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The chart gave us a real time status of training progress. Those with only one or two sides of the triangle in any skill element received extra training and mentoring. Some learned much faster than others, achieving a 90-100% filled triangle status within 18 months. Others took three years or more to reach a 100% empty triangle status. Their career progression was closely linked to their successfully completing their training, which continued as long as needed by each person. About 90% of all the trainees reached the empty triangle status within three years.

In this period we had trained 2 welders, 6 machinists, and 18 fitters to very high skill levels. The remaining 34 mechanical craftsmen did not reach these levels, but were not very far behind. The two welders, for example, were certified to weld low alloy steels, and could use specialized welding processes (using inert gas shielding, termed TIG and MIG). They could weld aluminum, a very difficult metal to work with, and stainless steels. Similarly, two of our civil craftsmen produced close to perfect insulation repairs. Here it was the ability to inject polyurethane foam uniformly and with the right bubble size that mattered. Thermo-graphic images showed that their work was as good as or better than that of the expert insulators who did the project construction and defect repairs.

The reputation of four of our machinists was so high that a new Fertilizer Plant set up nearby two years later, borrowed them from time to time. Our welders were also used by associate companies in the country.

The training center itself eventually became a national venue, where all the associate companies sent their people for training.

Lessons

  • 1. A proper 'training needs' analysis is the first step to planning a successful training program.
  • 2. A well-structured plan helps impart training properly, especially when large numbers are involved.
  • 3. The plan must include on-the-job experience to supplement formal training; this helps build confidence and verify competence. As Schanki says, people learn by doing, failing, and practicing.

Principles

The most important ingredient in a successful training program is the willingness and enthusiasm of those being trained. Suitable facilities and good trainers are obviously essential. A well-formulated training strategy and plan form the framework to guide the program. Measurement, gap analysis, and course correction for each trainee on a continuous basis is what makes the whole group progress rapidly.

Technician Training Challenge 99

 
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