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ATD Blog

A Career That Twists and Turns

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
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Hello, my name is Scott, and I have been asked to discuss training within the public sector. I have my CPTD and will be giving you my thoughts and insights once a month. I’ve been working in the corporate training industry for nearly 20 years, both in the military and the public sector. I’ve also worked in the private sector. I intend to cover items that I have learned over the years, the issues I have dealt with working in the public sector, and my thoughts on being an instructional designer and training coordinator.

In my previous blog post, I discussed my journey from starting my post-military life to answering a post in a Facebook group, which led me to a job as a training officer for the Nevada National Security Site, which is located outside of Las Vegas.

Due to the training I received and duties I held while I was in the navy, at the security site I was responsible for managing the training programs for a group of specialized engineers. These individuals ensure the various safety systems at the site’s nuclear facilities are performing as they were designed. It became my job to ensure these 50 engineers were trained on how to do their jobs and how their safety systems are constructed and operated.

To streamline training, a series of three programs were built upon each other. As a new engineer, the employees would take engineering 101 and learn how to do the job as an engineer. The second program would apply this generic knowledge and focus it to the specific work facility. The third program would then give the engineer the system-specific information.

These comprehensive programs were designed to ensure the engineer knew the information and could perform their required duties. They had to read various manuals and company documents, complete the paperwork, and perform the required inspections and technical evaluations. Due to the nature of their roles, we determined that we couldn’t just give them a written exam. Instead, we instituted an oral board because of the inherent added stress of being in front of three of their supervisors. Also, we gained an added—and unintended—benefit. The board helped teach the engineer how to deliver technical presentations.

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One of the functions of my training officer role was to develop the various courses my engineers needed. One of the first courses I worked on was revising and updating a course taken primarily by my engineers. It was a 2.5-day lecture-style course with a couple small exercises. Since the material needed some updating, I transformed this into a blended-learning curriculum. The student now takes an e-learning course to gain the cognitive understanding of the process. After passing the e-learning course, he/she then takes a day-long course consisting solely of exercises and scenarios to gain the practical experience of performing the task. This approach reduced the student’s “seat time” by 60 percent, with an increase in the engineer’s on-the-job performance.

Two years ago, the training department underwent a functional reorganization, and I was moved from my training officer role into a content developer role. We shifted from a mode where anyone in the training department could develop, deliver, and manage training into a mode where one team develops all the training, a second team delivers the training, and a third team manages the employees’ training.

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At my request, I was placed in the content development team. In my first blog post, I developed e-learning as part of my undergraduate internship. This restructuring allowed me to return to my roots and to my professional passion. The team consists of my manager, a team lead, and six developers. Each of the developers has their own primary focus. With my technical background, my manager and I agreed that I would be the primary training developer for the facilities.

Our team develops all forms of formalized training and is starting to branch out and develop informal learning with podcast and YouTube microlearning videos. The intent is to move away from solely a “push” mode of training, where the only training the employee takes is pushed from the training department to the employee, and toward a blend of “push” and “pull” modes. The “pull” mode is where the employee actively looks for training that will improve their performance. These videos are allowing us to move in that direction.

This completes my journey from thinking the only opportunity in an educational field would be a school teacher to having a career as a corporate instructional designer. My next posts will focus on working with the subject matter expert. If you have any comments or questions, please contact me at [email protected]

About the Author

Scott Miller is an instructional designer at the Nevada National Security Site. He was introduced to the world of corporate and workforce training while in the US Navy’s Submarine forcer 25 years ago. Since leaving the Navy, he earned a BS and an MS Ed from Southern Illinois University in Workforce Education and Development.

Over the past 10 years, he has worked as a training coordinator for the world’s second largest Borate Mine, freelance instructional designer, and a technical writer. In 2016, he answered a Facebook posting asking for former Navy Nukes or Submariners who have experience in developing, delivering, and managing training, and was hired to be a training coordinator. He has since moved from the training management team to the content development team, where he has helped design and develop training materials for up to 5,000 government employees and contractors.

1 Comment
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This is so helpful! Your professional journey has changed over the years, but all your experiences brought you to a fulfilling space. This gives me hope for my career future!
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