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Thread: Teaching Apprentices

  1. #1
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    Teaching Apprentices

    Just wondering how many of us take time to teach apprentices while we're working with them in the field? I try to explain things while we're doing them whether it's bending conduit or installing switchgear, transformers or GEC's, etc. I find that some apprentices want the field training in real time because they can see it right in front of them, and others don't really care. I'm wondering if the don't really care types are worth the effort? I'm easily discouraged when I feel like I'm talking to someone who seemingly knows everything or I'm just talking to myself.
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by infinity View Post
    Just wondering how many of us take time to teach apprentices while we're working with them in the field? I try to explain things while we're doing them whether it's bending conduit or installing switchgear, transformers or GEC's, etc. I find that some apprentices want the field training in real time because they can see it right in front of them, and others don't really care. I'm wondering if the don't really care types are worth the effort? I'm easily discouraged when I feel like I'm talking to someone who seemingly knows everything or I'm just talking to myself.
    i've always taken time to teach muppets. time was taken with me.
    i appreciated it. i wasn't always the easiest muppet to work with.
    the reason i'm able to support myself today is due to the people
    who took the time to unselfishly teach me how to do it right, and
    why it mattered.

    and when i've ran across someone who does not seem to care, i
    tend to care about making an effort with them to match their
    level of disregard.

    what i'm gonna say might sound like the old man growling
    "get off my lawn", but it's not intended that way. what i have
    noticed, spanning 40 years doing this, is that there has been
    somewhat of a decline in the capability of people entering this
    line of work. it really hit me about 15 years ago, looking at
    people 20 years my junior, and seeing an overall lameness
    and indifference to the craft.

    as mostly all i do anymore is lighting certifications, i get to see
    up close and personal how people do their work, and their level
    of capability. for every one that is capable and cares about
    their work, there are a half dozen who just don't get it, and don't
    care that they don't get it. mediocrity abounds.

    none of the guys i run across in my work know about this web site,
    let alone would bother to participate here. that is sad. some of the
    smartest folk i've ever listened to about this line of work, i've found
    here.
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  3. #3
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    I don't work with apprentices. I work with plant mechanics. I'll teach guys that will run to the shop and get supplies, hand me tools and study the material I give them at home.

    If I have to do all the work and explain it to someone ,who catches an attitude when I ask them to get something....... I'd rather do the work myself and leave them to change oil and grease equipment.

    My boss asked me to train a mechanic and the first time I asked him if he was ready to review an MCC and PLC panel, he blew me off because it was to hot out. I gave it a couple of half hearted tries after that, and it was pretty obvious nothing was sticking. The guy still doesn't know an amp from an ohm.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saturn_Europa View Post
    My boss asked me to train a mechanic [...] The guy still doesn't know an amp from an ohm.
    Well, yes. I've worked with what I call "electrical mechanics", they can run pipe and pull cable, but they have no idea why for just about everything ("print says 2 inch, I run 2 inch"). Fine, I can't bend pipe worth a darn, never could, and some of them are artists with a hickey bender, but when you need specific colors of wire don't bring me something else.

    That said, people learn differently- some need to see it first, some need to do it, and some need to read about it first. Figuring that out and figuring out how to teach them is key. And some people just aren't cut out to teach.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by infinity View Post
    . I'm wondering if the don't really care types are worth the effort? I'm easily discouraged when I feel like I'm talking to someone who seemingly knows everything or I'm just talking to myself.
    I don't have any patience for the apprentices who don't seem to care one way or another. I'll take a few stabs at teaching them something, but if they seem uninterested or don't ask any questions, I write them off and bounce them off my crew.

    One of the ongoing struggles in our shop is how long to screen the brand new apprentices before determining whether to keep them or not?

    I said 2-4 weeks, but my boss thinks I'm a harda$$ and that I should give them more time. He thinks a few months. I always thought, if I can see they aren't going to work out in the first 2-4 weeks, why should we keep them around when there might be someone on the list right behind them that may actually be worth something? How much time are you guys giving it?

    To those that seem interested, I will take every opportunity to teach them what little I know. I always look forward to the day when a person can be given a task and not need any explanation or guidance on what needs to happen. It just gets done. I look at it as small victories, one step at a time.

