How To Train a New Generation of Technicians

By Dan Hounsell, Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: Sustainability Part of Managers' New Normal

The need for training in maintenance and engineering departments never ends. Even managers who have stayed on top of the issue face ongoing challenges from new technology and shifts in the labor pool.

For most managers, though, the issue is rarely top of mind. Daily issues facing their departments, from energy efficiency to budgeting, dominate their days. For these reasons, it was especially worthwhile to take time — as I did last month, moderating a panel discussion at the NFMT Conference & Expo — to discuss the importance of training new technicians. Panelists and attendees offered insights and suggested strategies for streamlining the process, doing it cost-effectively, and most importantly, succeeding. Among their ideas:

Rethink attitudes. Managers can benefit from revisiting their beliefs about technician training. New technologies, as well as new training topics and resources, continually change the game.

Identify long-term, core needs. Identify the essential technical skills and general business knowledge that best benefits the organization, then identify candidates who have or can learn those skills.

Work all the angles. Technical schools, two-year-degree programs, trade associations, and unions all offer training resources.

Strongly consider military experience. It often brings a desired level of discipline and structure to maintenance tasks.

Hire with an eye on potential. Simply hiring the candidate with the best technical skills is short-sighted. Does the person also have communication, math, and general business skills?

Embrace the challenge. The task tends to be more important than many managers realize, and doing it well will take more effort than many now devote. Managers who tackle the issue head-on can help their organizations avoid larger, more expensive problems down the road.

Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities.

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How To Train a New Generation of Technicians

Sustainability Part of Managers' New Normal

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  posted on 4/8/2011   Article Use Policy

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