Apprenticeship programs that use an on-the-job training approach are an effective way to recruit and retain technicians.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Mass Transit Magazine
Many organizations have succession plans to ensure there are people in place who can continue the business into the future. So, why aren't more organizations developing succession plans to help their newer workers eventually take over for those senior and experienced workers who will retire or leave.
Without such preparation, retiring workers or those veteran workers that decide to leave or, sadly, die, will take with them their wealth of knowledge and experience. Some lessons cannot be learned from a book or training course.
A best practice is to develop a formal program wherein experienced technicians mentor newer workers to not only pass along their years of gained knowledge but to help them develop proper work behaviors.
These types of programs are also a way to embrace new employees and help them succeed. Moreover, newer technicians improve their know-how and skill sets, and their shops benefit from decreased repair times and mistakes.
CREATE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS
In an effort to recruit and retain experienced technicians, Metra Rail in Chicago developed its own apprenticeship program that uses an on-the-job training approach.
A detailed task analysis and objectives list was created that encompasses all areas of a particular job. The agency then uses its more senior technicians as mentors to help train and track an apprentice's progress.
These mentors have been trained in adult learning principals in order to make them more effective.
Completed tasks must be annotated as such by a mentor. This increases communication and commitment by everyone involved in the process.
The apprenticeship program has allowed Metra Rail to attract better quality recruits with the promise of a structured training environment culminating in a work ready employee. It also trains existing staff on new technologies, enabling them to keep current while maximizing vehicle availability.
OUTSIDE THE JOB
VIA Metropolitan Transit of San Antonio, TX, has been working to demonstrate to its employees that they are its most valuable resource.
The agency's HR department, in addition to dealing with employment and training matters, oversees the company's child development center. The department has opened management development and customer service training modules to all employees for training on topics and areas not related to their current job.
Such moves have been an "attractive tool that maintains an environment worthy of an employee's commitment," according to VIA officials. Bringing an employee into the "fold" and creating programs for both the employee and the employee's family contributes to an employee's decision to stay or leave the company.