Proactive Technologies Report – August, 2017

Supervisors and First Line Management Need Structured On-The-Job Training, Too

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

It seems every organization is scrambling to “lean” the operation these days. This implies producing the same amount of output, or more, with decreased amount of inputs by fine-tuning logistics, internal work flows and processes. Workers get moved around or out, and processes get reorganized and relocated.

Changes to the operation signal that the workers responsible to implement changes will need to know the new way of doing things. All affected workers, all shifts. Yet, often very little thought is given to the effectiveness of improvements if not everyone is one the same page.

What should be an obvious “must,” the notion that increasing worker capacity at all levels through task-based, deliberate, documented, measurable and verifiable structured on-the-job training is often usurped. It is replaced by a policy of hopefulness that workers will learn to perform the tasks of their job on their own or by osmosis or, even less effective and disappointing, attending a class here and there in expectation of closing the “skills gap.” I often discuss this in the context of production or service workers, but this extends to all levels of most organizations. The impact doesn’t go unnoticed by controllers and CEO’s under pressure to increase revenue or lower costs, but measures to correct this imbalance are seldom explored let alone utilized.

Invariably, the most target-rich environment for harvesting huge savings and significantly increasing capacity is bypassed – either from a lack of understanding of what it takes to be a “subject matter expert” or entrenched neglect. Ignoring the need for structured on-the-job training is like investing in a state-of-the-art machine, then waiting for it to set-up and program itself. Even artificial intelligence needs someone to train it the first time to do the things expected in the proper way.

When one considers the serious collateral damage caused by underdeveloped or underutilized worker capacity (e.g. scrap, rework, loss of “tribal knowledge” when someone retires or moves on, loss of customer confidence, loss of employee confidence), red flags and alarms should be going off continuously, since all of these are present on a daily basis. But distractions and diversions seem to get in the way. Several articles have appeared in the Proactive Technologies Report newsletter that discuss these costs in more detail, including: Estimating the Costs Associated With Skipping Employer-Based Structured On-The-Job Training  and The High Cost of Employee Turnover.

I have come across many examples since 1986 while providing technical consultation to business operations (and even before while working in manufacturing), as I am sure have you. One project that sticks in my mind involved job/task analyzing several supervisory positions at a division of a major automobile manufacturer – using the current “star performers”(subject matter experts) to define each task’s best practice and circulating the collected data for validation. We then developed a top-to-bottom structured on-the-job program; updated job descriptions, training manuals, task-based trainee checklists (for incumbents and new-hires), job/employee-specific performance appraisals and more. Read More


“Realistic Job Previews” Can be a Useful Tool for Measuring a Prospective Employee’s Transferable Task-based Skills

by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern U.S. – Proactive Technologies, Inc.

The hiring process can be difficult for both the employer and the prospective employee. A wrong decision can cost each party a lot of time, money and opportunity. An unwanted outcome based on the employer not providing an accurate picture of the job, work environment and work expected to be performed can be avoided with a “Realistic Job Preview.” (“RJP”).
Wikipedia points out that “Empirical research suggests a fairly small effect size, even for properly designed RJPs (d = .12), with estimates that they can improve job survival rates ranging from 3-10%. For large organizations in retail or transportation that do mass hiring and experience new hire turnover above 200% in a large population, a 3-10% difference can translate to significant monetary savings. Some experts (e.g., Roth; Martin, 1996) estimate that RJPs screen out between 15% and 36% of applicants.
When RJPs are less effective, “According to researchers there are four issues that challenge RJP:
  1. Recruiters do not share RJPs during interviews. (Rynes, 1991)
  2. The nature of “realistic” information shared (in lab research or in the field) is unclear (Breaugh & Billings, 1988)
  3. Not asking the right questions.
  4. Applicants consistently report desiring more specific, job-relevant information than they commonly receive (Barber & Roehling, 1993; Maurer, Howe, & Lee,1992)
 In addition to this there is a chance for realistic job preview to become more effective in order to eliminate turnovers. The presentation format and timing of the RJP can be improved whether the real information is provided early on or later in the recruitment factor. Consequently, more specific topic should be addressed and information sources used (e.g. job incumbent versus human resource staff person).”

RJPs come in many forms; from the very simple for less-complex job classifications and areas and responsibilities to sophisticated RJPs for the highly technical job classifications with high levels of responsibility. An RJP consists of both positive and negative information regarding the position in order to give individuals a realistic view of employment with the company. Companies that employ realistic job previews provide information so that job candidates can make an informed decision about a position. If it is structured to do so, the RJP can help provide the employer with a wealth of information about whether the candidate is suitable for the work environment, work culture, and has the core skills as well as any transferable task-based skills that would expedite bringing a new-hire “up to speed.” Read More


Developing the Maintenance and Other Technically Skilled Workers That You Need; To Specification, With Minimal Investment

by Dr. Dave Just, former Dean of Corporate and Continuing Education at Community Colleges in MA, OH, PA, SC. Currently President of L&D Consulting  

In the March, 2016 Proactive Technologies Report article, “Grow Your Own Multi-Craft Maintenance Technicians – Using a ˜Systems Approach” to Training” I described how Proactive Technologies, Inc. has often joined forces with universities, community colleges (many were schools for which I lead the customized training and workforce development departments) and other related technical instruction providers to setup and implement the “hybrid model” of worker development.  This approach has proven itself highly effective for technical job classifications such as Maintenance, Chemical Operators, Press Operator, Tool & Die, NC Machine Operator, Quality Control, Supervisor and others.

This “systems approach” to worker development is simple in its structure but includes metrics and quality control points to ensure that worker development outcomes are clearly defined, progress measured and reported monthly, and goals reached – no matter if the job changes or people change jobs. Although this approach can be used for any job classification in any setting, together we have applied this approach effectively for Maintenance and many other critical technical positions, as well as often neglected supervisor and first-line management positions, for many clients over the last 2 decades.

The approach is unique in that it sets-up for its clients the task-based structured on-the-job training programs. There is no “cut and paste;” each job/task analysis is specific to that job classification, for that company, and incorporates already established process documents and specifications to ensure compliance with quality programs such as ISO/TS/AS and safety requirements.  Proactive Technologies provides the technical implementation support and accurately reports progress for each trainee’s individual pursuit of “job mastery” – allowing the business client to focus on its business while we ensure the employer gets the skilled staff they need, when they need them. As a bonus, incumbent workers are base-lined to the structured on-the-job training program requirements and a customized path is established to drive them, along with the new-hires, to full job mastery.

Like most community college or university executives, I felt compelled to promote products and services we already had on the shelf – even if I new from industry experience that the product only resembled the client’s targeted job by name. I began to worry about the cost to my reputation for recommending a solution that wasted everyone’s time and resources, and left the trainee and employer short.

Some schools think that “industry” has the answers. But some of their own organizational development courses teach that “the farther away from the actual work, the less that person knows about the job.” For the last 30 years we collectively built strategies based on “industry input” and yet the skills gap grew larger.

Although uncomfortable for most educators, we listened to each manufacturer that would open up. Even if they seemed to not know precisely what they needed, we listened for what they expected to accomplish, what resources they had that could be used in training workers for their needs, and if they were committed to a different approach if it brought them what they said they were looking for. For example: Read More


Can’t Find The Right Workers? Why Not Train Workers To Your Own To Specification?

Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

According to a recent report by Career Builder.com, more than half of the employers surveyed could not find qualified candidates: 71% – Information-Technology specialists, 70% – Engineers, 66% – Managers, 56% – Healthcare and other specialists, 52% – Financial Operations personnel. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, nearly half of small and mid-size employers said they can find few or no “qualified applicants” for recent openings. And anecdotal evidence from manufacturing firms echoes the same challenge with specialty manufacturing jobs such as maintenance, NC machining and technical support positions. This, in large part, can be attributed to the upheaval caused by the Great Crash of 2008 and the following disruption of several million careers. Sidelined workers saw the erosion of their skill bases while waiting years for an economic recovery that, for many, has not reached them yet.

However, many or most of these workers can be “reskilled” or “upskilled” for the current workforce. The solution lies not in waiting for the labor market to magically produce the needed qualified candidates, but rather in each company investing a little to build their own internal system of structured on-the job training. With such an infrastructure, any candidate with strong core skills can be trained quickly and accurately to any employer’s specifications. Furthermore, a strong training infrastructure has factored into it methods of acceptable basic core skill remediation when the benefit outweighs the cost.

No matter how you examine it, an employer is responsible for training workers to perform the essential and unique tasks of the job for which they were hired. It is not economically feasible or practical for education systems to focus this sharply. Waiting for them to do so or allowing it to happen by osmosis is risky and costly for the employer, since every hour that passes is one more hour of wage for unproductive output. Add to that the hourly wage rate of the informal on-the-job training mentor/trainer efforts multiplied by the number of trainees and this becomes a substantial cost that should attract any manager’s attention.

An investment in a formal, deliberate structured on-the-job training system will cut internal costs of training substantially, raise each person’s worker capacity to where it is expected to be, improve output quality and quantity, and raise worker compliance – to processes, to quality standards and safety mandates. It simply makes business sense. Read More


Some Common, But Unfortunate, Reasons Used to Avoid Structured On-The-Job Training

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

The term “structured on-the-job training” shouldn’t scare anyone. Since the term “on-the-job training” has been hijacked and used to label any learning that occurs in a place of employment or offsite while employed, the term “structured” had to be added to clearly differentiate the deliberate training of job-tasks from the conveyance of knowledge.

“Knowing how to” and “being skilled at” are very different. A general medical practitioner can attend a seminar on rhinoplasty (e.g.nose jobs), but it is doubtful if anyone would let them practice on them without supervised training and practice to master the procedure.

The term “job-tasks” isn’t that mysterious either. Everyone knows what a job, or job classification, is. A job is made up of tasks – meaningful units of work, each having a beginning point and an ending point and a specific series of steps between. Every job is made up of these tasks, and someone is hired to perform them. But questions arise such as:

  1. Who, and if anyone, trains the new-hire on the “best practice” for every task?
  2. Is someone is assigned to train the person, does that person know the accepted best practice (i.e. are they “subject matter experts”)?
  3. Is training on tasks consistent between shifts, between trainers?
  4. Do the supervisors know which tasks each employee has mastered, and which they have yet to learn?
  5. And even if the supervisor knows, what happens if that supervisor is promoted and the new supervisor hired from outside the department or company?

Employer’s do not consciously hire someone because they are “good at math,” or “can read at a 12 grade level,” or even “they seem to be able to get along well with others” alone. Yes, those skills and traits may be useful, but the employer expects the person to someday, with some training, be able to perform required tasks quickly, consistently and in compliance with engineering specifications, safety requirements and quality program guidelines. But what if the training assumed to be available is not structured, task-based on-the-job training? What if it was instead informal, inconsistent, ad hoc and, even worse, unavailable? What would an employee exposed to this type environment be able to demonstrate and add to their value? And what are the possibilities more harm than good might be done in the form of scrap, rework, non-conforming output or loss of customers?

Most employers believe they already have structured on-the-job training covered. This can be out of misinformation, misunderstanding or misdirection. The common belief is that if one just pairs the new-hire with someone believed, from memory, to have done a good job so far, something magical will happen. Sometimes it does, but often the “expert” who has been encouraged to perform tasks to a tight production schedule, in a hectic environment (new to the new-hire). They have repressed the nuances they themselves needed to learn and master tasks years ago, and are now asked to be a thoughtful, sensitive trainer…but do not slow down production to do it. The new-hire does not know what they don’t know and are fearful of asking too many questions even if they knew what to ask. They are totally reliant on the training transaction for a basis to determine what is expected. In any other area of a business operation, this non-systems approach would not be tolerated; no work standard, not metrics, no reporting and no way to improve.

So imagine the surprise when an employer tries everything else before they try the obvious. But resistance has to be backed by a reason. Here are some common ones we have seen:

1) We don’t have time for training – training goes on every day, with every employee, and on every shift. If the process cannot be identified, explained, documented, measured or improved, it is nothing more than an expensive form of “training roulette.” Read More


Read the full August, 2017 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.

Posted in News

Proactive Technologies Report – July, 2017

Economic Development Opportunities – An Important Incentive in Attracting Companies to Your Region

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

When organizations try to create new jobs in their area – working with companies that are considering moving to, expanding to or expanding within their areas – skilled labor availability for many regional economic development strategies may include an offering that consists of one part skills assessment, one part general skill classes and a sprinkling of worker tax credits or grants. That seems to be what most incentive packages include, but is that because: A) that is what the other offers look like; b) it has been like that for decades; C) it is assumed that is all that is available; or D) all of the above?

For over thirty years headlines sounded the alarm that those institutions that were training the workforce of tomorrow were not succeeding in their effort (see Proactive Technologies Report article, “An Anniversary That You Won’t Want to Celebrate: 30 Years Later and The Skill Gap Grows – Is it Finally Time to Rethink The Nations Approach?”). Many skilled workers that are available to work do not have the skills that employers need today. Not completely satisfied with their answer to the inevitable question regarding the region’s skilled labor availability and how workers with specific skill needs will be found or developed, some economic development organizations are exploring other options and opportunities.

It is important to understand that the types of skills that employers are most concerned with – especially employer-specific task-based skills – most likely have not been in the local workforce, nor have any programs been available in local institutions to develop them, simply because these new jobs, with new skill requirements, have never been in the area. The types of skills needed for most modern manufacturing and advanced manufacturing have never been developed because the need was not present nor the data on these jobs available. Even if the need was present, by the time the skill is recognized, a program developed and a worker completed the learning manufacturers either moved on or moved out.

