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Training & Education

Where it counts

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

April 2010 - Consider this situation: Grants become available, so Company X decides to implement employee training for machining, welding, robot programming or metrology.

But why is Company X doing this, and what's the anticipated outcome? The answer often is, "Money is available, and we can place a training plaque in the lobby."

These efforts don't cut it when it comes to enhancing workforce development. Rather, they only foster the mentality that training is an overhead, not an asset, and that training should be done only when it's needed.

This argument is common in the industry, but it leads to certain questions:

  • How are your products doing in the market?
  • Does your company do a process recovery? (Six Sigma)
  • How much rework do you have in production?
  • Is there a large turnover of skilled labor?
  • Does the current applicant pool have the skills your company requires to replace an aging workforce?

    It's time to assess your company and determine its needs, as well as the correlation between workforce development and production--especially if your sales numbers are low.

    Step 1
    To establish a base for further reference, you must first conduct a needs assessment. This can be done statistically, through a Six Sigma toolbox, process discovery (causes and effects) or other measures.

    Step 2
    Next, you must investigate the training options. The first is long-term training, which is based on performance (see chart below).

    The other option is short-term training. For example, a company could offer a short-term training course in applied blueprint reading, geometric tolerances and metrology application that lasts, say, 20 hours.

    But when it comes to short-term training courses, it doesn't really matter how long they take. Rather, if a company wants to measure the results of short-term training, it must conduct both a pre- and post-training evaluation.

    The former provides a foundation, giving companies a baseline from which to measure the results of training. To put it another way, how do you know what your employees have learned if you are unaware of what they knew before the training session?

    With the pre-evaluation and post-evaluation setting a base of comparison, measurability is quickly available by the influence of performance-based training via increased productivity and quality.

    Step 3
    This is especially important for Company X--it must determine whether long-term training does, in fact, affect performance. It must then evaluate the training based on the production performance established in Step 1.

    Additionally, Company X must decide whether to implement short-term training. If it does, it must include pre- and post-evaluation and testing if it wants to be able to measure the results of the training.

    Step 4
    The final step involves measurable training results reflected in production. After four to six weeks, when employees are again integrated into the production process, Company X should compare the results with the established baseline.

    The outcome should be a measurable increase in the production rate, with reduced repair work and higher quality overall. This is quantifiable and has a positive impact throughout the company.

    This should be the training tool for further reference of workforce development with measurable training efforts and a return on investment. FFJ

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