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Dirty Dozen: Lack of Knowledge

Education, continuing education, and lifelong learning are not only a precept of the new code of conduct (released this summer, see AMTonline.com, News, July 17, 2009) but also a pragmatic method for job security in the future.

Knowing that it is not possible to have knowledge and skill in every aspect of aviation maintenance for every airplanereinforces the idea of continual improvement of skills and constant learning. These concepts are often referred to as lifelong learning and continuing education.

Lifelong learning and continuing education comes in many forms including:

  • Trade associations, i.e., AMTSociety, NBAA, NATA
  • Community college
  • Local or branch campuses of colleges and universities
  • Online learning
  • Manufacturer-supplied training
  • Other professional associations
  • Seminar providers of general management/supervisory skills

In an article this author wrote for AMT in August 2001 see Article Archives on www.amtonline.com, “What’s Your Hiring Potential.” It included 10 Steps to Career Success. Two included training and learning new skills. “Learn outside skills. Enroll in a community college and take a course on learning how to write. Fearful of speaking in public? Go to the local night class and overcome your fear. Seventy-one percent of U.S. citizens are afraid to speak in public. People who are promoted usually have learned how to express themselves to others and their employers. Become a lifetime learner – not only in your profession, but in your personal life as well.”

The soft, the hard, and the ugly
Education may be divided into two categories often called the soft skills and the hard skills.

The soft skills are often called the people skills and the interactions with others. These include how to encourage, supervise, and motivate others through your direction or action. Organizations frequently promote individuals with good soft skills, and everyone can improve their soft skills by reading or taking a course on one of the basic soft skills.

Public speaking, effective listening, problem resolution, and human factors are currently high on the list of preferred skills for promotion of employees as well as new hires.

Many outside organizations, i.e., Dale Carnegie can assist you in communicating better as well as improve the possibility for movement up the mythical job ladder. Dale Carnegie
training assists in overcoming the fear of public speaking.

Many organizations require the act of making presentations as a condition of leadership to be promoted to supervisor or beyond the shop floor. Therefore, if you can express yourself clearly, calmly, and confidently you are one step above all those who cannot. Many community colleges offer similar Public Speaking 101 or Fear of Public Speakingcourses at very reasonable prices.

Many employers will offer full to partial tuition reimbursement for coursework to improve your status as an employee. Check with your human relations/personnel office for the company policy. Some schools offer discounts to employees of certain companies.

Tracking your progress or just one fuel tank!
One easy method to ensure your training history is recorded is by keeping multiple copies of certificates or grades earned. Today, three simple and inexpensive methods exist to track your education progress. As years go on it is easy to forget a special or one-time program you attended.

  • Copy training certificates and grade reports and place in folder in one location.
  • Keep originals in notebook with acetate pages from an office store in your home.
  • Scan the documents and keep in folder in your web-based email system.

In the event of a disaster or tragedy, you always have a backup system and isn’t redundancy what aviation is all about. How many planes have just one fuel tank?
As a lifelong learner it is a great review and learning reminder to page through the past education experiences to appreciate what you have learned.

The hard skills are the business-related courses such as finance, accounting, chemistry, blueprint reading, and computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM).
If you do not have a strong finance background and most A&P professionals do not, then accounting for non-accountants or accounting for people who hate mathare valuable tools to complete your education. It will help you understand the situations your employer may be facing. In this era of declining revenues (income), the smart employees are proactive to the challenge. 

Many A&P professionals are aware of the pilot of a major carrier who realized he could taxi to the gate with one less engine in a similar amount of time and save 50 percent of the fuel used in taxiing to the gate upon arrival. Once that carrier implemented the process, several national and international carriers copied the idea. How many millions of gallons of JetA were saved?

In addition, if your lifelong learning or continuing education yields a benefit to the employer through a suggestion, many employers generously share proportionally with the founder of the cost savings or revenue-producing idea.
At Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA), near Pittsburgh, some aviation maintenance technology (AMT) students may return to acquire new skills as an aviation electronics (avionics) technician or stay for additional months to complete both degree programs.

The ugly truth is everyone can learn more and do a better job. However the latest statistics regarding continuing education and lifelong learning reports only 31.8 percent pursue additional learning even if it is provided with tuition reimbursement.

For more information request flyer 49D: The Top Nine Items Before Returning To School by emailing Aviation@journalist.com.

Craig J. “Buzz” Conroy is a speaker and researcher who entertains and educates aviation professionals and business audiences with unique and enlightening programs. He has a master’s degree in aviation leadership from MSU. He was at Somerset, PA, covering the 9-11 disaster less than one hour and nine minutes after Flight 93 crashed. Conroy serves as resident expert on aviation and business-related topics for two national news networks. To contact Conroy, email aviation@journalist.com.

Call 724 443-6876 or 1 800 344-1492 or fax 206 203 -4599.

This is the seventh in a series of articles on the Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen was developed by Gordon Dupont at Transport Canada. They are critical factors in the area of human factors and safety; they include complacency, lack of knowledge, lack of teamwork, distraction, fatigue, lack of resources, pressure, lack of assertiveness, lack of communication, norms, stress, and lack of awareness.