Let’s face it, most organizations that promote their region for economic development do so on the current low cost of labor, right-to-work status, low business and employment tax rates, economic incentives, availability of infrastructure and quality of life. They probably never needed a system in place to develop the skills necessary to attract modern and advanced manufacturing. Companies interested only in geographical, financial and aesthetic incentives have already moved. Other employers understand that if they want higher skilled workers, they expect to pay higher wages now or later when those skill levels are reached and competition for skilled labor kicks in.

If we were honest with one another, community colleges and adult training centers are, at best, 10 -15 years behind the types of skills a prospective employee needs in order to learn and master the tasks required in modern facilities. It has always been like that, from time to time the gap surging deeper. The reason isn’t complicated; these institutions are designed as academic institutions first and have tried to fill a void in worker training with core skill development. However, they have never been embedded enough in today’s job environment to collect the job data necessary to be relevant nor have they applied the massive amount of government funding correctly to be that engaged.


“Whether attracting new companies and helping them thrive and expand, or helping existing business to do the same, this approach is an important component of any economic development strategy.”

I have written about another option for economic development strategies in past issues of the Proactive Technologies Report newsletter. For example, ”  Regional Workforce Development Partnerships That Enhance Economic Development Efforts . In another, “Apprenticeships That Make Money? Not As Impossible as it Seems Part 1 and “The European Difference and Part 2 of 2 – Setting Up an Apprenticeship Center”  I described one project that demonstrated a perfectly effective and inexpensive approach. For this project, Proactive Technologies was asked by a regional economic development office to attend a presentation in Germany for an employer that was considering a joint manufacturing venture in one of the state’s counties. Read More


Increasing Worker Capacity – An Alternative to Cutting Workers for Short-term Cost Savings

by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern U.S. – Proactive Technologies, Inc.

In business, if you encounter market “softness” and believe that the business level that you were previously operating at is now unattainable for a limited period, you might first find cost cuts that do not erode the business capacity once held in case your, or the pundit’s, forecast was wrong or the recovery is swifter than anticipated. Sometimes investments are made in machinery and technology during the lulls to get ready for the economic up-turn, but too rarely is any effort made to determine the level of each worker’s current capacity (i.e. what percent of the tasks they were hired to “expertly” perform) relative to the job they are currently in and what could be done to increase it to handle not only existing technology and processes, but the new technology and processes as well. One might even think about cross-training workers to build “reserve capacity.”

Too often, in this age where every quarterly report has to be as good or better than the one before – actually earnings per share – even if the economy currently doesn’t allow it, well-run businesses are pressured to cut into the bone; driving down wages, cutting benefits and ultimately eliminating workers. Investment in new technology isn’t permitted. It doesn’t take an accounting genius to make sweeping, ill-informed cuts, but it does take a pretty savvy leader to pick up the pieces after this mistakes have been made. When the economy recovers and the company stumbles in regaining


“That is the one point missed in all of the cuts to wages, benefits and staff; the first wave affects those who have no choice, the second wave affects the company as those with choice exercise it.”


its capacity, heads roll, more cuts are made and finally the investors pull out – leaving the previously well-run company impaired or near collapse. No good has come from this, and why it is allowed to continue makes no sense – except that it takes little thought to order, gives Wall Street the appearance of something good happening and something to report. That is why stocks rise when layoffs are announced – even in the face of predictable long-term effects of what the cost cutting means. That and the media’s cheering section that naively extols a short-term bump that may turn into a long-term fumble.

Worker capacity will be needed once the economy resumes, and the prudent businessman would not want to miss the recovery while spending too much time rebuilding the organizational capacity, part of which is finding “talent” to the replace the ones encouraged to leave and part trying to encourage the ones currently employed to stay. Additionally overlooked, employee and management morale suffers during wholesale cuts and irrational cost-cutting acts. The workers needed to sustain a recovery and regain market share are affected by what they see happening around them, and those most talented keep one eye on the door because they have the skills other employers might appreciate and always have the option to leave. That is the one point missed in all of the cuts to wages, benefits and staff; the first wave affects those who have no choice, the second wave affects the company as those with choice exercise it.

An alternative to knee-jerk cuts to workers is to assess each worker’s capacity (i.e. what percentage of the tasks of the job they have had a chance to learn and master), then use business “lulls” to raise it to full job mastery. Read More


Is an Apprenticeship Without Structured On-The-Job Training an Apprenticeship?

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

Career and vocation-focused training is a pivotal point in every current and future worker’s life. This world is overwhelmed by forces that make the effort more difficult for the education and training providers, more urgent and critical for the learner, more scrutinized by the employer and constantly measured against time; how long the training takes (which determines costs) and the relevance of the skills acquired to the targeted job which is always moving to the next level of technology. If the training is not “continuously improved” and maintained to be predominantly current and accurate, the graduate may find that jobs for which the new-found skills were targeted now marginally or, even worse, no longer exist.

In theory, apprenticeships offer a promising approach for traditional trades and crafts. As of 2008, more jobs can be registered as apprenticeships with new models accepted by the U.S. Department of Labor. If the program is based on a sound structure and methodology (one that can work for any type of job classification), an apprenticeship capstone – the job-related, employer-based training – would be maintained current and accurate for at least the employer apprenticeship host. Without this component, an apprenticeship experience may be as hollow as some of the for-profit educational chains which are often criticized for high costs and low placement rates.


“No one would ride in a plane flown by a pilot with only classes and simulator time, have surgery by a surgeon that hasn’t yet operated on a live human, or receive a root canal from a dentist with no “live-patient” time. Certified mastery of the tasks that define each of these jobs is what makes the ‘license to practice’ credible. And there is a difference between ‘a pilot” and ‘the pilot.’ Having a pilot license certifies you to fly planes, not a specific plane; you still have to have training and be certified to apply your craft to flying that plane. With the hybrid approach to apprenticeships, both are accomplished at the same time.”


The term “apprenticeship” has taken on many new meanings in the rush to increase the number of apprentices in the United States. Some 2-year community college programs that have been around a while have been re-branded in an effort to give new life to the same programs of worker development. Some have been thrown together to position an organization for the anticipated flood of grant dollars to find apprentices. Many of these are less “employer-centric” and more “industry-friendly” in spirit. Yet, it is important to remember that the ultimate beneficiaries of an apprenticeship should be the apprentice, the employer, the community, the industry and then the workforce development community, in that order. This should always be the focus and priority.

The process of gaining a “certificate of apprenticeship completion” level status can be an important milestone in an apprentice’s life. Achieving it can be accelerated by the focus and relevancy of related technical instruction and implementing employer-based structured on-the-job training, the latter for which mastery is also the measure of accomplishment for the apprentice and employer. Both components are critical to the quality of the program. Shortening the time without focusing these two components can weaken the program’s credibility and legitimacy. That is why many states require the employer to perform a job/task analysis on the job targeted for registration to ensure the structure, content and process is in place to document and explain what job-tasks have been mastered. That is what is most important to the current employer and any future employers.

These two requisite components were established in the middle-ages, albeit modernized for today’s needs, and have served us well when implemented properly. The United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Apprenticeships describes an apprenticeship as this: “It is a unique, flexible training system that combines job related technical instruction with structured on-the-job learning experiences.” The Bureau of Apprenticeships offers 3 models it accepts; the traditional Time-Based, the Competency and the Hybrid models. Read More


Changes in ISO 9001: 2015 and Any Effects on Worker Training 

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

There are many excellent business reasons for employers to capture the best practices, knowledge and expertise of their star performers before they leave the organization through separation or retirement. In a recent Proactive Technologies Report article entitled, “Retiring Workers and the Tragic Loss of Intellectual Property and Value,” explains the high cost of this missed opportunity, leading to the subsequent inability to more quickly and completely train new workers to replace them. Also explained is how so few employers are taking the challenge seriously.

Collecting detailed, best practice task procedures is vitally important for the accelerated transfer of expertise™. A company can lose substantial sums through unused or underdeveloped worker capacity. This impacts quality yield and may lead to costly scrap and rework decisions. Having consolidated “tribal knowledge” and expertise into deliberately delivered structured on-the-job training programs – which drive new-hires and incumbent workers to “full job mastery” – captures this unrecognized worker value that accounting systems have, sadly, been unable to document or measure. The April, 2017 Proactive Technologies Report article entitled, “Estimating the Costs Associated With Skipping Employer-Based Structured On-The-Job Training” discusses approaches to quantifying this unrealized worker value.
 
Now, there is another reason for capturing best practice task performance and all of its related knowledge and compliance specifications. The new standard ISO 9001: 2015 took effect September 15th, 2015. A transition period of three years will allow affected departments to make the necessary adjustments, but Quality Management Certificates issued under the old standard, ISO 9001: 2008, will have to include the new date.

Re-certification audit planning for the new standard must be performed at least 90 days prior to expiration, in other words by September 14, 2018, and the last audit day cannot exceed the deadline or a full, initial audit must be performed. The new standard includes a couple of changes that make the new standard easier to implement with other management systems, and focuses more on management commitment and performance and less on prescriptive measures.

The new standard includes a couple of changes that make the new standard easier to implement with other management systems, and focuses more on management commitment and performance and less on prescriptive measures. The standard has a new structure called a “High Level Structure” and introduces the concept of “risk-based thinking.” The emphasis is on organizations identifying risks to standardize quality performance and taking measures to “ensure their management system can achieve its intended outcomes, prevent or reduce undesired effects and achieve continual improvement.” The revised standard also puts increased emphasis on achieving value for the organization and its customers; in other words “output matters.”

The process approach introduced in 2000 as the desired model for quality management systems will become an explicit requirement of ISO 9001: 2015. The standard requires understanding the needs of the clients or customers, end users, suppliers and regulators and the words “document” and “record” were replaced by “documented information,” acknowledging the need to broaden the concept in recognition of the advancement in information handling technology.

The new standard has more emphasis on requirements for competent performance of personnel, competence meaning “being able to apply knowledge and skill to achieve intended results.” The important role that structured on-the-job training has played so far in ISO/AS/TS compliance now becomes even more critical.

Those companies that already have the Proactive Technologies PROTECH© system of managed human resource development  in place already in place already meet the requirements structurally with regard to personnel competency, but management may need to show more commitment and understanding of the important role this plays in quality control. Those who have not addressed the earlier requirements for process-driven training in all the major models of quality management – ISO/TS/AS – should begin now to build the infrastructure if they want to meet that requirement under the new standard. Read More


What Makes Proactive Technologies’s Accelerated Transfer of Expertise™ So Effective

by Proactive Technologies, Inc. Staff

There are a lot of buzzwards thrown around these days. “Skills Gap,” Education-Based Apprenticeships,”STEM” – many confusing to those in management whose primary function is to ensure products and services are delivered in the most cost-effective and profitable way.

For anyone unfamiliar with Proactive Technologies, Inc.’s Accelerated Transfer of Expertise™program, it might help to clarify what makes this approach to worker development and continuous improvement so effective.  This unique approach, in practice since 1986 and always improving, was designed by someone who endured the pressures of maintaining the highest quality staff in a world of constant change and pressures to do more with less. 

We start by collecting a lot of data about each job classification that is all around anyway (e.g. people’s heads, operator’s notes, engineering processes, quality standards, EHS specifications). This spread of information, that isn’t readily available, makes learning and mastering the tasks – for new hires and incumbents – unpredictable, ineffective, open to conflicts (including legal), costly and not conducive of standardization of high performance. And the continual revision of all of these bits of information adds to the challenge and makes process improvement and implementation efforts difficult, at best.

Many times we find that tasks are not proceduralized for best practice performance; either not defined at all or defined vaguely as “Perform _____,” leaving it up to each new trainee to guess what was intended. We job/task analyze the missing bits and work with engineering, quality and management to make sure we have the best, best practice before we develop any training or certification tool from it. 

Our proprietary software allows us to quickly gather and consolidate the many sources of data for use only when and where needed. Our technical support, 12 months (renewable) included in every project, allows your organization to focus on business while we set the programs up and manage them for you. Our software automatically generates all of the tools of the human resource development process to allow for big-scale projects at a small-scale investment; from today’s job description and entry level tests, to structured on-the-job training materials and checklists, to technical procedures and performance appraisals. One revision updates all of the tools! The system keeps track of each trainee’s training progress and provides detailed reports.

We build structured on-the-job training programs to ensure each new-hire and incumbent worker has an accelerated path to job mastery through mastery of each best-practice task – with content-valid assessments for more accurate and compliant selection and legally-defensible assessments to measure progress toward, and achievement of, job mastery. Each structured on-the-job training program we set-up can, and has been, easily registered as an apprenticeship (an option for your firm) that adds little-to-no cost.

We have projects, some lasting as long as 17 years, for clients that include an engine component manufacturer with 40 unique job classifications, 300 employees at 2 plants that spanned 10 years without the need, as with all of our projects, to expand their HR staff or add a training department. Whenever your organization feels it is ready to bring management of this project inside, we would be happy to license your firm with our latest version PROTECH© system of managed human resource development™ software, install it with your firm’s data, teach your designated staff to administrate it and still be available for technical support. 

This approach is proven to lower the internal costs of training (e.g. the cost declines per each added trainee) while increasing worker capacity, work quantity and quality, compliance (ISO/AS/TS, EEOC and safety) and worker return on investment. This approach supports “legacy knowledge capture” required of ISO 9001:2015. 

