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In a recent discussion with one of our members regarding the 180 Skills online training program, they asked a very basic question. As we had developed 24 different Learning Paths for the program, did they have to follow these Paths for their training program, or could they pick and choose the courses that best suited their company and the individual?

I thought we had explained it well enough in our marketing materials, but I guess not. Here’s the long and short of it. You can use the 180 Skills program however it best suits your needs.

When I first learned of the program, I was knocked out by the 700+ courses, nearly all of which were developed for employees at manufacturing firms. That’s a no-brainer given what FPSA member do. Surely among the 700+ courses, any of our member companies can find topics that would be helpful for their employees, be they in the office or on the shop floor. But given how enormous the challenge can be going through 700 different courses, we didn’t stop there.

Thanks to the help of TWO different SME groups, we organized 24 different sets of Learning Paths that grouped successive courses which the SME groups felt would be of value to our members. For example, the Lean Principles course is excellent but in 1.5 hours it really just serves as an introduction to the topic of Lean Manufacturing. In this case, the Lean Learning Path is preferable as it includes eight different courses for a total of 7.3 hours, teaching this subject from a variety of angles. Once the person completes the final course in the Learning Path, they receive a certificate of completion, providing their supervisor the assurance that they have mastered the topic.

Another good example that we can ALL use, is the Customer Service Learning Path. You see, 180 Skills includes both technical training and soft skills. The Customer Skills Path is comprised of 10 courses totaling 10.4 hours. While a very important topic, by breaking it up into ten different sections, the learner can tackle them at their own pace according to the plan established by their supervisor. Whether they tackle all ten in one week or over the next ten weeks makes no difference. The learner goes at their own pace and masters the topic.

Like I said, you can use the program as it best suits your needs. In a best-practices article that I recently read, the writer stressed the importance of “not trying to cover too much ground”. I couldn’t agree more. Forget 700+ courses, even 24 Learning Paths is a lot! What we have seen with our members so far is that they are selecting specific courses or 1 or 2 Learning Paths for their employee to test the waters. A handful of members have progressed beyond that stage and are now digging in even deeper. That’s great. That works for them. They’ve seen the quality of the education and the ease at which they can obtain it.

At $349/year/learner, after the first course you’re already saving money and time. In fact, we have one learner who is already on their second Learning Path. By the time they finish it, they will have completed 23 courses. At $349 for the year, that’s $15.17 per course, and we’re only now going into April!

I invite you to keep your questions coming and would be happy to chat on the phone if you like. 180 Skills is a great program that we’d like to see all our members take advantage of.

Andy Drennan, SVP, Food Processing Suppliers Association