Contract training helps Emerson Network Power stay charged
Bobby Arrington usually fills his day at LaGrange’s Emerson Network Power making outdoor telecommunications cabinets for clients like BellSouth.
But recently he took a break from his welding duties to spend part of his shift learning the latest techniques of his craft with instructors from West Georgia Technical College — on company time and on the company’s dime.
“Whatever we can learn in these classes will help us as we go along,” says Arrington. “What I’m learning will help me do my job and also help me in training new employees in my area.”
Research shows that companies that invest in training improve both employee morale and overall productivity. At Emerson Network Power, Eddie Mabe, human resources manager, says he’s convinced the investment is worth it.
“Definitely, there’ve been noticeable results,” Mabe says. “I’ve seen improvements such as a reduction in scrap and increased efficiency.”
The technical college advantage
At Emerson Network Power, officials faced a growing challenge — keeping employees’ skills up-to-date in a rapidly expanding operation and a field where technology constantly changes the product. They went to West Georgia Tech seeking a solution to the problem. Linda Jones, vice president of economic development at the college, listened to their requirements and proposed contract training as the best fit for their training needs.
“This company needed a quick, effective solution that was tailored to their operation,” she says. “Contract training provided the company-specific component Emerson needed.”
“West Georgia Tech sold us on the industrial and maintenance training,” says Mabe, who’s had nearly 200 employees taking classes since October 2005 in subjects like math, measurement, blueprint reading and cabinet configuration, in addition to welding. “They studied our blueprints and based all the classes and projects on our processes and what our employees actually do. It was especially helpful of the college to offer Saturday training for our weekend shift.”
Pre-training assessment is another key component of the technical college’s offerings. To help make sure Emerson employees got exactly the amount of training needed, West Georgia Tech conducted individual assessments before courses began, giving each employee an opportunity to exempt from classes as their skills and knowledge merited.
“We do assessments whenever practical before drawing up a training plan for a company,” says Jones. “That way we’ll know what to train to, what the employees need most.”
“This project has been a success because the employees saw that the company really cares about them,” says Jones. “Not only was the company willing to absorb the cost of the training, but they also paid the employees while they were training, instead of making them do it on their own time.”
“Our turnover rate during the first four months has been phenomenally low, around 10 percent,” says Mabe. “That has a lot to do with this company’s investment in training.”
“It’s more cost-effective for a company to outsource training than do it in-house, and more cost-effective to use us than another source,” says Jones, also a former private training consultant. “I don’t know why any organization located within 20 miles of a technical college campus has a training arm at all.”
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