Many state worker training grant funds can be used to implement the structured on-the-job training we set up and we anticipate you would be eligible to recover most, if not all, of your investment to set-up the structured on-the-job training programs and technical support, which documents and reports each task mastered for reimbursement. So the funding is probably there, and we will help you with the application and to present the project for approval. 

We understand that you may have been driven to cynicism by the buzzwords and ineffective attempts at worker development you might have already tried, and Proactive Technologies is confident that once you realize the power of this workforce development approach you will be a believer. That is why we offer a “pilot project approach” so you can try the approach out on one of your job classifications first before scaling it up. Minimize the risk so the case can be made internally to scale-up based on successful results. And you will be surprised how little an investment is needed to get started! 

It would be worth your time to consider this approach. Please feel free to contact us  for more information or attend one of our free, live online presentations. Proactive Technologies would enjoy an opportunity to work with you and your firm and would do everything we can to help you make your project a success. Read More


Read the full July, 2017 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.

Posted in News

Proactive Technologies Report – June, 2017

“Full Job Mastery” means “Maximum Worker Capacity” –
A Verifiable Model for Measuring and Improving Worker
Value While Transferring Valuable Expertise
By Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

It is no secret that with the traditional model of “vocational” education, the burden of the job/task-specific skill development falls on the employer. It is not economically feasible nor practical for educational institutions to focus content on every job area for every employer. So they, instead, focus rightly on core skills and competencies – relying on the employer to deliver the rest. This is where the best efforts of local educational institutions and training providers begin to break down even if highly relevant to the industry sector.

Employers rarely have an internal structure for task-based training of their workers. Even the most aggressive related technical instruction efforts erode against technological advances as every month passes. If core skills and competencies mastered prior to work are not transformed quickly into tasks the worker is expected to perform, the foundation for learning task performance may crumble through loss of memory, loss of relevance or loss of opportunity to apply them.

New workers routinely encounter a non-structured, rarely focused, on-the-job training experience. Typically, the employer’s subject-matter-expert (SME) is asked to “show the new employee around.” While highly regarded by management, the SME (not trained as a task trainer and having no prepared materials) has difficulty remembering the nuances of the tasks when explaining the process to the new employee, since that level of detail was buried in memory long ago. Each SME, on each shift, might have a different version of the “best practice” for processes, confusing the trainee even more – rendering the notion of “standardization” to “buzzword” status.

New employees have difficulty assembling, understanding and translating the disjointed bits of recollection into a coherent process to be replicated. Each comes with their own set and levels of core skills and competencies, and learning styles vary from the self-learner/starter to the slow-learner worker who, with structure to make sure they learn the right best practice, may become loyal, high-quality workers.

The more time the SME spends with the new employee in this unstructured, uncontrolled and undocumented experience, which is the prevailing method of on-the-job training, the more the employer is paying two people to be non or minimally-productive. Adding employees can actually lower short-term productivity and add little to long-term productivity for an organization, but the costs will attract notice internally and may lead management falsely believe the problem is cost related.

Unfortunately, this only describes the costs of inadequate new-hire training. What about the incumbents who made it through the process and are part of the staff? Does anyone know which tasks have been mastered or not? No structured on-the-job training system in place implies no records of task mastery or metrics of worker capacity, therefore no methods for improving worker performance.  Read More 


Retiring Workers and the Tragic Loss of Intellectual Property and Value         by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern U.S. – Proactive Technologies, Inc.

The warnings went out over two decades ago. Baby Boomers were soon to retire, taking their accumulated expertise – locked in their brains – with them. But very little was done to address this problem. Call it complacency, lack of awareness of the emerging problem, preoccupation with quarterly performance, disinterest or disbelief, very few companies took action and the Crash of 2008 disrupted any meager efforts that were underway.

According to Steve Minter in an IndustryWeek Magazine article on April 10, 2012, “Only 17% of organizations said they had developed processes to capture institutional memory/organizational knowledge from employees close to retirement.” Who is going to train their replacements once they are gone? Would the learning curve of replacement workers be as long and costly, repeating the same learning mistakes, as the retiree’s learning curve? Would operations be disrupted and, if so, to what level?


“In our new “outsourcing nation,” a widely held belief is that employees are simply costs to be cut and not assets to be valued.” …. “Manufacturing faces a two-sided problem: it not only has thousands of people retiring, but it does not have the training programs to train skilled workers to replace them.”
A Strategy to Capture Tribal Knowledge
IndustryWeek- Michael Collins 5-23-16

In the last few years, it seems an alternative to the concentration of expertise in a few subject matter experts has become to use lower-wage temporary or contract workers who specialize in smaller quantities of processes, and who can be “traded-out” with a minimum amount of disruption. History will tell us just how costly that approach was and if anything was learned.
Many in corporate America have come to view all labor as expendable; easy to swap with a cheaper alternative – disregarding the cumulative asset value of the investment made in each. In the June, 2016 Proactive Technologies Report, in an article entitled “A Strategy to Capture Tribal Knowledge,” author Michael Collins notes, “In our new “outsourcing nation,” a widely held belief is that employees are simply costs to be cut and not assets to be valued.” He goes on to say, “Manufacturing faces a two-sided problem: it not only has thousands of people retiring, but it does not have the training programs to train skilled workers to replace them.” Read More 

The Right Assessment is a Good Predictor if Candidate is
Able to Learn and Master The Job Classification – Job
Relevance is Critical to Legal Compliance and Success
by Jim Poole, President of Lifetime Learning, LLC

There are many types of job assessment instruments. Some are industry-specific, some job-specific and some are skill, competency or behavior preference specific. Job-specific tests are limited to assessing for core skills and abilities required to learn and master the tasks required of a job classification.There are numerous other commercial tests that employers use. For example, cognitive tests assess reasoning, knowledge, memory and perceptual speed, while physical ability tests measure the ability to perform physical activities to a required level. Medical and mental tests examine health and wellness, and DISC assessments identify behavioral preferences of an individual. Many more controversial tests have come into use since 9-11 under the justification or a “safe work place” such as credit checks, English language tests and criminal background tests.

The use of any test can violate federal anti-discrimination laws as enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if the employer intentionally uses a testing instrument that discriminates based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability or age (40 years old or older). They can also violate these laws if the test’s use has a “disparate” impact on a protected class – unless the employer can justify the use within the EEOC guidelines and in compliance with statutory and case laws.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 laid much of the legal foundation for these laws. Years of case law further defined the application of these laws for employers. If one test used by an employer is challenged and loses, all other testing activities of that employer are considered suspect.

Employers sometimes do not realize they may be currently using “tests” that, while not labeled a test, fall under federal anti-discrimination laws. Many times these tests were created internally by non-professionals, and without any thought given to the need for compliance. Or these tests may be selected solely based on claims of a “national industry group’s” acceptance or that a prestigious institution developed them. It could be these tests are not being used for the audience for which it was designed.  Read More


The Credibility of “Future of Technology” Predictions and What They Hold for Workforce Development Strategies                                                                                   by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

We are bombarded by predictions of the impact of technological innovation on the workers of today and tomorrow. We should all take a deep breath, gather all of the information and facts, and process our own conclusions. Many of these predictions have been re-branded and recycled from past predictions, and have yet to materialize to the degree promised. Those rushing to position themselves at the front of these waves, developing long-term strategies to take advantage of the chaos of change, often find they have wasted a lot of their own, and other people’s, time and resources while unwittingly serving those who had a vested interest in promoting predictions.


According to a recent CBS 60 Minutes piece entitled “Brain Hacking,” “This is Silicon Valley’s strategy to expand sales and brand loyalty. They are busy designing products to grab and hold our attention, similar to strategies used in casino gaming. They design coding for software applications that impact neurological behavior, with regularly scheduled rewards to want you want more. You cannot put down your phone without a cortisol “fight or flight” reaction that makes you want to peek at your phone for relief.” Imagine their predictions for the future. Do you think their predictions might be a little skewed toward the products they have planned for us?


Evolutionary forces (e.g. the movement from an agrarian society to an industrial society) that tend to materialize to the benefit the many who adapt over the few that did not, or could not, are legitimate. This type of evolution is characterized by its slow, steady manifestation, not by starts, stops and completely opposite turns as seen in the many predictions of today.

Many money-driven trends of today are more meant to benefit the few who can afford to adapt or who invest in the “wave” and make a return, over the many who cannot. These movements come and go, leaving the “overly optimistic but not well connected” devotees discredited and demoralized as these waves disappear or continue to morph into the next (what used to be called) “fad.”

Wealth and credit is so concentrated in the hands of a few today. They, and the few who have the resources to benefit from following their agendas, are always looking for new ways to drive movements toward their goals to amass more wealth. When these interests move on as they reach the rewards they seek, or change direction when it looks like investor or consumer interest is running out, they tend to leave behind a disrupted society and economy.

A true “futurist” has no vested interest in his or her predictions. Their predictions are based not on popular themes, but on converging trends – trends that might cancel other themes and trends, might preempt fads from gaining illegitimate strength and might change conclusions of where this all leads.

Modern media outlets, concentrated in dense urban areas, have cut back on reporters and the more costly investigative journalism. They tend to exercise “group think,” and race to be the first to report on their new discovery that originated as a press release from some paid organization. They often add hype and flamboyance to entice a reader to read or listen to the story. It is easy for a well-networked, well-financed organization to fund their own “trend”…or at least create the illusion of one. A good example of this technique is investors who “short” a commodity and, more insidiously, a start-up venture and then “leak news” to naïve or participating network outlets to move the markets in a direction to their benefit, leaving the company’s share value and shareholder’s wealth destroyed.

There are many examples of how popular media has been wrong in their coverage and wrong in their predictions that find themselves in circulation. Anyone basing a long-term policy or strategy, which will have a lasting legacy and impact the many, on today’s predictions should do so only after deep, sound analysis and re-analysis. Anyone can make a prediction, but it is those who plan for others around a prediction that have to live with the repercussions and hold accountability.

I have listed 23 of these predictions that failed to develop, or failed to develop to the level predicted, that illustrate my point: Read More


Classes Alone Will Not Close the “Skills Gap,” But Structured On-the-Job Training Can…Every Time!
by Proactive Technologies, Inc. Staff

Proactive Technologies. Inc. works with many employers, a large number of them manufacturers, to set up structured on-the-job training programs designed to their exact job classification(s), built to train incumbent and new-hire workers to “full job mastery” – still the most elusive goal most employers face and the key to” closing the “skills gap.Under-capacity of workers is an enormous source of untapped value and unrealized return on worker investment.

The accelerated transfer of expertise™ approach can help any employer quickly and completely train the skilled workers they need AND realize an increase in worker capacity, work quantity/quality and compliance (ISO/TS/AS, engineering specifications and safety) while reducing the internal costs of training. New-hires and incumbent workers are driven to full job mastery and higher levels of return on worker investment (“ROWI”). The task-based, structured on-the-job training infrastructure is perfect for apprenticeships; instead of marking the calendar for “time-in-job,” job-relevant tasks are mastered and documented. AND, unlike classroom or online training, the cost per trainee decreases with each added trainee once set up.

This approach makes a worker’s mastery of the job the focus, integrating into the company’s existing systems and standards by building structure around the loosely arranged worker development activities already in place. By structuring the unstructured worker training to make it work effectively and efficiently, this approach maximizes the use of resources already in place.

Proactive Technologies is confident that, once your firm experiences the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development, you will recognize its capabilities to maximize your workforce and cut your training costs. That is why PTI is willing to let your firm find this out at the pace and investment level that you are comfortable first, then work with you to scale up within your budget to reach your goals.

Once a pilot project is underway and if the client is interested, Proactive Technologies will research worker development state grant sources, help prepare an application and submit it. If successful Proactive Technologies  will help you make sure you receive the maximum grant amount. Proactive Technologies has, for decades, successfully helped many clients to defray part or all of their initial investment and/or project expansion.  

Contact Proactive Technologies, Inc. for more information about this program and a representative will be in touch.


Read the full June, 2017 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.

Posted in News

Proactive Technologies Report – May, 2017

A Simple, Low-Investment Solution to Closing Skill Gaps; New-hires and Incumbents

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

Proactive Technologies, Inc. has worked with many employers over the years, establishing and technically supporting cost-effective, task-based structured on-the-job training programs. For each employer, every effort is made to tailor the worker training system to accommodate the employer’s budget, job classifications (even unique training programs for each job classification in each department), business goals and manage the system through all types of change. Unlike some products or services that require the employer to change practices that work in order to utilize them, the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development  is built around what is working for the employer, incorporating established information such as work processes and specifications, safety standards, quality standards, etc. This approach minimizes the need for the employer’s culture to drastically change what works for them, focusing instead on improvements in an area of weakness.

The main steps used to build an employer-based structured workforce development system starts with understanding the desired outcome first:

______________________________________________________________

“There is no doubt this approach is effective. After all, what is better: unstructured and haphazard worker training that cannot be explained, measured, improved or understood, or structured on-the-job training for all workers that is easily measured, implemented, improved and explained to auditors?”

