How to Design Course for Forklift Operators

In 2015, I consulted with Integron Human Capital Services Ltd. to design a training program for their new project. Integron was planning to train Forklift Operators. Later this initiative gave birth to a training organisation called LIFT Academy.

I had never seen a Forklift in my life. When I reached Taloja (Mumbai) - the place where Integron’s knowledge partner Revival Engineers had a site, I was in awe. The Material Handling Equipment (MHEs) were something I had never seen and experienced before. It was exciting. The learning design for this training program was truly an enjoyable and enriching experience.

  • The Forklift is an expensive machine and safety is a key concern while operating it.
  • The training programs that were available largely focused on safety.
  • Individuals got trained on the job and could operate the Forklift after working with a senior operator for a period of at least six to nine months. Certification was not compulsory to get a job.
  • Structured training programs and certification were available internationally, but not in India
  • Training programs that were available focused on safety, and were largely lecture based
  • A Forklift operator must load and unload heavy raw materials, finished goods and parts in warehouses or stores to aid in the manufacturing process.
The Solution

The training programme used a blended approach. It is a mix of Classroom sessions – lecture and interactive; it has a Hands-on component and a Simulated Warehouse.

Our knowledge partner was initially unsure of giving hands-on practice on the Forklift as it is an expensive machine. That was the most important aspect. How could a psychomotor skill not have a hands-on component? However, after discussions it was agreed that the hands-on would be a mix of demonstration and then practice.

The Simulated Warehouse

We sent the first batch for an internship for fifteen days in an actual warehouse but soon realised that it was not as fruitful as we thought it would be. Thus, came the idea of a simulated warehouse. It took some time to set it up - a true simulation, but the idea paid off. Students had a real-life scenario set up in front of them. They were working in a warehouse, where racking was available, moving between aisles, loading and unloading materials on low and high racks, balancing the forklift, doing pre-inspections. The simulated warehouse gave them the confidence.

When the client came in to review the progress, they were impressed. Trained individuals would prove to be an asset, they would save a lot of time and money.

Service Excellence – The Soft Skills Component

The course has a service excellence component – generic soft skills and specific skills required by a Forklift Operator are covered. These were designed to be interactive sessions – games, activities, group discussions and reflections.

Alignment to the National Occupational Standards

We further enhanced the course by aligning the coverage to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for the Qualification Pack (QP) associated with the job role for a Forklift Operator.

Content Treatment

The concepts were taught using a lot of video demonstrations, diagrams and photographs. Real life examples were used to explain the physics related to the forklift.

A Forklift Operator is not only responsible for loading and unloading material but also has duties like doing a pre-inspection, reporting to the supervisor, understanding the daily work load, reporting machine issues etc. Photo-scenarios with conversations were used to depict administrative and interpersonal communications between forklift operators and supervisors.

This had the impact that it was designed for. The learners were familiar with their role and duties as a Forklift Operator right from the time they began their course. When they started work in the industry, they were absolutely comfortable with their daily routine. The only bit the organizations trained them on were on the specific company procedures, rules, and regulations.

Creating these scenarios was challenging and fun. The solution was engaging and relevant for training the target audience under consideration.

Looking to transform your training?

If you are planning to create new training programs or redesign what you already have and are looking for engaging learning solutions, reach out to me.