Part 2: In-house training tips for the manufacturing industry

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We recently discussed a few of the reasons manufacturers’ in-house training is falling short. On the flip side, there are many manufacturing companies doing wonderful things to make their in-house training a success.

In this article, we highlight a number of things successful companies are doing. Hopefully, this will inspire you to improve your own in-house training process.

  1. Leadership must be fully committed to this long-term endeavor. Taking a shotgun approach and just hoping for quick, positive results without a dedicated plan in place almost always guarantees that you will fall short of the goal(s).
  2. Motivation must be a key focus before, during, and after training. Some feel that people entering a training program are already highly motivated, but that assumption can be costly. Keeping people motivated should be at the top of your training to-do list because more often than not, people are interested and curious at the start, but the motivation tends to drift away. This can be due to many reasons, such as poorly qualified instructors who don’t know how to handle a younger generation of workers or a lack of documented curriculum and frequent reviews.
  3. Create a designated training area. So many try to insert training into regular production cycles and environments that were never designed for that purpose.  The most successful training programs have designated training areas or facilities, and that goes beyond just production manufacturing.  These areas are specifically designed to train a person holistically, not just on a few key tasks.  Yes, this requires a capital investment. But the alternatives –  staffing shortages, delayed production dates, or turning down business because you do not have the right people trained – could put your business in a death spiral.

I went back to Jordan Owens, founder of Manufacturers Resource Network and a manufacturing engineering & process expert, for his insider perspective of some of the best manufacturing environments nationally and globally he has seen.

“Through my current endeavors, I get to see many different manufacturing operations. There are many fine examples of apprenticeship programs throughout the U.S.; however, the percentage of companies offering them is still too low. Many of these apprenticeship programs are four years in length and companies can spend in excess of $200,000 per apprentice getting them through the program. This includes wages, benefits, and training. Almost all owners and/or CEOs have expressed to me that this has been a great investment and that the return on investment has been excellent.

Training by itself isn’t enough these days though to keep the younger generations motivated. Excellent leadership will keep these well-trained people employed by your company. Your front line supervision should spend much of their day walking the floor, communicating with your employees, and listening very carefully. As I was progressing through the ranks in my career most of the ideas for improvement came from the people on the floor that I communicated with on a regular basis. Once I helped these people get their ideas implemented I made sure that everyone knew whose idea it was.

Another key issue I run across is the work environment. There is much that can be done in this area to improve motivation. I walk through many shops that are well lit, clean, and organized and I walk through many that are just the opposite. Which environment would you want to work in?

The last issue I would like to cover is trade associations. You should belong to one or more trade associations. I always look for groups that meet once per month and offer plant tours several times a year. There are a lot of great manufacturing companies doing great things out there and trade association dues are a small price to pay for that kind of education.”

We only covered a few items in this article but we hope you can see that to be successful in this endeavor, you must be creative, innovative and committed. 

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