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In a significant twist of fate, Training Within Industry is once again proving invaluable amid international conflict.

In an effort to help the people of Ukraine survive and adapt during the ongoing Russian invasion, TWI Institute is partnering with the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) to rapidly build a plan for reskilling and upskilling Ukrainian workers to continue operations amid unprecedented chaos.

Following the start of the conflict in February 2022, the state of the country’s commerce and industry is dire: 57% of

  • Ukrainian companies ceased operations.
  • Exports decreased by 50% from February to March, 2022.
  • Blockades completely halted shipping.
  • As of May 2022, 5.5 million people have left Ukraine as refugees, while 7 million have relocated within the country.

Ukrainian companies are experiencing significant challenges due not only to supply chain disruptions, but the severe shortage of skilled workers. As business leaders struggle to adapt to this reality, they have collectively identified a handful of immediate needs:

  • To quickly relocate operations to safe territories.
  • To rapidly develop new and current workers’ capabilities.
  • To ensure employees’ safety while continuing to support customers.
  • To enable workers to perform effectively in the face of chaos.

Echoing TWI’s origins as a rapid workplace training program during wartime, the TWI Institute leveraged their global network to support local LEI training groups in aiding Ukrainian organizations. The LEI trainers had been using elements of TWI to some degree, but TWI Institute trainers helped to structure a Job Instruction (JI) program that would deliver maximum results, fast.

Delivered in Russian (Ukraine’s secondary language) by one of TWI Institute’s Lithuanian partners during the summer of 2022, the pilot program consisted of:

1. Basic JI training

  • Delivered virtually over 2 days
  • Recipients: 5 LEI Ukraine staff and 5 staff from a local plant

2. Single follow-up training day

3. Practice week

  • Five day duration
  • Assistance and coaching from TWI Institute trainers

Currently, TWI Institute partners in the Czech Republic are helping to translate the JI manual into Ukrainian, and a training partner in Italy will deliver a virtual Trainer Certification course to the five LEI staff members mid-September of 2022.

The JI method was identified as the most potently effective option under the circumstances, especially as Ukrainian companies are finding that their people work better in small groups with manageable goals. Many workers are already well-versed in virtual collaboration, since COVID-19 lockdowns introduced significant portions of the blue- and white collar workforce to remote work. Likewise, companies worldwide have seen the benefit of breaking down large goals into smaller tasks with much more focused targets, which enables remote teams to contribute to the same projects.

TWI tools and methods, specifically the skills matrix, are ideal for identifying strengths and efficiently upskilling groups of new workers. With the help of the LEI and TWI Institute, Ukrainian companies that have lost or are losing skilled talent can onboard new hires quickly, engage and support current employees and retain critical talent.

These companies also need to be able to adapt to the unpredictable as conflict continues. In adopting Lean management practices as part of this training, companies can expect the following:

  • A framework for reskilling and upskilling their existing workforce.
  • The ability to relocate operations designed for process, rather than function.
  • Fewer practical issues during relocation.

Once the war is over, many of the 5.5 million Ukrainians who fled to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and beyond are expected to return to their homes and jobs. With the help of our European partners and newly-minted local trainers, TWI Institute and LEI will be prepared to support returning workers with skills-based training designed to bring them up to speed in their own language.

While this project was born out of conflict, LEI and TWI Institute hope it will forge a lasting partnership that bridges language and cultural barriers, strengthens a global network of trainers and benefits the people of Ukraine for years to come.

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