In the pharmaceutical industry, it’s common for plants to experience preventative or scheduled maintenance shutdowns. What’s not so common is to hold a weeklong training camp during the shutdown.
Recently, however, Shire Pharmaceuticals held just such an event. More than 300 people — from production line workers to senior management — converged on the Villa Julie College campus near the company’s Owings Mills, Md., facility to take part in the camp.
Led by a mix of internal and external facilitators, classes ranged from 15 to 105 minutes, and they covered a variety of topics, including safety and ethics training, improving productivity, meeting etiquette and lean manufacturing.
Joseph Homan, senior manager of training and development and quality assurance, said that although every pharmaceutical company does some sort of preventative maintenance and good manufacturing practices (GMP) training, Shire wanted to do more.
“We asked our client groups, ‘If you had a week in which to train, what would you want to be trained on?’” said Homan, who has a master’s degree in education. “In the past, we’ve asked folks for feedback, and we’ve gotten a little bit. But for this particular question, we received six pages of feedback, single-spaced, of things they’d want to be trained on if they had time. We did about 60 different classes, and we opened it up to people’s managers to work with them to pick their classes the way you would in a college setting. They had mandatory and elective classes.”
Homan said the camp was such a success, he and his team are working to capture the mandatory, 45-minute sessions from three different video shoots, which will be used to create an interactive e-learning experience that will enable employees who were working during the scheduled maintenance shutdown to take some of the classes.
“We’ve also put together a 15-minute video documenting the event,” he said. “We added several of the e-mails and comments that we’ve received from employees who have been in the industry for a good number of years that said they’ve never been to a training event that was this well-organized, well-run and impactful, which was nice.”
Perhaps even more important than the learning absorbed during the event, Homan said the camp provided many valuable intangibles such as team building.
“Having everyone together in one training camp like a professional sports team also offered team building, networking and the fun you would not have gotten if everyone went their separate ways to their continuing education classes,” he said. “That is the real fruit that was gained from Shire’s training camp.”
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