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36 PCB007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2020 how to run this machine. I'm afraid that I'm going to do damage, trying to run it. They told me there was an operating manual, but I don't understand it." That's the kind of stuff that we used to see. Johnson: And that was only exacerbated by the fact that there aren't enough people to fill the jobs in the first place. For your more proactive customers, how do they calculate ROI? How do they justify this investment to make sure that they know whether they're an indirect profit center and creating revenue or a cost? Turchan: From some of the executives that I've spoken with recently, the forward-thinking ones don't seem to be concerned about the ROI. They know that they need to invest in their employees to stay relevant, current and profitable. They've accepted that it is a need that must be addressed. Johnson: That's not an area that they're go- ing to micromanage. Have the dynamics in 2020, such as the pandemic and supply chain, changed the strategic planning for the custom- ers you're talking to about training? Has that caused them to shift their plans? Montana-Beard: They're trying to get more work done with fewer employ- ees. Companies are still hiring, just not as robustly as they were before, and cross-training has become essential to cover all of the different jobs that need to be done. I've also heard about some quality issues with people that have been doing the same job for a while, but there are also new quality issues as they learn new skills. We're doing one-day and two-day workshops. With the existing workers on a soldering operation, we'll have one of our master trainers work with them for a day or two. Before, some of this may have just been put to the side. The thought was, "We're so busy; otherwise, that'll just go away." This pandemic has affected many things, but in manufactur- ing, they still require training. They try to get production out under the same protection pro- tocols as we all are. We're now doing the same class for three smaller groups, where we used to have just one group. We have an instructor going to a custom- er soon, and I emailed my customer contact a couple of times. I've worked with him for years, but he wasn't replying. Then, I received an email from a stranger in the company, in- forming me that my contact was out on medical leave. That started the process all over again. Johnson: That takes us right back to your initial point, Sharon. There's a lot of cross-training happening because people are going to need to step in for each other when the unexpected occurs. Noland: When I talk with some of my students and contacts, I notice that if a company has a little bit of a slowdown right now due to sup- ply chain issues or other disruptions, a lot of them are taking that slowdown opportunity to get their workforce trained. It's a good time be- cause time is absolutely money. And one of the hardest things to do is get a student off of a production floor to attend a class. That's lost production and lost revenues. But it's a perfect opportunity to get some training and certifica- tion completed, take care of some compliance issues and remedial training, too. As Sharon said, cross-training is occurring, making em- ployees more valuable so that they can flip around and do multiple tasks or jobs. Montana-Beard: We're gaining new customers internationally because we offer online training now. I recently sold a class to one of our cus- tomers simply because everybody was working at home. He said, "This would be a good time to get them caught up with some training." Dill: Manufacturers need to take advantage of any downtime that they have. They want and expect some type of just-in-time training or training that's available very quickly without a lot of expenses in travel and employee ab- Sharon Montana-Beard

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