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MAY ONLINE ARTICLE: Developing training programs

May 20, 2002 12:00 AM

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One of the greatest challenges for graphic-arts companies is hiring and training employees. According to Jim Clark, process improvement manager at McNaughton & Gunn, Inc. (Saline, MI), and president of the Assn. for Graphic Arts Training (AGAT), employers must establish a training program that not only assesses current skills and requirements, but also maps out ongoing employee development. He notes that a good training plan will link each department to the company's strategic plan, and should reflect the company's mission, goals and strategies.

Clark identifies the following steps in developing a training plan:

  • Define skills and competencies; assess current skills. Look at every job in the department and identify what skills are required for those jobs, says Clark. This is frequently referred to as the skills profile. Then, determine where skills lie among current employees.

  • Identify training needs. Look at the gaps that exist between the skills profiles and current competencies. These gaps provide the starting point for the training programs, which typically combine formal (classroom) and informal (on-the-job) sessions.

  • Establish training goals and events; develop a timeline.

  • Create a budget for training.

  • Identify necessary resources and obstacles. The exec suggests asking two questions: What do you need to turn the plan into reality? What potential obstacles exist? Printers need to think of answers in both a departmental and company-wide context.

  • Develop the evaluation criteria. How will you know if the training has been successful? "Evaluation is a critical piece in your plan that forces you to check and adjust your training over time," Clark says.

AGAT will hold its annual conference Sept. 22-25 in Milwaukee. For more information, see, or contact Debbi Campisi, AGAT communications officer and president-elect, at (540) 465-6663.