Jakub Cieśla, Exact Systems Quality Department Supervisor
The importance of education in the field of quality control is known to everyone who faces the problem of employing qualified employees or their high turnover. The 4th edition of the MotoBarometer 2019 report, which presents current moods among representatives of the automotive industry, shows that 66% of respondents from Poland consider introducing a class related to working in the automotive industry at vocational schools as the best way to improve the situation on the automotive labour market. However, as long as the issue of education does not solve all the problems, employers must look for other ways of dealing with this difficult situation.
Initial trainings for production employees, team leaders or quality controllers are standard procedures. Basic information about the tasks that will be carried out is provided on the first day of work. However, gaining full knowledge of processes or understanding the legitimacy of procedures are issues that cannot be learned in a rush, while performing daily responsibilities.
An investment that makes sense
At Exact Systems, a few years ago, we developed a proprietary method that helps us effectively recruit for specialist positions and reduce turnover among operational employees. We called this method the Quality Academy. This innovative project created in 2014 is the company's response to the secondary and higher education curricula which are not always adapted to the needs of employers. The company‘s programme, classes with professionals who put theory into practice, the opportunity to exchange experiences with other employees - this is the complete picture of the Academy.
The work of the Quality Controller, Team Leader or Coordinator at Exact Systems is usually done by very young people. The largest group consists of people at the age of 18-26. Employment gives them the opportunity to study and earn money at the same time. Such young people still remain in the education process, want to acquire new knowledge and are open to it. By offering tailored training, we can be sure that we do not take action in vain. The Quality Academy also gives us the opportunity to closely observe our employees, check how they cope with group work, problem solving, or are able to manage a team. As soon as a new position appears, we first offer it to our employees whose skills and abilities have been verified by superiors and trainers of the Quality Academy. By engaging young people, we gain knowledge and learn from a new generation to have a creative, innovative approach to various issues. We strive to build a cooperation relationship and develop teamwork skills through workshops for people of all ages. We are trying to reach a new generation that builds awareness of authority in a different way than before. For young people entering the labour market, authority must be gained and not imposed in advance by the structures created. So we are building a team, making it possible for you to meet not only as an employer but also as a collaborator in creating it.
Of course, not everyone wants to make a career in the automotive industry, not everyone wants to get promted either; there is a group of people who would like to develop other competences than those required by Exact Systems. We support the employees who have cooperated with us for a long time in their activities. First of all, we confirm their skills with the certificate of graduation from the Quality Academy. These are specific skills that you can put into your CV. It is also possible to obtain references.
The Quality Academy is primarily a teaching process. The range of topics is wide. Our main goal is to teach difficult topics such as quality control, metrology, 5S standards, work standardisation, risk management and problem solving in a learner-friendly form. Nowadays specialist knowledge is very important, but next to specialisation, competences such as the ability to work in a multicultural environment (employees more often have the opportunity to work abroad or cooperate with foreigners, especially from Ukraine), communication skills, and the ability to work in group, the ability to organise your work and work under time pressure, emotional intelligence are becoming equally important.
Quality trainings are interwoven with topics that teach other skills and can also be used in other posts, e.g. Office 365, quality in recruitment or effective implementation of tasks. The topics change, we follow what is happening on the labour market, listen to the needs of employees, which is why we regularly verify training programmes. Over the past six years, over 1,500 Quality Controllers, Coordinators, Team Leaders, Specialists and Managers from Poland have been trained. The programme is so popular that foreign branches, being part of the Exact Systems Group, have introduced trainings locally. This project is already standard in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania. It was so popular in Hungary that the trainings are organised not only for Exact Systems employees, but also for potential partners operating in the area of quality control. Recently, the Quality Academy was also organised in Belgium and Germany. In total, as many as 30 foreign editions took place, in which over 600 participants took part.
Acting via understanding
Increasing knowledge about certain processes or understanding the legitimacy of procedures makes employees see more sense in their actions. They not only gain specific knowledge in the field of quality control, but also can empathise with the employer's point of view. In their daily duties, they see not only repetitive activities but are able to arrange individual elements into a coherent whole. Training at the Academy of Quality also allows the exchange of experience between many employees, which results in the implementation of ideas that have worked well elsewhere. To paraphrase a well-known story: engaged employees of Exact Systems do not transport bricks, but they build a temple.
One does not have to wait for the effects of such meetings for long. Our employees implement their duties faster and their efficiency increases. The skills acquired give greater work independency. We also observed greater motivation to act and employees' loyalty. The Quality Academy is, therefore, a project in which the benefits are on both sides and an effective way to improve the situation on the automotive labour market.