Learn as You Go

April 2, 2007

With assistance from organizations like Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, IRI Consultants to Management and the LearnShare consortium, Holcim Inc. has developed a comprehensive training master plan that is based on competency and addresses employee specific skill gaps required for their position.

With assistance from organizations like Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, IRI Consultants to Management and the LearnShare consortium, Holcim Inc. has developed a comprehensive training master plan that is based on competency and addresses employee specific skill gaps required for their position.

The process was three-fold: first, develop a model for targeted roles identifying the required competencies and corresponding levels of understanding. Second, develop, administer and manage an assessment process that assesses the employee’s knowledge and level of understanding for each competency. Third, provide a system for course selection, enrollment and administration of individual assessment results, development plans and historical training accomplishments.

The three-step process provides a detailed map of an individual’s training and development needs, rolled upward providing reports that deliver the current status of training and development for each individual and business unit within the organization. The solution also provides a detailed view of training and development opportunities.

Work with the workers

Holcim, like other companies, faced the challenge of keeping their employees current on the skills required to remain competitive within the marketplace while delivering innovative and sustainable solutions for their customers.

In 2001, management determined the competencies necessary for key positions within the organization. With the assistance of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Holcim’s comprehensive training master plan was developed that provided a detailed road map for the training and development of its employees. In 2002, with the help of IRI Consultants to Management, the group developed a series of assessments that were designed to identify and measure an employee’s knowledge and level of understanding of the previously identified competencies.

The assessment results were benchmarked against the target levels for each position. The gaps that existed between these targets and the individual’s assessment become an integral component of the individual’s assessment report, shared between the employee and their manager. The report provided detailed information that assisted both the employee and manager in identifying training and development opportunities.

During this period, an extensive course database also was developed. It comprised internal and external course offerings from a variety of educational and industry providers. Each course was mapped to specific competencies and level of understanding for the identified roles for the target objectives. This tool provided a natural bridge for the employee and their manager to identify and select a course that delivered targeted training designed to meet the specific needs of the individual.

Early in 2002, Holcim saw an opportunity to overcome many of the obstacles that companies face in delivering training, such as the time an employee is away from their job; course registration fees; and travel and related expenses.

It was recognized that to be effective, training should be delivered at a time that is most convenient and conducive to the employees’ schedule. After significant research on the topic, a cross-functional team was developed to identify and create a solution to overcome these obstacles. The team evaluated several learning management systems (LMS) ranging from off-the-shelf applications designed to administer and track organizational training and development needs to full-fledged LMS solutions provided by application service providers.

In 2003, Holcim embarked on the development of Holcim University (HU), a web-based corporate university featuring an LMS designed to provide training targeted to the employee’s needs. The company was driven to extend some of the functionality of HU to their customers.

LearnShare’s legacy courses are offered via a business website, Cement-Online (www.cementonline.us). Cement-Online is a powerful and user-friendly web-based information portal for the construction industry. Users have ready access to a plethora of information such as industry news, product information, material specifications, MSDS sheets, weather, technical tools, training and links to industry-related websites. Users have real-time access to their account information, invoices, signed bills of lading, product ordering and single-click express ordering.

Since its introduction last year, Holcim’s portal has been recognized by the construction industry, having won the following awards: Canadian American Business Council’s Achievement Award, Honorable Mention; Constructech’s Vision Award; and the Tilt-up Concrete Associations’ Tilt-up Award Special Recognition.

By using Cement-Online, users can access a selection of Holcim University curricula via a link under “Training Tools” followed by the link “Online Training Courses.” Free courses are available in finance, human resources, management, sales and marketing. More courses will be added in the future.

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