Training That Works: Lessons from California's Employment Training Panel Program

Training That Works: Lessons from California's Employment Training Panel Program

Training That Works: Lessons from California's Employment Training Panel Program

Training That Works: Lessons from California's Employment Training Panel Program

Synopsis

This book assesses the operation and impact of California's Employment Training Panel, a state-funded training program that provides funding to train California workers whose jobs are threatened. It also takes the lessons learned from this program to draw policy implications for other state programs.

Excerpt

In the late 1940s, Leo Fender, a radio repairman in Anaheim, California, invented the first solid body electric guitar to be massproduced—the Fender Telecaster. Fender guitars became a classic American product like Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They have been played by rock stars from Jimi Hendrix to Bruce Springsteen, and Leo Fender himself was inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. The company prospered and was sold to CBS in 1965, but by 1981 the company was in desperate straits—losing market share to foreign competitors and plagued by declining quality. In 1985, at a point when almost all Fender guitars were manufactured overseas, company managers bought the company from CBS. In a bid to bring production back to the United States, company management began producing a small number of guitars in a Corona, California, plant with the 60 employees remaining from the original production group. For a long time the plant struggled to achieve acceptable quality at a reasonable cost, but by 1998, the company was in a position to open a new 177,000 square-foot plant in Corona, employing over 400 people. Today, the new plant manufactures over 350 Fender guitars a day, along with Fender amplifiers. The company's dramatic resurgence is a product of many factors, but one factor always mentioned by local managers is an obscure state-funded training program, the Employment Training Panel (ETP), which provides public funding to train California workers whose jobs are threatened.

The company, which was considering moving its remaining California production to a lower-cost state or overseas, decided instead to invest in a dramatic effort to improve productivity and quality. The centerpiece of this effort was training in state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, such as total quality management and statistical process control, for Fender's predominantly Spanish-speaking workforce. Through ETP, the state spent over $700,000 to underwrite much of the cost of Fender's large-scale training program.

Quality-control technicians, most of them weekend rock musicians, wail away on each guitar as it comes off the production line. If . . .

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