______________________________________________________________

  1. Determine the Employer’s Need and Agree on Strategy: How has the client been (or not been) training workers until now; what are the current and projected staffing levels for incumbents and new-hires along with attrition rate and reassignments; is the culture supportive of training workers and see it as vital to competitiveness; are any task-based documents available and are they in use (e.g. work processes, quality standards, safety standards); which jobs are targeted and why; is the company following any quality mandates, such as ISO/TS/AS and do they have any quality programs underway such as LEAN, Six Sigma; what is the budget for setting up the structured on-the-job training program and implementation. A strategy encompassing all of these points is prepared for the employer before an agreement and timetable is confirmed.
  2. Job/Task Analyze the Target Job Classifications: The analysis is always performed using the employer’s subject matter experts to develop task lists of each targeted job classification, then each task is analyzed further for the best practice; also identified are relevant components that lead a trainee to reach “task mastery;” a review of data by subject matter experts is held to reach a concurrence on data; materials to structure the on-the-job training are created (the PROTECH© software system accelerates the data collection process and automatically generates all of the tools of the human resource development process from the data – materials are ready in minutes not years…at a fraction of the cost of manual development. One revision updates all reports.). Read More

Reacting to the Proposed Reversal of Regulations Affecting Human Resources and Safety Can Be Tricky

by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern United States, Proactive Technologies, Inc.

Political winds frequently change direction, sometimes leading to calls to create or unwind existing labor and safety regulations. Enacting and implementing changes to company policies, and disseminating changes to the troops, in response takes more thoughtfulness and planning. Regulations and laws that have evolved over time as the result of events that set them in motion usually have some fundamental rationale that everyone can agree with, or they would have been badly battered during public hearings and public review. The disagreement usually revolves around scope, impact of the law on the non-offenders, and ideological divides.

Congressional changes to labor laws or presidential executive orders usually do not take effect overnight. It may take years for a bill to clear the House and Senate for the president’s signature and/or for the affected agency to make the transition. There will be many impacted groups waiting to litigate the change and the court process can take years with appeals to higher courts. If shot down in whole or in part, then it will be remanded to the lower court to find a legal solution, before potentially starting another series of legislative activities.

While all this is going on, political tides that brought in the change may begin to turn back. Often one political party or the other overreaches, or misreads their constituents and acts against their voter’s interests. The make-up of Congress and or the presidency in the next election may push the pendulum back.

A good strategy for employers during days like this is to try to learn as much as possible about the proposed changes. No matter if industry groups are behind the successful push for changes in laws and regulations, this does not mean the changes will survive. So, it is a good idea to remain pragmatic and realistic during these times. Try to project how the change will be received by your customers and by employees in your organization. Then weigh the benefits of making policy revisions to incorporate the regulatory changes versus the costs of the policy changes – including financial costs, costs to morale (if any) and the costs if these government changes are later reversed and the company has to reverse its policies to match.

Some other considerations are: Read More

The Employers Have the Most Advanced Equipment Available for Training

by Frank Gibson, Special Projects Coordinator -The Ohio State University – Alber Enterprise Center

Community and technical colleges, career centers and joint vocational schools have always struggled with how to make a positive difference in workforce training. They often bear the brunt of criticism for the “skills gap” employers report when, in reality, employers share equally in the responsibility. Educational institutions have only the resources and capacity to provide core skill training upon which only employers can then provide on-the-job training to drive trainees to the job mastery needed.

Educational institutions are often tempted to assume more of the employer’s role in worker development but run into budget, feasibility and practicality limitations. This distracts them from their very important role of maintaining perpetually relevant core skill and related technical instruction that a high-quality technical education requires. Trying to provide all things to all employers never was the role of educational institutions so they should not take it too personally when good-intentioned efforts do not reach the expectations for them.

These institutions are often encouraged to use their limited resources to buy equipment or build facilities in order to support “customized, hands-on training.” The employer already has the facility and the latest technology in that community. The hard part has been convincing the employer that the school has a viable strategy that makes the employer want to imbed structured on-the-job training into the onsite natural order of learning the job. It would be even harder to convince them a training program, targeting a specific job of theirs, can be more effective offsite at a training facility than onsite.

Technology shifts so fast these days, and the focus of workforce training is so volatile, that it makes little sense for educational institutions to purchase equipment for training when only a few employers have similar equipment and the equipment may be obsolete before the school gets through the purchasing, installation and instructor training stages let alone before someone completes a 2-year training program. In addition, the company or companies that were targeted for this training might be acquired, closed or moved – leaving before any return on the investment of time, money and facilities are realized.

The Ohio State University – Alber Enterprise Center has partnered with Proactive Technologies, Inc. on job-specific worker training projects since 1996. Over the years, the “hybrid model” at the center of these projects focused resources very efficiently and effectively to provide the proper blend of structured on-the-job training and related technical instruction. Our Center provides a selection of remedial and related technical instruction (through our courses and those provided by our network of training providers) – selected from the thorough job/task analysis data collected and used by Proactive Technologies to set-up the onsite employer-specific structured on-the-job training programs. This helps us to provide the client- employer’s workers with core skill instruction that is “content relevant. Read More

Proactive Technologies Discount Program Ends, But…“Low-Risk” Pilot Approach Option Remains in Effect 

by Proactive Technologies, Inc. Staff

The Proactive Technologies, Inc.’s Discount Offer expired April 30th. However, discounts are still offered for “economies of scale” (the larger the project, the larger the savings due to coordinated travel, production costs and labor).  PLUS, Proactive Technologies has continued the “low-risk” project pilot approach offer for those employers who need to make the case to management before rolling out a larger project.

This accelerated transfer of expertise™ approach is a tremendous offer without the discount. This approach can help any employer quickly and completely train the skilled workers they need AND realize an increase in worker capacity, work quantity/quality and compliance (ISO/TS/AS, engineering specifications and safety) while reducing the internal costs of training. New-hires and incumbent workers are driven to full job mastery and higher levels of return on worker investment (ROWI). The task-based, structured on-the-job training infrastructure is perfect for apprenticeships; instead of marking the calendar for “time-in-job,” job-relevant tasks are mastered and documented.AND, unlike classroom or online training, the cost per trainee decreases with each added trainee once set up.

This approach makes a worker’s mastery of the job the focus, integrating into the company’s existing systems and standards by building structure around the loosely arranged worker development activities already in place. Structuring the unstructured worker training to make it work effectively and efficiently.

Once Proactive  Technologies, Inc. understands the clients needs, a proposal will be created that outlines the activities in 2-phases:

  • Phase 1 – One Job Classification Structured On-The-Job Training Program Creation and Implementation to prove the concept and approach to the client before the client expands the project to other areas;
  • Phase 2 –  Expand Project to Include Other Job Classifications.  Making the case to management for expansion is easier when an in-house pilot project eliminated the risk. The larger the scale-up the larger the discounts for “economies of scale.”

Proactive Technologies is confident that, once your firm experiences the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development, you will recognize its capabilities to maximize your workforce and cut your training costs. That is why PTI is willing to let your firm find this out at the pace and investment level that you are comfortable first, then work with you to scale up within your budget to reach your goals.

Once a pilot project is underway and if the client is interested, Proactive Technologies will research worker development state grant sources, help prepare an application and submit it. If successful Proactive Technologies  will help you make sure you receive the maximum grant amount. Proactive Technologies has, for decades, successfully helped many clients to defray part or all of their initial investment and/or project expansion.

Contact Proactive Technologies, Inc. for more information about this program and a representative will be in touch.


Read the full May, 2017 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.

Posted in News

Proactive Technologies Report – April, 2017

Proactive Technologies Announces Significant Discount Program – March 10th to April 30th, 2017!

Free “No-Risk” Consultation Session – Witness Approach for One of Your Specific Job Classifications Before You Decide

by Proactive Technologies, Inc. Staff

Due to the success of our last discount offer, and many requests from companies that could not act before the end of the last discount offer in 2016, Proactive Technologies Inc. is once again extending a generous discount offer of up to 50% to employers from March 10th to April 3oth, 2017!

This accelerated transfer of expertise™ approach is a tremendous offer without the discount, but with it can help any employer quickly and completely train the skilled workers they need AND realize an increase in worker capacity, work quantity/quality and compliance (ISO/TS/AS, engineering specifications and safety) while reducing the internal costs of training. New-hires and incumbent workers are driven to full job mastery and higher levels of return on worker investment (ROWI). The task-based, structured on-the-job training infrastructure is perfect for the apprenticeships; instead of marking the calendar for “time-in-job,” job-relevant tasks are mastered and documented.

“For companies eligible for a worker training grant or not, this discount program can significantly stretch a training budget in a impactful way. This approach makes a worker’s mastery of the job the focus and incorporates, building structure around, loosely arranged worker development activities.”

In the event that anyone needs one more way (i.e. in addition to live online presentations, onsite presentations) to gather enough information to decide whether to move forward with structured on-the-job training to boost their training strategy, we thought of an idea that might help them decide. Read Details

Estimating the Costs Associated With Skipping Employer-Based Structured On-The-Job Training  

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

It should go without saying that if there is no deliberate strategy to train workers for the things they were hired to perform, the employer will probably never realize the maximum output realizable from a worker. Multiple workers operating under-capacity can create exorbitant, and unnecessary, costs to the employer – bleeding from profits and often leading to sweeping and irreparable reactions from management as they try to “fix” all but the obvious.

The effect of worker capacity on any business strategy is the least misunderstood of factors, but one as important as innovation, process improvement and zero defect strategies. After all, fundamental to each of these strategies is the worker’s ability to competently carry the intended actions to maximize those efforts efficiently.

Employers need to seriously consider the human factors, not ignore them and focus on everything but this. After decades of neglect, supported by workforce development institutions that have no tools to address this stage of worker development and often unknowingly promulgate distractions in their efforts to claim they do, management has come to simplify the human factor into a cost that can be easily eliminated or replaced by a lower cost alternative in another location. Lacking in this reaction is the underlying fact that moving operations to lower-wage labor markets with even more need for training (e.g. new challenges such as language, culture) only appears to be adding to profits short-term; the same problems exist, but the lower cost of labor makes it more tolerable even if greater challenges to worker performance now exist. As wages rise, these challenges become more pronounced and management becomes more critical.

Total Cost of Ownership formulas, such as the one used by the Reshoring Iniative, try to capture the hidden and overlooked costs of off-shoring operations, with labor challenges being one factor considered. But even so, the factor’s significance is understated.

Here is a simple formula for estimating the cost/benefit of a worker’s contribution to the organization for consideration: Read More


Employers Say They Struggle With a “Skills Shortage,” Yet They Cut the Training Budget. What Gives?

by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern U.S., Proactive Technologies, Inc.

Everywhere you read these days, you find commentary on the “skills gap” that employers seem to face when trying to find the workers they need for their critical job classifications. Either there is a skills gap or there isn’t, and more and more economists are challenging that premise. Some, like Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman, say that if there is such a skills gap creating a shortage of skilled labor, then wages should be skyrocketing for those positions in a capitalistic, free market model.

Some point to the exploitation of loop-holes in the U.S. H-1B visa program, recently highlighted in a  CBS 60 Minutes episode entitled “You’re Fired” that allows employers to replace long-time, experienced employees with lower-wage temporary workers (with no benefits) from countries such as India – even requiring the laid off worker to train their replacement or forego severance pay.

Yet other companies, genuinely experiencing a shortage of skilled workers in their region, seem to either accept the skills gap theory as the norm or have made assumptions that the right skilled workers already came through the front door. Some surprise everyone by redirecting training dollars that should be used to make sure each employee can perform the tasks for which they were hired to programs that are meant to improve performance – skipping the obvious. Trying to improve the performance of employees before being certain they can perform each task exactly seems incredibly counter-intuitive. Focusing dollars on LEAN, Kaisan, Six Sigma, etc. before being certain that employees have mastered each required task may be not only be a waste of money but probably will need to be repeated if the employees finally do master each task, since by then they will have forgotten any improvement techniques or how to apply them to the processes they are performing.

Some wonder why companies have not added to, or are even cutting, their training budgets in response to the challenge. Many of these companies seem to be forgoing structured on-the-job training that only they can deliver, hoping the local educational system, with all they federal funding they have received, will somehow wave a wand and all the skilled labor needed will appear. In a January, 2017 issue of the Proactive Technologies Report entitled “An Anniversary That You Won’t Want to Celebrate: 30 Years Later and The Skill Gap Grows – Is it Finally Time to Rethink The Nation’s Approach?” the point was made that employers having been waiting on solutions from other than their own operation for decades, but to no avail. It is also significant to note that the U.S. is currently in a new presidential administration that seems to be set on cutting the funding for many of the Departments of Education and Labor workforce training programs these employers have come to rely upon. Read More


Twelve Good Reasons Why Structured On-The-Job Training Should be Part of You Business Strategy

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

Many articles have appeared in the Proactive Technologies Report covering how Proactive Technologies’ PROTECH© System of managed human resource development can address many of the workforce development scenarios; from individualized, customized structured on-the-job training for a specific employer for specific job classification(s), to regional partnerships servicing multiple employers while partnering with regional educational institutions, private training providers, workforce development and economic development agencies to provide the related technical instruction. There are many winners with this approach, but none so important as the employer and the employee.

Several articles have appeared in the newsletter explaining how Proactive Technologies sets up for each client a unique, structured on-the-job training program, provides implementation support to ensure it is running effectively and provides documentation and monthly reporting to drive each employee’s progress toward full job mastery. The most recent article appearing in the February, 2017 issue entitled “Tips for Establishing Your Company’s Training Strategy – Practical, Measurable, Extremely Economical and Scalable”. While the article hints on some of the benefits to the employer-employee stakeholders, it might be more advantageous to focus on the benefits themselves rather than leave them nuanced. More can be found in other articles at the News and Publications page of the Proactive Technologies, Inc. website.

