Businesses, non-profits and public agencies have recorded boosts in productivity, improved communication, increased employee motivation, higher employee retention, better customer satisfaction and many other measures of workflow improvement as a result of custom designed employee education offered by Sierra College Training and Development.
Telefunken Semiconductors International LLC
Sierra College partnered with Telefunken Semiconductors International LLC (formerly NEC) to enhance the skills of employees who produce integrated circuits for the automotive industry at the plant in Roseville, CA. The company contracted for 22 employees to receive Mechatronics (www.realskillsrealjobs.com) training.
According to director of manufacturing, Matthew Nadeau, the Mechatronics program — a study of mechanics, electronics, pneumatics and hydraulics under computer control — offers a pathway to advancement. “A certificate or AA/AS degree in Mechatronics or Electronics provides our production technicians with knowledge and skills that are needed in order to be considered for promotion,” said Nadeau.
The popularity of the Mechatronics program led Telefunken to contract for the training. “More production technicians were able to enroll in a dedicated course,” said Nadeau. “The instructor recommended that we offer Mechatronics 4 to start out. This is a hands-on class and that enabled our employees to adjust back to the classroom environment more easily.”
Employee feedback has been very positive. “The employees who have taken this class have shown an increased level of interest in their daily tasks,” said Nadeau. “They now have a better understanding of ‘what’s behind’ the systems and components. We are very pleased with the results.”
California Ski Industry Association
On-site Mechatronics training lifts knowledge
The California Ski Industry Association selected the Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies to conduct “RoMec” or Ropeway Mechatronics training for technicians who maintain the ski lifts.
The partnership started in the summer of 2006 shortly after Sierra College launched the Mechatronics program that combines electronics, mechanics, pneumatics and hydraulics under computer control. In 2007, the college delivered two levels of training to 59 lift mechanics and operation managers, up from 43 participants in one course level offered in the first year. Based on the previous two years’ success, curriculum is under development to expand the program in 2008 to three levels: beginning, intermediate and advanced.
Equipment safety is a top priority for ski resort operators, according to Steve Hunter, Sierra College Mechatronics trainer. In addition, he said that providing top quality maintenance reduces the amount of down time during the busy season. “The Sierra College CACT training was developed to address specific industry needs and provide technicians with in-depth training,” said Hunter. “Ski lifts are very complex and operate using advanced computer control with dozens of sensors, complicated electrical circuits, high pressure hydraulics, and large scale mechanical systems.” Kathy Hubbard, Deputy Director for CSIA, explained that although training in the past was done at the job site, there was a demand for a broader range of knowledge. “With this training program, the lift mechanics will know the whole system,” said Hubbard. “That knowledge prepares them to keep equipment functioning safely and efficiently.”
Hands-on, On-site Training
Students applauded the Sierra College trainers’ knowledge and hands-on activities. They also benefited from the courses being held at the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort because they learn a technique and then see how it applied on actual equipment in the field. Students commented: “As far as electro-mechanics go, I learned more this week than the previous 10 years in the industry,” “The lectures were put into ways that were easy to follow for us real world people,” “The hands-on was key so that we could see and observe what happens based on the lecture,” and “Very helpful in filling in the gaps on things I thought I fully understood.”
The training addresses another need – filling the pipeline with more qualified employees to assume greater levels of responsibility, explained Hubbard. “There is a demand for lift maintenance technicians and resorts anticipate losing a significant portion of the work force through retirement over the next few years,” said Hubbard. According to Gary Campbell, Mechatronics trainer, there are excellent opportunities for motivated individuals interested in entering this field. “Through multiple levels of specific hands-on RoMec training courses, Sierra College is working with the ski industry to advance the skills of less experienced technicians so they’ll be prepared to fill the gap left by seasoned technicians who are retiring,” said Campbell.
Renesas Electronics America Inc.
