The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic took a massive toll on business operations for everybody across the electronics industry, and training wasn’t spared. With the topic centered on the online pivot of 2020 for technical training programs, I-Connect007’s Nolan Johnson recently interviewed Jahr Turchan, Director of Veteran Services and Advanced Manufacturing Programs, Blackfox. Jahr talked about training and hiring veterans, the effects of COVID, how online training changed technical training programs forever, and how customers responded.
Watch the full interview here https://realtimewith.com/page/show/116/4969.
The Shift To Online Training
In the first part of the interview, Jahr explained that electronics is hands-on, and COVID-19 drastically affected this. Jahr recounted that by April, Blackfox saw a significant decrease in business, but there were no cancellations despite this. This allowed Blackfox to weather the drastic dip in enrollments. “Everybody just took a pause, stepped back, and deferred their training if they already had it scheduled,” Jahr recalled.
Jahr then discussed the initial challenges of opening up IPC online training, especially with delivering content in a new way in a virtual instructor-led environment. He also mentioned that Blackfox was with IPC at the forefront, helping with the beta tests. “It was educational and quite interesting, and I think we’re doing an excellent job at it right now,” he remarked.
The new online training programs included more rounded and robust offerings of manufacturing training skillsets alongside the traditional IPC skillsets. Jahr explained that these offerings would explore new sectors outside of electronics manufacturing, such as plastics, metal cutting, and fabrication formation.
When asked about the adoption for online training of typical IPC programs during 2020 through 2021, Jahr explained that in the beginning, things were difficult with class sizes as small as one on one training. Still, because of Blackfox’s commitment to taking care of the customer, they started to see an upwards trend of people taking online classes. “When they need the training, Blackfox makes sure that they get the training whether it’s one on one or twelve on one,” Jahr exclaimed.
By 2021, things started to turn around as classes grew to six and more people enrolled. Blackfox’s Mexico training operations also saw a recent increase in enrollments in their adoption of online training.
Self-Paced Training For Large Manufacturing Type Skillsets
With the aim to give the best offer possible, Blackfox started looking into online training for other manufacturing skill sets as the opportunity presented itself in IPC’s switch to online. “We’re trying to find a good way to marry them,” Jahr remarked, referring to COVID and Online training.
What came out of this is an online offering of self-paced courses so companies can enroll their employees to take advantage of the downtimes as the world shifts to work from home. “The workforce is the company’s most important resource,” Jahr exclaimed, before pointing out that training is one of the best ways to invest in such an asset.
“That’s why we want to make this offering as easy, as efficient, and as valuable as we can,” he added.
Jahr also discussed training and hiring veterans. He recalled that at the outset of the pandemic during the first quarter of 2020, Blackfox sponsored the formation of the Evolution Foundation, which helps veterans get into the workforce after their time in the military.
When things got complicated, the Evolution Foundation put its operations on pause because of a lack of funding. Donations were decreased worldwide as the funds were reallocated towards the fight against COVID-19.
As things cooled down, the Evolution Foundation was ramping up as they saw a spike in hiring. Companies were moving again, triggering operations to restart and provide extremely valuable skill sets and scholarships to veterans so they can easily transition into a successful civilian career.
In the last part of the interview, Jahr discussed the various opportunities that prospective employers can get for their workforce. This includes:
- Trial opportunities for manufacturing training
- Merit-based scholarships that can be applied to any training organizations affiliated with Evolution Foundation, like Blackfox.
Jahr then emphasized that Blackfox provides specific learning paths for career development – a program that takes you from “Zero to hero.”