With the growth of the skills gap and industry automation, companies are seeking a balance between sufficient training and taking on new technologies. Tooling-U released a thorough and informative white paper titled “Proving the ROI of Training: Moving from Expense to Necessity.” The report offers research into company performance with training, proper training practices and calculating ROI, among a variety of insights. We reached out to Chad Schron, Co-founder and Vice President of Operations and Technology at Tooling U-SME to see what he had to say about training, ROI and the impact on both a company and industry.


What are some of the signs that indicate a company is in need of becoming a high-impact learning organization (HILO) and should consider investing in training?

Any company should consider becoming a HILO. There are several variables that come into play indicating a company needs to become a HILO:

  1. When an organization does not have a learning management strategy in place
  2. When business loss occurs due to the lack of skilled workers needed to produce products

A structured training and development program can help companies become world-class organizations and strengthen business operations.  


How should a company go about selecting individual(s) in their company that could benefit from training?

When selecting individuals to participate in training companies should consider:

  • The current productivity and performance level of the employee
  • Whether the advanced equipment and technology the employee works with requires advanced training
  • Understanding the skills set of an incoming employee
  • Knowledge of the advanced skills that will be needed to meet future production demands

  With all of the recent advances in manufacturing, such as advanced manufacturing, additive manufacturing and 3D Printing, do you see the skills gap issue widening, and the need for training actually increasing?

Absolutely. As long as we see advancements in technologies and equipment, there will always be a need for training. The skills gap is widening because companies are having a hard time finding a workforce with the skills needed to operate the new machinery and technology that they are investing in before funding employee development. The skills gap will continue to swell if manufacturers continue to avoid human capital funding.  

How does training benefit the employees, the company, the customers and the industry as a whole?

Workforce training has a trickle-down effect:

  • Employees feel nurtured and empowered once they have been properly trained;
  • Companies can expect increased productivity, reduction in downtime, workplace safety, and an improvement in employee morale and innovation;
  • Customers benefit from quality of products and materials;
  • The industry will benefit from reduced manufacturing costs as well as a steady pipeline of skilled workers

  In the report, it states that many manufacturers rely on the well-established New World Kirkpatrick Model, which uses four-levels, to approach training: Reaction, Learning, Behavior and Results. Why do many manufacturers seek this method? Is it because it is easy to track, affordable, proven to bring about results, or a combination? Are there other proven methods to track training programs?

Manufacturers seek and use the New World Kirkpatrick Model primarily because of the model’s proven results. The methodology is easy to follow, as the theory and practices of the model allow users to establish learning and development strategies that can be measured against a set of pre-determined objectives and the company’s business goals – ultimately leading to a positive change in performance and results.  

How can training be executed and monitored while not disrupting productivity in the workplace?

  1. First, human resources, production and operations managers must work together to develop job descriptions that accurately define the qualifications needed by workers – this needs to include both knowledge and skills. This front-end analysis provides the foundation for a program that meets a company’s objectives related to budget, consistency, measurability and results, and a program that can be instituted across an organization.
  2. Informal learning through books, videos and other on-the-job competency information is key and can be reviewed at the employee’s leisure. This complements the tribal knowledge that new employees gain from experienced workers.
  3. Top management has to support the training times that supervisors schedule and they must stick to those times to impact the process.
  4. Developing a good communication plan is critical and should serve as a road map that guides the organization’s work toward specific outcomes. It is also important to communicate to the shop floor staff that this focus is on knowledge and skill requirements of the job and align training designed to help each individual perform his or her job more efficiently, while providing new growth opportunities.

  Should training concentration be invested in tried-and-true machinery, new machinery or big data tracking and communication across the plant, or all of these? 

Training should be tied back to business needs and where results are needed.  

How can a company ensure that the training is aligned with business objectives? Training should align with the company’s business strategy, therefore, management needs to collaborate with senior leadership to make sure new curricula accurately reflects the priorities of executives and the company’s objectives. Leveraging the company’s business strategy as the basis for workforce development allows organizations to deliver practical training programs that are directly aligned with key business goals and imperatives.  

If training is implemented to update existing skilled workers on a newer method or machinery, is there a gap in learning for newer members of the workforce? How can a knowledge gap be avoided or minimized?

There could be a gap in learning for newer workforce if training is not done properly during the onboarding process. To avoid or minimize this gap, companies should institute a formal onboarding program that trains to aligned job competencies in an effective and efficient time period.  

What is the best method for selecting a goal of training? Specifically regarding the level of increase. Take productivity for example. What’s the benefit in aiming for 10% higher productivity rather than 20%? Should goals be based on attainability or need for improvement? 

Management and leadership should always look at companywide objectives to help determine the goals for training. While most companies will set goals based on attainability, the need for improvement has to be front of mind when planning and implementing training.  

If a comprehensive training program is not in the budget, but needed, what focuses should businesses have for improvement?

Manufacturers that don’t have the budget for comprehensive training should focus on the most immediate business needs of the company. For instance, if company A is having an issue with productivity and its on-time delivery rates are low, then management could develop a program that includes online training combined with on-the-job training, and professional development planning.  

After training is completed and the results are assessed, what are the company’s next steps?

Once the results have been assessed from training that has concluded, companies should start thinking about future workforce needs and begin planning workforce development programming for those areas.  

What additional training and educational opportunities does Tooling-U provide for ongoing training? For instance, is their specific training that is geared specifically for the Fastener Industry?

Tooling U-SME delivers versatile, competency-based learning and development solutions to the manufacturing community. We work with more than half of all Fortune 500® manufacturing companies as well as 600 educational institutions across the country. Tooling U-SME partners with customers to build high performers who help their companies drive quality, profitability, productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction. Tooling U-SME provides a both beginner and intermediate educational offerings for the fastener industry. We offer online training on assembly, ergonomics, and torque. We also provide assessments and certifications to help measure employee learning and development to industry-defined competencies.  


Thank you to Mr. Schron for taking the time to answer our questions. For more education, please visit Tooling-U website and read Proving the ROI of Training: Moving from Expense to Necessity.

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Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 12.44.41 PM“Proving the ROI of Training: Moving from Expense to Necessity” by Tooling-U              


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