August 15, 2010
By Sally Harvey CLT, CLP
Education and Labour Development Department

Sally HarveyAs we celebrate surviving this hot, dry summer, we must not lose sight of the need to train our technical staff. According to the report, People without Jobs, Jobs without People by Rick Miner, February 2010, we should expect more than one-third of the workforce to retire within the next two decades. This may seem like this is years away, however, it is critical to build the foundation for our businesses of tomorrow.

Miner says, “Higher education is becoming ever more important. In the next five years, about two-thirds of new jobs will need post-secondary education.” This post-secondary education may include college, university, apprenticeship, or industry certification.

The focus for this month’s article is on post-secondary apprenticeship and certification training, and how this can easily happen while on the job. Many of us are challenged with the time and tools to train our staff, while we focus on growing our businesses in a meaningful direction.

Four-step process

Supported by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, CNLA has worked with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council over the last two years to provide On-the-Job Training (OJT) tools aimed at the horticulture industry. We have identified the serious shortage of skilled workers in the landscape horticulture trade, thus this program aims to give employers the tools to provide applied and effective in-house training. In essence, the OJT is a train-the-trainer program. This system’s basic approach provides an outline for training a wide variety of tasks. It focuses primarily on a four-step process that has increased the effectiveness of training by at least 50 per cent, resulting in greater return on investment. The method employed was originally used in World War II to train people to work in the jobs vacated by soldiers. The training needed to happen immediately (instant productivity) with no loss to quality or safety.

Gen. MacArthur passed this training along to the Japanese following the war, and it became the system that Toyota still uses today to train one of the most productive workforces in the auto industry. It ensures that workers will be trained quicker without loss in quality, speed or safety. Landscape Ontario has participated in the pilot of this program and hopes to make it available to our members’ trainers this seminar season.

Most of the learning in our industry happens every day, on-the-job, working side-by-side with a more experienced or knowledgeable person. There is no doubting the skills of the trainer, but how many people have ever had training on how to train? Just because you are able to do something very well, does not mean you are able to teach or train others. If that were the case, then Wayne Gretzky should be the greatest teacher/coach in hockey.

“Most of the learning in our industry happens every day, on-the-job, working side-by-side with a more experienced or knowledgeable person.”

This customized system approach to training focuses on teaching the trainers about how others learn, and the best methods for improving training skills. Improved training will lead to a quicker training process, and more effective and productive skilled labour. This will improve employee retention and elevate safety and quality. Improved training equals profit!

The course is designed as a two-day session. Each session has a limited number of attendees in order to maximize the experience. This is hands-on training, just like the real thing. Participants act as both trainees and trainers throughout the day, learning proper procedure from this simulated on-the-job experience.

All participants in the session will receive a copy of the training standards, method outline, quick-review cards, and training moment templates. This method is sure to make training process faster and more efficient.

Who should attend?

Anyone involved in the training of technical skills should take this course. This may include college faculty and instructors, apprenticeship instructors, seminar instructors, and on-the-job trainers. Employers who engage their employees in apprenticeship or industry certifications will benefit greatly from the OJT process.

The Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities oversees apprenticeship in Ontario. A major component of the apprenticeship experience is on-the-job training. When an employer registers an employee, he also agrees to train and sign-off on levels of competencies listed in the training document, as the levels are achieved. The OJT is a fantastic tool for these employers and their trainers, providing guidelines on how to train and to assess a trainee’s competence. Candidates for certification will also greatly benefit from the OJT method. I know many candidates would fast track their successful completion if this OJT method was available to them.

Landscape Ontario is eager to make this tool available to the industry this winter. Effective training is not an easy task, especially when training learners have so many different learning styles. OJT simplifies that daunting task. I look forward to hearing from you. If you wish to discuss this opportunity in more detail, contact me at, or 1-800-265-5656, ext. 315.
Contact Sally Harvey should you have any questions at