Thursday, April 3, 2014

Workforce Enablement Technology White Paper - Introduction

Walk into the dorm room or living room of any prospective operator and you will see a vast amount of technology that wasn’t present when you hired your existing operators. From gaming systems to Blu-ray players, the technology gap between the generations is staggering. When you consider that your plant’s operation relies on a well-trained workforce, you must realize that the training tools that worked in the past may not be effective with today’s younger workforce.

As the older generation retires, technology holds the key to engaging the next generation of operators. Today’s technology enables higher workforce retention by accelerating careers and keeping the next generation of workers more engaged and invested with updated training tools that speed training time. Among the best indicators of the efficiency and success of any organization is the level and depth of its personnel training. Well trained employees perform better and, in turn, create a better performing business and an improved bottom line. This paper discusses how recent advances in technology have enabled efficient and effective workforce training.

Modern processing plants, such as those in the oil & gas and chemical industries, are extremely complex operations, requiring highly trained, mobile and flexible operators both in the control room and in the field. In recent years, as plants and their operating controls and procedures get more and more complex, a fundamental shift in the workforce has made it necessary for process industry companies to focus on attracting and retaining the kind of workplace operators they require. Older workers – those with experience and domain knowledge – are retiring in greater numbers than in previous years. New workers, while they may have solid educational qualifications, lack real world know-how. Thus there is a serious gap between what plants need, and what they have, in terms of a qualified workforce.

The process industries also face greater demand for regulatory compliance in the areas of
workplace safety, environmental concerns, and sustainability, which impact the way modern operators work and the kind of training the require. So why are these modern processing plants using the same training methods they have been using for decades?

Traditionally, new hires have been trained “on-the-job” by experienced operators who act as mentors, however this is no longer the most efficient teaching method. Mentoring is only as good as the individual mentor, and usually, only one new hire or at best a few, benefits from one mentor’s experience. The mentor may pass along not only the good and necessary information and habits, but some of the less desirable ones
too, that over time have become the norm. Also, it is extremely difficult to pass along knowledge and experience about occurrences that are infrequent in a plant, such as start-ups, shutdowns or abnormal crisis situations. For these situations, there is no alternative except practice and preparation.

Part 2
Part 3