The Oliver family of companies strongly believes in a 'promote from within philosophy' and as such our human resources department embrace a variety of training models for our staff.
Typical of many engineering firms, Oliver Valves, Oliver Valvetek and Oliver Twinsafe had employees who had been involved in assembly and production for years and yet had no formal qualification.
Oliver recognised the need to up skill their workforce and made a strategic decision to invest in the ongoing development of their staff. When Sharon Inch became the head of Human Resources she was challenged with achieving results quickly.
"As a company we needed to demonstrate reduced absenteeism and a sustainable training programme," explained Mrs Inch. "Through performance development reviews we have been able to ask our employees where they want to be. What do they want to do and where do they want to do it?"
"We felt that it was important to strengthen the psychological contract whereby people could see that their skills were recognised and they were motivated to share the knowledge that they had garnered over their years of service. In reality, this is the knowledge that has kept our product amongst the best of its kind in the world."
An organisation's brand worth is decided not only by the quality of their wares, but also by the quality and knowledge base of their employees. Employees at Oliver are able to broaden their skill set with qualifications such as modern apprenticeships and NVQs.
"It's not that what we were doing was wrong. In 30 years the company has gone from strength to strength and we have extremely talented people here," explained Mrs Inch. "This is about safeguarding the next 30 years."
"My goal was to establish a feeling of 'I'm getting something for me out of my job' and it's about setting an example. This programme is all about recognising and developing the skills that people have."
"People who have been doing their job for years can still learn from NVQs and apprenticeships. One of the benefits is that they learn to communicate what they are doing to their colleagues and it is this positive communication that makes people feel more engaged in their work."
"We wanted it to be recognised, across the company, that anybody, in any job, could achieve a qualification. It isn't an elitist system and it isn't based on academic ability. There are people who have found it a challenge as people who have been out of the education system for a long time have to learn to learn again," said Mrs Inch, "but we recruit based on attitude and then train for ability."
By embracing classroom training as well as on-the-job learning Oliver has seen a notable change in the information exchange amongst their staff. Where new starters had been taught solely by time served employees who had historically established methods of production, apprentices have the opportunity to master techniques used by those from other fields of engineering.
"We learn from our apprentices now. They are able to question our traditional models of manufacturing. Our trainees are bringing new methods to the table and becoming involved in the development process very early on."