I’d like to open up the debate about how, why, and if engineers really need SOLIDWORKS training. Obviously, as providers of classroom-based CAD training since 1989, CAPINC is really interested in this topic. Even more important to us however is making sure we are delivering what New England companies actually need for engineering technology and services. If you’d like to share your thoughts directly with us about it, please tell us in our survey.
You Don’t Have To Do Anything Except Die
Those were the words of my high school calculus teacher, every time a student asked, “Do we have to do this?” No, you don’t need to take training, however as with all choices in life, what you do or don’t do has consequences. Are you willing to live with the consequences?
Success is optional. I strongly believe that the shortest and most reliable path to success with any CAD system or sophisticated technology is to obtain training, in person, from an expert. This is especially true when your career – your livelihood – depends on those skills.
Learn To Swim By Watching YouTube
Thousands of videos, and thousands of blogs out there like this one, make up an awesome trove of resources for teaching yourself new skills like SOLIDWORKS. But the thing you’ve probably noticed about the internet (and which Bing built advertising about) is that there is often too much information. And most of it is worthless.
Even the best web video is a less-effective way to learn than having a real person show you in person, and then watch you do it, and then give you feedback and advice. Engineers learn by doing. That’s why CAPINC’s training classes are minimum 50% hands-on lab time. Questions are possible, and encouraged, and they shape the delivery of your class.
You can’t learn to swim unless you jump in the water, preferably with someone nearby who does know how to swim. Maybe from YouTube you can learn to improve your technique. Learning a new stroke, like the butterfly, would be harder. But first you’ll have to sift through thousands of hours of content, spend many hours watching videos, and then you might find the five minutes of information you need.
The Training ROI Myth
I’ve read articles about how people who take training are 37% more efficient, and since they work nonstop for ten hours a day, in 4.08 weeks they will recoup the investment in blah blah blah. Who cares? That’s not reality (sorry, CFO’s).
The reality is engineers have a job to do. We need skills to do our job. If we don’t know how to use SOLIDWORKS to do a particular thing, we will spend time self-teaching so that we can get our jobs done. That is where the ROI is: spending eight hours teaching yourself is equivalent to approximately one hour of classroom training by an expert. The class pays for itself before it’s even over.
So trained users are not more productive? Of course they are. And the time they save gets redirected to other productive tasks, most of which probably have nothing to do with SOLIDWORKS. That ROI can’t be measured. But yes, it’s significant.
You Don’t Have Time
Pick your parable here. You can be the woodchopper too busy chopping trees to sharpen his dull axe? Or, if you have a bucket full of rocks, is your bucket full? No: there’s still room for gravel, sand, and water… But you can only put those things in your bucket if you put the rocks in the bucket first. Make a training class a rock for your bucket.
Yes there are also time-flexible training options. We’ve tried them, and they are not effective on their own. Our customers tried them and weren’t successful with them. We end up re-training users who were self-taught or learned from a colleague, college, or webinar. We have offered night classes and online classes and they were not popular so we stopped.
CAPINC can provide training in alternative formats, if that’s what you want. I mean, if that’s what you need. But the experience of our customers is that a dedicated block of time spent learning is by far the most efficient and effective way to learn.
It’s About YOUR Success
Yeah, this post is a little snarky. But I jest because I care. I honestly want you to succeed. I want your company to gain all the benefits that SOLIDWORKS has to offer. Or any CAD system for that matter. It pains me to see bad habits and undertrained users in our engineering community. I wish more managers would recognize the value of having well-trained employees. I wish engineers had enough control over their schedules to do what is important and not just what is urgent.
At CAPINC, we’re committed to the success of engineering in New England. We want our local economy to continue to thrive, to dominate certain fields, to provide rewarding jobs. We know we have the tools, and you have the talent, and we welcome the opportunity to give you the skills and training you need to be great. If you want.