Read about the various education development and teaching projects Dr Robert Illes is, and has been involved in over the years, by clicking on the images below.
Dr Robert Illes has spent a major part of his career in education. From a first class degree in physics to experience as a physics teacher, lecturer at Oxford Brookes and a PhD in physics education, Robert continues to be involved in educative authoring, strategy development and teaching projects.
A long tenure on the Construction Innovation Hub as lead researcher for skills and training gave Robert the opportunity to engage at ministerial level. He continues to contribute to the work of the Construction Leadership Council Skills for a Modernised industry sub-group, providing strategic advisory on matters relating to construction industry skills, modern methods and policy.
Led the skills development on this major Innovate UK funded construction industry R&D programme. Developed training for the Value Toolkit. Read more...
Requirements gathering workshops for future skills for building performance and assurance for the construction industry. Read more...
Taught modern methods of construction and value-based decision making to students at the University of Hertfordshire. Read more...
Taught about innovation and value-based decision making to masters students at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth. Read more...
Clients: UK Research and Innovation, Innovate UK
Consultants: BRE, MTC, CDBB
Successfully delivered: range of projects on future skills, training regime for the 'Value Toolkit'
Dr Robert Illes was lead researcher for skills and training on this major £72m R&D programme, set by the Construction Sector Deal and sponsored by UKRI. The Hub set out to transform the construction industry and was delivered by a consortium comprising the Building Research Establishment (BRE), Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), and Cambridge Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB).
Robert led a small team, designed and ran a number of projects, starting with an in-depth analysis of the construction industry skills landscape, collation of industry case studies with Constructing Excellence, a deep dive into what 'competence' means and the whole building safety scene, culminating with working on the Value Toolkit.
Robert got the chance to dig deeply into construction industry skills and workforce issues, pertaining to the future industry. He also got the chance to engage at a high level. Of note, he:
Value Toolkit training regime conceptualisation.
Dr Robert Illes developed the training regime for the Value Toolkit. A combination of in-house and subcontract work achieved the following:
Client: Construction Leadership Council
Consultant: Opal Flame
Successfully delivered: ongoing support, time and counsel on future skills for the construction industry
Dr Robert Illes participates as a volunteer member of the CLC People and Skills Network, and Skills for a Modernised Industry sub-group. Through networks created at the Construction Innovation Hub, Robert contributed to the review of the 2019 'Future Skills Report' and development of the ongoing 'Skills Plans'.
Ongoing work involves supporting the delivery of the Skills Plan objectives and impacts, through joining dots, providing insights and assisting with research. The current focus is collating the state-of-the-art in research for future skills, and delivering skills route maps for:
Robert maintains passionately that it is always about more than skills. It is about nurturing a wider concept of competence to include many other attributes such as knowledge, experience, behaviours, attitudes and duties. Also that in the case of Net Zero, for example, it is unwise to try and measure success by one or two performance indicators. Yes, we need to simplify the comms, but must not simplify the challenge.
Client: Construction Innovation Hub
Consultants: Opal Flame, CITB, Constructing Excellence, CHY
Successfully delivered: a series of workshops engaging widely, set of requirements for future industry skills needs
An early part of the work on the Construction Innovation Hub involved Dr Robert Illes going out and finding out what industry requires in terms of future skills needs. In collaboration with Constructing Excellence, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), and CHY Consultancy, Robert designed and delivered a series of foresighting workshops to ask of industry the question:
What are your future skills needs for project and asset performance?
A diverse range of industry, academic and public sector professionals attended the workshops. The findings were grouped into several themes. They were far-reaching and will probably take some years to be realised (and recognised). They did nevertheless underpin some of Robert's later work with the Value Toolkit.
Dr Robert Illes - Opal Flame, Alison Nicholl - Head of Constructing Excellence
London future skills event.
Andreea Vihristencu - Senior Consultant Asite, Marcus Bennett - Head of Research CITB
Bristol future skills event.
Client: Oaklands College, University of Hertfordshire
Consultants: BRE Academy
Successfully delivered: teaching MMC to degree-apprenticeship students, teaching ad-hoc MMC, policy, value-based decision making to masters students
Dr Robert Illes assumed the role of 'industry lecturer' and delivered the following, in conjunction with the BRE Academy:
Teaching on a degree-apprenticeship programme was particularly fulfilling. The level of challenge and discussion from the students was refreshing and kept us on our toes, as teachers.
This is a relatively new education route that allows working people to continue their education to a high level (and be sponsored at the same time). We applaud it.
Client: Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)
Consultants: Opal Flame
Successfully delivered: teaching guest lectures every year on innovation, policy and value-based decision making to masters students
Having had an interest in alternative technologies from an early age (off-grid, renewables, sustainable building), Robert has been pleased to deliver occasional guest lectures to masters students at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales.
A typical lecture would cover the following:
It is interesting to reflect that so-called alternative technologies like solar PV have become mainstream, and there was never a Part L in the building regulations previously. The CAT celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2023. So in one respect, it's job done, but the journey towards Net Zero and sustainability in the built environment is still a long one.
Clients: Essentie, The Living Rainforest, STEM Ambassadors
Consultants: Opal Flame
Successfully delivered: a translation of scientific concepts into forms appropriate for different target audiences, promotion of the construction industry
Opal Flame Consultancy will undertake niche projects, especially where there is a particular challenge involving education, communication or consideration of a particular target audience. When it comes to technical communication, one size NEVER fits all. In 1968, the sleeve of the seminal book 'Educational Psychology' by D Ausubel, J Novak and H Hanesian proclaimed:
"If we could reduce all of educational psychology to just a single principle, it is: find out what the learner already knows and teach him or her accordingly."
This became the battle slogan for the constructivist movement, which actually contains quite a lot of sense. For technical communication and education, it means people are and always are the primary focus. One would do well to put oneself frequently in the place of the learner and consider how they are seeing your intervention, report, lecture or activity. His Holiness The Dalai Lama would probably agree...
Work for Essentie involved researching and authoring reports and conducting one-to-one consultation on the best way to present some high level physics concepts (such as fields and the essential elements of the quantum world) to non-physics academics in the context of a course promoting the benefits of meditational techniques.
This was a great opportunity to work with the inspirational Mimi Van Mileghem, a highly experienced professional and coach working to uplit the world through her programmes on transformational leadership and more.
The Living Rainforest is an organisation just north of Newbury, Berkshire, UK, which contains an immersive experience into tropical rainforests. They boast over 850 species of plants and animals that you can see, close up. School programmes are an integral part of their operation.
Opal Flame Consultancy undertook a short research and consultancy project to relate and align scientic concepts and the National Curriculum into their sustainable tour programme.
Dr Robert Illes is proud to be a STEM Ambassador, working through the construction industry GoConstruct STEM Ambassador scheme, helping to inspire and excite, usually with a little bit of fun thrown in.
He will most likely be seen working behind the scenes with teachers and other education professionals on strategic matters, although will sometimes come up above the paraphet to entertain...