Good training systems and protocols are one of the key elements for operating most successful companies, and transit companies are no exception. Without adequate training, anyone from the manager on down might be able to muddle through their daily responsibilities, but they won't be doing the type and quality of work that will help the company rise above their competition, and at the worst, they may magnify, or even cause, issues that have financial, operational, or health risks to them.
On the other hand, companies that have up-to-date training methods and materials, and a process for not just providing the training but also to evaluate its effectiveness, will have employees and managers that both fully understand their jobs and have the skills to carry them out well. Transit companies that have strong protocols and resources in place for fleet management training can be assured that everyone, from management to maintenance to operations to finance, is in possession of the most current skillsets to meet the demands and responsibilities of their departments.
Here are 5 tips for making the most of your transit management training programs:
- Plan and provide for adequate staffing: Having a point-person in charge of monitoring and administrating a year-round training schedule, as well as additional supporting personnel if required, can make accountability much simpler. Whether it falls under human resources or operations, being able to know who is doing what, and when, can streamline the process. Companies may offer some in-house training, in which case the staffing schedule, the training personnel, and the training resources should reflect that, while others may incorporate off-site training programs, which may require fewer company personnel, but which may come at a higher cost.
- Budgeting for training and resources: A well thought-out and researched yearly training budget will help inform the nature and depth of the training programs, and can guide decision-making processes to spread out the cost and time of training and certifications across the entire year. Certain types of training programs may only be offered, or needed, or possible to complete, on a regular schedule, while others may be available at any time, so building a yearly budget with that schedule in mind will yield the best results. In addition, the purchase or rental of appropriate training assets and materials will need to be included as a budget item.
- Prioritize training focus and certifications: Although there are plenty of training programs out there, covering a wide variety of skills, knowing which types of training are the most relevant to the company's operations at any given point in time, and at what cost and benefit, will help ensure that the company is getting the most bang for its buck. For example, because preventative fleet maintenance can be an essential component of a successful fleet management program, focusing on achieving and renewing ASE certifications for the technicians doing the work would be a higher priority than training programs for skills relevant to a smaller aspect of the company's business.
- Regularly evaluate current and available training programs: It's been said that you can't manage what you can't measure, so creating an evaluation process, and developing benchmarks and metrics to assess the effectiveness of a given training program, will help guide both near-term and future efforts. In addition to evaluating the training programs currently in place at the company, some attention should be paid to new and emerging trends and practices in the industry, and training coordinators should entertain the possibility of incorporating new methods or programs as the need arises.
- Consider the future: By offering entry-level training programs to prospective employees, companies can contribute to local economic development programs and potentially identify candidates for new positions as the business grows. Partnering with a local continuing education, higher education, or workforce development organization may be a way to help ensure that future staffing needs are met by qualified candidates.
Although it may not be as flashy or seem as exciting as other, more public aspects of the company's business, creating and maintaining the appropriate training programs and certification processes that support the company's operations is a crucial part of any successful venture.