Industrial Training: How Mentorships Could Fill the Skills Gap

No matter what industry you’re in, having a flow of knowledgeable, well-trained employees is key. This has become a challenge across the board — and especially in companies that require industrial training — as the workforce has seen a surge in the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation.

In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, Baby Boomers are retiring in droves, taking companies by surprise and leaving a huge gap in their workforce, as well as in their base of industry-related experience.

Having a workforce that’s properly trained and well fleshed-out is essential — not just to the success of your organization, but also to overall employee happiness. For many in the industrial field, instituting mentorship programs is an effective way of onboarding and training new employees in a manner that ensures a successful transition from a newbie to a knowledgeable staff member.

The pluses of mentorships in industrial training are multi-tiered, benefiting the incoming employees, the more experienced ones, as well as the entire organization.

Personalized Industrial Training

Most businesses have a standard training program in which a new employee spends a matter of hours or days being taken through the processes, procedures, and policies that will make up their day-to-day job. This generic type of training fails to make use of one of your company’s biggest assets: the fact that each employee is an individual with specific strengths and weaknesses.

Humans are central in any workplace, and highlighting individual skills and areas of potential growth is a key strategy in helping each employee reach their potential. Having new employees work alongside an experienced mentor will offer personalized, one-on-one training that goes beyond an employee handbook to showcase what each person is bringing to the table, as well as areas they can work to strengthen.

Task Delegation

Another key part of the mentorship process is delegating tasks and responsibilities as the training process progresses. Clear communication with industrial workers is important as this happens to ensure that no balls get dropped. The mentor must make it clear what tasks their trainee is responsible for accomplishing and what the expected outcome should be.

This task delegation has a double benefit. First, handing off increasing levels of responsibility builds both confidence and experience in the new employee — empowering them to use critical thinking and make good decisions. Second, it relieves some of the task load from the current base of employees, especially during a time when industrial staff can be stretched thin due to an increasing number of retirements.

Passing Down Company Knowledge

No industrial training is one-size-fits-all, as each company is different. Every organization and workplace in the world has its own history, traditions, processes, quirks, and things that are learned over time.

Many of these items can be fast-tracked through a mentorship program designed to pass on company-specific knowledge from one generation of workers to the next. In addition to putting new employees in the loop faster (rather than putting them in a role and having them learn only from on-the-job experience), this helps create a robust company culture that can build loyalty both among current employees as well as those joining the team for the first time.

Effective Communication is Key

To make the mentorship process a success, all mentors must be schooled in how to effectively communicate with incoming employees — many of whom will be younger. Millennials and Generation Zers are entering many workplaces as a group that has become increasingly drawn to digital formats as a style of communication.

While Baby Boomers and Gen Xers may be more used to a face-to-face talk or long email exchanges, maintaining clear communication with Generation Z employees is often more successful over short-form formats such as texting or messaging. As the younger generation steps up to assume more responsibility, the more experienced generation must evolve to accommodate the information exchange.

By working together in this manner, industrial companies can help fill any gaps in their workforce — from skills to experience and beyond.