Worker development can focus on partners and employees

Invest in programs that will discover, prepare and retain strong team members

By Glenn Goldney, Rockwell Automation September 18, 2014

Smart business leaders know that to build a successful global organization, you must devote time, resources and capital into developing high-quality products and innovative solutions. However, as the manufacturing workforce ages and the number of skilled workers entering the industry decreases, it is equally important to invest in programs that will discover, prepare and retain strong team members to continue this progress for years to come.

Rockwell Automation believes that people are the foundation of its success. We demonstrate commitment to building our team through significant investments into educational and development programs for our employees.

Recruitment and retention

Core to its corporate culture, Rockwell Automation views people as its most critical asset. When we recruit new employees, we seek out individuals who will not just fill a role, but can grow with the company over time.

To help prepare recent college graduates with the specific knowledge and practical skills they’ll need to build a career with Rockwell Automation, we invest in several distinct training programs for early career employees.

New employees, recruited globally, can participate in one of four tracks held at state-of-the-art facilities in North America and Asia. Engineer in Training (EIT) provides a six-month intensive curriculum educating new employees on our hardware and software products, and their practical application. Sales Training is a six-month program, which focuses on our portfolio of products and where they’re found in various industries, along with soft skills essential for positive customer interactions.

Our Leadership Development Program begins with the EIT core curriculum and continues with three additional, six-month, rotational assignments in various organizations across the enterprise, providing on-the-job training in real business opportunities across several disciplines. Lastly, our Technical Development Program expands on the EIT core curriculum with a series of technically focused rotational assignments in various elements of our development organization, building the next-generation of technical architects.

These programs are a strategic investment designed to help young professionals begin their careers with a foundational knowledge of our organization and industry that sets them up for years of success.

Beyond new college-graduate training, Rockwell Automation provides ongoing training for employees throughout their tenure. From hands-on technical training and new product instruction, to leadership skills and diversity programs, Rockwell Automation offers a variety of opportunities for individuals to continue developing their skills and building their career. We encourage each employee to develop a 70-20-10 strategy for career development with his or her manager. As part of this plan, we recommend 70% of learning should be done on the job, 20% through mentors and peers, and 10% through formal training. Each plays a vital role in fostering collaboration and preparing employees for their next position.

Supporting a customer’s workforce

We also invest in sharing our knowledge and experience in this arena with our customers, who often struggle to overcome the rapidly changing workforce life cycle and global skills gap. In the past, potential employees were multiskilled and readily available. However, increasing attrition among highly skilled manufacturing professionals is leading companies to look for a better solution to identify potential talent and develop leaders.

Our Global Workforce Solutions initiative gives Rockwell Automation the opportunity to create custom workforce development programs with our customers that complement their overall business goals. We serve as a single-source partner and trusted advisor for all of their needs throughout the entire workforce development life cycle.

In order to create multifaceted employees, we offer a portfolio of more than 50 craft skills hands-on courses that cover the entire manufacturing landscape-from basic math to welding, mechanical concepts and electrical skills, over 150 automation and controls courses, and a comprehensive portfolio of Industrial Leadership Skills programs.

To help our customers overcome the skills crisis, we developed the Accelerated Skills Academy (ASA), an immersive 12-week program for highly motivated employees. By investing in this program, our customers see their employees gaining skills in three months that would usually take five to eight years of on-the-job learning in various positions. Customized programs for vertical industries-process manufacturing, oil and gas, and the food and beverage industry-educate our customer’s employees on skills specific to their trade.

The latest offering in our workforce development portfolio is Managing Industrial Networks With Cisco Networking Technologies. This is a hands-on, lab-based course, which helps students with the foundational skills needed in managing and administration of networked industrial control systems.

This course, developed in conjunction with Cisco, helps plant administrators, control system engineers and traditional network engineers understand networking technologies needed in today’s connected plant and enterprise. This lab-based course is the first of its kind and will launch globally in October of this year, with enrollment opening in August.

As we look toward the future of manufacturing, Rockwell Automation knows that investing in our employees, and helping our customer do the same, is key to building strong teams that will lead the way.

Glenn Goldney is global business manager, workforce and training services, Rockwell Automation