Chris Matt: Training Budgets Shrink but Education Remains Strong
The cost of complex equipment and technology for commercial and institutional buildings is on the rise.
Considering those escalating costs, properly maintaining these systems is more important than ever. Those two points are tough to debate.
But when managers tell me training funds often are the first casualty in their ever-tightening budgets (see "Roundtable"), I shake my head in disbelief. It seems counterintuitive for organizations to spend big bucks on equipment but not invest in those responsible for keeping it in top condition.
Even more troubling: The same managers who talk about non-existent training funds also say — almost in the next breath — technicians are the drivers of the maintenance department. So, in effect, technicians are getting behind the wheel without enrolling in driver's education.
"A lot of the administration folks feel that, 'Well, we trained you that one time, you should retain that knowledge,'" one manager explained, referring to manufacturer training typically included with new-equipment purchases.
Managers know one-time training — often when equipment comes online and operates at peak condition — won't suffice. Some departments are creating their own training and education programs, while others pair inexperienced technicians with veterans who pass along invaluable knowledge. Low-cost online training also has become more readily available.
Despite a lack of support from top management, it's evident managers are doing everything possible to avoid catastrophic equipment breakdowns, as well as the inevitable question of how managers and technicians could have prevented the catastrophe.
Chris Matt offers insights gleaned from conversations with managers who make key maintenance and engineering decisions in commercial and institutional facilities.