Sierra College Training & Development conducted four days of customized Microsoft Excel training for Renesas Electronics America Inc. (http://www.am.renesas.com), a wholly owned subsidiary of Renesas Electronics Corporation, the number one global supplier of microcontrollers. Scott Olsen, Sr. Human Resources Representative, felt that the Sierra College team tailored the training to the company’s needs. “I was thoroughly impressed with the efficiency, flexibility and can-do spirit of Judy, Katie and David,” said Olsen. “I appreciated their professionalism, enthusiasm, and detailed and timely follow-thru; it was a real pleasure to work with them.”
On the evaluations, 100% felt the Microsoft Excel training was applicable to their work, 99% either agreed or strongly agreed that the class was helpful to them in learning new skills, 85% of participants strongly agreed that the instructor effectively presented the course material and 68% of participants indicated that they increased their Excel skill level by two points or more on a seven point scale.
Employees gave additional feedback on the evaluations: “I can’t say enough at how impressed I am with the training skills of the instructor,” and “I learned a lot about Microsoft Excel that will directly apply to my job.”
Nevada Irrigation District
The Nevada Irrigation District in Grass Valley selected Sierra College Training & Development to provide computer training classes for over 40 employees. When the first two four-hour Excel classes were so well received, seven additional sessions were offered.
The computer skills classes were presented at four different levels, so that employees could select which seminar to attend, explained Tess Andrews, Finance Manager for the Nevada Irrigation District. “We also benefited from the program being tailored to our specific needs,” said Andrews. “We didn’t have to go through course material that didn’t apply to us.”
The Sierra College makes it easy to train up to 15 employees at once. “We really appreciated the instructor coming up to train us at our place,” said Andrews. “It saves travel time and allows people to come at the last minute if there’s room.”
Grass Valley Group
Software Training customized for Grass Valley Group
Grass Valley Group recently engaged Sierra College’s Training & Development to train employees in using Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet software more efficiently. The company develops video and film technologies, products and services sold to all major Hollywood studios, all major television, satellite, and cable broadcasters under the Grass Valley brand-name for the delivery of analog and digital entertainment.
The training was well received according to Diane Masegian, Customer Service/Training Coordinator. “The training was excellent and I am already hearing that others want to take the course,” said Masegian.
The instructor customized the training to meet Grass Valley Group’s needs. “She is a great instructor,” said Masegian. “She knows her stuff and she was so accommodating.”
Bureau of Reclamation
When the Bureau of Reclamation in Folsom needed to develop a training program for its machinists, Robert Adair called on Sierra College Training & Development. “This training course was a great success,” said Adair. “The instructor did an outstanding job, and our employees learned a lot and really enjoyed the course.” The training is part of the agency’s apprenticeship program.
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global defense company, selected Sierra College Training & Development to train eight Sacramento employees in IPC Soldering Workmanship Standards this summer. According the Ed Sagucio, Cable Manufacturing Supervisor, the class was so successful that another one is planned for November. Employee comments included: “Lots of hands on experience,” “Instructor was very knowledgeable,” and “The instructor inspected the soldering and told me where improvement was needed.”
Sacramento office of AAR
Sierra College recently provided a IPC J-STD soldering certification class to the Sacramento office of AAR (https://www.aarcorp.com/), a leading provider of diverse products and services to the worldwide commercial aviation and government/defense industries. The program included pre and post assessments of nine employees’ skills as well as the eight hour course. As a result of the training, five employees received IPC Application Specialist Certification for J-STD-001.
InterMotive Vehicle Controls
InterMotive Vehicle Controls employees recently received soldering training from Sierra College. The InterMotive Vehicle Controls employees reported that it was valuable to “identify your own problem areas as compared to standards,” and “demonstrate in real time, under the magnifier, the correct ways to solder and de-solder.”
In the enviable position of experiencing an increased demand for specialized cutting tools, RobbJack (www.robbjack.com) of Lincoln is relying on employee innovation to increase capacity. Teams are looking at the 40-year-old precision cutting tool company’s processes and suggesting ways to improve productivity and quality as well as reduce waste. According to Dave Baker, president, the company is seeing results.