There are many significant reasons that structured on-the-job training will help any employer really maximize the value of each worker employed with the company, improve operational efficiency and lower the risk of non-compliance (ISO/TS/AS, Safety Mandates, EEOC Mandates). These are not just buzzwords. Here are twelve reasons (not in any order of importance, since some may be more important to different stakeholders) to consider.

1. ISO 9001-2015 and TS16949 compliance with regard to worker competence to perform task processes, the provision of support documentation and records, and the facilitation of retraining when processes change.
• The data infrastructure will help facilitate quality improvements and incorporates the results of LEAN, continuous improvement, etc.;
• Existing company process documents are incorporated into the job/task analysis data collection so all worker development materials generated from the data are in sync with engineering and quality standards;

2. Risk mitigation with regard to potential legal challenges to methods and assessments used by the company for determining pay increases and promotion.
• The infrastructure and documentation will support the company’s side in the event of a safety incident investigation;

3. The initial job/task analysis will capture the technical expertise and wisdom in the heads of Company’s skilled workers before they get a chance to leave through retirement, attrition, promotion, etc.; Read More


Tips for Workforce Developers – Partnerships That Matter…and Last

by Dr. Dave Just, Mpact Maintenance and Reliability Solutions

Having partnered with Proactive Technologies, Inc. on workforce development projects for the past 20 years, it gave me a chance to innovate and learn what works, what efforts are most appreciated by the employer, trainee and employee, and which projects utilized resources most efficiently and effectively. There are numerous resources available from many sources that can impact a trainee with varying effectiveness, but the secret is selecting those that are appropriate for the project outcome the employer expects.

As Dean of Corporate and Continuing Education at community and technical colleges in Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, at the start of each assignment I had to first learn what resources our school had available for the sectors we were targeting, and how current and relevant the courses, materials and instructors were for the specific skills employers were seeking. To be honest, in some areas our products and services were weaker than expected, so the determination needed to be made whether we had the resources and will to upgrade what we had or develop what we needed. We also had to consider if it would be more economical to strategically partner with outside providers who always had the current technical expertise and already created solutions we could incorporate into our offerings.

Too often there was internal resistance and a lack of understanding of how important being relevant was to workforce development. Many institutions grew complacent to change or were discouraged by shrinking budgets or misaligned priorities from innovation. Always feeling a sense of urgency to overcome the ubiquitous “skills gap” that cast a shadow on all education and workforce development efforts, there are some important steps that I developed for myself to help me better assess each employer’s need and provide solutions client employers appreciated. This is the reason most employers we worked with kept us engaged year after year. We earned, and maintained, their respect and gave them confidence in our solutions, which ensured our continued role in their business model. This provided a continued revenue stream for the school to continue, improve and expand those efforts.

1) Listen to the employer’s description of the need – not every employer has a clear grasp of their need, but if you listen to their frustration in the context of your experience gained from concerns of other employers facing similar symptoms, you can help the employer discover the root cause. Then a solution that makes sense can be developed;

2) Formulate your proposed solution based on facts – there is always the temptation to propose a solution that markets a product or service the school already has in place, even when its relationship to the problem or challenge is suspect. Resist that temptation. A single sale of a weak product or service will not lead to follow-up sales. Once the initial opportunity to prove one’s value is squandered, everything else you propose might be dismissed – even if appropriate.

3) Recognize that most solutions are not complicated, but we often make them so – There is no shortage of schools that think the solution to everything is a multi-million dollar technology center. “If you build it, they will come” only worked in movies. Read More

Read the full April, 2017 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.

Posted in News

Proactive Technologies Report – March, 2017

Proactive Technologies Announces Significant Discount Program – March 10th to April 31st, 2017!

Free “No-Risk” Consultation Session – Witness Approach for One of Your Specific Job Classifications Before You Decide

by Proactive Technologies, Inc. Staff

Due to the success of our last discount offer, and many requests from companies that could not act before the end of the last discount offer in 2016, Proactive Technologies Inc. is once again extending a generous discount offer of up to 50% to employers from March 10th to April 31st, 2017!

This accelerated transfer of expertise™ approach is a tremendous offer without the discount, but with it can help any employer quickly and completely train the skilled workers they need AND realize an increase in worker capacity, work quantity/quality and compliance (ISO/TS/AS, engineering specifications and safety) while reducing the internal costs of training. New-hires and incumbent workers are driven to full job mastery and higher levels of return on worker investment (ROWI). The task-based, structured on-the-job training infrastructure is perfect for the apprenticeships; instead of marking the calendar for “time-in-job,” job-relevant tasks are mastered and documented.

“For companies eligible for a worker training grant or not, this discount program can significantly stretch a training budget in a impactful way. This approach makes a worker’s mastery of the job the focus and incorporates, building structure around, loosely arranged worker development activities.”

In the event that anyone needs one more way (i.e. in addition to live online presentations, onsite presentations) to gather enough information to decide whether to move forward with structured on-the-job training to boost their training strategy, we thought of an idea that might help them decide. Read Details

Apprenticeships – An Alternative to the “400 Hours For Drill Press” On-the-Job Training Model

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc
.
“Time-in-Job” Does Not Equal ”Tasks Mastered.” It does not reveal much about the level, quality, relevancy and transferability of the “on-the-job experience.” It is akin to students tests being graded on how long they sat in the classroom. But yet this approach endures. Don’ get me wrong, it is better than no on-the-job training effort. However, I think we all agree that it leaves a lot of opportunity on the table.

An unfortunate hold-over from the traditional U.S. apprenticeship is the standard practice of defining the on-the-job training requirement in terms of “number of hours.” General work areas that are thought of as representative of the job are selected, a number of total hours prescribed for each area totaling the on-the-job training requirement, and this – with the required related technical instruction – are registered.

We all know that we have worked, or are now working, next to co-workers who have been in the job classification for many years but for one reason or another seemed to not be able to perform all of the required tasks of the job. Some are called “area specialists,” but may have specialized in only the tasks they like to perform. Some might not have had an opportunity to learn and master certain tasks. When they are asked to train the next worker, their scope is limited to the tasks for which they specialized, and the pattern continues when that new person becomes a trainer later on. When Proactive Technologies sets-up a structured, task-based on-the-job training program and assesses incumbent workers to discover any gaps that might exist so the training can close them, it is common to find some long-time workers in the job classification that may have only mastered 20 or 30% of the total tasks that make up the job classification.

So what does the number of hours spent in a job area tell a person about the skills attained by the apprentice? How is this seemingly subjective metric measured and how is it tracked? Does it matter? Read More


Challenges Presented by the Widening Skill Gap

by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern U.S., Proactive Technologies, Inc.

There are at least five growing, major challenges to maintaining a skilled national labor force. These forces are causing those organizations who could help to, instead, spend tremendous sums of money on “whack-a-mole” type efforts. Sure, this approach sustains all of the profit and non-profit organizations that sprung up to take advantage of the chaos, but if we are serious about solving this issue that has undermined economic recoveries and stifled economic growth for over 30 years, we need to get serious.

It starts by critically evaluating the challenges that have plagued the U.S. labor force and have been barriers to an employer’s commitment to American labor. Like nearly all challenges, one can choose to target the underlying cause, treat the symptoms, mask the symptoms, define an alternative – but not necessarily relevant – cause and focus on that, or ignore both symptoms and cause and hope for divine intervention.

Choice of action matters. Take, for example, the choice to take a prescribed “cholesterol lowering” statin that inhibits the body’s production of lipids – fats and fatty substances, producing a cholesterol number within an acceptable range but at a cost of blocking or impairing other vital body functions and often producing “side-effects.” Your doctor may have good news about your cholesterol level during this visit but soon he might be discussing other, more serious issues with you such as, according to the Mayo Clinic, your “muscle pain and damage,” “liver damage,” “increased blood sugar and type 2 diabetes,” “neurological side effects”…”. Choosing to treat a symptom without determining why your body is producing excess lipids in the first place leaves the underlying cause unaffected.

Similarly, focusing resources on symptoms and ignoring the underlying cause of a non-systems approach to worker development may lead (and one could say may have already lead) to depleted resources and lost opportunity. Continuing to turn out graduates, some with outdated or non-essential skills which are bolstered by marginally relevant credentials, may lead to a feeling of action but yet the skill gap widens. Unless each of the following five major challenges are addressed, it is unlikely that the skill gap will move towards closing, and any effort to bring back the generations of lost workers into meaningful employment prohibitively difficult. Read More


Developing the Multi-Craft and Specialty Maintenance Technicians You Need; To Specification, With Minimal Investment

Dr. Dave Just, MPACT Maintenance and Reliability Solutions
In the March, 2016 Proactive Technologies Report article, “Grow Your Own Multi-Craft Maintenance Technicians – Using a ˜Systems Approach™ to Training” I described how Proactive Technologies, Inc. and Mpact Maintenance and Reliability Solutions has joined forces to setup and implement the hybrid model of worker development for maintenance and technical support positions for their clients. The ‘systems approach” to worker development, as described, is simple in its structure but, also, includes the quality control points to ensure the worker development outcomes are reached. Although this approach can be used for any job classification in any setting, together we have applied this approach effectively for maintenance and technical support positions for many manufacturers over the last 2 decades.
We listened to our manufacturing clients. We heard the frustration they expressed in looking for highly qualified new-hire maintenance candidates when too few technical colleges offer a solid maintenance or maintenance technician program. The ones that either do not have content that is relevant enough or if they do, cannot graduate enough students to meet the demand. Employers realize they are, by necessity, a major part of the solution.

“The effects of ineffective training for 1 person can cost your firm more than the training budget for 10 employees for 10 years. Why take the chance with speculative training approaches that may not deliver anything more than cost and disappointment?”

The secret to success is in the “turn-key” approach. We understand that most small and medium-sized manufacturers have a very limited human resources staff, not to mention a non-existing training department. But they do have the subject matter experts who have mastered the training content, just lacking the training technique, materials and support. By applying the Proactive Technologies and Mpact expertise to set-up, implement, support, keep records and report training activity, the time the subject matter expert needs to make available for training new-hires and incumbents is minimized and the effects maximized. The investment needed is low, but the impact and return on worker investment is substantial. Read More

Education-Employer Partnerships That Work

By Frank Gibson, Special Projects Coordinator -The Ohio State University – Alber Enterprise Center
I have always been committed to helping employers improve their business processes and strategies. One challenge that remains front and center is making sure a steady supply of workers with the necessary core skills to learn the tasks of the job are available in the community, and that employers have the tools to address any skill gaps to ensure any employee can be trained to completely and competently perform the work for which they were hired. That is why I came out of retirement to continue my work in helping employers meet both challenges directly and successfully.
A lot is being said these days about “employer-responsive” worker training programs. I think all educational institutions want to believe they have all the answers to all of the challenges employers face. Although I have found that we have many of the answers for many disciplines, it is important to realize our limitations and either find other resources to fill the gap or be truthful with the client so that they might look elsewhere for those answers and solutions.

The Ohio State University – Alber  Enterprise Center  has been around since 1996 and was founded on the premise that we provide educational and technical consulting services to business enterprises throughout our region to help them grow and prosper. Whether to help them train their workers to the latest in technical skills or train their management on the latest management theories and best practices, the Alber Center has assembled an extensive network of institutional and private training providers to meet their needs and have continued to expand our network to help our employer-clients maintain their competitive best. Read More

Read the full March, 2017 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.
Posted in News

Proactive Technologies Report – February, 2017

Tips for Establishing Your Company’s Training Strategy – Practical, Measurable, Extremely Economical and Scalable

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

For most companies, an in-house training center doesn’t have to be brick and mortar, and doesn’t necessarily require additional equipment and personnel to support it. It is about focusing the resources already available to develop workers faster and to a much higher level of capacity. This does not happen by throwing dollars or classes at the problem; if that were the case many employers who did so would have solved the “skills gap” problem. It takes a more deliberate approach than that to achieve the outcome that has been out of reach, for many, for decades.

In previous articles, such as in the May, 2016 issue of the Proactive Technologies Report, “A Simple Solution to Skill Gaps – New-Hires and Incumbents”  I described a simple, easy to implement strategy for developing new-hires and incumbent workers to full capacity. I emphasized that by focusing on the outcome, the proper inputs become clearer. But by focusing on the inputs, the connection to the outcome may not necessarily be clear. Any use of irrelevant, improper or ineffective worker development inputs means unnecessary costs with low or no return, wasted time and additional opportunity costs.

Over the years, I have noticed that many employers’ idea of a worker training strategy is a hodge-podge of classroom and online training. This seems to be based on the assumption that all of the right people have been hired, they all have mastered the tasks of the job and that a few classes will drive each worker’s performance to higher levels.

Where does this assumption come from? Why do employers collectively settle for this type of model even though decades of experience and day to day worker performance offer many clues that this model of worker training is not as effective as hoped? Too often the feedback from workers attending classes is, “I don’t know why the company had me attend that class.” “That was a waste of time.” In an informal way, this is a form of “content validation,” or in this case “invalidation.”

_____________________________________________________________

“Conceptually, a better overall approach is simple, accurate, efficient and effective. If an employer isn’t including these simple steps in their worker selection, development and performance evaluation strategy the might be wasting company time, money and resources.”

