“If it’s not right, we’ll make it fit ...”

How our customers are using sophisticated training concepts to combat the current skills shortage.

© Master1305 / Shutterstock

© Master1305 / Shutterstock

Many of our customers are well aware of the current skills shortage. How do we know that? When we editors ask about the target audience during our research, we hear similar things over and over.

“Staff have either one set of skills or another. All-rounders are very difficult to find.”

“We don’t know exactly who will be installing and connecting our products. In the past we could be certain that it would be an electrical engineer.”

“We find it very hard to find suitable service staff. In the past applicants were much better trained.”

When we then talk to the target audience itself, we learn that, especially in production and/or highly technological industries, there are few employees who reached their current position in a straight line. A cook has become a service technician, a trained retail salesperson has become a plant manager, or a carpenter now works as a specialist for warehouse logistics.

A sceptic may ask: “How would a carpenter learn about order-based commissioning?” Or: “How can a cook know what is important when repairing a piston diaphragm pump?”

Instead, we ask: “Why not?”

In recent years we have gained a lot of experience in the field of requirements-based knowledge transfer. 

For example, we worked with a customer to develop a training concept for training new employees at a production site that was then under construction. The unusual challenge was that this new site was located outside of Europe. In order to satisfy our target audience, we had to consider the country-specific education policy, but also aspects such as cultural particularities and potential language barriers. We therefore developed training modules that built upon each other, and contained learning materials with plenty of illustrations and very few (but easy to comprehend) text passages. Then we added modules such as step-by-step instructions for individual activities, explanatory material, repeat questions and exercises that could be tailored to the knowledge level of the training participant in question.  

In a different project, our customer, who owned a business that used mainly manual production, had difficulties bringing the employees (spread across different production sites) up to the same knowledge level. The customer asked us to provide workshops and training courses, in order to learn more about the topic of “knowledge management” and to generate tips and ideas for implementing a sustainable knowledge transfer system at the individual sites.

We are currently assisting in a training project for a manufacturer of animal feed, who is receiving decreasing numbers of job applications because of the shift work involved in production. That company realised years ago that a sense of responsibility and motivation are far more important in a good employee than pre-existing knowledge and educational diplomas. The business now proactively employs career changers, gives them specific training and prepares them for their specific job requirements through intensive introductory training. We assisted our customer in this task by first working with them to develop a training concept with a balanced mixture of theory and practise, and by then creating the required training documents. Today, we work hand-in-hand with our customer to train their employees. While kothes provides the theoretical training, one of our customer’s employers conducts the practical training. The practical trainer supports us in company-specific questions, and we support them in matters of methodology and didactics.

We learned a lot from these projects. In times of effective full employment, and particularly in the fields of production and service, it is often necessary to recruit employees who have no qualifications, or none in the relevant field. A well-thought-out training concept adapted to the relevant level of knowledge can prepare even new entrants quickly and easily for the requirements of the company in question and give them the skills they need for their work. All according to the motto: “If it’s not right, we’ll make it fit.”

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