Training the Trainer

I have often heard the subject ‘Train the Trainer” mentioned at many of the National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers meetings and I have also attended some of these meetings in the past. One of the sessions I attended was when many already in the trade were getting acquainted with the Oil Heat Silver Certification program. Several, including myself, become a registered Proctor, which is the requirement to administer the Silver Certification exam.  The Silver Certification is a program where an individual can learn about many of the basics topics that relate to the oil heat trade and can help the individual be recognized as a better trained technician.      

Many states have already adopted this certification as an exam requirement in order to become a licensed heating technician. Keep in mind there are other levels that can be achieved through further study and the Gold Certification has become the target of many who want to reach the highest level of recognition. Remember also that in order to maintain the certification, one must attend classes that are certified by NORA(National Oil Heat Research Alliance) in order to get the necessary C.E.U’s required for the recertification. These classes are offered at all of the the NAOHSM conventions and at training programs that are often offered by local service managers chapters as well as some supply companies.

            Training a trainer has often crossed my mind as I wonder whether the existing instructors who are teaching oil heating technicians are required to take recertification courses. If not I would have to ask why not, as a regular academic teacher is required to. These teacher training programs are referred to as in-service days, and here teachers are taught new methods of teaching and become familiar with the new material being introduced.

             Recently I spoke with a recent graduate of an HVAC program and the subject of what they were taught came up. After listening objectively, I felt like they had missed out on several topics; to name a few, the newer hydronic controls, ECM motors, as well as the many advanced relays that are currently being installed on HVAC equipment.  One of the grads happened to mention that he spent time learning about the RA117 relay and learned how to use the Bacharach Combustion Effeciency kit(the wet test kit). When I asked about the pre and post purge controls, the answer was ‘never heard of it.” Then I asked if he had piped and wired a boiler, water heater or indirect, and the answer was, ‘I did not.” I wondered why since this knowledge will be required at some point when they are hired. What about the ‘Introduction to Oil Heat Technology” book? This was not heard of eithier. This future tech will be getting one.

In talking to company owners and service managers, I often hear the statement that the techs today are not trained to the level they need and companies do not have the time in this poor economy to do on-the-job training, especially for the basics. Some very good instructors will say that they don’t have the money to bring in all the new controls and products that are being introduced. Well, to that I have suggested they call the manufacturers and simply ask for their help in supporting advanced education. I also know that many of these same manufacturers have field representitives who would be glad to come to the training facilities to instruct both the students and help to retrain some of the trainers  on the why’s and what for’s pertaining to the new equipment the students will be expected to know when entering the job market.


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