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Training Facilities

The company had built a superb, well-staffed training center in anticipation of the scenario described earlier. It had mechanical, electrical, and instrument training workshops and classrooms. We had a very capable training manager and qualified and experienced expatriate trainers.

I had two experienced expatriate field trainers to help in this program. They acted as mentors to the trainees.

Training Strategy

The trainees knew almost nothing of the theory or the practical skills required of them. In one sense, this was an advantage. Starting with a clean slate, we could give them just the skills and theory they needed. We decided to use a structured approach to the training program. It would include a ' training needs' analysis, a suitable set of training packages to fill the gaps, tests to establish competence, and on-the-job training to provide confidence. Close alignment between theory classes and practical training in the plant were necessary to promote rapid learning. Competence testing, recording, and followup were essential.

We estimated that by the end of the first year of training, we would build up a fair level of expertise and skills. In order to bridge the demand during this period, we hired technicians from the main construction contractor. They would do the bulk of the maintenance work during the first year, while our trainees would assist as apprentices. At the end of the first year, we extended this contract to retain about 40% of the contractor's staff for one more year.

Training Process

We had 60 mechanical trainees and 12 civil engineering trainees. Every week, 12 of these 72 men would be in the training center. Here they would learn basic theory and do some exercises in the training workshop. For example, in one week, they might learn simple trigonometry in the classroom, and do some alignment exercises in the workshop. Next week, they would be back in the plant. The field trainer followed this up closely by giving them practical alignment exercises. We followed a similar approach with machinists, welders, and other craftsmen.

Electrical and instrument trainees pursued a similar process.

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