October 28, 2015

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama emphasized the necessity of making sure that Americans have the skills they need to fill the country’s manufacturing job opportunities:

“ . . . We have to make sure every American has the skills (they need in order to become gainfully employed). That means more on-the-job training and more apprenticeships . . . “

We cavalierly toss around the term, “skills training,” without giving it much thought.

Yet we need to 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.”

I’m sure there are countless other definitions but, in my opinion, — greater learning retention and better on-the-job performance will best be served by training that concentrates on “the doing” whether it be:

a) hands-on practice
b) technology-delivered visual instruction
c) simulations

Effective 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 mentioning that reading-based industrial skills training fails to reach nearly 40% of our workforce who are insufficiently fluent in reading.

Even more important is the failure to recognize that today’s learning culture focuses on video and graphic animations as the better ways to learn.

Examples of failed training today would include the adapted PowerPoint presentations and the adapted written procedure presentations that are dirtying up current e-Learning.

These 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, simulations and multimedia-based learning. The learning culture of most of our current workforce!

Performing the task in a mocked up lab or watching and interacting with a full-motion multimedia presentation are the proven ways to impart the necessary skills that industry requires.

More on Monday – – –

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