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The War for Talent
Ben Somner
23rd July 2019

Designing successful executive training facilities

The role of the workplace has undergone a huge revolution in recent years. The modern office is no longer just a place to work; it is a key recruitment tool and plays an important part of the retention process, helping people to feel more engaged and connected with the business. In turn, this increases productivity, and as the business grows, the career opportunities do too. In today’s war for talent, being able to offer an environment that employees want to spend time in can give businesses that all-important competitive edge.

This isn’t just about enhancing the employee experience by providing agile work settings, barista coffee and in-house yoga studios, it’s about building a corporate culture that values learning and career development options.

With record low unemployment numbers, quantifying and plugging skills gaps has become a top priority and employers are beginning to embrace the strategic move towards lifelong learning. Tech giants Apple and Google have recently announced that they no longer require job candidates to have degrees, instead offering staff the opportunity to grow their skill sets and develop as professionals along a structured career progression path.

As we enter the 4th Industrial Revolution, the rapid emergence of new technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence, is also having a huge impact on the workplace. According to the World Economic Forum, more than half the global labour force will need to start reskilling or reinventing the way they earn a living in the next five years. The need to futureproof the workforce is now, more than ever, a top priority in building a resilient, resourceful and flexible workplace.

These trends have led to an emergence of a new wave of executive in-house training and education facilities that blend improved amenity with design-led, vibrant interiors to enhance learning and support culture and brand identity. From simple flexible spaces that can be used for informal learning, to dedicated training rooms and right through to state-of-the-art purpose-built training buildings, it is clear that businesses need to do their part to enable and encourage adaptable learners to thrive.

“The average person entering the workforce in 2030 will have to plan to reboot their skills eight to ten times throughout their working life.”

Medtronic Innovation Centre, Chengdu

Located within the Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park in Sichuan Province, the Medtronic Innovation Centre Chengdu will provide innovative clinical training across diverse disciplines for medical professionals across Central and Western China.

Broadway Malyan has designed the centre to uniquely bring together into one facility, world-class surgical training programs and cutting-edge simulation technology with showcase exhibition and collaboration spaces. Furthering Medtronic’s ‘Go further, together’ mission, the innovation centre will create spaces that encourage colleagues to mix and share experiences and knowledge.

With state-of-the-art technology throughout, the centre provides varied and flexible settings for medical training; this includes classrooms at multiple scales, a number of surgical and simulation laboratories, a 200-seat auditorium and various adaptable meeting, training and lounge rooms. A viewing gallery with advanced AV facilities is set above the labs providing visitors and VIPs with a close-up view of surgical techniques. A central showroom and pocket theatre further showcase Medtronic’s illustrious heritage and recent innovations.

A dramatic atrium at the centre of the facility acts as the ‘heart’ of the building providing exhibition space, informal meeting and social space. This dynamic space is characterised by flowing natural forms reminiscent of heart chambers and helical DNA strands, Set within is a spiral staircase linking all three storeys enabling efficient circulation throughout the building and encouraging interaction and collaboration.

China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Suzhou

The China-Europe International Business School (CEIBS), co-founded by the Chinese government and the European Union, has campuses in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Accra in Ghana and Zurich in Switzterland. Broadway Malyan has designed its sixth facility due to open in Suzhou.

Catering to high-achieving business leaders who want to take their career and personal development to the next level, the new campus will provide an innovative and multi-functional new learning facility with 92,000m² of teaching space plus two towers, one providing office use and the other dedicated to student residences with dining and a gymnasium.

Broadway Malyan proposed a variety of different flexible spaces providing opportunities for both formal and informal learning, including hot-desking, private spaces for focus and contemplation, facilities for group working and workshops and more intimate spaces for tutoring. A large central atrium with a wide feature staircase acts as the heart of the scheme, connecting the lobby with a multi-function room on the second floor. This staircase doubles up as informal seating and provides a grand event space and a place for interaction. A roof garden and lounge areas provide further opportunities for knowledge sharing and socialising. With a wide variety of learning styles catered for and a rich mix of new technology, the campus will provide a truly engaging new learning community.

Drawing on the latest thinking in the workplace and education sectors, the new blended environment is setting a new benchmark for executive training facilities in the region.

“Using elements from Suzhou’s architectural vernacular, the scheme combines cool grey stone with wood and lush planting throughout, creating a unifying design language between the different facilities and giving understated and professional vibe.”
Ben Somner, Director, Broadway Malyan

BP Upstream Learning Centre, UK

In 2017 global oil giant BP opened the doors to its Upstream Learning Centre at the ICBT (International Centre for Business & Technology) campus, home to 3,500 people just outside London. It is BP’s first UK centre dedicated to training and development in petro-technical capability with in-house training and distance learning facilities for staff in the UK and overseas.

The entrance to the centre is a huge open foyer and ‘hub’ space featuring an interactive table, real-life examples of rock formations, decommissioned machinery and a huge digital world map with built-in augmented reality. A variety of learning spaces include classrooms, informal settings and simulation rooms, all integrating state-of-the-art AV and IT.

Internal learning spaces and atrium at BP's Upstream Learning Centre, part of their Sunbury campus.

The classrooms are designed to high space standards, with dual high definition projector screens with a number of different layouts for varying teaching and learning styles. The computer classroom is equipped with 17 state-of-the-art 3D workstations and a large 3D projection screen for the visualisation of complex rock strata and engineering.

The centre embodies a “learn by doing” ethos and one of the most impressive parts of the centre is the life-size analogue drilling station giving students the opportunity to practice real-life situations without real risk.