    I think it was a members signature on here that said, "the world needs less electrical installers and more electricians." I'm looking for guys I can shape into electricians that can think, and not need a print or someone to hold their hand every time they get handed a project.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fulthrotl View Post
    there are a half dozen who just don't get it, and don't
    care that they don't get it. mediocrity abounds.


    none of the guys i run across in my work know about this web site,
    let alone would bother to participate here. that is sad. some of the
    smartest folk i've ever listened to about this line of work, i've found
    here.
    What I bolded is incredibly frustrating. Just no drive to push themselves. The "everyone gets a trophy mentality."

    This website and the members on here, have greatly contributed to the education I have. One only has to spend a few months on here to realize there is a great big world out there, with processes, materials and ways of doing things I would have never known about without this site.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by zbang View Post
    And some people just aren't cut out to teach.
    I can teach someone to use a multi meter, a megger and a how to do installs.

    But how do you teach someone Ohm's law in the field. Or Faraday's law of induction, or how to take a 4-20 mA reading and scale it to percentage. I give the guys references for that, YouTube links and Siemens has a really good free online training course. I'm definitely not a teacher but there is one guy that has met me halfway by putting in some effort on his own and can hopefully take over my job in 3-4 years. In my line of work there is no way that on the job training is going to be enough. You've got to hit the books after work to really nail down the fundamentals, then you can troubleshoot.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow View Post
    I said 2-4 weeks, but my boss thinks I'm a harda$$
    I enjoy teaching apprentices, even when it's costing me money to instruct or waste material. However, I'm usually very certain if they are going to make it within a week. If I think they are a lost cause, I'll keep them for a while to hand me tools and run to the truck, but I won't bother trying to instruct them any more.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow View Post
    One of the ongoing struggles in our shop is how long to screen the brand new apprentices before determining whether to keep them or not?

    I said 2-4 weeks, but my boss thinks I'm a harda$$ and that I should give them more time. He thinks a few months. I always thought, if I can see they aren't going to work out in the first 2-4 weeks, why should we keep them around when there might be someone on the list right behind them that may actually be worth something? How much time are you guys giving it?
    i grew up in organized labor, so take this for what it's worth.....

    you'll normally know in three days if it's a keeper or not.
    that holds for journeymen as well.

    depending on the area's working agreement has something to do with it.
    in this area, if you go over 40 hours, you start at the bottom of the list again.
    so, if they don't look like someone you want to keep for the duration of the
    time you need the labor, most people cut them loose on the third day of
    employment, or the second if three days will put them back to the bottom
    of the list. you don't want to economically disadvantage someone needlessly,
    but there are a number of folks that you really don't want to play with.

    i always figured everything was a three day call, unless i gave them a
    compelling reason to want me to stay. i took jobs nobody else wanted,
    and made them work if i could. nobody used to want to take jobs on a
    friday, as if you were collecting unemployment, you lost money for that
    week taking a job on friday.

    all of my best jobs were dispatched on friday's.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by infinity View Post
    Just wondering how many of us take time to teach apprentices while we're working with them in the field? I try to explain things while we're doing them whether it's bending conduit or installing switchgear, transformers or GEC's, etc. I find that some apprentices want the field training in real time because they can see it right in front of them, and others don't really care. I'm wondering if the don't really care types are worth the effort? I'm easily discouraged when I feel like I'm talking to someone who seemingly knows everything or I'm just talking to myself.
    Usually to the extent that there are rumors I get too deep. OTOH, there are some who have sought me out and I have taken time after work to explain things. So much depends on where the person is going in their career. I believe everyone should be able to understand what happens when a resistance is introduced in series with a load in a parallel circuit and also when that series load is on the neutral of a multiwire circuit up to an including the incoming service conductors. Beyond that it is kind of depending on what they do. I do some work with fire alarm, process controls etc. I am also self taught. I often have to go back and refresh on DC motors, induction theory, etc. but I always remember it exists.

    On the other hand if there weren't some mechanics and everyone was thinking all the time, less would get done. So give me a good mechanic who doesn't care about ohm's law and is happy with their station and I will make lots of money with them.


    I know what I don't know, and I know where to go to find it!

  10. #10
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    I take the time to teach the best I can. During my apprenticeship I had good mentors and "bad" mentors. I'm thankful for the ones that took the time to teach me so I strive to be that person for the next guy.

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