Much is being written these days about the workforce that America will need in order to compete in the 21st Century. Apparently, the jobs of today and tomorrow will require a workforce that is better educated and better trained than the workforce of the 20th Century.

No doubt, that’s all true. However, it will be a gigantic mistake to ignore the basic knowledge skills required of every worker. That mistake will be compounded if we continue to assume that the necessary basic skills knowledge has been successfully acquired in our public school system.

Today, a solid background in industrial fundamentals such as work practice, proper tool use, applied industrial mathematics, reading and writing are all critical elements in any meaningful industrial skills training program.

Why is it that these important fundamental skills programs sit collecting dust on a storeroom shelf? Often, it is because the programs are “too academic.”

Adults in industrial environments have a hard time learning from textbooks and traditional lecture classes that, generally, don’t relate to real life situations.

Worse still, is the assumption that many of these fundamental skills have been successfully learned in earlier public school environments. Of course, that assumption is fatally flawed since most public school classrooms still deal in the old “lecture/assigned reading” method of instruction. And, as we all know by now, nearly half of our population lives today in a “television learning” culture in which sound multi-sensory media instruction is the better answer.

Excellent multi-sensory training programs (knowledgeably designed E-Learning and interactive CD-ROM) make fundamental skills come to life by showing how they relate to the job. These application-oriented approaches motivate adults. Real life situations present the “hows” and the “whys,” along with the facts — through job-related examples. What a way to learn!

Multi-sensory learning in the areas of tool use, applied industrial math, interpersonal skills, reading and writing are designed to build a strong foundation for more advanced industrial skills training. More than just facts and theory, well designed E-Learning and CD-ROM programs prepare adults for the real challenges they will face on the job.

American industry needs to wise up. In addition to electrical and mechanical skills training, industrial fundamentals instruction requires a continuing commitment. The paybacks will be enormous and the workforce needed to compete internationally will have been realized!

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning