Industry Feels Urgency of Addressing Skills Gap…Finally!

Posted By: Dave Ewers, Director of Content Development, Tooling U-SME on September 05, 2017

Dave Ewers

Here’s what I’ve seen on my recent travels: many companies that eliminated their training programs at some point — whether last year or five years ago — now realize the operational and financial threat of pending retirements and a lack of qualified workers. They also realize they are at a major disadvantage because they don’t have a structured training program in place to address this workforce reduction.

It’s not too late to catch up. Putting a formal learning and development program in place does not have to be complicated. It just needs to be structured and sustainable.

A number of customers have asked for our help to conduct a Workforce Performance Assessment (WPA) to accelerate the process.

When we conduct an assessment, we consider how a company benchmarks against these six characteristics of highly successful training programs and provide recommendations. Reviewing these points can help with your own training evaluation. How do you compare?

1. Training is used as a strategic tool to support performance improvement. What is the end goal? How does training connect to the business? An employee’s skills, knowledge and abilities must translate to improved revenues. A structured training program that has identified performance competencies at the foundational, core and operational levels and includes support and reinforcement of a company’s core values is essential.

2. Training is structured for sustainability. Informal training programs do not provide consistency in qualifications or a clear path for employees to follow. Sustainable training programs outline job roles and competencies. They include structured training, job qualification and on-the-job training (OJT)/mentor programs for consistency and validation.

3. There is a strong management commitment to, and accountability for, training. A learning culture starts at the top. This commitment must be top down or it will fail. Management needs to be involved so that resources (i.e., money, time) are allocated.

4. There is a systematic training and qualification process. A formal program, including online and hands-on training with validation and clear career pathways, can be a valuable recruitment and retention tool. Validation is essential. It’s not about the training class scoring above an 80. Today, training correlates to specific business outcomes, such as a 20 percent reduction in scrap due to improved skills.

5. Continuing training processes exist to refresh and improve job related skills to enhance performance. Effective training is not one and done. Refresher training and requalification are critical parts of a continuous improvement culture. An ongoing, structured program will validate learning, and support cross training so qualified machinists can work where they are needed.

6. Training Effectiveness (ROI) is evaluated, and training revised, as necessary. More than ever, training departments have a seat at the leadership table. This is due to the ability of training teams to justify the value of training by tying to performance goals. How much has been saved from reduced turnover? Have safety metrics improved? Has scrap been reduced? Measurement matters.

If you want to address the skills gap, leading to enhanced productivity and profitability, learning and development must be part of a company’s day-to-day work. As companies with highly successful training programs know, the secret is having the right people in place, a formal training program based around competencies and validation, strong trainers, and progression models with incentives. Make sure all these practices tie back to business objectives to show the value of training.

Contact us at 866.706.8665 to learn how we can help.

Tags: competencies, "learning and development", OJT, "on-the-job training", ROI, training, "workforce performance assessment"