When I first started working in a factory as a shift supervisor, it seemed there was some type of formal training nearly every month. And we were expected to attend a conference once a year. Little did I know that was a great time to start working in industry. We enjoyed a lot of great training.
Later in my career and as the economy changed budgets for training slowly declined. Travel budgets also slipped away. I don’t have hard numbers, yet I suspect there is less company-sponsored professional development than 20 years ago.
As an engineering working in the reliability field, how do you keep up and learn what you need to know to accomplish your work?
- Go back to school for a degree?
- Read a book or two?
- Ask you employer for training?
Seriously, what do you do?
Hiring practices have changed
It’s not just less training, I have found that hiring practices have changed too.
When I interviewed with Raychem and later with HP, both hiring managers made it clear that they were interested in a long term employment. They explore my interested, my expectation in 5 and 10 years, plus my willingness to take on new roles as the need arose. They did not hire me for the specific opening, rather for a career.
When I interviewed with Raychem and later with HP, both hiring managers made it clear that they were interested in a long term employment. They explored my interest, my expectation in 5 and 10 years, plus my willingness to take on new roles as the need arose. They did not hire me for the specific opening, rather for a career.
They did not hire me for the specific opening, rather for a career.
Times have changed.
Today I talk to recruiters and hiring managers regularly as they seek capable candidates. They are looking for someone to fill a specific role and to accomplish relatively specific tasks. While finding someone that ‘fits’ with the team and organization, they are less interested in long-term potential.
They want to hire someone with the skills already in place.
Training and Hiring
These two trends may have some relation. If the company doesn’t have the time or budget to provide the training they would need to hire the person with the skills already in place.
Options for training
As a reliability engineer, especially if you have a certificate such as CMRP or CRE, or if you are a professional engineer (state licensed) you have an obligation to continue professional development. This includes conferences, professional meetings, writing articles and classes, to name a few of the recognized professional development options.
If your company is not providing enough professional development are you taking up the difference on your own? It is your obligation, not your company’s.
Always keep learning
It’s important to continue learning to be effective in your current role, to open new opportunities, and to prepare for your next position.
As a consultant working for myself, it’s on me to continue my professional development. Attending conferences, writing blogs (amazing how writing on a topic requires thought and research i.e. learning), reading journals, technical articles, and blogs are all part of my professional development. Some are easy to document for recertification, yet much is out of interest, curiosity, or the need to solve a client’s problem.
You too have many options for professional development, including webinars, seminars, local meetings, conferences, workshops, discussion forums, papers, journals, magazines, books, videos, etc. Some with a modest cost, and many freely available. Don’t forget your network of peers. You can ask questions and discuss possible solutions. Given our communication capabilities from Twitter to the old fashion phone, we can carry on one with many conversations effectively from your smartphone or desktop.
Don’t wait around for your development
If you are waiting for your employer to send you out for training, you may be waiting for quite a while. Go get what you need for professional development now. You have options, just add the desire.