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Training & Education

Investing in the modern workforce

By Udo O.J. Huff, M.ED.

Taking the first steps toward effectively training your workforce

January 2013 - These days, there is a clear and widespread need for technical training. Jobs are available but go unfilled because there are not enough qualified applicants. One answer to this dilemma is for employers to establish training programs, hire people who are willing and able to learn, and develop their own skilled workforce.

Starting up

If someone wants to start a technical training project or program, regardless of whether it is a short-term or long-term undertaking, certain elements are necessary for the operation to be successful.

• A company-wide needs assessment of existing skills and training requirements and options.

• A record of each employee’s learning experiences and occupational profile.

• A determination of the length of the training, including whether it will be short-term or long-term, the type of program and the overall scope. 

• A list of what skills and knowledge will be taught and the delivery method for each (traditional classroom, hands-on, hybrid, online or a mix of these methods).

• An assessment plan to evaluate the progress of training, lessons learned and improvement as a result of the training.

Let us consider some of these items in further detail.

Describe the job

Embarking upon a needs assessment will require job descriptions, which are the largest components of this task. Let’s use the metal fabricating and forming position of an Industrial Machine Technician as an example. 

The IMT requires a specialty in machine and system technology. The individual works with handtools; manual and CNC tool machines, like CNC lathes and CNC milling machines; different types of drilling machines; surface grinders, including OD and lD; and modern manufacturing equipment, including robots and multi-axis motion systems.

The IMT interprets blueprints for the production and assembly of machine parts according to blueprint specifications. The individual is knowledgeable in material properties concerning wear, erosion and stress behavior. Customer or production changes require the IMT to apply sheet metal working skills.

The IMT programs CNC machines and handling systems and makes necessary tool selections. He or she is able to set up the machine system and prepare the work area for the machining process. The individual must consider the safety and environmental conditions affected by all operations.

The IMT operates and monitors machine parts and modules, as well as complex machine systems like handling systems, transfer lines and different types of robot systems with high tolerance measuring instruments. He or she knows how to work with hydraulic and pneumatic systems and is able to use machine diagnostic and measuring equipment to ensure high manufacturing quality and to control the production process online.

The IMT prepares detailed documentation regarding the manufacture of specialty machines for company and customer inspection and use. The individual interacts closely with other technicians on the machine assembly. He or she must meet a production schedule.

The IMT requires a  high school education with a good knowledge of mathematics and physics. A journeyman card will be issued after successfully completing the apprenticeship program.

Define the program

The company will need to decide on a budget, a trainer and a location for the training. It also should establish tentative career paths for its employees. Also it’s important to establish a way to measure the value of that training.

A few helpful resources are available to assist in developing training programs. Information about the Department of Labor’s apprenticeship training programs and resources are available through the State Labor Laws link at www.dol.gov.

The National Institute for Metalworking Skills certifies individual skills against established standards. It also offers additional information at www.nims-skills.org. Another good resource is your local technical college. Rather than starting from scratch, you may be able to partner with a nearby institution in curriculum development and facility use.

This article should encourage readers to think about their employees’ need for training and skills enhancements and to implement and support such training.

Just as there is no free lunch, there always are costs associated with education. But with good planning the resources devoted to education can become a sound investment. FFJ

Udo O.J. Huff is an independent consultant with project experience in machine building, welding engineering, training and development. He holds Master of Education and Bachelor of Science in Technology degrees from Bowling Green State University. Questions or comments? E-mail uhuff@sbcglobal.net.

 

 

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