Water Environment Federation (WEF)

A Public Utilities Experience in Developing a Maintenance Training Program

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Water Environment Federation (WEF)

This paper’s objective was to describe the experience of developing a maintenance training program. The goal of the program was to develop a high skilled, confident workforce that has the ability to reliably maintain equipment. Training objectives and curriculum were developed and implemented to meet organizational goals. The students learned much about the subject matter, while the maintenance management staff learned about the capabilities of the existing staff and the future training needs of the organization.

Over the last several years the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) has experienced the common trend of losing key maintenance personnel to retirements, promotions, and pursuit of other employment opportunities. In order to meet the many staffing needs, hiring from the outside and promoting from within has been attempted. MSD has learned from experience that the market for skilled crafts is highly competitive, making it difficult to hire qualified individuals. Another challenge to hiring qualified employees is the bureaucracy associated with hiring into a governmental organization. As technology and the job market changes, public utilities are challenged to revise job descriptions and keep salaries competitive. MSD has a desire to become a leading public utility. Initiatives are already in place to reduce operating costs, energy costs, and personnel costs. Realizing these goals is not possible without highly skilled workers. These important factors led the maintenance staff to investigate various maintenance training options and eventually decided to develop their own program.

Training Goals
Prior to researching a training method or program, the maintenance staff spent some time informally assessing the skill level of the existing maintenance workers. It was noted that many had trouble writing simple emails or concisely documenting the day’s activities in the CMMS Failure Reporting application. Others struggled with reading blueprints, schematics, or ladder diagrams. Many had been in the workforce for sometime and had not ever had any basic maintenance skills refresher training or formal training in newer technologies. Consequently, many lacked the confidence to take on new challenges and embrace change. From these observations and discussions, training goals were established.

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