16:06 PM

Well-organized OJT Programs for apprentices ensures proficiency and experience needed for an expanding economy

By Mario Reyna, Dean of Business, Public Safety and Technology at South Texas College

Great companies around the world have always employed apprentices, and have on-the-job training programs to ensure their employees are successful.

In today’s ever-changing economy, the constant demand for better-educated and well-trained employees calls for industries, businesses, high schools, and colleges to take a more active role in order to have a collective impact in our workforce. Some individuals think that industry credentials are the answer, while others suggest that apprentices in a well-organized OJT program can solve the problem of lack of experience, which is a constant point of discussion.

A Registered Apprentice Program can solve the lack of qualified individuals in our workforce, but success in any job requires three things: job knowledge, proficiency training, and job experience.

To be successful in any career requires job knowledge. Giving employees the understanding they need to perform a task will bring out an awareness that will reverberate throughout the company.

Enlighted employees have critical thinking skills. They know how to use judgment, how to collaborate, and work in teams to solve problems. These skills can increase the bottom line for any operation, so providing the knowledge to an apprentice is the first step to having an excellent employee. Knowledge obtained by reading technical manuals, YouTube presentations, vocational courses or attending a college or university will further add to the well-being of any organization. Allowing employees the opportunity to gain additional knowledge is not an expense, but an investment that employers need to provide to everyone employed.

Knowledge is power, and giving it to your employees will always put any operation on the leading edge.

Job proficiency is another key to a successful career. Well-organized companies that have OJT Programs have a master list of skills for each occupation that apprentices require. These occupations utilize task performance levels, task knowledge, and subject knowledge so apprentices build proficiencies by performing the tasks expected from other employees in the same profession. As the employees progress through the master task list, a master, mentor or trainer documents the proficiency of the employee then moves to the next task that is needed to fulfill the total requirements of the job. You cannot become proficient only by simulating things, so employees need to do tasks required in their occupation to help the company improve their bottom-line. Apprentices will make mistakes of course, but in a well-organized OJT Program, the trainer will always have a plan to minimize the risk and increase the proficiency and productivity of their employees.

Experience is the most common factor that determines whether someone is hired or not, and the only place one can gain experience is by working in the field. Business and industry are the best places to provide the experience they need for their employees. This is hard work because everybody is so busy, but what is the alternative? Does this mean waiting for someone else to provide the experience you need from your employees? Hiring an apprentice guarantees that an employee will acquire the required experience in the workplace, and if more companies did this, the experience gap that exists in the market place would shrink. Colleges and universities can provide the knowledge someone needs to perform their job, but an employee with the right mentor can achieve job proficiency and experience.

Apprentices are the key to a dynamic workforce where experience and skills will be a dominant factor for hiring new employees. Collectively, colleges and universities can provide the knowledge required to perform the job, but businesses should have well organized OJT Programs for apprentices to ensure the proficiency and experience needed for an expanding economy.