May 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 1 
Special Feature

Bridging the gap

Bridging the gap

With a focus on improving processes, productivity and competitiveness in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, Commercial Airplanes and its employees and unions are working together to ensure Boeing people have the right mix of skills to be successful in the future. Here's a look at what some employees and teams are doing to acquire and learn these abilities.


By Kathleen Spicer

What kinds of workplace skills are needed in the future?

Commercial Airplanes employees are asking this question, and skill teams across the enterprise in Manufacturing, Quality and Engineering are working to identify the capabilities that will be required.

Finding the right answers is critical as Boeing transforms into a large-scale integrator, and a different and complementary skill set emerges. The result, Commercial Airplanes leaders said, is a greater need for disciplines such as systems engineering, project management and communication skills.

"Large-scale systems integration drives the need for greater project management and supply chain management skills," said Bob Thomas, Human Resources manager at the Boeing facility in Renton, Wash. "We're also looking at trends in technology, for programs like the Boeing 787, to determine what skills will be in demand."

"Our future requirements include more 'systems of systems' engineering," said Fred Mazzitelli, Engineering director at the Boeing site in Everett, Wash. "Flight control engineers, for example, in the past provided detailed design of power control units or valves. Now, there's an increasing need for architectural development and functional integration skills around that job."

The company's in-house Learning, Training and Development organization is offering career-development training, as are joint programs Boeing coordinates with its largest labor unions, the International Association of Machinists and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.

Katherine Riley, Strategic Skills Development program manager at the Ed Wells Initiative/SPEEA–Boeing Partnership, said Boeing's strategy to work with worldwide partners and suppliers drives the need for courses that teach systems thinking and cultural awareness.

"Employees are hungry to learn new skills as their jobs have changed and evolved," Riley said. "Our classes load up; I often hold two or three additional classes on a topic to accommodate the waiting list."

Over the next few pages are profiles of just a handful of the thousands of employees and teams that are taking advantage of training programs to develop skills critical to Boeing's competitive future.

Profiles written by Kathleen Spicer

Adding up to new opportunities

Ken KisslingFor many people, using advanced mathematics is a complicated, daunting task. But Ken Kissling wants more of it.

Kissling, a Boeing 767 Wings manufacturing engineer in Everett, Wash., learned from his manager of a need for qualified structures engineers. Encouraged by what he heard about the job, Kissling applied for and accepted a position as a structures engineer. He then enrolled in a 32-hour structures course offered through a grant provided by the Ed Wells Initiative/Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace–Boeing Partnership. This joint program provides opportunities for SPEEA-represented employees to improve their technical skills through specialized opportunities in training and education, career development and skill utilization.




Back to work, back to training

Soloman ButtsSoloman Butts, a mechanic in Everett, Wash., was laid off from Boeing two years ago. But in March he began his first day back at Boeing after being recalled. His first task was to attend reemployment training conducted by the Learning, Training and Development (LTD) organization.

Reemployment training focuses on reacquainting recalled employees with Boeing policies and procedures and getting them up to speed on new tools and processes. The process includes a knowledge assessment on Engineering drawings and specifications administered by the Quality Through Training Program (QTTP), which is part of the International Association of Machinists/Boeing Joint Program





Taking the initiative

John HolzhauerWhen first hearing about the Employee Requested Transfer (ERT) process through the Quality Through Training Program, John Holzhauer was a bit skeptical. But he decided to give it a go.

Having been a machine assembly technician at the Portland, Ore., site for many years, Holzhauer felt he needed a change. He enrolled in training classes that focused on numerically controlled machines.

"ERT is a great way for employees to take the initiative to learn new skills," said Skip Paynter, Quality Through Training Program career advisor in Portland. "We're working to advance the skills of our current workforce to prepare them for the higher-skilled jobs anticipated in the future.


How future work gets done

Building interior parts for the world's most sophisticated commercial airplane, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, requires more than advanced technology. The ability to interpret, analyze and integrate data is necessary.

That's why a team of mechanics in the Interiors Responsibility Center at Everett, Wash., are engaged in a series of classes on CATIA (Version 5), a computer-aided design program used by Boeing engineers. The classes are custom-designed by the Quality Through Training Program, part of the International Association of Machinists/Boeing Joint Programs.


Learning to work globally

Kim Buckley and Van YorkWhen Boeing Flight Test Computing contracted with HCL Technologies of India for a software rehost project, participants exchanged more than just mainframe knowledge. Boeing employees and their Indian partners have created a successful "working together" relationship built upon shared understanding and mutual respect.

Prior to meeting their new teammates half a world away, the group of more than 30 people attended "Conducting Business with India," a class developed by the Ed Wells Initiative/Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace–Boeing Partnership


Sharpening the saw

Helicia ThompsonFourteen years ago, Helicia Thompson began pursuing a degree in accounting but didn't complete it. Today, Boeing's Learning Together Program is providing her an opportunity to finish what she started.

The Learning Together Program provides employees company-paid tuition to accredited colleges and universities. In 2004, more than 22,000 employees companywide participated in the program.

"Not finishing my degree was always a sore spot with me, but I was doing well in my job at the time, so it wasn't an issue," Thompson said. "But when I started job hunting after being laid off, completing my degree became important again."


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