“It started on the shop floor where we cut machine change-over time from 90 to 30 minutes, saving 18 hours per day,” explained Baker. “Then process improvement spread to other departments.
“Through the training, we learned more effective ways to track occurrences that waste resources and then pinpoint the problem,” said Baker. Teams collect data, write a problem statement and set measurable improvement goals. “When teams visually map out every step in the process, and measure the time required for each step, inefficiencies become apparent,” said Baker. “Then it is easy to question the current steps and make changes that often yield immediate results.”
The company posts progress boards throughout the building tabulating teams’ on-going success. “Boards are visually inspected monthly and employees earn quarterly monetary incentives for making progress,” said Baker.
“We are making significant changes to our business as a direct result of the Sierra College process improvement training,” said Baker. “Not only does the consultant guide us through examining the way we work but he has a ton of tools, charts and methods to keep us on track.”
Roseville-based SureWest Communications, a leading independent telecommunications holding company featuring highly reliable products and services, asked Sierra College Training & Development to present an introduction to process improvement concepts and principles.
In the training session, employees received an overview of process mapping. They reported that “building a process diagram and challenging current company norms” were some of the most valuable elements of the training. Employees said that they gained information that they could immediately use on the job such as “mapping differently during internal auditing,” “reworking current flows to identify inefficiencies” and “‘floor walking’ to see if people really are following documented procedures.”
Energy Absorption Systems
Energy Absorption Systems, Inc. (EAS) is the world’s leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of highway crash cushions and other highway safety devices. These products have helped save more than 25,000 lives on world roadways. Over 50 employees work at the company’s R&D lab and accredited testing facility in Rocklin.
According to Aaron Cox, Applications Design Engineer, EAS recognized that some of the internal processes were taking too long. The company formed a task force to investigate and make some initial improvements. Then, in order to delve deeper into the issues and commit to a full fledged continuous improvement program, they turned to Sierra College Training & Development. “This is not a quick fix,” said Cox. “Our management has been very supportive and the Sierra College Training consultants helped establish reasonable expectations. Not only do we have to learn continuous improvement tools such Cause and Effect Analysis and Value Stream Mapping; we are changing our culture, measuring and tracking like we’ve never done before and questioning our processes. We know this is likely to take one to two years.”
The initial training was on process improvement tools. “Our team gained a great deal of respect for the trainer’s style and industry expertise through the training,” said Cox. “We also realized that we had to look deeper into systemic problems and work through a series of solutions rather than take a band-aid approach. The weekly coaching provided by Sierra College Training has been critical to keeping this process on track.”
“In the long run, our company will gain a competitive advantage by not only improving the process we are working on now, but because we have learned the tools to test, measure and evaluate that can be applied to other processes,” said Cox.
“Sierra College Training & Development has been very easy to work with and flexible in scheduling,” said Cox. “Our coach, provides an invaluable service when he listens to what everybody says and then summarizes it in a succinct conclusion. He keeps this project on track.”
“Doing exercises together such as process mapping gave our employees a greater understanding of their co-workers’ responsibilities,” said Cox. “We were amazed that we did not know how we did many tasks. Now we are improving our systems and documentation. Our managers also see how these tools can apply to other parts of the organization.”
Comtek Computer Systems
Comtek Computer Systems in Rocklin has secured almost $400,000 in Employment Training Panel (ETP) funding to use over the next two years to transform their corporate culture and facilitate a Lean-CI implementation (Lean Manufacturing Principles-Continuous Improvement Philosophies). Comtek’s primary business focuses on high-end electronics repair and refurbishment, engineering services, information management, and supply chain/logistics services for large OEM’s (original equipment manufacturers), electronic manufacturing service providers, logistics providers, and maintenance service organizations. To assist Comtek in moving to the next business level, executives selected Sierra College to help them deploy this corporate-wide initiative, facilitate change and train their workforce.
