Building a successful maintenance department depends a great deal on quality personnel. Maintenance training programs can be healthy contributors to keeping staff at peak performance levels and equipped to deal with whatever new technologies or challenges present themselves in the shop.
The Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) devised a 10-point program development plan that Richard Wong, manager of maintenance, credits as the backbone of its training efforts.
1. Establish support from management.
The general manager or CEO of your system should be a champion of maintenance training.
2. Develop a needs assessment.
To create an appropriate training program you need a realistic picture of where your operation is now, and where you would like it to be in the future.
3. Compile a budget.
Without a set, approved list of expenditures you will have to expend time and energy begging for and borrowing every dollar. According to Wong, the average cost of training per employee in the United States is $724 per year.
4. Compose a five-year plan.
It’s not possible to reach all of your goals in one year. Take a long-range vision.
5. Recruit qualified instructors.
This can be the most difficult element in creating a maintenance training program. Instructors should come from within the ranks and be masters of their material if they are to earn the respect of trainees.
6. Purchase or create high-quality intellectual property.
OCTA divided its training into modules and developed instructional volumes to go along with each module. That provided standardization and continuity of training.
7. Invest in facilities and equipment.
Proper training requires appropriate settings and tools. OCTA also invested in a mobile training lab to save travel time.
8. Network with external resources.
OCTA has relationships with four community colleges that provide training in alternative fuels and advanced technologies. The colleges and the transit system split federal and state training dollars, earning OCTA $86,000 so far.
9. Collaborate with others.
OCTA conducts training sessions with other properties and school districts in Southern California. This adds new perspectives to the classes and increases competitiveness.
10. Measure your success.
Earning external validation, in the form of awards and other objective recognition, can increase the internal support you receive for your program.