Many facilities (and facilities managers) are experiencing a skills gap with their facilities maintenance technicians and are doing everything they can to hire more experienced candidates and upskill or reskill current employees.
The skills gap in this field, as in most fields today experiencing the same problem, has many contributing factors. And so there’s no single magic-bullet solution to solving it, either.
But certainly, training workers to have and be able to use on the job the facilities maintenance skills they need is going to involve some training, including online training. And that should mean the facilities manager is working closely with the HR department to create the most effective training plan but also to make sure that HR is best positioned so they can turn around and make use of that training program to hire more qualified job applicants. That will allow HR to hire more technicians more quickly, reduce hiring costs, improve retention of new hires, and improve employee engagement as well.
In this article, we’ll discuss three important ways to work with the HR department as you build up your facilities maintenance training programs to close your skills gap.
In the next step, we’re going to recommend you build a skills map for maintenance technicians (more on that shortly). And the first step of that should be partnering with HR, reviewing the job descriptions for the maintenance technicians, and seeing what skills those job descriptions say are required.
At this point, you may realize the job descriptions and lists of necessary skills for your maintenance techs are perfect. If so, continue to the next phase.
But it’s perhaps more likely that the job descriptions that HR has are out of date, or incomplete, or maybe even entirely missing. If so, this can be the start point for you to begin planning with HR and L&D. Ask the following questions:
You can use this as an opportunity to begin planning your training program. HR can use this as an opportunity to begin revising those job descriptions (and eventually to use the revised facilities maintenance job descriptions in their talent acquisition and hiring processes).
The next step is to create what we’ll call a skills map. Those are the skills that you want the different maintenance personnel in your organization to have, job-by-job.
Those job descriptions from HR are going to be a good start, even if they’re not the full picture.
Complete these for all of your facilities maintenance jobs, including both:
Make sure HR knows about this, because this is the information they should use to update their job descriptions for facilities maintenance techs.
This step will take you a lot of time, but it’s easy to describe.
Your skills map is your desired state. Take stock of your current state, notice the gap, and you’ve got your skills gap.
It's worth noting you’ll have two categories of skills gaps:
OK, now you know the skills your facilities maintenance techs know, both now and in the short-term future. And you know your skills gap(s), both for current maintenance techs and ones that you anticipate will exist for the new maintenance techs that HR will hire for your organization soon.
Now it’s time to sit down with your partners in the learning and development part of your organization and begin planning out, designing, and developing your facilities maintenance tech training programs.
This is a bit of a project and it’s out of the scope of this article, but here are a few helpful resources to get you started:
Also, the odds are high you’ll want to partner with a facilities maintenance training provider, get a learning management system (LMS), and get online facilities maintenance training courses.
Now that you’ve got those training programs for your facilities maintenance technicians in process or completed, you’ll want to circle back to the folks in HR.
Make sure the job descriptions are updated appropriately.
And make sure the people in HR who play a role in hiring new employees are aware of these programs, because they should be talking about the presence of these programs to job applicants. Job applicants are more likely to sign the dotted line and join your team if they see your organization is prepared to make an investment in their future, that you will train them to help them develop necessary job skills (and even provide continuing education), and that there’s a true path for continued career growth in your organization.
The next step, after you’ve put a lot of work into planning, designing, developing, and delivering training for your facilities maintenance techs, is to evaluate it to see what you’ve done has been effective.
In job training, we often talk about training evaluation in terms of the Kirkpatrick four-level training evaluation method or other common training evaluation methods (such as Brinkerhoff, Phillips, Ryan, and Thalheimer/LTEM). And that’s definitely part of what we’re talking about here, and these models will help you determine if you’re closing your skills gap.
But don’t forget to look at other metrics as well. For example:
You definitely want that training program to be creating skilled maintenance techs, but you always want to evaluate other metrics to see the effect of the training program on things like hiring, retention, engagement, and so on.
Vector Solutions has been involved in online job training, continuing education assistance, and other performance- and safety-improvement efforts at organizations like yours.
More importantly, we’re experts in online training for facilities maintenance. For some insight into that, you’d probably enjoy listening to our recorded, on-demand webinar in which we and a real customer explain the process and results of working together to create a Facilities Maintenance Tech Certification Program that increased skill levels.
As you’ll learn in the webinar, the primary tools we offer to help organizations with their facilities maintenance training programs are a learning management system, or LMS; online training courses for facilities maintenance; plus additional online training courses for related topics, such as industrial maintenance, safety, quality, facilities management, DE&I, HR, and more.
Our online courses are multimedia-based and feature 3-D animation, which really helps to visually explain maintenance procedures to workers. The courses we offer include the following topics (multiple courses per topic):
The second half of that offering for facilities maintenance training is our Vector Solutions Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS is a cloud-based software application that you can use to more efficiently manage and administer your training program.
You can use an LMS for both online training and for training that occurs offline, such as classroom-style instructor-led training, OJT, and even toolbox talk meetings. The LMS will allow you to create and import training, assign training, deliver online training, credit workers for completing training, store those training completion records, and run reports on things like training completed and not completed.
Please contact us for more information, we’d be very happy to walk you through a preview or demo of our training solutions for facilities maintenance.