The benefits of using the MERIT simulation as a learning vehicle are based upon principles of adult learning. It is widely accepted that adult learners acquire knowledge in a different way from the typical classroom environment. Recognising that MERIT utilises learning methodologies and tools to help transfer knowledge, skills and competencies need to improve the business skills and understanding of young engineers so that they in turn deliver improved performance for their organisations. In the jargon of education MERIT is an action-learning exercise designed to anchor important lessons of business success with the participating teams. Thinking strategically, performing in the midst of chaos and balancing risk and reward all play out in the simulation which most of the participants find engaging. The simulation evolves and incorporates evolving legislative, regulatory and sector practices keeping the challenge of MERIT modern and relevant. Examples of changes introduced over the period of operation have included:
- Tools to enable detailed interactive analysis of key business areas
- Learning enhanced by detailed powerpoint tutorial, and participants can ‘trial’ the simulation prior to the start of a competition
- Move from a contracting company to a Plc with ability to invest in other businesses
- Enhancements to the 2-stage tendering process
- Developments of risk, and its affect on bidding and job progression
- Changes to the use of project managers to reflect what happens in the real world e.g., ‘golden hellos’, resignations, grudges
- Labour fluctuations in the market
- Expansion of the key performance indicators in line with industry trends
- Introduction of Quality and Health and Safety into the overhead function
- Client relationships impact on more areas of the business
A key feature to MERIT’s success is that it does not take the trainees away from their work place for extensive periods and so fits with the demands of the modern industry that training is delivered effectively in the work place.
It demonstrates that with the appropriate development and support e-learning can be both inexpensive and effective.