge in a way that resonates with them.
One of the most enjoyable parts of teaching is listening. At a class in Melbourne earlier this year I spent time answering questions in more of a forum type scenario, which really increased the students’ engagement. Many drawings and calculations were done, and the students really seemed to appreciate this way of learning.
We were even lucky enough to have a student walk us through a treatment on power poles, something that I knew very little about. Proving that our students can also be our teachers if you’re prepared to learn something new! The knowledge that we gain through our various timber pest workshops and toolbox talks is invaluable to us as instructors.
One thing that all of us in the pest industry appear to agree on is the need for ongoing training. However, judging from the feedback in all our classes, it seems that many employees feel they don’t get enough training. Certainly training can be a challenge for many companies, either they don’t feel comfortable or knowledgeable enough to train their staff or the businesses are too busy for the experienced team members to develop and provide appropriate training.
This is where MPL steps in. We offer training not only for those entering the industry, but refresher courses at locations across Australia. Our instructors each typically have 20 to 40 years’ experience in the pest industry and a passion for the subject, with an academic or commercial background. We deliver high impact educational sessions that benefit not only the student but the company they work for.
For those working in the timber pest industry, we at MPL Training encourage you to invest in yourself to be the best.