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Feature   August 1, 2000   by CARS Magazine

Motive Power Workplace Mentor/Coach Program Launch

Now that the pilot phase of the Workplace Mentor/ Coach program has been concluded successfully and the recommended revisions to the course materials are nearing completion, you will be pleased to not...

Now that the pilot phase of the Workplace Mentor/ Coach program has been concluded successfully and the recommended revisions to the course materials are nearing completion, you will be pleased to note that the formal release of this exciting new learning experience is scheduled for late September 2000. Thus, within the next few months following the date of release, this program will be made available through a number of Community Colleges and Institutes of Technology across Canada subject, of course, to minimum enrolment requirements. You are advised to visitthe special Website or to call 1-877-806-7779 for any additional information, including any updates about your particular area developments.

A number of institutions, such as Algonquin College, Centennial College, SAIT and SIAST respectively, have already indicated a strong desire to offer this part-time program as early as this fall in both the traditional evening classroom and the distance learning modes respectively. The distance learning courses of this program will be accessible to anyone in Canada regardless of location.

It is anticipated that the distance learning option for the Mentor/Coach program will be a popular alternative to the traditional classroom based learning sessions. The opportunity to progress at one’s own pace, the savings in travel costs and time and the multimedia learning support materials are but a few of the many features of this cost-effective learning approach. While the required self-discipline for the timely completion of the various assignments is still an essential ingredient for success, the highly interactive CD ROMs provided in support of the respective workbooks make this a much more stimulating learning experience for all participants regardless of their respective learning styles.

As well, a ” Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition ” (PLAR) process will be in place for technician/coaches. Experienced technicians who have been training apprentices successfully for some time or who may have taken related courses may well qualify for full or partial credits for some or all of the courses of this program. Arrangements will have to be made through the respective participating colleges of the program.

As an owner or manager of a Service and Repair operation, you may still ponder over the suggested benefits of the Mentor/Coach program in terms of a “workplace training advantage” and “an investment in the future”. As a successful service and repair technician, you may also wonder what else you could possibly learn about effective and efficient workplace training techniques.

Similar questions had to be addressed by many European countries where formal workplace training qualifications have long become mandatory pre-requisites for the on-the-job training of new apprentices. Because the in-school apprenticeship training in those countries pertains primarily to theoretical aspects and all fundamental hands-on training is provided in the workplace setting, their Mentor/Coach (Master Technician) programs are usually in excess of 600 instructional hours. European service and repair operations see significant value in this kind of training commitment or they would not have supported such a comprehensive program for so many years.

CARS 84-hour part-time Mentor/ Coach program is much shorter in duration because of the shared participation of the colleges in some of the fundamental skills development training of new trainees. However, the prevailing trends in many provinces over the last few years clearly reveal a significant shift of the practical trainee skills development requirements from the training institutions to the respective workplace environments in the Motive Power trades.

For example, Ontario’s current curriculum guidelines prescribe an in-school time allocation of 75% theory and 25% practical, as compared to a 50:50 ratio only a few years ago. This clearly illustrates an increased government expectation for workplaces to assume greater responsibilities in the fundamental skills training than ever before.

In anticipation of these ongoing trends, as well as the projected retirements of a large number of proficient workplace technician/trainers over the next few years, CARS has taken the initiative to help address the pressing need for qualified workplace trainers in the Motive Power industry. The official launch of the Workplace Mentor/Coach program, therefore, could not possibly happen at a more appropriate time.