______________________________________________________________

This legacy approach is a comfortable model to explain. Everyone has attended school; some higher education as well. It is what we grew up with and the sentiment has become acceptance from familiarity. Some accept this approach because they are unaware of better alternatives. Some find comfort in being among the “herd.” Most of the employers seemed locked into this model, so it must be the right way to train workers. If this were true and reinforced with evidence, why after 30 years of concentrated application (as technology entered nearly every aspect of worker performance) the “skills gap” we all talk about has not only survived, but has actually grown? Read More


The High Cost of Employee Turnover

by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern U.S., Proactive Technologies, Inc.

Most companies are dealing with uncomfortably high levels of turnover. When one separates out those employers that facilitated high turnovers to lower labor costs, there are many reasons for this. However, there is no denying the many costs associated with this that exist and the effects that often compound. These costs are often unknown and unmeasured, but all employers should keep an eye on this challenge and explore its full impact on the organization.

It seems counter-intuitive, but there are some who even recently promoted a business strategy that encouraged employee turnover. In a July 21, 2015 Forbes article entitled “Rethinking Employee Turnover,” author Edward E. Lawler III, “Indeed, the turnover of some employees may end up saving an organization more money than it would cost to replace that employee. The obvious point is that not all turnover should be avoided-some should be sought.” The question is how to determine which ones to keep and which to encourage to leave. Without accurate measures of costs and values of a worker, good employees may be pushed out along with the “bad” and then the true costs of this action realized by the employer after it is too late.

Last year, Christina Merhar of ZaneBenefits wrote in her blog entitled “Employee Retention – The Real Cost of Losing an Employee,” “Happy employees help businesses thrive. Frequent voluntary turnover has a negative impact on employee morale, productivity, and company revenue. Recruiting and training a new employee requires staff time and money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, turnover is highest in industries such as trade and utilities, construction, retail, customer service, hospitality, and service.”


“For the costs associated with the loss of 1 or 2 employees, the company can establish a holistic approach to worker selection, development and retention that will significantly lower both turnover rates and turnover costs, AND increase the value of all employees in that job classification.”


“Studies on the cost of employee turnover are all over the board. Some studies (such as SHMR) predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a manager making $40,000 a year, that’s $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses.

But others predict the cost is even more – that losing a salaried employee can cost as much as 2x their annual salary, especially for a high-earner or executive level employee.

Turnover seems to vary by wage and role of employee. For example, a CAP study found average costs to replace an employee are: Read More

Do U.S. Productivity Measures Measure Productivity?

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

A disturbing emerging trend, particularly in the last three decades, concerns the accuracy and quality of the economic statistics reported to the public. A lot of think tanks have sprung up in Washington issuing reports and policy statements, and some put a cloak of perceived “credibility” around statements they release meant to support a policy direction or change its course – both to the benefit of a segment of interests subsidizing the think tanks. Confusing us even more is the mainstream media’s propensity to report, as “news,” press releases emanating from these think tanks as if accurate, unbiased and inherently factual. Some may be, but when they are reported through the same careless filter, it throws them all into suspicion. The decrease in the number of accurate, readily available sources of news and facts can derail a life or business strategy.

Take for example the daily explanations by news and business show anchors of why the stock market gyrates up or down, as if the collective market can always be explained simply as, “the stock market reacted to the federal reserve’s decision to not act,” or “the stock market tumbled because of the results of the presidential election” – only to recover fully the next day. Could another simple explanation be that the market moved one way or another because groups with large holdings decided to move them?

______________________________________________________________

“Unfortunately, however, figures on productivity in the United States do not help improve productivity in the United States.”
W. Edwards Deming

______________________________________________________________

Another example is the preoccupation with what is referred to as “inflation,” which is based on the consumer price index (“CPI”). A “basket of consumer goods” was selected and periodic measurements of their retail prices are taken to see, primarily, if any inflationary forces exerted pressure on prices upward or downward during the period that might require an adjustment in central bank monetary policy. First, it is important to know which goods make up the basket.

Many years ago an effort was made to take out the goods prone to price pressures. This explains the stares at price labels by the shopper who heard on the news in the morning that inflation has not risen but is looking at prices in the afternoon that seem to continually rise. The decision was made that some goods didn’t need to be in the basket because consumers could substitute them with other, less-expensive goods and still be happy with the experience. For example, substitute mac and cheese for chicken. The trouble being in that even those prices rise.

According to Wikipedia,” Core inflation represents the long run trend in the price level. In measuring long run inflation, transitory price changes should be excluded. One way of accomplishing this is by excluding items frequently subject to volatile prices, like food and energy.” Other volatile prices such as the cost of healthcare, travel, housing and education are not measured in inflation, either – categories causing the biggest dent in household budgets. Retailers have found other ways to confuse the calculation further by offering seemingly super discounts…discounts if you buy 10 of the same items, coupons or sale prices when the beef doesn’t sell at the $14 per pound price. Others have kept their base price low but tacked on endless fees which are not included in calculating inflation.

______________________________________________________________

“There are so many people who can figure costs, and so few who can measure values.”
Larry Fast

______________________________________________________________

Employers have made use of the dichotomy between inflation and core inflation, as well. They have learned they can justify no cost-of-living wage adjustment by pointing out that inflation – the partial reflection of price increases – has not risen, so a wage increase isn’t warranted. Ironically, US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts asked Congress in January, 2009, for a raise saying “I must renew the judiciary’s modest petition: Simply provide cost-of-living increases that have been unfairly denied,” Roberts said in his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary. At a time when millions of Americans were losing there jobs and homes during the Great Recession of 2008, apparently inflation – core and regular inflation – only impacted high level government officials.
______________________________________________________________
“If you efficiently increase worker capacity and performance, and even if you raise the wages to reflect the increasing value of the worker, your productivity should increase as your costs stay stable or decline. But far too often a false conclusion is drawn that you can cut costs by cutting the cost of labor and there will not be repercussions in the long-term.”
______________________________________________________________
Read More

The Key To Effective Maintenance Training: The Right Blend of Structured On-The-Job Training and Related Technical Instruction

Dr. Dave Just, MPACT Maintenance and Reliability Solutions
I spent a lot of my career as Dean of Corporate and Continuing Education at community and technical colleges, in several states. Where we could, we tried hard to provide the best core skills development delivery for technical job classifications the employers in our community requested. We often did this working off the limited, and often suspect, job information the employer could provide to us.
Often we were up against budgetary constraints that limited our efforts to customize programs and keep the programs up to date when the instructor was willing to maintain the relevance of the program. If that wasn’t enough, school leadership often showed ambivalence toward adult and career education due in part to the fact that its demand was driven by gyrations in the economy. Furthermore, the institution was built upon, more familiar with and understood better credit courses for the more stable subjects such as math, science, literature, history and the social sciences.
We tried a lot of innovative programs for employers in the community within the constraints mentioned, but if I was to be honest we rarely kept up. What we thought we knew of the targeted job classifications and their requirements, and upon which our programs were built and measured, seemed to become increasingly misaligned within just a few years. Not only was advancing technology putting pressure on the content of our learning materials and program design – a constant push toward obsolescence – the employers were continually rethinking the design of their job classifications to meet their business goals and budgets. We were finding less and less similarity in job classifications between employers, by job title and job content.

The “Maintenance” job classification was a perfect example and could be incredibly different from company to company. In the early days, Maintenance was thought of as multi-craft; a maintenance person was responsible for maintaining all aspects of the operation. Some companies tried to hold onto that concept of Multi-Craft Maintenance but, as Multi-Craft Maintenance Technicians were becoming harder to find and therefore required higher pay, more and more companies began to deviate from multi-craft to specialty and single-craft positions that cover only limited areas such as facilities, electrical or mechanical. Some Maintenance positions did not include HVAC, some were primarily focused on servicing machines but not repair. Some employers subcontracted out facility maintenance and instead had their Maintenance employees perform preventative maintenance tasks on everything from manual machines to PLC driven multi-axis machines, to robots and robotic manufacturing machines – leaving the servicing to the warranty and/or contracted OEM experts. Trying to find the right balance between an effective Maintenance program that gives every employer what they wanted but does not train for skills that one might never have a chance to use and master and most likely would forget, proved increasingly difficult to say the least.

This dilemma for program and instructional design, I believe, is worse today. Read More

Read the full February, 2017 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.

Posted in News

Proactive Technologies Report – January, 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Best Wishes for a Bright and Prosperous 2017 from 
PROACTIVE TECHNOLOGIES, INC.!

Economic Development Opportunities – An Important Incentive in Attracting Companies to Your Region

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.
When organizations try to create new jobs in their area – working with companies that are considering moving to, expanding to or expanding within their areas – when it comes to labor availability many regional economic development strategies include an offering that consists of one part skills assessment, one part general skill classes and a sprinkling of worker tax credits or grants. That seems to be what most incentive packages include, but is that because: A) that is what the other offers look like; b) it has been like that for decades; C) it is assumed that is all that is available; or D) all of the above?
For over thirty years headlines sounded the alarm that those institutions that were training the workforce of tomorrow were not succeeding in their effort (see Proactive Technologies Report article, “An Anniversary That You Won’t Want to Celebrate: 30 Years Later and The Skill Gap Grows – Is it Finally Time to Rethink The Nation’s Approach?”). Many skilled workers that are available to work do not have the skills that employers need today. Not completely satisfied with their answer to the inevitable question regarding the region’s skilled labor availability and how workers with specific skill needs will be found or developed, some economic development organizations are exploring other options and opportunities.
It is important to understand that the types of skills that employers are most concerned with – especially employer-specific task-based skills – most likely have not been in the local workforce, nor have any programs been available in local institutions to develop them, simply because these new jobs, with new skill requirements, have never been in the area. The types of skills needed for most modern manufacturing and advanced manufacturing have never been developed because the need was not present nor the data on these jobs available. Even if the need was present, by the time the skill is recognized, a program developed and a worker completed the learning manufacturers either moved on or moved out.
Let’s face it, most organizations that promote their region for economic development do so on the current low cost of labor, right-to-work status, low business and employment tax rates, economic incentives, availability of infrastructure and quality of life. They probably never needed a system in place to develop the skills necessary to attract modern and advanced manufacturing. Companies interested only in geographical, financial and aesthetic incentives have already moved. Other employers understand that if they want higher skilled workers, they expect to pay higher wages now or later when those skill levels are reached and competition for skilled labor kicks in.
If we were honest with one another, community colleges and adult training centers are, at best, 10 -15 years behind the types of skills a prospective employee needs in order to learn and master the tasks required in modern facilities. It has always been like that, from time to time the gap surging deeper. The reason isn’t complicated; these institutions are designed as academic institutions first and have tried to fill a void in worker training with core skill development. However, they have never been embedded enough in today’s job environment to collect the job data necessary to be relevant nor have they applied the massive amount of government funding correctly to be that engaged.

Whether attracting new companies and helping them thrive and expand, or helping existing business to do the same, this approach is an important component of any economic development strategy.


I have written about another option for economic development strategies in past issues of the Proactive Technologies Report newsletter. For example, “ Regional Workforce Development Partnerships That Enhance Economic Development Efforts” . In another, “Apprenticeships That Make Money? Not As Impossible as it Seems Part 1 ” and Part 2 of 2 “The European Difference  – Setting Up an Apprenticeship Center”  I described one project that demonstrated a perfectly effective and inexpensive approach. For this project, Proactive Technologies was asked by a regional economic development office to attend a presentation in Germany for an employer that was considering a joint manufacturing venture in one of the state’s counties. Read More


Thinking Past the Assessment – Unfinished Goals and Unrealized Expectations

by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern 
U.S., Proactive Technologies, Inc.
Literally speaking, an “assessment” is the process of measuring the value, quality and/or quantity of something. There are many types of assessments,  and methods for assessing. In theory, it is the process of evaluating one thing against a set of criteria to determine the match/mismatch.
There are assessments for risk, for taxes, vulnerability. There are psychological, health, and political assessments. There is a group of educational assessments that measure a variety of outcomes such as educational attainment – assessments of course content mastery, assessment of grade level attainment, assessments of Scholastic Aptitude Tests (“SAT”) that compare a student to their peers nationally and a variety of college readiness exams.

“Determining that you, indeed, hired the right person for the job will not automatically ensure the person is successful in learning and mastering the job. The most important step in the employment process is seeing to it that the individual’s core knowledge, skills and abilities are applied in learning and mastering the tasks which they were hired to perform. That is where the money is made.” 

Educational assessments have been adapted for use in workforce development and employment, used to assess a prospective employee’s suitability for a job opening. They often measure more of what, if anything, a student learned and retained before graduating than how they match the employer’s actual job opening. Psychological assessments have been adapted to measure a prospective employee’s sociability to the workplace, morphing into a new category called “psychometric assessments.”
We have seen a growth in the employment assessment industry over the past 2 decades – particularly after 9-11. There are assessments for cognitive tests, physical abilities, “trustworthiness,” credit history, personality, criminal background and more. When used improperly, the methods have been challenged in court for their appropriateness and intent.
An assessment is a “test,” and has been held as such by court rulings over the years.  Read More

An Anniversary That You Won’t Want to Celebrate: 30 Years Later and The Skill Gap Grows – Is it Finally Time to Rethink The Nation’s Approach?

