Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Who is Responsible for Your Training?

CAD-a-Blog was recently blessed to have Ellen Finkelstein guest blog an article called HOW TO STAY UP TO DATE WITH AUTOCAD. This article gave tips and methods to users that wanted to make sure they have the latest and best AutoCAD skills available to them. Well, who's responsibility is it to make sure that CAD users can use the software their companies are providing?



I have heard many users proclaim that it is the companies responsibility to make sure they can use the software. I have also seen companies that refuse to train their employees, for what ever reason. I would like to venture my own opinion in this article. I feel that the skill sets of a CAD user are the responsibility of the CAD user. It is my job to make sure that I can do my job. It is my job to make sure my employer wants to keep me as an employee.

That being said, I also feel that an employer has a responsibility to make sure their employees are preforming efficiently with the tools provided.

An employer can hire only people that already have the skills needed. That's tough to do in today's 12 month release cycle of software. That means that whoever you hire is guaranteed to have an obsolete skill set in 12 months, maximum. Well, maybe it's not obsolete, but it is not complete either. And that is assuming the company upgrades, or updates their software. If a company never updates the software, then training becomes cheaper and easier. However, if their competition updates and trains (and the new release is better) then eventually not upgrading and not training will cost the company in clients.

Everyone wins when the CAD Users trains themselves. The User gets to remain employed (or skills for employment elsewhere), and the company gets more efficient workers at no cost. With that in mind, I feel that it would benefit each party if the employer expects the CAD User to self train, then the User's rate needs to be a little bit higher. In the long run, it might be cheaper for the employer to keep the rate down, and fork over the cash come training time.

Training is difficult to do from both users end and the employers end. On the job training is the best method, however that training is typically industry specific. General CAD training out side of the workplace has the potential to teach methods that are needed in a specific settings. Employers want to avoid this if possible. All they need is for the CAD user to be able to do the work they require as accurately and efficiently as possible.

As a CAD User, what is your job? What are you required to do? What are your responsibilities? That is what you need to know how to do. And I feel that is all the employer needs to teach you how to do. I read a CAD Management article one time (sorry I don't remember where it was, or who wrote it) that said something to the effect of: Which is worse, to train your employees and have them leave, or to NOT train your employees and have them stay?

Training employees to do a specific job is required. But what if the needs of a department or company change? This limits what can be accomplished. Cross training employees takes time and resources, but could have major benefits done the road. As a CAD User, I try to make sure that I can do as many jobs as possible. It has kept me employed at least two times that I am aware of. At my past to places of employment we went through a down turn and had to lay off employees. I was told, both times, that I was kept because I could preform more than one task. How did my cross training happen? I kept my eyes out for the chance to learn. I didn't expect nor demand that my boss train me to do somebody else job. I often reminded them that I am willing to do other things, but I never became a nag about it.

As a CAD Technician (my official title by the way), I am a professional AutoCAD User and expert. By expert I mean an individual that "supposedly" knows the major (and minor) ins and outs of the software and how to apply them to create the construction documents needed for my firm. A CAD User can open the software and use just enough of the tools to preform a specific task. I am expected (as a full time user) to be able to solve problems and determine proper methods using the CAD software to get any job accomplished.

How do I acquire these skills? Well, there are many ways. My skills have come from over 15 years of experience and from self training. I have received very little training from my employers. In fact, most of the training done where I have worked has come from me teaching others. I have been able to do this because of the mindset that I have chosen. That mindset being that I am responsible for me. Nobody else is responsible for me. Therefore I am the one that needs to make sure that I am able to work and preform as best as I can.

BUT (there is always a but) a wise employer will know and understand how much more valuable a well trained employee is and will make an effort to train. I am very happy to say that my current employer has taken some steps to train its employees, thought I feel those steps could be better taken, but at least they are doing some training.

To sum this up, I feel that it is the CAD Users responsibility to make sure they are trained. I also feel that it is the employers responsibility to make sure the employees are trained to better use the software in the company. Going above and beyond is the responsibility of the user.

What do you think? and why?
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