September 9, 2014

Dupont’s “A Step-by-Step Approach to Implement Your Industrial Skills Training Program” is an excellent introductory prescription for today’s post. We’ll reference only their first three steps:

Step 1 – Conduct a Needs Assessment to Identify Industrial Maintenance Training and Technical Skills Training Requirements

• Define training objectives, audience and metrics used to measure success

• Review operational needs

• Analyze job descriptions

• Conduct interviews and surveys

• Create a baseline training curriculum (first draft)

Step 2 – Determine Current Knowledge and Skill Levels

• Design a placement test with subjects and questions based on the training curriculum

• Measure and analyze test results, determining areas of proficiency and/or lack of knowledge

Step 3 – Identify Your Organizational and Individual Training Programs

• Select the subjects and individual industrial training courses, as supported by placement test analysis

• Finalize the training curriculum in educational and training sequence, “foundation to advanced”

• Determine individual training programs, focusing on the gaps between knowledge and skills required and individual test results . . .

At the present time, technology-based industrial skills training is being implemented in several broadly defined ways:

• “Stand-Alone,” using myriad computers in a variety of settings in which the worker-to-be-trained works alone.

• “Classroom Assisted,” where an instructor or facilitator leads the training while the workers-to-be-trained augment the live instruction with discreet technology assist.

• “Asynchronous Online Learning,” where all participants can be networked and the instructor can participate in a technology-created setting.

However, too often the assumption underlying each of these methods is to limit the training to the maintenance and operations personnel who are found to have certain skills gaps.

In today’s industrial environment it is becoming increasingly necessary to think outside that box. Re-examining apparent skills shortages that can interfere with production processes and efficiencies is the best place to begin.

My friend and a co-Founder of ITC, G. H. Kaiz, once wrote a paper on some of the additional uses that can be made of media training.

• Engineer Training

All too often new graduate engineers are strong in theory but lack practical application experience. Yet these people are asked to write procedures, monitor equipment performance, design new systems and inspect maintenance activities. By using CD-ROMs or E-LEARNING, these engineers can quickly get the applications experience that they did not get in college. (Several years ago, the president of a Big Three auto manufacturer directed that the engineers writing operating procedures conform to the standards of a sixth grade reading level. After this work had been done, he discovered that those written procedures should have been written to conform to the standards of a fourth grade reading level. This, of course, confirms national statistics that tell us that approximately 40% of our workforce cannot assimilate information written beyond a fourth grade reading level.)

• Multicraft/Cross Craft Training

As “right-sizing” of the work force continues at the plant level, each worker needs to be able to do more, either with expanded capabilities within a given craft or the ability to handle multiple craft assignments. CD-ROMs or E-Learning can be used to define curriculum plans and sequences that can ensure “home craft” competence and then expand into a second or third craft area with an appropriate lesson schedule.

• Just-in-time Training

In a typical training program, the delivery is front-end loaded so that all the training an individual needs is done at the beginning of the assignment to a typical job. The trainee is expected to remember everything covered in the training. The reality of the situation is that the understanding of what isn’t used on a regular basis deteriorates and is only partially remembered. By having a library of materials available on CD-ROMs or E-Learning, information and simulation can be accessed just prior to job assignment. In many ways the courses become job aids, assisting in the performance of assigned tasks.

By carefully developing your implementation plans and, at the same time, recognizing that thinking outside the box can increase the learning effectiveness of your initiatives, you’ll be contributing significant value to your organization.

More on Monday – – – – –

— Bill Walton: co-Founder, ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)