Bonarius is a central heating installation company with over 260,000 installations under management. They manage climate installations for housing corporations and investment companies throughout the entire Netherlands.

However, Bonarius is not just any central heating installation company. Due to the enormous growth of the company and the growing number of appliances under management, they started a new project in cooperation with VTi, Wij tecbiek and the ROC; the MBO certificate ‘basic maintenance of gas appliances’. In this project, lateral entrants are fully trained to become technicians within 2 months. Last February, Bonarius therefore started a GPAL pilot to further speed up and support the training process. 

“The special thing about the MBO certificate is that only four months after someone joins us, he or she can become an aspiring maintenance engineer who independently maintains central heating equipment. GPAL has contributed in part to the speed of our training.”
– Arjen, training coordinator Bonarius Companies


The MBO-certificate

In cooperation with VTi, Wij techniek and the ROC of Amsterdam, Bonarius started the pilot for the MBO certificate last February. Within the project, newly hired lateral entrants participate in a 8-week long learning-working track. Half of the week they ride along with an experienced mechanic to gain work experience, while the other half of the week they learn the tricks of the trade at the Bonarius Academy. In this way, a lateral entrant can grow into a fully employable maintenance engineer after just four months of employment. 

“Bonarius has always been a training company. Now I can proudly say that around 70% of the mechanics that we employ were trained in our own Academy.”
– Arjen, training coordinator Bonariusen Bedrijven

Vti Amsterdam introduced Bonarius to GPAL, and after the first acquaintance with this platform Bonarius started making instructional videos. Short video instructions were used to support the second-career mechanics during the learning phase, and with great success. In the meantime, three groups of lateral entrants have successfully completed their training with GPAL and the teaching time has been reduced to one day and one evening per week. 


How is GPAL deployed? 

In the meantime, a lot of instructional videos have been made and there is even a textbook in which all subjects are listed with accessible QR codes. As soon as a student scans the QR code with the GPAL app, the correct instructional video for that topic pops up. Although some videos still need to be made, the videos that are already placed in the app are actively watched. By watching the instructional videos, students are generally better prepared for class. 

“At the moment, the students watch the videos and then receive the assignments orally during the lesson. In the future, we also want to add the assignments to the app. The teacher will then make a short video instructing the students to repair something on a boiler and the students can practice this independently.”
– Arjen, training coordinator Bonarius Companies

Arjen and Matthijs (the practical teacher), regularly record new videos. Arjen makes convenient videos based on short PowerPoint presentations and Matthijs makes videos while explaining various central heating boilers. 

“[Filming] is so simple, GPAL has done that beautifully of course. You record a short video and can upload it immediately in the app in a structured way. And videos don’t always have to be perfect, you can slip up once in a while. That makes a video authentic, just as if you were in front of the class.”
– Arjen, training coordinator Bonarius Companies


The Result

Meanwhile, three groups of students have already received the MBO certificate with a success rate of no less than 100%. There are also many other positive results, such as the shortening of the programme, a changing role for trainers and even future plans for GPAL are already being made. 


Instructional videos shorten the learning phase and stimulate personal learning. 

Watching instruction videos is popular among the lateral entrants to the Academy. Most pupils watch the videos enthusiastically, such as a few pupils who already watched 90% of the videos on the first evening. 

“We see that students come to us with questions in class that they normally wouldn’t ask until much later. By watching the instruction videos they start to study the material earlier and that just works really well.”
– Arjen, training coordinator Bonarius Companies

However, watching the instruction videos is not only more fun, but also speeds up the learning phase. Watching the video instructions in preparation ensures more recognition among the students during physical class, as some students can already demonstrate some knowledge before the class even starts. This makes it easier for educators to discuss the relevant materials in more depth, with many positive consequences. 

“We are actually seeing learning material being added to the training by our trainers now, as the students are going through the material a lot faster by watching the videos. We have therefore now also decided to reduce the next groups to one day and one evening per week, instead of two days.”
– Arjen, training coordinator Bonarius Companies


The role of the trainer: from classical teacher to coach 

Students can also learn more at their own pace. As Arjan explains, sometimes there are clear differences amongst students in the same class. “But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Some students are simply faster and can now learn at their own pace, while others can receive more individual help and attention from a teacher.”

However, this also changes the role of the teacher. The teacher is able to recognise more quickly which students are not picking up the material or which students need more help. In the teacher’s new role as a coach, he or she can therefore focus more on helping individual students. In this way, learning becomes more personal and each student receives the guidance he or she needs. 


In the future: infinite possibilities

In the future, GPAL will not only be used for the MBO certificate. Bonarius sees many more interesting purposes; from onboarding and performance support to knowledge sharing among mechanics. 

For example, GPAL can also be used for onboarding. By filming part of the onboarding, new employees can get to know the new workplace independently and at their own pace. The onboarding can also be made a lot more personal. For example, in the future Bonarius would like to include a large number of introductions and introductory rounds in videos, so that new employees will know faster who to approach for questions and will already see a few familiar faces on their first day at work. “Perhaps a nice project for the future,” says Arjen. 


For now Bonarius will enthusiastically continue to record videos and after the summer new classes for the MBO certificate will start. To be continued.