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.
Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It is not sure if that includes instances where the packaging has been changed but the process is basically the same. But I think we all feel, at times, a little like Bill Murray’s character in the movie “Groundhog Day” when it comes to skill gaps and worker training.
Proactive Technologies, Inc. was started in June of 1986 to address a critical need seen developing at the time. In the mid-1980’s, the addition of computers and microprocessors began to accelerate the automation of manufacturing and change the nature of work – sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes profound. Since this movement was in its infancy, it was difficult to predict its many directions and full impact. However, it was not hard to imagine that this was going to have a major impact on the nature of future work and, therefore, the way in which employers and education developed workers.
Leading up to this, while working in certification program development, training program development and quality engineering for manufacturers, I found that the traditional, academic approaches to job training were beginning to lose their effectiveness in the workplace. Even the techniques for developing training materials was no longer suited for a job classification that may have significant changes to it weekly. Rapid job changes affected job descriptions, hiring assessments, performance appraisals – impairing an employer’s efforts to remain compliant with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulation. Establishing certifications for workers was impossible since the training that led into it, and even the materials used for hiring a candidate, grew quickly obsolete. Evaluating worker performance was being reduced to subjective generalities, often generating resentment from workers and those that evaluated them.

It was not then, and is not today, uncommon for a displaced worker to bear the cost of a 2-year vocational program for a job that was there when the program started but not there when completed – a waste of time, money, opportunity and hope.”

Training materials and certification standards were difficult to develop and maintain to a moving target, and therefore often conflicts arose with engineering processes, and safety and quality compliance policies of the organization. Employers did not have the luxury to allow 6-8 months for the development of a training manual for just a part of the job, only to discover that 60% of it was obsolete when put into use.
The warnings went out, although more directed at the symptoms of the problem then the problem itself.

“By 1990, an estimated three out of four jobs will require some education or technical training beyond high school” … “Workers with critical technical skills will be retiring at an increasingly rapid rate. For example, the average of the nation’s 300,000 machinists is 58, yet the industry is training only one-forth of the skilled machinists needed each year.” 
Employment Policies:
Looking to the Year 2000
National Alliance of Business, 1986


“Some companies have calculated that the “occupational half-life*” of an employee has declined, on average, from 7-14 years to 3-5 years.”
* Length of time necessary for 1/2 of the employee – held knowledge, skills and abilities for competent performance (for the job classification originally hired) to become relatively obsolete.
Michigan Industrial Technology Institute, 1987

“Nearly $30 billion is spent on employee training each year in the United States…and most of that money goes to waste.”
Fran Tarkenton, Management Consultant
Training Magazine, November 1988


“Employers spent an estimated $30 billion last year on training, but some observers feel much of that outlay was wasted. If businesses want to get a bigger bang for their buck in the 90s, they have to make changes.” 
Noel Tichy, University of Michigan
Human Resource Executive, October 1988

Yet, technological advances were not the only threat to the once considered stable practice of worker development. In the 1970’s, America’s reaction to the skill gap was to begin outsourcing the production of entire industries – exchanging declining worker capacity with lower-waged labor…with even lower capacity. First, the steel industry took a hit and entire towns were devastated when the main industry that sustained the economy was dismantled and reassembled in lower-wage countries that minimized their own worker protections, environmental regulations, government taxation and oversight to attract the industry…in some cases incentivized directly or indirectly by our own government.
Next it was the electronics industry in the 1980’s. Again, entire communities who relied on the stability of well-paying jobs for their tax base and economic activity were left ravaged as citizens tried to first understand what happened to them, and then tried to figure out a way forward for themselves, their family and the community.
Each time this upheaval occurred the call by public officials was the same, “we need to train workers for the jobs of tomorrow”…”the old skills will not be effective in the new economy”…”America has to reinvent itself.” Federal and state government agencies responded to the crisis in a predictable way…more money to the same institutions to increase their capacity to train workers (without changing how they did that). And each time employers responded by spending more money to train workers because the institutions were not delivering what they needed. Read More

Changes in ISO 9001: 2015 and Any Effects on Worker Training

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.
The new standard ISO 9001: 2015 took effect September 15th, 2015. A transition period of three years will allow affected departments to make the necessary adjustments, but Quality Management Certificates issued under the old standard, ISO 9001: 2008, will have to include the new date.
Re-certification audit planning for the new standard must be performed at least 90 days prior to expiration, in other words by September 14, 2018, and the last audit day cannot exceed the deadline or a full, initial audit must be performed.
The new standard includes a couple of changes that make the new standard easier to implement with other management systems, and focuses more on management commitment and performance and less on prescriptive measures. The standard has a new structure called a “High Level Structure” and introduces the concept of “risk-based thinking.” The emphasis is on organizations identifying risks to standardize quality performance and taking measures to “ensure their management system can achieve its intended outcomes, prevent or reduce undesired effects and achieve continual improvement.” The revised standard also puts increased emphasis on achieving value for the organization and its customers; in other words “output matters.”
The process approach introduced in 2000 as the desired model for quality management systems will become an explicit requirement of ISO 9001: 2015. The standard requires understanding the needs of the clients or customers, end users, suppliers and regulators and the words “document” and “record” were replaced by “documented information,” acknowledging the need to broaden the concept in recognition of the advancement in information handling technology.
The new standard has more emphasis on requirements for competent performance of personnel, competence meaning “being able to apply knowledge and skill to achieve intended results.” The important role that structured on-the-job training has played so far in ISO/AS/TS compliance now becomes even more critical.
Those companies that already have the Proactive Technologies™ PROTECH© system of managed human resource development  in place already in place already meet the requirements structurally with regard to personnel competency, but management may need to show more commitment and understanding of the important role this plays in quality control. Those who have not addressed the earlier requirements for process-driven training in all the major models of quality management – ISO/TS/AS – should begin now to build the infrastructure if they want to meet that requirement under the new standard. Read More

Read the full January, 2017 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.
Posted in News

Proactive Technologies Report – December, 2016

cardHAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND STAFF FROM THE STAFF OF

PROACTIVE TECHNOLOGIES, INC.!!

Best Wishes for a Bright and Prosperous New Year! 

Proactive Technologies Significant Discount Offer Announced in November Still Open Until December 15, 2016! 

Free “No-Risk” Consultation Session Added – Witness Approach for Your Specific Job Classification Before You Decide

by Proactive Technologies, Inc. Staff

Proactive Technologies Inc. is extending a generous discount offer to manufacturing employers through December 15, 2016 ! It is our way to reach out to employers – both returning clients (mostly disrupted by the Crash of 2008) and newly interested contacts – with interest in exploring the power and benefits of a structured on-the-job training infrastructure, but may have been held back by budget realities.

Recently notices were emailed regarding this offer. Former clients received specific information describing, in brief, “where we left off” with their project, suggesting that they contact us to learn what little needs to be done to update and implement their program. This accelerated transfer of expertise™ approach is a tremendous offer without the discount, but with it can help any employer train the skilled workers they need and realize an increase in worker capacity, work quantity and quality and compliance while reducing the internal costs of training. New-hires and incumbent workers are driven to full job mastery and higher levels of return on worker investment (ROWI).

 In the event that anyone needed one more way (i.e. in addition to live online presentations, onsite presentations) to gather enough information to decide on whether to move forward with structured on-the-job training to boost their training strategy, we thought of an idea that might help them decide. Read More –  The Free Briefing Session and Turnkey Package Offers for Prospective Manufacturing Organizations and Returning Clients 

DeanUnderstanding the Important Difference Between Classroom, Online and On-The-Job Training: Knowing the Difference Can Save Your Organization Time, Money and Disappointment

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

In the November, 2016 issue of Proactive Technologies Report article entitled, “10 Reasons Structured On-The-Job Training is a Vital and Necessary System for Any Organization” I laid out 10 very important reasons employers should seriously consider adding structured on-the-job training to their worker development strategy.This is based on the supposition that everyone’s definition of “on-the-job training” is similar if not the same, the difference between “structured” and “unstructured” on-the-job training is clear and recognized, and the vast difference between true structured on-the-job training and “classroom” or “online” learning is unquestioned. It also needs to be understood that structured on-the-job training is not interchangeable with classroom and online learning, but rather the “capstone” of applying core skills developed from the latter into mastering units of work for which an employer is willing to pay wages.

There are not many jobs available for which employers are recruiting people who have taken classes, or a lot of classes, as if that is where value lies. If one finds a job like this it is because the employer believes, legitimately or mistakenly, it has a strategy to cultivate those core skills into the performance of work tasks. A task is recognizable by a beginning point, and ending point and a series of steps that, when performed in the right order to the right specification, result in a recognizable and desired outcome. No employer hires people and pays them wages for “being good at math,” “reading exceptionally well,” being aware of safety rules.” Rather they are hoping those skills are current enough, and apply directly enough, to tasks that need to be mastered and work the needs to be done.


Still, if the collective content of all of the classes offered were effective alone in developing the workforce, why after 30 years do we skill have a “growing skill gap?” Ask any graduate what percentage of their 2 or 4-year education they use in the job and you will hear 10%, 20%…maybe more in highly structured disciplines such as law, medicine and engineering. Obviously something more is needed. For most, education is a foundation upon which to build (through training received on the job) higher order skills and master tasks that need to be done…if that training is available and deliberate.


To understand the importance of structured on-the-job training, it is important to slide1differentiate between the three main types of learning in the workplace: classroom, online and on-the-job training. Classroom and online learning are pretty well understood as useful delivery methods in developing core skills that will be utilized later in mastering tasks they will be taught on-the-job and required to perform as the main reason for employment. However that is in no way a guarantee that either online learning and classroom learning – alone or combined – leads to mastery performance of a task without proper task training on how to apply those core skills in the performance of a unit of work; the task. If fact, if not correctly selected for job relevance (as opposed to industry acceptance), online and classroom content may have little impact on task performance and these core skills usually dissipate quickly without immediate and repetitive usage.  Read More


Retiring Workers and the Tragic Loss of Intellectual Stacey Property and Value 

by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager – Eastern U.S. – Proactive Technologies, Inc.

The warnings went out over two decades ago. Baby Boomers were soon to retire, taking their accumulated expertise – locked in their brains – with them. But very little was done to address this problem. Call it complacency, lack of awareness of the emerging problem, preoccupation wit h quarterly performance, disinterest or disbelief, very few companies took action and the Crash of 2008 dispruted any meager efforts that were underway.

According to Steve Minter in an IndustryWeek Magazine article on April 10, 2012, “Only 17% of organizations said they had developed processes to capture institutional memory/organizational knowledge from employees close to retirement.” Who is going to train their replacements once they are gone? Would the learning curve of replacement workers be as long and costly, repeating the same learning mistakes, as the retiree’s learning curve? Would operations be disrupted and, if so, to what level?


“In our new “outsourcing nation,” a widely held belief is that employees are simply costs to be cut and not assets to be valued.” …. “Manufacturing faces a two-sided problem: it not only has thousands of people retiring, but it does not have the training programs to train skilled workers to replace them.”
A Strategy to Capture Tribal Knowledge
IndustryWeek- Michael Collins 5-23-16

In the last few years, it seems an alternative to the concentration of expertise in a few subject matter experts has become to use lower-wage temporary or contract workers who specialize in smaller quantities of processes, and who can be “traded-out” with a minimum amount of disruption. History will tell us just how costly that approach was and if anything was learned. Read More

Can’t Find The Right Workers? Why Not Train Workers To Your Own To Specification?  

Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.

According to a recent report by Career Builder.com, more than half of the employers surveyed could not find qualified candidates: 71% – Information-Technology specialists, 70% – Engineers, 66% – Managers, 56% – Healthcare and other specialists, 52% – Financial Operations personnel. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, nearly half of small and mid-size employers said they can find few or no “qualified applicants” for recent openings. And anecdotal evidence from manufacturing firms echoes the same challenge with specialty manufacturing jobs such as maintenance, NC machining and technical support positions. This, in large part, can be attributed to the upheaval caused by the Great Crash of 2008 and the following disruption of several million careers. Sidelined workers saw the erosion of their skill bases while waiting years for an economic recovery that, for many, has not reached them yet.

However, many or most of these workers can be “reskilled” or “upskilled” for the current workforce. The solution lies not in waiting for the labor market to magically produce the needed qualified candidates, but rather in each company investing a little to build their own internal system of structured on-the job training. With such an infrastructure, any candidate with strong core skills can be trained quickly and accurately to any employer’s specifications. Furthermore, a strong training infrastructure has factored into it methods of acceptable basic core skill remediation when the benefit outweighs the cost.

No matter how you examine it, an employer is responsible for training workers to perform the essential and unique tasks of the job for which they were hired. It is not economically feasible or practical for education systems to focus this sharply. Waiting for them to do so or allowing it to happen by osmosis is risky and costly for the employer, since every hour that passes is one more hour of wage for unproductive output. Add to that the hourly wage rate of the informal on-the-job training mentor/trainer efforts multiplied by the number of trainees and this becomes a substantial cost that should attract any manager’s attention.

Investment in a formal, deliberate structured on-the-job training system will cut internal costs of training substantially, raise each person’s worker capacity to where it is expected to be, improve output quality and quantity, and raise worker compliance – to processes, to quality standards and safety mandates. It simply makes business sense.

For more information, click here  or attend one of the scheduled presentations.


Read the full December, 2016 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.
Posted in News

Proactive Technologies Report – November, 2016

Proactive Technologies is Reaching Out With a Significant Discount Offer Until December 15, 2016! 

by Proactive Technologies, Inc. Staff

Proactive Technologies Inc. is extending a generous discount offer to manufacturing employers through December 15, 2016! It is our way to reach out to employers who contacted us with interest in exploring the power and benefits of a structured on-the-job training infrastructure, but were held back by budget realities.

