My grandfather taught me about manufacturing from the time I was quite small. His dad made him quit hgh school and get a job to help support the family. He got a job at The Monarch Machine Co. and was trained by the company as a machinist. Eventually his manufacturing experience led to a position as production superintendent at a General Motors plant. GM sent him up to its university–General Motors Institute (GMI)–for manufacturing mangement training.

I’m catching up after spending most of two weeks on the road. The good thing is that there is a lot of good information out there if you just see people and listen. Education and training were a key component of some of my visits. That plus a couple of interesting Web sites I found. Think about education for a minute. There was a time when companies knew that no matter how educated people were when they were hired, they really needed additional training to become proficient in their jobs and a contributing member of the organization.

Two weeks ago I was in California for a number of reasons, but one was to visit the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab–a series of discussions on a variety of technical topics of interest to entrepreneurs and students. I had been contacted for input on the topic of the month–“The Internet of Things.” The main presentation was from a company started in the living room of the parents of one of the founders.It’s an application putting vending machines on the Internet enabling route drivers to travel a more efficient route carrying only the required inventory. This topic has great relevance to the manufacturing space, too. That’s why I went and tried to make a number of new contacts.

The next week I was in Texas to attend the annual general meeting of the Fieldbus Foundation. While there, I visited folks at Emerson Process Management in Austin. One of the discussions centered on training in this era of downsized engineering staffs and travel restrictions. So the training gurus at Emerson have developed a virtual learning environment that simulates just about everything in physical attendance except the free donuts and coffee. Students register and commit to the specified times. They log in on a computer over the Web. They even have their own DeltaV system in the lab where the instructor can watch things happen. They see the instructor via live streaming video, can chat and get feedback. It’s a great compromise without really compromising anything.

In my reading, this post from Vivek Wadhwa on TechCrunch popped up. This also pertains to the importance of training your workforce. He writes:
My research team (at Harvard and Duke) found that India is achieving similar feats in workforce development by learning from the best practices of the western companies that have outsourced their computer systems and call centers there. It has adopted these practices and perfected them. Faced with severe talent shortages; escalating salaries; and a lagging education system, Indian industry had to adapt and has built innovative and comprehensive approaches to workforce training and management. Their initial focus was on training new recruits and filling entry-level skill gaps. Now, they are investing in constantly improving the skills and management abilities of their workers and in providing incentives for them to stay and to grow with the company.

Robert Scoble who is all over the Web and has focused on video interviews over the past few years posted this interesting video interview with the owner of a school. Some key points to look for in the discussion include, “Open sharing of knowledge. It’s revolutionary. Just a few years ago it would be unthinkable to be able to watch college lectures on the Internet without paying for them…” and “put the learner at the center” and surround with open content brought to them by technology. They make the point that education has such a marginalized role in society that doesn’t get the resources that a company would provide to grow.

And then one last link–this one to marketing guru Seth Godin, who links to a video “What Teachers Make.” You just have to watch this. 

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