At Wilbert Plastic Services Inc., school can be in session around the clock.
While some might grunt and groan at the thought of a 24/7 learning environment — cue flashbacks of a shrieking school bell and the rush of students scurrying to make it to class on time — employees at the injection molder and thermoformer seem to prefer it this way.
With Wilbert U, the plastics manufacturer's comprehensive, internal training program, employees have access to a wide range of courses on subject matters, from scientific molding to leadership development. The program was implemented in 2015 and moved to a cloud-based system in June 2018, enabling the company's roughly 1,300 employees across its eight U.S. locations to complete courses and develop skills on the go.
"They can be at the library. They can be at their parents' house — wherever they are that has internet," Amelia Keown, corporate training coordinator and a Six Sigma Master Black Belt at Wilbert Plastic Services' headquarters in Belmont, N.C., said in a phone interview.
Now with the cloud-based version, which runs on the TalentLMS online learning platform, employees can access courses from their computer, tablet or smartphone. Wilbert U has also expanded from about 50 courses to an online catalog of more than 200, including topics on safety, manufacturing quality and IQMS's enterprise resource planning system as well as additional instructor-led courses.
Upon being hired, new employees are automatically added to the learning management system. Based on an employee's location and job title, the system will provide a list of required training courses. Operators, for example, might have 15 courses immediately assigned to them while a process technician might have 50-60 courses, Keown said. Employees at a supervisor level will have different courses, mostly on topics such as leadership and employee engagement. Courses typically take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or so to complete.
Since the June launch of the cloud-based system, Keown said about 91 percent of current employees have participated in Wilbert U. In total, those employees have completed more than 12,300 courses and have earned more than 9,400 certificates.
"For the past month, we have averaged close to 100 employees logging in to the Wilbert U system every day, even on weekends," Keown said in a follow-up email to Plastics News. "They are very excited about the program."
For required courses, employees are financially compensated for their time. Hourly employees get reimbursed at their hourly pay rate, though Keown said oftentimes the company is paying "above and beyond" that, especially if an employee has already worked 40 hours for the week.
"We're paying out up to 150 hours of pay each week to our hourly employees," Keown said. "That's how much training is taking place right now within the system."
And in total, the company has paid more than 3,270 hours of training to its hourly employees who have completed required courses. Employees can take additional courses voluntarily that they aren't compensated for, but the extra skills could lead to a promotion down the road.
"We're committed to providing superior training to our employees for their development, so it will benefit the company as well as benefit the individual," she said. "Wilbert U was created in order to provide training to our employees that was both needed by the company as well as a method for employees to further improve themselves."