The Toro Company is a leading worldwide provider of outdoor beautification products, support services, and integrated solutions. The 285 employees at the relevant Toro division, with an average tenure of 15 years, manufacture various specialty metal component parts that are shipped to assembly plants for inclusion in a variety of Toro products.

Advancements in technology over the past 20 years led to the need for training with Tooling U-SME. Prior to the existence of CNC, many of the tasks were manual and not highly technical, and new employees could be trained easily. Since the mid-1980s, the industry has transitioned to a highly trained workforce. At Toro, each technical candidate interviewed is tested on a set of minimum core skills:

  • Basic Math
  • Blueprint Reading
  • Measurement Skills

Prior to Toro’s involvement with Tooling U-SME, these tests were paper based. Candidates are now given an evolved Tooling U-SME custom assessment that tests necessary core skills specific to Toro. This assessment also addresses the trend among technical colleges of dropping many of the basic skills courses because machine trades are increasingly considered "non-essential."

Students completed the Tooling U-SME training at home. However, they took the final exams at the Toro facility where they could be more closely monitored. The students were compensated for their online learning time based upon a scale agreed upon with the Union.

The training developed by Tooling U-SME has helped to drastically reduce Toro's training costs. Most recent estimates include an approximate $81,000 annual savings. Student feedback was generally positive and focused on convenience, ease and accessibility of taking the courses. Many students also took full advantage of their subscriptions and enrolled in additional courses that they were encouraged to take from the approved list. This fact reflects well on the quality of Tooling U-SME.

In addition to the courses offered through Tooling U-SME, Toro retains a traditional classroom setting that is also used for training. This classroom setting is used by some employees uncomfortable with online learning and is also used by Toro for some of the advanced mathematics and programming courses. Toro developed an apprenticeship program, based on specific courses as well as other training, which requires each student to obtain a minimum of 4 credits (with each credit worth approximately 32 hours) for completion.

Using Tooling U-SME's software allows the administrator to establish specific parameters, which have helped to define the expectations with regard to job performance:

  • Students must receive a score of at least 70% to pass.
  • Time online can be monitored to verify participation and calculate proper remuneration.
  • Students' progress can be monitored.
  • Students are allowed a maximum of three attempts to pass the final exam.