We cavalierly toss around the term, “skills training,” without giving it much thought. But, it’s time to regroup and examine just what we mean by skills training — particularly, as it applies to the process and manufacturing world.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services offers us this definition: “Education or training designed to provide the participant with the basic skills and certification necessary for employment in an occupational area.” defines the term as: “Increasing the job knowledge, skills, and abilities that are necessary to do a job effectively.”

I’m sure there are countless other definitions but, I’m going to offer my thoughts on the subject — specifically, as it relates to the “industrial skills training” that will result in greater retention and better on-the-job performance for workers in the process and manufacturing industries:

Industrial skills training demands “doing” — whether it be:
a) hands-on , or
b) vicarious (videotape or film), or
c) simulation (CD-ROM, gaming, or media-based e-Learning)

Industrial skills training is the antithesis of the memorization techniques incorporated in education and information conveyance.

We memorize to learn new information. But, we practice by “doing” — if we want to acquire, or enhance, a skill.

It’s also worth noting the history of reading-based industrial skills training. Obviously, the reading/lecture approach and its look-alike, computer-based training (CBT), are the traditional examples.

And that reading-based evolution continues to this day — most unfortunately — with the adapted PowerPoint presentations and the adapted written procedure presentations that are dirtying up e-Learning as a valid training medium.

These reading-based programs will not train anyone. They may pass some information along to the trainee but that trainee will not be able to perform many of the skills discussed without additional “doing” exposure –- probably, hands-on.

No! — when we talk about the industrial skills training that will effectively impart the necessary skills to our workforce, we are talking about hands-on practice and media-based learning. The learning culture of most of our current workforce!

And, that means: hands-on, vicarious, and/or simulations! Performing the task in a mocked up lab or watching and interacting with a full-motion media presentation are the proven ways to impart the necessary skills that industry requires.

That is the industrial skills training that works!

More on Thursday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)