As the workforce continues to change, age, and retire, with new employees taking the place of long-serving technical workers, training is crucial in the transition to a new generation of technical worker. As mentioned in the previous blog post Bridging the Skills Trade Gap: Ways to Ensure Future Success, there is a near-term need to replace technical labor resulting from baby boomers retiring at record numbers. For these reasons, it is important that your technical training is designed with precision and structure, and that it provides both the ability to onboard new employees and to upskill incumbent employees.
To ensure that you are providing new hires with the knowledge and skills needed to integrate into an existing workforce and that your existing workers have the latest tools needed to perform efficiently and effectively, your training should be a “living course design plan.” This means that the training is not static, but rather reflects the latest updates in technology, terminology, and safety standards. It is important to transition from static print-out training to eLearning for knowledge components and refreshers, as eLearning better meets the needs of the up-and-coming generation and can be updated more efficiently to reflect current conditions, standards, practices, and techniques.
A precision training strategy, like the one below, should make full use of a wide array of training methodologies, including example videos, class activities, on-the-job training, and more.
Using tools like example videos can incorporate site-specific imagery to bring the environment into the classroom and show correct (or safe) and incorrect (or unsafe) examples of performing tasks. Class activities can leverage a safe environment to demonstrate and perform tasks, use representative tools and equipment, and provide interactions during a presentation. Instructor-led and on-the-job safety should also be prioritized and reinforced through classroom activities.
Precise on-the-job training should also be provided, allowing workers to observe what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and why it is being done (along with cause and effect). Training should be consistent and repeatable, have clear objectives, and tie back to the organization’s overall key performance indicators (KPIs). The technical workforce should understand how they contribute to the overall strategy and what actions they need to take to maximize the performance of equipment and assets. As discussed in the blog Improving Your Operator-Driven Reliability Strategy, front-line maintenance and operations staff is the closest to taking action to make improvements.
Finally, be sure to plan for the future and create a flexible future-forward training design that can be easily transitioned to blended learning through a living course plan. Doing so will include many different methods of training, but when training is done with precision, it will lead to a more prepared workforce that is ready to succeed now and in the future.