Baking & Snack - September 2015 - 133

Jim Kline

The New Training


Over the course of several articles, this column has
touched on the importance of effective training of operations and support personnel, both line workers and
supervisors, as well as on some of the techniques for
conducting effective training programs. As many can
attest, employee training is one of the most essential
investments a company can make. However, providing workers with efficient tools to do their job is just as
Since the 1970s, the shortage of skilled workers to fill
production and maintenance positions has been confronting the baking industry. How is it after all these
years we have not been able to resolve the issue? As an
industry, we talk about it a lot, but we don't seem to get
anywhere. Many baking companies have departments
dedicated to training and development. It is always on
the short list of priorities that our various associations
focus on, and there are always committees and task
forces assigned to tackle the subject. We employ various
consultancies to provide instructional programs that
range from improving foundational skills, to teaching
necessary operational skills, to advising on successful
organizational leadership. Yet, 40 years later, we still are
confronted by the skills shortage problem.
I believe this is because we have not identified how
much the skills shortage, turnover associated with inadequately trained employees, process loss created by
employee practices, downtime resulting from protracted
diagnosis and repair of production equipment is costing
our companies and the industry.
In many ways, we have systems that by design obscure the information we need to quantify these costs.

What is the ROI of your
training programs? Don't
know? You're not alone ...
most companies do not.
How many of your downtime reports focus on the response time to repair a piece of equipment, rather than
the time a piece of equipment is down? Consider the last
time you looked at a Pareto chart. What did it tell you?
It was probably either the number of times a particular
event happened, or the cumulative minutes it was inoperative. What it did not tell you was how often that
downtime was associated with operational factors, or
how the downtime was related to protracted efforts at
trying to identify or repair the problem.
Maybe it is time we develop a method for determining the true cost of unskilled and untrained workers. When we identify serious issues that confront our
industry - and put a cost to them - we address the
fundamentals of those issues and taming those costs.
Working as a united front, bakers, equipment manufacturers and others who support the baking and snack industries are successful in the areas of worker safety, improved sanitary design and energy conservation. What
would it take to elevate the training of our employees
to the same level of commitment as has been given to
energy reduction, GMP compliance and worker safety
It would seem the first order of business would be designing tracking systems that take into consideration the
softer issues of operational performance and equipment
maintenance: the impact of skills on line performance
and operational cost.
Second would be identifying the skills required to
perform a task - not the generalizations that state,
"Adjust divider to maintain weight" or, "Troubleshoot
3-phase motor control circuits." Rather, it would look / September 2015 Baking & Snack 133

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