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Why a Continuous Training Program is Essential

Any professional can tell you it’s critical they keep up with the latest knowledge in their field or they risk falling behind in this competitive global economy.

As the pace of technological development increase, job-specific technical training becomes particularly important. As a result, many employees who were hired based on their experience and education alone now face a skills gap.

Technical training is the process of helping your workforce improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities they use to perform their daily jobs, and do so in a manner that ensures health, safety, and compliance and business performance metrics are achieved. Unlike soft skills, such as leadership development, creativity, or communications, technical skills include operating heavy equipment, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair, with a focus on maintaining cost-effective availability and reliability of capital assets and the overall process.

Essentially, technical training can’t just be a one-time event. Rather, it needs to be a continuous and essential ingredient to excelling at any career.

Who Needs Technical Training?

Nearly every occupation needs periodic or continuous training. Whether it’s a developer learning the latest programming language or an advertising professional learning about the latest search engine algorithms, there are always ways each employee can improve their job-related skills by making the most of the latest information at their disposal.

Providing technical training to your staff may seem like an abstract and hard-to-quantify expense, but it should be looked at as an investment.

For example, leading industrial organizations that have robust capital equipment and high facility costs view training as a critical need to ensure their staff can effectively operate and maintain expensive assets. Manufacturing companies and those focused on delivery output in energy, aerospace, automotive, and process industries need their workforce ready and able to perform. When combined with proper asset strategies, training can result in higher equipment availability, which ultimately results in less downtime, so production goals can be achieved.

In addition to the criticality of having staff able to meet production demands, studies show that employees who receive training are more likely to stay in their jobs. According to a 2018 study by Work Institute, employees listed that the main reason for leaving their jobs was the lack of opportunities to further develop their skills. Furthermore, a survey of 500 HR professionals sponsored by Allied Van Lines found that it costs almost $11,000 to fill one position, with an additional $21,000 per new hire for relocation.

Aside from the benefits of having a more loyal workforce, there are other benefits to having a well-trained staff. Trained workers are more productive and efficient at their jobs and as a result, there are fewer errors in their work. One study by the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce found that a 10 percent increase in technical education led to a productivity gain of almost 9 percent.

Technical training also reduces your business risks as it ensures skills, production standards, and quality controls are kept updated and relevant. In the worst-case scenario, a lack of proper training could bring harm to employees, customers, or other on-site personnel. Employees that are not properly trained on the latest safety procedures and techniques may be underqualified to operate dangerous machinery. This lack of training could even be ruled as negligence on the part of the employer, leaving them subject to fines, expenses, or even liability.

Technical skills are central for all staff, but are especially critical for frontline and mid-level managers. If managers don’t know how to complete a task themselves, how can they guide their team or effectively evaluate their subordinates when it comes time for performance reviews?

There are many ways to deliver technical training, from foundational programs that leverage hands-on training to modern methods such as virtual or augmented reality, massive online open courses (MOOCs), beacons, and more.

However, a critical advancement in modern learning is clearly tying training to asset performance and reliability strategies, thus supporting achievement of operational KPIs and driving true business results.

About the Authors

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Craig Dalziel

Growing up in southern Ontario, Canada, I was not unlike thousands of Canadian children who played hockey. Although a bit of a cliché, hockey to Canada is like football to America. I realized early on that the best hockey players, like all top athletes, had more than just natural talent. They were inspired, had the drive, and brought the passion and discipline to achieve excellence. I won’t be too modest to say I had some natural talent, but I understood that was not enough. And so I looked to those leading players to model success. I learned that I needed to train hard, set targets, outthink my competition, and look for new ways to improve. Like many Canadian children, I dreamed of a career in the NHL, and although I played some high-level junior hockey, I didn’t make the big leagues. But, I enjoyed some victories and have life-long friends who I still play hockey with recreationally, 20 years later. I’ve carried this passion for performance excellence to both my career and to my role at GP Strategies, helping clients achieve business excellence. Much like an athlete, we help clients train to be their best. But we really need to go beyond that to help our clients “make the big leagues.” We take a holistic view of an organization and find ways to improve performance by assessing gaps, benchmarking against the elite, overcoming obstacles, uncovering competitive advantages, and implementing best practices. It takes discipline, perseverance, and dedication to achieve success. As Wayne Gretzy, nicknamed “The Great One,” said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is, a great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” That’s how I think of my client relationships. My job is to help them get to where the puck is going to be. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Craig Dalziel is a Sr. Director at GP Strategies Corporation.  For over 20 years, Craig has been helping companies improve performance of their technical assets through Asset Performance Management, Operational Excellence, and Workforce Performance Optimization solutions.  Craig oversees GP Strategies’ global business development team focusing on technical performance services across multiple market sectors including power generation/transmission/distribution, oil & gas, manufacturing, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and other process industries.

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