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In a recent research study of the asset management landscape conducted by Reliabilityweb.com, 90 percent of survey participants communicated that their asset management strategy is directly linked to their organization's ability to achieve economic goals. Forty-four percent said they have an asset management policy they plan to implement in the next 12 months, but 40 percent said organizational culture would be a major obstacle. Finally, 43 percent told ReliabilityWeb.com that asset management training in 2014-2015 is critical to their ability to drive short-term results.

As reported by the Bersin by Deloitte (formerly Bersin Associates) report, "The Corporate Learning Factbook 2013: Benchmarks, Trends and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market," mature industrial companies still focused on creating an adaptive and competitive organizational culture spend between $700 and $800 per competency - a set of skills like performing root cause analysis - per employee. This is nearly half the pre 2008 $1,300-$1,500 budgets. Learning and development professionals agree that the training focus in industrial sectors is no longer on continuing education, but instead on lifelong learning in order to scale skills at the pace of improvement while maintaining a reasonably low cost per employee.

Since 2010, medium-sized companies (1,000-9,999 employees) are spending less than 28 percent of their training budgets on public, instructor-led classes as their sole source of skills training. Lifelong learning shifts the organization's focus from singular continuing education events, like a public training class, to a behavior-based professional development model that grows as the organization's needs grow.

Asset management plans created as a result of ISO55000 will most certainly challenge existing skills and may require the introduction of new core skills or advancing skills - competencies that are intended to be used in the future as organizational maturity and strategic needs evolve. Once the management plans, associated technology, practices and systems have been defined, professional development planning begins with the selection or development of basic education requirements.

Here's how lifelong learning works:

Basic Education Requirements outline the learning objectives and formal qualifications that each role must demonstrate in order to execute the desired management plans. Instruction in core skills is most effective when delivered face-to-face and incorporates opportunities for simulation and hands-on learning to bridge the gap between theory and practical, relevant application. The design of curriculums is less abstract and more focused on providing what the employee needs to know in order to demonstrate the desired skill. Skills are defined based on role responsibility and their connection to the asset management plans, in turn making the success of each management plan the measure of Level 1 training success.

Continuing Education Requirements are what most think of in regards to training in industrial spaces. As adults, we have become accustomed to the term so much that there is little accountability for achievement. It's just ongoing, so what's there to achieve? Continuing education requirements in mature learning organizations that routinely demonstrate an ability to rapidly adapt new skills and practices are often associated with higher education institutions, such as state universities or local community colleges, in order to reach a larger group of professionals and leverage lessons learned from other local industrial companies. Continuing education in the lifelong learning model maps organizational challenges, such as resolving a chronic asset-related problem, or features courses designed to teach the techniques that are meant to resolve the problem. At this level, it is common to see a blend of instructional methods emerge that requires very little time away from the learner's core role and begins to utilize social media, webinars and virtual classrooms to engage students in scenario-like discussions. Continuing education should refresh infrequently used core skills while driving application to a known problem within the business or management plan.

Practical Application Requirements create opportunities for the application of knowledge in the work environment. The U.S. Navy, and many craft skills training organizations as a result, refer to this level of instruction as PAR. Who better to replicate when developing an asset management training model than the world's largest asset management company, the U.S. Navy? This lifelong learning level is designed to provide systematic, programmed opportunities for each learner to demonstrate proficiency in a single learning objective or skill. Similar to on-the-job (OJT) training, the learner accomplishes a specific task under the watch and supervision of a more experienced colleague. To advance the learning in this phase, the colleague must be proficient enough to facilitate an immediate evaluation of the skill being performed and provide coaching to enhance the learner's ability to reapply the skill correctly. Practical application requirements are especially valuable for learning skills that may be used infrequently or when a significant period of time has passed after basic education. The objective of PARs is to encourage skill application and proficiency beyond simply task qualifying the learner, which often can be done in a classroom setting. PARs should be measureable and to ensure a greater success rate,it is recommended that training plans incorporate on-demand eLearning modules less than 10 minutes in duration to refresh core concepts prior to skill application.

Personal Learning Environments are one of the greatest breakthroughs in adult education. They began initially many years ago as communities of practice, constructed out of sheer necessity to engage cross-functional teams in problem solving and continuous improvement activities. Today, the model has evolved in an effort to virtually pair together learners with industry and subject matter experts to advance the collective body of knowledge and increase the rate of new skills in tune with the rate of organizational improvement. Today's innovative learners are engaged in multiple personal learning environments based on the variety of role responsibilities, the speed of change within their organizations and the abundant availability of social media outlets. Advancements in learning technologies, referred to as Tin Can, stretch our ability to measure and record learning in these environments. Whether it's YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, or even Outlook, learning happens everywhere and collecting experiences in order to grow from them is the most powerful way to accelerate change.

What level of effort and investment must an organization make in order for training to effectively drive organizational change? By using a blended learning approach, as described by the lifelong learning model, that requires no more than 30 percent instructor-led training, it would be realistic to budget between $700 and $800 per skill or competency, per employee. For example, training a crew of 20 technicians to identify asset-related risks and deploy asset management plans using traditional techniques, such as criticality analysis, planning and scheduling, condition monitoring best practices and failure mode and effects analysis, would cost nearly $150,000 if fully administered using only the face-to-face classroom. This estimation assumes a cost per technician of $1,495 per class and that these skills can be taught in five instructor-led classes. For close to $96,000, the lifelong learning model ensures that these same 20 technicians understand the core concepts, provides a structured approach to apply these same techniques with the help of a coach and provides a virtual group of problem solvers to help them overcome obstacles when applying these skills. The cost of this level of effort is based on six competencies at $800 per competency, per person.

Can training be an effective tool used to drive business transformation short term? Absolutely! Focusing the learning process on the specific skills required based on asset management plans and reinforcing those skills through hands-on coaching, virtual learning communities and web-based forums will certainly accelerate an organization's ability to drive change.

Download Reliabilityweb.com's Research Report on Asset Management Practices, Investments and Challenges 2014-2019: www.reliabilityweb.com

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