We used to have time to learn

I work in an industry that used to have apprentices. Though sometimes they weren’t formally identified as such, they nevertheless had a time period of relatively low responsibility in which to acquire skills and ask hundreds, even thousands of questions. They also got all the crap jobs.

In some ways it was a useful system. There were some older guys that I learned from, that watched what I was doing, and that generally seemed to care whether I was getting it. At the time I barely noticed that I was being trained, and spent a fair amount of time complaining about the tedious nature of the work. After time passed and I learned a bit more, I could see the method of it.

In other ways, though, it could at times be an impediment to learning. Some of those “master” workers were completely full of themselves, so much so that they refused to keep up with the changes in technology. The old ways became officially broken in the late 1980’s. Even today you still can hear some idiot moaning about how much better things were before computers f$cked everything up.

Not so.

As a computer-savvy technician today you can out-produce the old technology by leaps and bounds, particularly with regard to product quality. It’s not all just scheduling spreadsheets.

But the apprentice system pretty much died too. There are very few workers now that understand the complete product they are working on. The focus on method ended up costing breadth of knowledge.

We still need apprentices to do the crap work, but now they have to be expert in one tenth of the time, without the benefit of a broad understanding.

via Daily Prompt: Apprentice

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3 Responses to We used to have time to learn

  1. shythom says:

    So what you are saying is we need to embrace technology – but, we also need to bring back what use to work. I totally agree. I’m also all for technology in the areas it pushes us to save time and be more efficient. But there’s a lot of things which still require a longer learning curve. Things in which technology can’t teach us overnight.

    • Doug says:

      We aren’t just trying to answer the maximum number of phone calls or dollop ice cream the fastest, we are also making people that understand the work they are doing. You have to take care of the young workers to help them grow, and the old workers to help them feel satisfied. If that means giving the index finger to technology, so be it!

      • shythom says:

        LOL! Good way to sum things up – especially with the ‘index finger!’ 🙂 I am taking on a new trainee. And I’m realizing through my own experience the value of good leadership – one who will take the time to guide a newbie. It will be worth it – it’s always great to know you’ve influenced one’s life and career path in a positive way.

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