Training often is hyped as the cure-all to developing missing skill sets, and it certainly can be. Unfortunately its potential doesn't always play out, and manufacturers fail to receive the hoped-for returns on their investments. That doesn't have to be the case.
"Oftentimes, manufacturers address training as a one-off engagement," says Nick Goebel, business manager, Global Training Services, Rockwell Automation. The Milwaukee-based industrial automation manufacturer includes among its services a portfolio of training solutions.
"[Manufacturers] pay a certain amount to send their staff through training, without a real understanding of whether that training is even addressing the skills gap their employees are facing and then assume that they now have a trained' workforce."
While this training tactic may be better than none at all, Goebel suggests it is also a primary reason training fails to deliver its maximum benefits. "We recommend each company view its training investment as a continuous, closed-loop process: assess, teach, apply and repeat," he says.
Goebel recommends manufacturers take these steps:
* First, assess your workforce's skills. Be sure you focus your efforts on the most critical gaps that need to be addressed.
* Customize training classes to focus on the job skills most important to your production environment.
* Make sure tools are in place to apply the skills learned. "For example, set up work stations that mimic plant-floor situations, or assign specific internal projects that test the content learned in training in a controlled environment," Goebel says. "Job aides that allow employees to quickly reference information learned during training also can be valuable reminders of skills learned.
"Ultimately, make sure to reassess job skills on an ongoing basis to make sure training content is resonating with staff and being put to use, as well as to identify additional opportunities for improvement," Goebel says.
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