The QueenswoOD Division of theInternational Aerospace Corporation is engaged on the design and manufacture ofType IA 104, a subsonic transport AIrcraft with a number of unusual features.It participated in the design with European members of the corporation and isresponsible for the construction of the fuselage, including the tailplane. Twoprototypes have been completed and the flight test programme is well advanced.Queenswood is building 55 fuselages. The main build programme has been phasedover four years, though there will be further work on final modifications inthe fifth year. Work has almost been completed on 10 fuselages, although thesewill have to be modified in the light of the test results. The programme forthe remaining 45 has been prepared.
Queenswood has been training craftapprentices for many years. THRee years ago it introduced a new advancedapprenticeship lasting three years. The first year was spent in the basictraining workshop, learning all the basic skills, and at the local further educationcollege, leading to an NVQ level 2 or equivalent. The second year was spentgaining practical experience in the ‘shops’ – the tool room, the machine shop(largely using computer manufacturing systems), the detail fitting shops andfinal assembly. The tour also included a spell in the production engineeringdepartment. At the end of the second year apprentices were expected to havereached NVQ level 3 or equivalent (if not, they continued to study for thisqualification in their third year). They also had to decide where they wantedto specialize and were given guidance in making this CHOice. Subject toagreement on their suitability, they continued with a year’s experience in thearea of their choice. This could be extended by an extra year if necessary.Their education continued, in some cases leading to a B Tech, in others anadvanced engineering qualification. However, some apprentices did not progressbeyond NVQ level 3. The intake of apprentices was about 30 a year and the totalnumber currently under training was 95.
The basic workshop and educational aspectsof the programme seemed to be working pretty well but the year’s experiencemoving from shop to shop was not – while in the shops the apprentices receivedonly the normal supervision. The supervisors could not spare the time toinstruct them and when, as was usually the case, apprentices could not copewith the normal work they were assigned to, they were given tedious routinework. They therefore became bored and frustrated because they were not allowedto develop the basic skills they had learnt in their first year. Although thetraining given in the basic training workshop was excellent, it did not fullyprepare them for the actual experience of working in the shops. As aconsequence, many apprentices were not ready for their final year and felt thatthe second year had been largely a waste of time. A full-time instructor hadbeen assigned from the basic training workshop to supervise the second year’straining but he was not able to overcome the lack of interest of thesupervisors in the shops in training apprentices – they had more importantthings to do, they said.
The head of learning and development atQueenswood suspected that this problem existed and asked for an explanationfrom the apprentice training manager. The latter could not give a verysatisfactory account, so the head of training and development decided to carryout his own investigation. This included a survey of the opinions ofapprentices about their training, focus groUPS with apprentices, meetings withproduction managers and supervisors, discussions with the manager of the basictraining workshop and his staff, and a detailed discussion with the second-yearapprentice instructor. The investigation confirmed that a serious problem ofinadequate training experiences in the second year existed and the basictraining instructors confirmed that they were unhappy that the high level ofbasic skills achieved by apprentices in their first year were BEIng allowed todissipate in the second year. The discussion with the training instructor forthe second year confirmed that he was doing what he could but that there was nostructure for training in the workshops and supervision was indifferent at bestand often hostile to any interference from him.
Something had to be done and the head oflearning and development considered what action was necessary. He set up a taskforce, which he led himself. The members of the task force consisted of thEAPprentice manager, the manager of the basic training workshop and a selectionof more enlightened production managers and supervisors.
Set out the recommendations that the taskforce might make to deal with the problem.