Posted in: Industry News

TOUGH TALK An Educated Workforce: Our Most Important Asset

Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011

By Kevin Biller

It’s easy to analyze our businesses with financial reports. We are all well in tune with Income Statements, Balance Sheets, A/R and A/P Reports and Cash Flow Analysis. I wonder, however, how often do we analyze the skill level of our workforce and provide the requisite training to keep them current with technology and management skills.

It is easy to cut your training budget when money gets tight, but have you seriously considered the ramifications of reducing or eliminating the continuing education of your staff? Here is a quick list of the benefits of employee training:

• A reduction in accidents and on-the-job injur

• Increased operational efficiency

• Improved problem solving

• Increased innovation in processes and materials selection

• More independent work force requiring less supervision

• Better risk management (less harassment, diversity issues)

• Increased job satisfaction and overall employee morale

• More highly motivated employees

• Higher customer satisfaction

• Higher profits

The American Society for Training and Development observes a mixed bag for organizational spending on employee training. As one might expect, expenditures as a percent of payroll decreased from 2008 to 2009 mainly due to the economic downturn. In spite of this, training expenditure as a percent of revenue increased slightly. Training Magazine reports that the employee education budgets of 76% of organizations they surveyed were reduced or stayed the same from 2009 to 2010.

How much training should you dedicate to each employee? An easy rule of thumb is 40 hours per year. This can take place as traditional in-person instructor-led seminars, college coursework, webcasts, podcasts or independent e-learning (e.g., online courses). It is also wise to assess the individual’s learning style when choosing a training option. Younger workers are typically more amenable to e-learning options, whereas more mature workers may prefer the more traditional methods.

In a high technology industry such as powder coatings, it is essential to continuously train employees. We here at the Powder Coating Institute take this mission very seriously. PCI has a long tradition of providing hands-on workshops throughout the year and at a variety of venues across the country. These include the two-day courses, Introductory Powder Coating and Advanced Powder Coating. In addition, PCI will custom- tailor a course to the needs of your organization and bring it to your facility.

One of the best ways to educate you and your staff is attendance at the upcoming NAI Coating Show being held in Cincinnati this October 4-6. Not only is the technical conference chock full of presentations illuminating the latest technology and market trends in our industry, but we will also be providing a technical help session where industry leaders will conduct a round table discussion on a wide range of topical issues. In addition, the exhibit floor is an excellent place to engage industry experts regarding technical solutions to your organization’s needs.

The PCI is not stopping here. We are constantly evaluating innovative means to educate our members and their staffs. Our certification programs enlighten and enhance operational efficiency and quality. We are also revising our Technical Briefs compendium to bring them up to date in relevancy and technical accuracy. And finally we are developing technical programs aimed toward formulators, scientists and finishing engineers.

When you look at it, dedication to employee training is a no-brainer. A well-educated work force is the best asset in which a company can invest. It provides long-term dividends that buoy the bottom line more than any other place you can spend your money.

Kevin Biller is a contributing editor of Powder Coated Tough magazine. He can be reached via email at