Work Experience is a Critical Input into Understanding Worker Proficiency

In most manufacturing sites across the Fortune 1000, a worker’s proficiency on a particular task or process or job is determined based on their completion of on-the-job training (OJT). In most scenarios, OJT typically consists of at least one of three components:




Each qualification – depending on what it is – can have its own unique qualification and requalification processes. Learning how to weld a particular material and thickness inherently has a different process and different prerequisites than assembling an ATV engine for the Canadian edition of model year 2023 or becoming an x-ray technician.

If a worker completes the OJT and gains proficiency, then the skills matrix is updated accordingly and everyone goes on their merry way. But there’s a gap here that every manufacturer would fill if they could. And that’s incorporating that worker’s actual work experience into that definition of proficiency. It’s one thing to say a worker technically completed the OJT and knows how to assemble an ATV engine. It’s another thing entirely to say that that worker completed the OJT and actually completed that particular job – defect-free, safely, in takt time – in a particular time period (i.e., within the last three months). 

The reality is that most skill matrices today, which are managed in Excel, do not account for work experience. As one training leader said, “we do not have the manpower or the willpower to manage this in Excel”. This matters more now than before because many manufacturing sites have a shortage of qualified workers and are constantly moving workers around the floor based on what works need to be done that shift and what skills walked through the turnstiles that day. So while the stoplight chart may show “green” or the harvey ball chart may show “level 3”, that datapoint may not have been updated for years. Incorporating highly relevant work experience into that datapoint immediately makes it higher quality and more reliable. 

Work experience data often exists, depending on the type of manufacturing and the maturity of the IT systems. We’re starting to see thought leaders incorporate this data programmatically. Now, proficiency may be gained – and just as important maintained – by conventional OJT and/or work experience. 

But what if that relevant work experience actually came from a prior company for an experienced hire? In this instance, manufacturers also need to be able to override the standard OJT process and be able to give credit where credit is due. 

Due to the variety of ways in which these skills are gained and maintained, a sophisticated platform is needed to capture and maintain these skills. Here’s a quick diagram that illustrates some of the high-level business logic required. 

Incorporating work experience is a complicated task but is a crucial metric when evaluating a worker's qualifications. Historically, a supervisor could subjectively say a worker was qualified to fill the data in a skills matrix. Now, with a sophisticated system like Covalent, the skill matrix data has real substance behind it since it now incorporates structured training, evaluation, and even work experience data as defined by the facility. As discussed above, processes can be nonlinear and the data needing to be captured may not be native to one specific system. Covalent can consider all these different scenarios (and more) to provide plant managers with a single source of truth of their workforce data.

Contact us here to learn how Covalent can help your organization incorporate work experience into its qualification process. 

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