Evaluating the impact of skills training on productivity in a printing and packaging plant
Zulu, Nomvula Patience
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It is a well-known fact that skills development is central to improving productivity and that significant improvements in productivity as well as competitiveness can be obtained by improving the skills levels of employees through training or job rotation. Education, training and lifelong learning foster a virtuous circle of higher productivity, a higher employment rate and better quality jobs, income growth and development. The nature of the work in the manufacturing sector specifically has changed dramatically during recent years. New technology and new work processes have changed the skills requirements of many jobs, and employees need access to regular training to provide them with the necessary skills, including advanced specialist skills, if they want to perform well in their jobs. Simultaneously, some workers need assistance with language, literacy and numeracy to cope with learning new processes and technology, or as a foundation to allow them to acquire new skills. The aim of this study was to identify the essential skills and technical competencies critical to manufacturing performance. The researcher used firm-level data from a sample of manufacturing workers at a printing and packaging firm in Gauteng, West Rand District. In this study the focus was on shop-floor workers (those who work on the factory floor), including machine minders, engineers, trade artisans, technicians, supervisors, forklift drivers and truck drivers. The concept of education can generally be defined as the activities directed at providing the knowledge, skills, moral values and understanding required in the normal course of life. Education is the all-encompassing basis of these terms and includes elementary, middle and high school education, as well as college or tertiary education. It teaches one the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and then systematically goes on to teach an individual how to use his or her intellectual ability to its fullest. Having an education puts one on the road to a prosperous life as well as eventual success in any number of careers. The concept of development refers to employee development rather than the development of an individual in general. Employee development is directed mainly at creating learning opportunities and making learning possible within an enterprise. Training in contrast is much more specific than education. It is task-oriented and focuses on the work performed in an enterprise. Training teaches specific skills that will assist an individual to develop proficiency in a specific job or job category (Erasmus & Van Dyk, 1999:3).
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