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Training & Education

Make it happen

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

April 2010 - This article will not debate performance-based training versus competency-based training for one simple reason: People can be competent, but it doesn’t mean they’re able to have excellent on-the-job performance.

Every company in the metal trades industry requires from its employees high performance to create a high-quality product. How to get there? Practice and training.

The rundown
Company X decides to implement a performance-based trade skills apprenticeship training program, following 10 steps: needs assessment analysis; training implementation strategy; Six Sigma Toolbox; training program decision; pre- and post-performance evaluation; training personnel appointed or hired; training curriculum or syllabus developed for implementation; training location, tools and equipment put in place; application or hiring process developed; and financial program, grant applications, funding secured.

Specific hands-on training and all academic courses are offered at Company X’s training location. Employees spend two to three days there. For the remainder of the week, they return to their work areas for on-the-job training so they can apply what they have learned.

The training is planned very specifically, and it should take place in a production-oriented setting. The target group for the training should be high school graduates and basic-skilled employees within Company X. Completion of the program will result in certification as a journeyperson.

The innovative, modular training program could take three years (see chart). The model could apply to different metal trades, e.g., fabrication and forming, and the required training contents would be adjusted accordingly.

Real-life application
The training program described above has been successfully implemented in a company in Ohio and Michigan. Modules of the training have been implemented in company training projects in Florida and Illinois.

After only half a year of the entire training time scheduled, with the application of the hands-on and applied academics, the apprentices were able to be part of a competitive workforce.

Making the change
It’s important for the training provider to follow general syllabus consensus sheet tallies. This should start with basic training, which entails an occupational profile, determining skills and knowledge, setting the number of weeks for the anticipated training, deciding the learning experience and how to conduct an assessment.

The next level is specialized training, which is nearly identical to basic training. The only difference is a more focused occupational profile. In addition, there should be advanced training with the same sequence of routine for the highest level of the offered training program.

The implementation of such a program requires a strong, innovative and structured in-house training department, as well as access to a cooperative, innovative technical educational infrastructure.

Following the implemented training plan as recommended and ending the training with a hands-on-performance test and written exam in all technical subjects will lead to a more competitive workforce. An evaluation of the training program shortly after finishing it that compares the beginning and the end, including the production status for the same time, will show an increase of the production rate and improved quality. It will also show the success subsequently in monetary value, also interpreted as an ROI. FFJ

UDO O. J. HUFF is an independent consultant in technical training and development, needs assessments, job analysis, production improvement in manufacturing engineering, Six Sigma and kaizen experience, adult education and apprenticeship training. He has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University.

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