Chairman Emeritus Reconnect 52 “Gaps in Education & Training”

My dear friends,

After my service in Industry for 32 years, I have been involved with Education & Training for the last 16 years. This has been a fruitful combination of professional life which gave me a chance of integrating the two.

The major gaps I found in education were:

  1. Moral Values & Ethics (Belief systems and principles) AND attitudes emerging out of the same
  2. Education system concentrating on Left hand side of the brain utilizing only 50% of the brain’s potential

Moral Values & Ethics AND building of proper attitudes

In an interview at NPTI, we posed a common question to a set of candidates. “While going for your final examination, you find an accident-suffered helpless human being in a pool of blood who can be saved only with your intervention, what would you do?” A common answer (by some straight away and some reluctantly) was shocking. “I will go for my examination” Everyone weighed his one year more than a full human life. This needed a re-look in re-building of moral values and attitudes.

We conducted several attitudinal re-orientation programs for the staff, officers, students and trainees. In fact Attitude development became the buzzword for all and was instrumental in bringing phenomenal success and progression, in human behavior, creating an environment of self-esteem and self-reliance. We went a step ahead to ensure that Technical, Commercial and Attitudinal inputs were balanced out in every program.

Another policy decision taken at NPTI was to depute every one through the rank-and-file to training programs such as Attitudinal Re-orientation besides technical programs of one’s own specialization for a minimum period of 1-week in a year. As an outcome of these measures there was a built-up of learning spirit and application of mind for improvement of operations, synergizing efforts at the work place giving rise to multi-fold benefits, resulting not only in quantum jump in performance  but also sustaining them enduringly. This subsequently became a part of ‘National Training Policy for the Power Sector’ which was formulated by NPTI and was released from the Campus by the Hon’ble Minister of Power on 27-Mar-2002. This policy intervention at the National Level is an historic contribution of NPTI. This policy is highly acclaimed today in Training sector.

We made it a part of the Training Policy and adopted a 3-dimentional approach for our training courses (covering Technical, Commercial and Attitudinal aspects) reaching 75,000 Trainee-weeks in a year. We extended our public awareness programs like energy conservation to the nearby schools covering more than 26,000 students in a year, where we used to include a module on Attitudes, with an idea of catching them young.

Education system utilizing only 50% of the brain’s potential

Almost all engineering institutions are producing left-handers, which means their product is proficient in language, mathematics, analysis, logic, sequence, linear, details-bits and pieces and numbers, which are in the domain of left hand side of the brain. At the same time they are missing out space, rhythm, color, imagination, patterns, holistic pictures, concepts and shape which are in the domain of right hand side of the brain. This is amounting to utilizing only 50% of the brain’s potential. Great effort and innovation is required to complement the education system to fill this gap. Pioneering in nature, it requires a constant awareness to modify the lessons motivating the students to think holistically and conceptually also. We found significant success in subjects like Power Reforms, customer relationship, entrepreneurship, power-environment interface and sustainable development requiring a lot of imagination, patterns, holistic pictures and concepts. Lesson plans require imagination and conscious effort to collect examples for development of right hand side of the brain also.

Training as different from Education

In education sector no one asks “Why Education?” while in Training sector this is a common question “Why Training?” Why can’t we save expenditure on training? The arguments given are that on-job training should be good enough. It is sufficient to have specialized job experience. After a week’s training the candidate remains more or less the same. Timely answers and solutions were not given to these questions and as a result, the posting of Chief Engineer (Training) became a punishment posting, and a need for Training Policy was never recognized!

Let us find answers to these questions one by one.

Why Training? An un-trained Person can make only noise out of a most sophisticated musical instrument, while Training & Practice (Riaz) could produce not only music but “Bharat Ratnas” out of it [Pandit Ravi Shankar (1999), Ustad Bismillah Khan (2001)].

Sharpening the Skills: A woodcutter was employed to cut the trees. He cut 18 trees on the first day, 15 on the second day and only 10 on the third day. He went to his employer to apologise. Employer asked him “When did you sharpen your axe last?” the answer was that he did not get time to do that. Working hard is not enough; one has to keep on sharpening one’s skills periodically.

Expenditure on Training: Training is an investment not expenditure; it is the highest multiplier of productivity (1:30 in case of General Electric & Motorola). Cost of training is always less than cost of non-training. Cost of non-training of a driver for example can be loss of human lives. Same is the case with military training.

Training and Productivity: Based on recent research Findings from High Performance Workplaces in Australia, the ‘Australian Training Authority’ has concluded that Employees who receive formal training can be 230 % more productive than untrained colleagues in the same role. Every successful organization in the world has a strong back up of training and re-training.

Why on-job training is not enough? This question was being asked often when we were inviting trainees for “Simulator Training” at NPTI. We used to answer them by the following data:

A study was conducted by Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) USA where thermal power plants were subjected to operation by following two different sets of operators at one time:

  1. Operators who were duly   trained on Simulators
  2. Operators who were never trained on Simulators

Compiling data from 8-Power Utilities, they studied and found that the Simulator Training benefits in respect of different operational parameters were as below:

1

Further, EPRI concluded that 20% forced plant outages were the direct result of operator/ maintenance errors. In India with Thermal power plants’ installed capacity exceeding 200,000 MW, simulator training can result in savings to the tune of Rs 200,000 x 300,000 = Rs 6,000 Crores per annum. This is a brilliant example of cost of Non-Training which our Nation has to pay every year.

What can be achieved in One Week’s Training? In a focussed training approach like the one adopted for “6-Sigma Training” where a Project (a problem area) is selected beforehand and during the course of Training it is defined accurately, measured precisely, analysed holistically, improved rationally and control parameters decided conclusively for action.

Similarly training with a “Case in Hand” is conducted. The participant is mandated to bring a problem he is facing in his area of operation. On the first day he is provided with the list of programs and copies of a 3-column matrix, for filling the first column as if to hang over the relevant issues of his job on to the subject being delivered.

During the week, he is exposed to the sessions on attitudinal aspects, behavioural wisdom, technical inputs and commercial acumen. These act like “hangers” where he has to hang the relevant issues of his “case-in hand”. The matrix also helps to fix and activate sort of “antennas” to capture the knowledge waves coming from the speakers during the week, without losing anchorage to their respective job-issues.

The trainee is supposed to record his learning’s from each session as relevant to his “case-in-hand” and also record at the end of the day his action plan. On the 6th day each trainee is called upon to present his action plan and take suggestions/ moderation from the faculty members. He goes back to his department next week with the “action plan” in hand to start implementing it in co-ordination with his supervisor. This proves to be a fruitful approach in terms of Trainee’s take-home, relating concepts to his work and increasing the span of retention.

Training thus becomes not only innovative, interesting and rewarding but also proves to be an integral activity of the business nay ‘prime-mover’ to transform the Company into a learning organization of distinction to be competitive at all times.

Best wishes and Regards,

Dr. B.S.K.Naidu

BE(Hons), M.Tech., Ph.D., CBI-Scholar, D.Engg. (Calif.), FNAE, Hon.D.WRE (USA)
Chairman Emeritus, Great Lakes, Gurgaon, NCR, New Delhi, INDIA
Former Director General (NPTI & CPRI) Govt. of India

No job is small or big, the way in which you do, makes it small or big (c)

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