Over 250 employees in the Sacramento region will participate in the training. Some of the classes include Project Management, Team Building Basics, 5S, Value Stream Mapping and many others which support the company’s transformation to a “Lean Manufacturing” environment explained Tammy Kenber, Comtek’s HR Director.
“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the local community college,” said Kenber. “With the addition of the state’s ETP funding, it is a win-win for the company, Sierra College and the community in which our employees work and live.”
PRIDE Industries provides high value outsourcing solutions that also create jobs for people with disabilities. When looking for Supply Chain Management training expertise, PRIDE turned to Sierra College Training & Development, according to Tony Lopez, Director of Distribution Operations .
“Sierra College Training responded quickly to our business needs and we were immensely impressed with the instructor’s wealth of industry knowledge,” said Lopez. “He reviewed our processes and then customized the training to be more relevant and applicable to our organization.”
Rex Moore Electrical Contractors & Engineers
Rex Moore Electrical Contractors & Engineers (www.rexmoore.com), based in Sacramento since 1922, is an electrical and integrated systems engineering and construction company operating throughout seven western states.
Through coaching in process improvement, Sierra College has helped the company restructure its supply chain over the last 12 months. As a result, Rex Moore has saved 7% on raw material costs, increased capacity 20% while retaining the same staffing levels, and reduced the injury rate by 25%, according to president, David Moore.
“We’ve made a lot of changes in our processes and are definitely seeing benefits,” said Moore. “Working with Sierra College kept us on track to achieving our productivity goals.”
Challenge: Most adults don’t want to take a writing class. After all, they have been writing for years and are very accomplished in their professions. In addition, at the City of Lincoln, each department over time had evolved its own style of writing reports. The various styles impeded council members in quickly gleaning necessary information from reports to make decisions. Staff is also under pressure to quickly write reports every other week for upcoming City Council meetings. The challenge was to develop a training course that would appeal to adult learners, develop a consistent report writing style, offer a brush up on grammar and help staff write clearly written, concise reports more quickly.
Solution: According to Debbie Lindh, Human Resources Manager, Sierra College worked with the City to make the training a very positive process for employees. “Before the training, the Sierra College Trainer asked for several writing samples including those that we felt were effective, well-written reports,” said Lindh. “So he a very concrete idea of the variation in style and what outcome we expected.”
“During the training, the instructor immediately put our employees at ease by addressing their feelings about being in a writing course. His humor and real examples taken from City of Lincoln documents effectively engaged our staff.”
Competitiveness: “The end result is that we’ve raised the bar. Our reports have more fluidity and are more consistent in style and format after presenting this class.”
Customization: “Sierra College Training & Development designed the course around our specific needs based on our writing samples and demonstrated to employees the benefits of using these writing tools.”
Feedback: Attendees reported on evaluations that: “I became aware that I needed to improve my writing,” “It was a good refresher with a deliverable plan to improve,” “The guidelines on word usage, grammar rules and common errors were helpful,” “I learned how be more concise and less wordy,” “Using the tips will make it more compelling for people to read my letters,” and “Going over email etiquette was helpful.”
Abso delivers fully integrated highly automated talent management and background screening services to businesses of all sizes via the web. Its services include hosting corporate career websites, talent management tools, background and drug screening services, a virtual end-to-end hiring solution. It delivers all the factual, up-to-date information required to make intelligent hiring decisions in the shortest possible timeframe at an affordable cost.
Based in Roseville, the fast growing company of 128 employees, has added new products for applicant tracking that require project management and on-going follow-up, explained LeAnn Filbrun, Abso’s Training Manager.
“With teams of people working on projects, Abso needed a consistent system of tracking tasks, assignments, deadlines and completions, and training to use the project management system effectively,” said Filbrun.
Managers working in the quickly expanding organization all benefited from participating in the project management training.
“We appreciated the flexibility in scheduling the 14 hours of training,” said Filbrun. The first session was four hours long followed by two hour sessions held every other week. “The participants worked in groups on assignments in between sessions,” said Filbrun. “Part of our training was the planning and implementation of a hypothetical project which helped us to apply the skills we were learning.”
