Since Lean thinking became a popular management theory, the numbers of qualifications relating to Lean Manufacturing also seem to have mushroomed, with a variety of qualifications on offer, from very short training courses, to more in depth courses that take a long time to complete. Which begs the obvious question: “Are Lean manufacturing qualifications really worth it?”
Well to a large extent, it depends on the qualification involved. Any qualification that is offered with only a minimal amount of training and less than rigorous testing will not mean a great deal in practice. But if the training is in depth and the assessment criteria for the qualification is stringent, then the end result is a qualification that shows its recipient is aware of all different principles of Lean manufacturing.
Range Of Qualifications
There are different types of training available with regard to Lean manufacturing. Many of these are one day courses that act as an introduction to the principles of Lean manufacturing. These are ‘worth’ the effort, because they offer an awareness of the principles involved. However, any certificate offered after a one day training event cannot be viewed as an in-depth understanding of what is in effect a complex issue.
Other courses build on the principles that are covered in the one day courses. For example, there are other specific courses that may last for 3-5 days, which cover the topic in greater detail. These are obviously more desirable than one day courses. But the downside of both of these types of training is that they are difficult to apply within the specific workplace. So trainees may know the theory, but it can be hard to translate the theory into practice on the shopfloor.
Perhaps the most useful qualifications with regard to Lean manufacturing are those that are either practical such as the NVQ in the UK or a diploma or degree level. Some universities also offer post-graduate diplomas, equivalent to an M.Sc. These obviously offer a greater understanding of the topic and since they are studied over a long period, there is more room to learn about the different nuances of Lean manufacturing and to fuse the practical with the theory.
Numerous online courses are also offered. Some are undoubtedly of good quality, but for the qualification to have any integral value or worth, the course needs to have a full and in depth assessment of participants. Without this, any qualification becomes of less worth, because it can be obtained without a solid foundation of knowledge.
Benefits Of Lean Manufacturing Qualifications
However, although there is such a wide range of qualifications and some are of greater worth than others, any Lean manufacturing qualification is better than having no qualification because there is at least some level of knowledge, even though it may not be comprehensive.
Undoubtedly the whole concept of Lean manufacturing will become even more popular. The elimination of waste within the manufacturing process means that companies can become more efficient, but it fits in with concepts about using resources sustainably and ensuring that all resources are used effectively. As the whole world starts to become more aware of saving resources and not wasting them, the breeding ground is set for Lean manufacturing to grow and grow.
So in a sense, it is definitely worth investing the time and energy required to obtain a Lean manufacturing qualification, but in common with so many other things in life, it is worth taking the time and trouble to research qualifications and courses on offer. Those which should be selected are the ones that offer a good practical and theoretical mix and which are awarded on the basis of the knowledge that has been gained, rather than being awarded simply for participating.