Workforce Development

Perspective: 5 ways to avoid messing up workforce development programs

By Jeffrey Higgins, Vermont Tech, for Forbes

Mar 28, 2019

"We paid the tuition. We bought their books. It's a free college education. Why are they dropping out of the program?" This is a common refrain from bewildered and disappointed HR directors when a seemingly generous professional development program fails. Here are five ways to avoid messing up a well-intentioned and often expensive college-based employee development program.

  • Get supervisors on board early

GE-Aviation sets the gold standard for doing this right. Supervisors are mentors. They get training, they get compensation, and they get recognized at the graduation celebration. Something else that helps is using qualified personnel at the front of the classroom. Who better to teach Metrology & Inspection than the head of the Metrology Department at work? Rather than forcing college faculty to get up to speed with each company's inspection tools and processes, use them to help the company’s experts plan lessons and student assessment strategies. The more people inside the plant are invested in the program, the more support the students get.

Read the full perspective, "Manufacturers learn from past mistakes designing new workforce programs," on

See also: "Facing workforce change: Do recruitment, retention, engagement better" and "Mad skills: Making training a priority" at

Listen to "Breaking barriers in manufacturing" from the Manufacturing Tomorrow's Workforce podcast series.   

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