An innovative, technology-driven site management training centre opens in Coventry in September, using virtual reality and actors to unlock those hidden management skills

Developed by Coventry University in collaboration with the CIOB and Holland’s Building Management Simulation Centre, the Centre for Advanced Construction Technologies (ACT-UK) will substitute traditional classroom-style learning techniques for a totally immersive experience.

Existing and aspiring managers will practise on-site scenarios in front of an 11m x 3.5m parabolic virtual reality screen, with actors playing the roles of site personnel.

It might sound sci-fi and not very practical but underlying the hi-tech wizardry and luvviedom is a serious attempt to change UK attitudes to training.

‘Learning by doing is the primary concept, which means that through experience you understand better than through traditional learning in a classroom,’ says Michel Schrijver, managing director of ACT-UK and creator of the original Dutch facility on which this is based.

‘UK managers are good at assimilating knowledge and issuing orders, but they often lack interpersonal, communication and team-working skills.

‘The intensive simulation experience is designed to reveal managers’ dormant talents, and also expose their weaknesses, forcing them to confront them and so develop new skills.’