Managers reported that that the training was very relevant to their work. “Everyone enjoyed going through the class,” said Filbrun. “They all gained more confidence in their project management skills.”
This is what class participants said – “The training provided a valid, proven method for project management for both short and long-term projects.”
“Similar terminology and communication got all the team members on the same page about how to complete projects.”
“I appreciated learning classic project management methodologies, as well as the instructor’s knowledge and use of relevant examples.”
It was valuable to learn the important factors that go into developing a good project plan and how to manage it.”
“The training was very professional and everything met our expectations – quality, content and the instructor. It says a lot when an organization delivers what they promised, I’d recommend Sierra College’s Training & Development program.” LeAnn Filbrun, Training Manager, Abso.
Challenge: According to Michele Voelkert, Human Resources Technician, her department received several requests for project management training. After researching training methods and providers, the city selected Sierra College Training & Development. The human resources staff felt that employees needed more than a one day class and wanted customized training.
Solution: Sierra College developed a five week program that included four sessions of practical project management and one week of training in MS Project.
The college recommended a very practical approach for the training with the goal of teaching employees how to build a team, develop a plan, organize the project and execute it.
Participants learned the steps they needed to follow in order to have a successful project. They also developed skills in team building. This helped the project managers include others, gain information, secure buy-in and encourage team contributions. The instructor taught employees methods for breaking down tasks and using tools to simplify scheduling, communication and information presentation.
Competitiveness: “Our employees loved the course. It was attended by representatives from IT, fire, utilities, library, finance and other departments. Staff suggested that we offer it again so more employees who are involved in projects can take it,” said Voelkert. “Now several departments are using the same project management methodology. This should save time, especially with multi-disciplinary teams.”
Customization: “Sierra College Training & Development was very responsive to our training request. The program came together seamlessly. It was very easy to work with the college and I would recommend the training to other organizations.”
Sims Recycling Solutions
Sims Recycling Solutions, the world’s largest electrical and electronics recovery and recycling company, recently selected Sierra College Training & Development to provide leadership and supervisory training in Roseville.
Bill Vasquez, General Manager, Western Region, sought Leadership Training for 15 managers from multiple sites. “We are building a culture of empowerment, trust and accountability,” said Vasquez. “The Leadership training inspired the team by giving them new tools to consistently communicate with and motivate their teams to meet corporate objectives.” Participants said that the workshop was valuable, especially: “tips on how to inspire and enable others,” “reinforcement of good leadership practices,” “creating and sharing a vision,” and “ways to show recognition.”
James Cuppet, Plant Manager, Sims Recycling Solutions in Roseville arranged training for nine supervisors. According to Cuppet, the customized training included: the role of manager, effective communication, coaching, team development, managing differences and conflict, motivation and empowerment, and time management.
“Our goal was to build on our supervisors’ leadership skills and give them guidance where needed,” said Cuppet. “As a result of the training, supervisors have improved their communication with employees and are more confident with their abilities to get the job done.”
One participant said that it was valuable to learn that “my challenges are the same as other supervisors’ and there are solutions to most problems.”
California Conservation Corps
In January, 11 California Conservation Corps supervisors participated in Basic Supervisory Skills Training. According to participants’ evaluations, they learned practical skills that they could use on the job: “Instructors were very professional and provided many suggestions on how to be more effective and organized,” “I got great ideas about time management and coaching staff,” and “I appreciated the practical situations and discussion of strategies.”
In May, California Conservation Corps crew supervisors from 10 centers participated in Chainsaw training to earn an “A” Apprentice Sawyer Certification, a nationally approved (U.S. Forest Service) classroom and field training for general saw work.
According to participants’ evaluations, they benefited from safety training and practice using chainsaws in the field. Comments included: “Maintenance tips and proper falling procedures were useful,” “I learned new instruction techniques,” and “I have a better understanding of how to set the proper pace to teach proper techniques to operate and maintain the chainsaw.”