Developing a Training Program That Assists Hiring of Maintenance Techs

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Recently a commercial real estate maintenance company came to us looking for help putting together a comprehensive maintenance technician training program to meet the needs of not only their new hires but of their maintenance techs throughout their careers with the company.

Although this company had many reasons to want to improve their training program, one was that it was becoming difficult in a tight labor market to hire without being able to offer that benefit to their job candidates. Given that people in the labor force may have multiple job possibilities, letting job candidates know the company offered a training program, and letting the candidates see that program and understands how it works, was a significant competitive advantage in hiring.

Of course, the company benefitted in other ways from designing and creating a maintenance technician training program for their maintenance techs, but if you can’t hire employees, your continuous improvement, growth, and learning business goals are stopped before you start. So we’ll focus by explaining the program’s influence on hiring new employees, but stay tuned for additional articles that discuss equally important benefits of the new training program, such as employee retention, overall employee morale, maintenance skill development within the employee population, and better customer satisfaction from the company’s customers.

For now, read and enjoy the article, and let us know if you have any questions about your own facilities maintenance training program at work. Plus, check out our recorded webinar on maintenance, maintainability, organizational learning, and continuous improvement. 

Recruiting New Maintenance Technicians in a Competitive Job Market

As noted, our new client was experiencing difficulties hiring all of the new employees they needed to staff their maintenance tech job positions. The economy was good, and business was booming for our customers, but of course all that new work they were contracting to do required more employees to do it.

But of course, with the tight labor market, potential new hires had their pick of open positions in the maintenance tech labor market. This was true not only of experienced maintenance techs, but also of candidates who didn’t have all the necessary experience and job skills. (Remember that thing called the skill gap? It’s still alive and well!)

Realizing they had to compete with other companies looking to hire these same people, they decided one way to give themselves a competitive advantage was by developing the maintenance technician training program and by explaining it to potential new hires during the interview process.

We’ll explain some aspects of the new maintenance tech training program and how it helped the company recruit and train new technical talent, partly by using online training tools such as the maintenance training online courses demonstrated in the short sample video below.

What the Maintenance Technicians Training Program Included

The training program the company developed currently includes the following elements (and we’re working with the company now to help create more):

  • Coordination with HR & Outreach (to assist in hiring and career path development & communication)
  • Creation of a new-hire, maintenance tech entry program
  • Creation of their own internal maintenance tech certification programs
  • Creation of a career advancement program & training to support the career advancement of maintenance techs through their certification programs

Coordination with the Company’s Outreach & Recruiting Efforts

Before just jumping in to develop the maintenance tech training program, operations consulted and worked together with the company’s HR leaders to help develop a technical recruiting strategy that would be effective and to determine how the maintenance technician training program could best support those recruiting efforts and be aligned with them.

This helped ensure that all of the company’s efforts for recruiting new maintenance technician talent were synchronized, helping improve new-employee hiring and generally keeping all oars rowing in the same direction.

Maintenance Tech Entry Program

The customer designed a maintenance tech entry program to help candidates with technical aptitude but no facilities maintenance experience develop the basic skills necessary for an entry-level maintenance technical job with the company.

Potential new hires (and of course, those who were hired) valued this because it showed the company would help onboard them quickly and effectively and would help them develop the knowledge and skills they’d need to succeed at that first job and prepare for future jobs.

Maintenance Tech Advancement Program

The company also created a new maintenance tech advancement program. This program included several components.

First, it included an online training needs assessment tool that the employer could use to evaluate the current knowledge and skill levels of employees to determine if they had the necessary knowledge & skills for their current job or for future jobs, helping to address any gaps so the employee could bridge the gap.

The advancement program for maintenance techs also included soft skill & behavioral training; career mapping; regular meetings between managers and maintenance techs to discuss knowledge, skill & career development; goal setting exercises; and mentoring.

The company’s maintenance techs highly valued this part of the new training program because it showed a clear path to future, better-paying jobs and the company’s investment in time, resources, and money in helping the employees succeed.

Maintenance Tech Certification Program

In combination with the maintenance tech advancement program just mentioned, the customer developed a new maintenance tech certification program.

This program allowed maintenance techs to become internally certified (within the company) into two different maintenance job roles, each divided into “core” and “advanced” levels. Remember, this was above and beyond the entry-level maintenance tech positions the company had already created training for. So all told, the new certification programs included:

  • Entry-level maintenance technician
  • Maintenance technician “core”
  • Maintenance technician “advanced”
  • Building engineer “core”
  • Building engineer “advanced”

Employees achieved certification into these different levels by proving they could exceed a benchmark score in 17 of 17 different categories of knowledge and/or skill or by completing recommended coursework. Additionally, the employees manager had to sign off on an employee’s “competency card,” confirming the employee had the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience.

These programs helped motivate employees to reach that next level, provided recognition to employees for meeting critical knowledge and skill milestones, and provided the company with an internal database they could use to identify qualified technical talent for filling job roles.

Additionally, the company went on to create the following more specialized internal certification programs and training/support to help employees become certified:

  • Electrician certification, for teaching journeyman-level electrical skills
  • Refrigeration certification, for teaching journeyman-level refrigeration skills
  • Lubrication certification, to help employees performing mechanical maintenance learn proper lubrication practices
  • Root cause analysis certification, to help employees learn to perform a root cause failure analysis
  • Instructor certification, to help teach employees to develop and deliver training
  • Leadership certification, to help employees develop leadership and business-based skills

Conclusion: Creating Training & Career Development Programs for Maintenance Techs Provides Many Competitive Advantages

As you see, our customer put a lot of great work into the development of their new maintenance tech training & certification program. But that hard work and investment paid off. Hiring became much easier, and the time to train a new hire to be a competent, entry-level maintenance tech was drastically shortened. Plus the online training tools made it easier to identify and correct skill gaps in employees.

The company reaped other benefits beyond just easier new-employee recruitment, and we’ll discuss those in future articles. In the meantime, why not contact us to learn how we can help you with your own maintenance training programs?

Before you go, why not download our free Guide to Online Maintenance Training?

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Free Guide to Selecting Online Maintenance Training

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Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. He's worked in training/learning & development for 25 years, in safety and safety training for more than 10, is an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry OSHA 10 and 30, has completed a General Industry Safety and Health Specialist Certificate from the University of Washington/Pacific Northwest OSHA Education Center and an Instructional Design certification from the Association of Talent Development (ATD), and is a member of the committee creating the upcoming ANSI/ASSP Z490.2 national standard on online environmental, health, and safety training. Jeff frequently writes for magazines related to safety, safety training, and training and frequently speaks at conferences on the same issues, including the Washington Governor's Safety and Health Conference, the Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference, the Wisconsin Safety Conference, the MSHA Training Resources Applied to Mining (TRAM) Conference, and others.

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