In the summer of 2012 I was asked to sit down with the OK- SMACNA board to discuss some options about how I could help with the changes they are seeing in the industry. Several ideas were thrown out, but we kept coming back to the question, “How can we build a better apprentice?” and “What do we need to do to better equip the next generation of sheet metal workers entering the labor force?”
Regardless of whatever seminars or training we discussed, I was convinced that a stand-alone presentation was not the answer. This type of shift in behavior would require on going training where the information could be delivered in bite size pieces on a consistent basis to the apprentices. For someone like me, to show up and “motivate” the apprentices in an afternoon, and then leave town never to return again would end in failure and frustration. If our ultimate goal was to “build a better apprentice” then that would require a mindset shift in the apprentice, and a shift in ones mindset would not happen overnight. This had to be more than a program; it would have to become an initiative that would be delivered slowly and consistently.
The term “drip irrigation” kept coming to mind. I grew up on a farm in Western Oklahoma and I knew that not all rains were good. If a rain came too fast and hard on a young cotton crop it would do more harm than good. The best rains came slow, and soft. This way there was not much run off and the soil could absorb the much needed moisture.
Information is the same way. Too much, too fast and it will do more harm than good. I knew whatever solution was created that it would critical to spoon feed this information to the apprentice so that it would be absorbed. However, before I worried about the method of delivery I first needed a baseline on the current program. I would need to do a full assessment.