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Innovative training for new hires at Robins

Illustration shows two individuals working at a desk, writing on paper and utilizing a laptop.

The 431st Supply Chain Management Squadron is the recognized leader in recruiting, hiring, training, and developing all the newly-hired individuals who will become professionals in the fields of logistics and sustainment operations.The squadron puts new hires on a three-year training program using on-the-job trainers, computer-based programs and classroom work. (courtesy illustration)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

The next generation of Team Robins employees is coming on-board at a Middle Georgia base. They are fresh out of college or technical schools ready to apply their knowledge in sustaining the Air Force’s most sophisticated weapons systems.

As these new workers are hired, they must get further specialized training on the systems and processes they will use in their careers at Robins Air Force Base.

That is where the 431st Supply Chain Management Squadron enters the picture.

The 431st SCMS is the recognized leader in recruiting, hiring, training, and developing all the newly-hired individuals who will become professionals in the fields of logistics and sustainment operations. As the most innovative office in the Air Force, it has claimed the title of the best Workforce Development Office four previous times and was recognized as the best in the Department of Defense in 2016. The 431st SCMS performs workforce development for 2,800 people; 1,600 will do the direct work of logistic support for the Air Force.

The squadron puts new hires on a three-year training program using on-the-job trainers, computer-based programs and classroom work. An innovative new approach called eLearning takes computer-based training courseware and tailors the content so it is specific to the employees’ work environment.

A high percentage of new hires have no prior military experience. Most are not acquainted with the Air Force’s customs and courtesies or its history. To remedy this, the 431st SCMS created a CBT program to help new employees step “Into the Blue.” The material is broad enough to give new team members an appreciation of the men and women in uniform whom they support with the logistics program. It also helps to develop an understanding of how they fit into the structure and overall mission of the Air Force. 

The squadron employs just-in-time videos much the same way people use YouTube videos to do a home or car repair. The 431st SCMS is also using JIT videos to help employees refresh their knowledge on how to do many different tasks when performing Air Force logistics support. These videos can be played on one computer screen while the employee simultaneously accomplishes the steps live in their system on another computer monitor.

As the unit built more tutorials, the people creating the videos reached out to the workers actually doing the day-to-day jobs. They also researched operating instructions and regulations thoroughly in order to update tutorials. By the time the videos are completed, the producers have become subject matter experts about the material being presented. One of the benefits to this approach is it broadens the knowledge base for the entire workforce.

Course developers and instructors are also adopting techniques learned from industry professionals outside Robins gates, who are members of the Association for Talent Development. By leveraging membership in this professional organization, instructors take information from symposiums and on-line training sessions, and pass these techniques on to other instructors at all of the geographically-separated locations that are participating in workforce development.

As Air Force workers retire, get promoted, move on to management positions, or transfer to another base, it is important to deliver training in a way that is relevant and easily accessible to newer employees. The contribution to Robins AFB’s workforce will be borne out by modernizing the logistics support that is provided to the warfighters around the world.