Are you getting the right engineering training? Here’s how to check

Article Source: IMechE

Successful training needs to develop the right people, with the right skills, at the right level.

For example, training on the latest tech is no good if your machines are out of date. And mechanical training when you are short of electrical engineers (or vice versa) won’t help a skills imbalance. 

Good training needs to provide challenge without being so complicated that it disengages people. Otherwise, the time and budget you have worked so hard to secure will be wasted. In my last article, I talked about the common pitfalls that prevent training from being effective. Above all else, any training needs to be relevant to the working environment. 

But how do you check that a training course is right, for you or your team members?

For an accurate approach a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) looks at the skills you have in your workforce and identifies the gaps. A TNA will start by looking at the technical knowledge required within your specific business across a number of technology areas. Combining theory and observations on the job, any TNA should aim to capture the real knowledge and skills of the individual. An inspection of production will also be used to gather information about the processes and technologies that you use and how they impact on the needs of your team.

Workplace requirements and production processes must always be linked to business strategy, so discussions with managers are an important part of any TNA. This establishes training needs from a business perspective, including any targets, goals, key performance indicators and standards that need to be achieved. As well as ensuring that any subsequent training adds value to the business.

All of the findings are included in a report that details the knowledge level of employees, analyses the skills gaps, and outlines the potential impact of these gaps on your business objectives. A series of concrete actions are then recommended, including the scope and level of training measures and a strategic training plan.

A simple Knowledge Check can also be a useful tool to assess individual training needs. At Festo, we have created free-to-use online Knowledge Checks on key technical topics such as pneumatics, hydraulics and electrical engineering. After completing a Knowledge Check, all participants receive an individual assessment of their results and a recommendation for further training. 

You can develop your own Knowledge Checks. The first step is to clearly define your objectives – what knowledge and skills do you need to assess? Create a series of questions clearly related to these objectives that give participants the opportunity to demonstrate their competencies. 

Always keep your questions relevant, and don’t try to trick or confuse people. Remember, you are trying to get a true view of what an individual already knows and where they would benefit from training. These checks are designed to identify knowledge gaps and help people to learn, rather than to highlight weaknesses.

TNAs and Knowledge Checks are important steps in the development of training that is tailored to your individual and workforce needs. This ensures that your team skills and workforce development are aligned with your business objectives to maximise productivity and results.

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