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
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?
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
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.