Recently notices were emailed regarding this offer. Former clients received specific information describing, in brief, “where we left off” with their project, suggesting that they contact us to learn what little needs to be done to update and implement their program. This accelerated transfer of expertise™ approach is a tremendous offer without the discount, but with it can help any employer train the skill skilled workers they need and realize an increase in worker capacity, work quantity and quality and compliance while reducing the internal costs of training. Both new-hires and incumbent workers are driven to full job mastery and higher levels of return on worker investment (ROWI).

For new clients, this turnkey package offer includes:
  • Performing detailed job/task analysis (incorporating employers’ process documents, qualilty and safety requirements) on targeted job classification(s);
  • Development of task-specific On-the-Job Training Plans and Checklists, Technical Procedures (Job-Performance Aids), and much more;
  • Training of employer’s current trainers to implement structured on-the-job training using the developed materials;
  • Technical support and record keeping/monthly reporting – 12 months;
  • Certificate of Job Mastery™ Portfolio preparation and delivery;
  • All production costs and expenses.
For former client-employers – those for whom their PROTECH© training infrastructure was built and investment made, but implementation was interrupted during the years following the crash of 2008 – this turnkey package includes:
  • Updating the previous job/task analysis (incorporating changes to employers’ process documents, quality and safety requirements) on targeted job classification(s);
  • Development of updated task-specific On-the-Job Training Plans and Checklists, Technical Procedures (Job-Performance Aids), and much more;
  • Training of employer’s current trainers to implement structured on-the-job training using the developed materials;
  • Technical support and record keeping/monthly reporting – 12 months;
  • Certificate of Job Mastery Portfolio preparation and delivery;
  • All production costs and expenses.
Why not find out more about this approach while the discount offer program is underway? What do you have to lose? Contact us to hear more how this discount offer can help your organization build a structured on-the-job training infrastructure with nearly half the normal investment. A live online presentation list is available in this newsletter. Click on the title you are interested in and best for a schedule, or click on Contact Us to schedule your own.
Watch your email inbox for a resend of the flyer in a few days with dates we will be in your area.

10 Reasons Structured On-The-Job Training is a Vital    Dean        and Necessary System for Any Organization

by Dean Prigelmeier, President of Proactive Technologies, Inc.
There are many reasons a deliberate, structured on-the-job training system should be a priority consideration for any employer. For decades employers have felt that having an employee take a few classes here and a few online modules there translates directly to improved worker output and performance. But for decades, as well, employers have continued to talk about a continually increasing “skills gap.” Connection? Obviously yes.

“Employers expend enormous resources – time, effort, dollars – on efforts to improve efficiencies…in some cases without making an appreciable difference or reaching the intended goals.”

A deliberate and documented system to develop workers and maximize the return on worker investment should be a “no-brainer.” Employers expend enormous resources – time, effort, dollars – on efforts to improve efficiencies…in some cases without making an appreciable difference or reaching the intended goals. But rather than a philosophical discussion comparing approaches to training, I thought it might be beneficial to just offer symptoms of failed approaches and reasons why any employer should think more seriously about the state of their internal training infrastructure.
According to a Training Magazine article entitled, “Bridging the Skills Gap” by Lorri Freifeld, these revealing points were extracted:
  • 49 percent of U.S. employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical positions within their organizations. (ManpowerGroup’s seventh annual Talent Shortage Survey; 1,300 U.S. employers surveyed; positions most difficult to fill: skilled trades, engineers, and IT staff).
  • Only 1 in 10 organizations has the skills needed to utilize advanced technologies such as cloud and mobile computing, social business, and business analytics. (2012 IBM Tech Trends Report; 1,200 professionals who make technology decisions for their organizations, 250 academics, and 450 students.)
    • Alarming number of professionals (more than 60 percent), and students and professors (73 percent) feel there is a moderate to major skill gap in these four technology areas.
    • Nearly half of the educators and students surveyed for the report indicated major gaps in their institution’s ability to meet IT skill needs.”
  • Even with preventative measures, there could be 20 to 23 million workers in advanced economies without the skills employers will need in 2020 (McKinsey’s The World at Work report). Read More

Frank Gibson, Long-Time Program Manager of The Ohio State University – Alber Enterprise Center Retires

By Proactive Technologies, Inc. Staff
Frank Gibson, Program Manager at The Ohio State University – Alber Enterprise Center in Marion Ohio announced that he will be retiring from his position officially November 4th, 2016. A retirement party was held at the center October 31st at The Center. After a brief “time-out,” Frank plans to pursue projects in his area of expertise as a self-employed contractor.
Mr. Gibson started his career path in manufacturing, working in management for companies such as Millington PlasticsU-Brand PlasticsBaja Boats and Hydraulic Inc. Prior to formally joining the OSU-AEC, The Center contracted with him through Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center Adult Education where he was employed from 1997 – 2002. Mr. Gibson also held assignments with the Ohio Department of Development – Ohio Industrial Training Program as an area representative, and as a business and industry consultant for Tri-Rivers Adult Education.
While at the OSU-AEC as Program Manager, Mr. Gibson performed front-end needs analysis of company’s training/education needs. This included: Issue Analysis, Strategic Planning, Facilitation Skills Train-the-Trainer, Meeting Skills, Managing Multiple Projects, Coaching and Training Plan Development. Some of Mr. Gibson’s many project clients included Ohio’s Triumph Thermal Systems LLC of Forest, GrafTech International Holdings of Lakewood, Parma and Sharon Center, National Lime & Stone of Findlay, and Uni-Grip Inc. of Upper Sandusky.
The OSU-AEC has continued to be a project partner with Proactive Technologies, Inc. since around 1996.  The Center continues to collaborate with Proactive Technologies on its Certificate of Job Mastery Portfolios offered to workers and trainees who master all of the tasks of their job classification through an employer-specific/job-specific PROTECH© structured on-the-job training program. Some projects have continued for many years, such as Triumph Thermal Systems (16 years),  Mahle Engine Components (10 years) and GrafTech International Holdings (3 years). Read More

A “Pay-for-Value” Worker Development Program –             Stacey  Fair to Management and Workers, and Effective Too!

by Stacey Lett, Regional Manager –
Eastern U.S., Proactive Technologies, Inc.
A conundrum for many employers – those who are allowed to consider the wage-value relationship in their business strategy – is “what is the right pay rate for work performed.” An often used strategy is to establish a competitive wage range for a job classification based on area surveys of similar job classification in the industry, adjusted for the uniqueness of work requirements for the employer’s job classification. Once hired, an employee progresses through the wage range measured by time in the job classification, in some cases with wage adjustments based on merit. While consistent, this approach may limit the employer to paying, in many cases, more for labor than the value derived. And here is why.
If an employer purchases a new, technologically advanced, piece of machinery that is advertised to increase the output of a process from 100 units per hour to 300 units per hour, the employer would be disappointed if it only received 150 units per hour. That employer would, most likely, challenge the manufacturer and perhaps request a refund if not satisfied.

“How would one determine the proper wage rate for the value derived if there is no effort to hire workers accurately to today’s job needs, train workers to all of the required tasks and measure workers for the work they were hired and trained to perform?”

______________________________________________________

Why doesn’t that same sentiment apply to hiring workers? In a hypothetical, but typical, example an employer has an opening for a job classification that consists of 50 critical tasks that the employer expects the person filling that job classification to perform. Why shouldn’t the employer expect that person to master all 50 tasks? What might happen instead, after what is considered to be the “training period” is completed, the employer notices through anecdotal evidence and whispers that the output from that hired individual is below expectation. As time goes by and dissatisfaction grows, the decision to terminate the employee is made, often not measured against the investment in the employee thus far. If retained, the employee progresses through the wage range with no guarantee that the employee’s output increases. Where is the concern to correct this?
This is what happens without the right infrastructure to develop the maximum output from each employee relative to the job classification they are assigned. It starts like this: Read More

New Live, Online Presentation Topics

Proactive Technologies Staff
Proactive Technologies has added 3 new live online presentations to its website offerings. Of course, all presentations are free of charge and provided to clients and prospective clients to help them understand the power of the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development. (click on title to view description).

View the full list of live online presentation topics for employers, education and workforce development agencies. Find a date and time that works for you, fill in the contact form and we’ll send an invitation and link. If none of the of dates and times work, mention a date and time good for you in your submission and we’ll set it up.

No special equipment needed – just a computer with speakers and microphone. If you do not have speakers and phone, use the “call-in” number.

Read the full November, 2016 newsletter, including linked industry articles and online presentation schedules.
Posted in News

Upcoming Live Presentations

< 2017 >
August
MTuWThFSS
 123456
78
  • 7:00 am-7:45 am
    2017-08-08
    (Mountain Time) The philosophy behind, and development/implementation of, structured on-the-job training; the many benefits the employer can realize from the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development in more that just the training area; examples of projects across all industries, including manufacturing and manufacturing support companies. When combined with related technical instruction, this approach has been easily registered as an apprenticeship-focusing the structured on-the-job training on exactly what are the required tasks of the job. Registered or not, this approach is the most effective way to train workers to full capacity in the shortest amount of time –cutting internal costs of training while increasing worker capacity, productivity, work quality and quantity, and compliance.Approx 45 minutes.
  • 9:00 am-9:45 am
    2017-08-08
    (Mountain Time) The philosophy behind, and development/implementation of, structured on-the-job training; how any employer can benefit from the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development in more that just the training area; building related technical instruction/structured on-the-job training programs and supporting them for employers across all industries. ISO/AS/TS and similar quality programs have a requirement that: standardize work processes guide quality, auditable task performance; training matches the process; training is documented for each worker; and a system is in place to ensure all are up to date and in sync. In addition to hiring, structured on-the-job training and performance evaluation instruments, PROTECH produces reports such as Technical Document (best practice for each task), Qualification/ Certification Checklists and more. One-revision updates all materials! Efforts like Lean, Kaisen, continuous improvement strategies all can render a lesser model obsolete and non-compliant in a few months. This model provides the lacking support needed to employers who want to easily and cost-effectively establish and maintain compliance. Approx. 45 minutes
9
  • 7:00 am-7:45 am
    2017-08-09
    (Mountain Time) The philosophy behind, and development/implementation of, structured on-the-job training; how any employer can benefit from the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development in more that just the training area; building related technical instruction/structured on-the-job training partnerships for employers across all industries and how it can become an cost-effective, cost-efficient and highly credible apprenticeship. When partnering with economic development agencies, public and private career and technical colleges and universities, this provides the most productive use of available grant funds and gives employers-employees/trainees and the project partners the biggest win for all. This model provides the lacking support needed to employers who want to easily and cost-effectively host an apprenticeship.  Approx. 45 minutes
  • 9:00 am-9:45 am
    2017-08-09
    (Mountain Time) This briefing explains the philosophy behind, and development/implementation of, structured on-the-job training; how any employer can benefit from the PROTECH© system of human resource development in more that just the training area. This model provides the lacking support employers, who want to be able to easily and cost-effectively create the workers they require right now, need.  Approx 45 minutes.
  • 1:00 pm-1:45 pm
    2017-08-09
    (Mountain Time) The philosophy behind, and development/implementation of, structured on-the-job training; how any employer can benefit from the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development in more that just the training area; building related technical instruction/structured on-the-job training partnerships for employers across all industries one-by-one. How this can become a cost-effective, cost-efficient and highly credible workforce development strategy – easy scale up by just plugging each new employer into the system. When partnering with economic development agencies, and public and private career and technical colleges and universities for the related technical instruction, this provides the most productive use of available grant funds and gives employers-employees/trainees and the project partners the biggest win for all. This model provides the support sorely needed by employers who want to partner in the development of the workforce but too often feel the efforts will not improve the workforce they need. Approx. 45 minutes
10111213
1415
  • 7:00 am-7:45 am
    2017-08-15
    (Mountain Time) The philosophy behind, and development/implementation of, structured on-the-job training; how any employer can benefit from the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development in more that just the training area; building related technical instruction/structured on-the-job training partnerships for employers in across all industries. When partnering with economic development agencies, public and private career and technical colleges and universities, this provides the most productive use of available grant funds and gives employers-employees/trainees and the project partners the biggest win for all. This model provides the lacking support needed to employers who want to easily and cost-effectively host an apprenticeship.  Approx 45 minutes.
  • 9:00 am-9:45 am
    2017-08-15
    (Mountain Time) This briefing explains the philosophy behind, and development/implementation of, structured on-the-job training; how any employer can benefit from the PROTECH© system of human resource development in more that just the training area. This model provides the lacking support employers, who want to be able to easily and cost-effectively create the workers they require right now, need.  Approx 45 minutes.
  • 1:00 pm-1:45 pm
    2017-08-15
    (Mountain Time) The philosophy behind, and development/implementation of, structured on-the-job training; how any employer can benefit from the PROTECH© system of managed human resource development in more that just the training area; building related technical instruction/structured on-the-job training programs and supporting them for employers across all industries. ISO/AS/TS and similar quality programs have a requirement that: standardize work processes guide quality, auditable task performance; training matches the process; training is documented for each worker; and a system is in place to ensure all are up to date and in sync. In addition to hiring, structured on-the-job training and performance evaluation instruments, PROTECH produces reports such as Technical Document (best practice for each task), Qualification/ Certification Checklists and more. One-revision updates all materials! Efforts like Lean, Kaisen, continuous improvement strategies all can render a lesser model obsolete and non-compliant in a few months. This model provides the lacking support needed to employers who want to easily and cost-effectively establish and maintain compliance. Approx. 45 minutes
1617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

Sign up!