Here at Flow Control, our goal is to help you, our reader, become well-informed and prepared to effectively interface with the applications and technologies you encounter in your job. We do this primarily through the magazine you’re now reading, our website FlowControlNetwork.com, our various e-newsletters, and our social media programs. In addition, we also present the Pump Guy and Industrial Flow Measurement seminars, which are led by regular Flow Control contributors Larry Bachus (“The Pump Guy”) and David W. Spitzer, respectively.
In April, I attended Mr. Spitzer’s Industrial Flow Measurement Seminar at Endress+Hauser’s state-of-the-art Process Training Unit near Philadelphia. I always enjoy sitting in on the trainings we present because they offer me the opportunity to directly interact with our readers. It’s also quite informative to hear the exchanges between attendees and their interactions with the presenters as they discuss the application issues they face in their work. I find I learn as much, or more, from the tangential conversations that arise during the seminars than I do from the standard course material, as it is in these impromptu discussions that very specific, real-world scenarios are considered.
As I listened to one such exchange during the Flow Measurement Seminar, I got to thinking about the future of industrial training and the role digital training solutions will play going forward.
As I see it, here in the United States, we are facing a triple-threat when it comes to technical knowhow: 1. A large swath of highly skilled technical professionals are retiring from the workforce (whether they want to or not); 2. These skilled professionals are being replaced with relatively inexperienced individuals, who lack the critical expertise you can only gain through hands-on job experience; and 3. U.S. companies aren’t spending as much as they used to on continuing education programs.
I think digital/online training programs could help bridge the gap between the dire need for technical knowhow and the ever-shrinking training budget. Certainly, the price point for an online training is significantly lower than that of an in-person training where travel expenses and time away from work are usually required. That said, I don’t see how an online training environment can enable the sort of information sharing described above—where attendees are entering into detailed sidebar discussions among themselves and with the presenter to solve real-world challenges.
As such, while I think digital/online programs have a role to play in the future of industrial training, I think they should be viewed more as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, in-person training programs. At the trainings I’ve attended over the years, I see how the course material lights the spark that leads to the discussion that ultimately results in a breakthrough. This evolution of a seed of information can only happen in a face-to-face, in-person training environment.
Certainly, I acknowledge that since we offer in-person training, my stance here is a bit self-serving. That said, just because it’s self-serving doesn’t mean it’s untrue.
Thanks for your readership,
— Matt Migliore, Executive Director of Content