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TRAINING

FOR

WOMEN

REPORTS

A Short-Term
in an
Aircraft Engine Plant

U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ▲ ▲ ▲ WOMEN’S BUREAU
Martin P. Durkin, Secretary

Frieda S. Miller, Director

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TRAINING

FOR

WOMEN

REPORTS

A Short-Term Training Program
in an Aircraft Engine Plant

Bulletin of the Women’s Bureau, No. 245

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Martin P. Durkin, Secretary

WOMEN'S BUREAU
Frieda S. Miller, Director

Washington : 1953

CONTENTS
Page

Letter of transmittal___________________
Introduction__________________________
The training school____________________
The schedule__________________________
“Indoctrination” or orientation training__
Related classroom instruction___________
Shop training_________________________
Comparison with World War II program.^
Other training programs of related interest
Evaluation of single-purpose program____

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For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office
Washington 25, D. C.

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Price 10 cents

LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
United States Department oe Labor,
Women’s Bureau,

Washington, January
1953.
have the honor to transmit a report describing a newly or­
ganized training program for machine tool operators established by
a company to help meet its production requirements under the present
defense program. The report is based on a Women’s Bureau study,
made in June 1951, of a training program conducted by an aircraft
engine plant.
Since the Women’s Bureau is concerned with encouraging equal
training opportunities for women, it studies all types of training pro­
grams. The program described in this report was selected for two
basic reasons: First, there are relatively limited opportunities for
women in metalworking industries. The Women’s Bureau is, there­
fore, interested in reporting, as far as possible, any activities which
result in improving the position of women workers. Second, the pro­
gram is an example of how to meet a need which arises primarily dur­
ing times of national emergency; that is, adding large numbers of
inexperienced workers to a plant’s work force in a very short time.
This problem arose in defense-expanded industries during World War
II and again after June 1950.
The program is an example of one type of training. Many other
types are conducted by industry, depending upon the needs of the
specific plant, the training facilities available, and the general employ­
ment situation. Identical training needs can be met in a variety of
ways by different companies or by the same company at different times.
This program offers a useful example of training women for pro­
duction work. A high proportion of the trainees are women, and
women as well as men act as instructors. A basic premise of the pro­
gram is that the same procedures be used for men and women trainees.
It combines training for a specific job with general orientation.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the staff members of the com­
pany surveyed for their generous assistance and cooperation.
This report is the first of a series, “Training for Women Reports,”
which will be prepared in the Economic Studies Branch of the Bu­
reau’s Research Division. The report was prepared by Mildred S.
Barber under the direction of Pearl C. Ravner, Branch Chief, and the
general direction of Mary N. Hilton, Division Chief.
Respectfully submitted.
Frieda S. Miller, Director.
Hon. Martin P. Durkin,
Secretary of Labor.
Sir: 1

I IT

Figure 1.—Woman instructor checks trainee’s gage reading.

IV

/

A Short-Term Training Program
in an Aircraft Engine Plant
Introduction
A major producer of aircraft engines is again, as during World
War II, training large numbers of inexperienced women to be ma­
chine tool operators. The method used by this company in its cur­
rent program of training women to operate machines such as grinders
and turret lathes may be of considerable interest to other employers
in the metalworking industry. The general practices and procedures
used may interest all those concerned with training large numbers
of women without previous experience in production work.
This report is based on a study made by the Women’s Bureau in
June 1951 shortly after the present training program was established.
The company studied is an aircraft company devoted exclusively to
the production of aircraft engines, both piston and jet type. Among
its facilities are manufacturing plants, an airport, test and develop­
ment facilities, overhaul shops, a receiving center for equipment, and
a training school. All of these facilities are located in an eastern
industrial State where legal standards for the employment of women
and minors compare favorably with those of most other States.
Although the company has had well-organized training programs
for apprentices and supervisors for many years, there has been no
organized training for machine tool operators since World War II.
Before the present training program was started, machine tool op­
erators were learning their jobs while working in regular production,
without the benefit of an organized training program. It was the
company’s feeling that accident and spoilage rates were too high and
that too much of the foremen’s valuable time was being taken up in
this “hit-or-miss” training system. Work done in this company re­
quires very close tolerances and, therefore, if machine operators are
not carefully trained, they are apt to make costly mistakes. A slogan
which is widely used by the company illustrates the importance of
accuracy in their work: “99% Accuracy is 100% Scrap.”
About 2 years before the training program was instituted, the
management, in consultation with interested defense contract of­
ficials, decided that the company would have to set up a formal single­
purpose training program for machine tool operators in order to meet
1

2

A SHORT-TERM TRAINING PROGRAM

the production requirements of the defense program. A single­
purpose program is one which is designed to teach a person how to
perform a limited number of operations required by a specific job.
The objective of this program was to teach inexperienced workers
how to perform certain operations on specific machine tools. During
the time that the training program was being organized, defense pro­
duction developments were increasing the company’s need for skilled
labor, and the available supply of such labor was gradually diminish­
ing. Because of this progressive tightening of the labor supply, the
original plans for a training program had to be expanded repeatedly.
The actual training of workers in this program was begun early
in 1951. At this time, the company employed approximately 20,000
workers, of whom about 20 percent were women. Also, by this time,
both skilled and semiskilled production workers were being reported
in short supply by the aircraft industry. Machinists were almost
unobtainable; engine and turret lathe operators were frequently un­
available; and sheet metal workers, assemblers, inspectors, and vari­
ous types of machine operators were in short supply. Yet, aircraft
employment in all major centers was expected to increase.

The Training School
Original plans for the short-term, single-purpose training program
contemplated “vestibule” training; that is, the setting apart of a
separate section of the plant specifically for this training. However,
when it became clear that increased production schedules in the plant
would make this impossible, it was decided that the training would
have to be done outside the plant. Since no suitable building could
be found and the construction of a new building was not feasible, the
company leased a building of five stories and contracted for its ex­
tensive renovation. Renovations were designed both to suit the spe­
cific needs of the training program and to simulate actual working
conditions and surroundings in the main plant. Approximately onethird of the building contains classrooms, locker rooms, lavatories, a
tool supply room, and a small lunch room; two-thirds of each floor
contains the various kinds of machines which the trainees learn to
operate. There is a small office staff on the premises as well as regular
company guards to check employees (the trainees) when entering
and leaving. Trainees punch “in” and “out” on time clocks just as
they would in the plant.
The training school operates 3 shifts per day, 6 days per week. The
shift hours are the same as in the plant:
First sliiit: 7 a. m. to 3: 30 p. m.
Second shift: 3 : 30 p. m. to 12 midnight.
Third shift: 12 midnight to 7 a. m.

3

IN AN AIRCRAFT ENGINE PLANT

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Figure 2.—Main entrance of aircraft machine training school.

Since trainees are considered full-fledgecl employees of the company,
they are paid a regular hourly wage during this training period. Like
the regular production employees, trainees on the second shift receive
a 10-cent per hour premium, and those on the third shift receive a 7lu­
cent per hour premium and 8 hours’ pay for 6y2 hours’ work. In June
1951, all trainees were paid at least $1.25 per hour, not including shift
differentials.
Trainees are selected from the regular applicants at the company’s
employment office. Employment office personnel determine from the
job seekers’ applications and interviews whether they should be sent
to the training school, what jobs they should be trained for, and on
what shifts they should work. Wherever possible, the applicant’s job
and shift preferences are taken into consideration. Prospective em­
ployees selected to go to the training school must complete the regular
employment process, which includes a thorough physical examination.
The physical examination provides for matching the physical require­
ments of the jobs to which the trainees are assigned against the
trainees’ medical records. Thus, trainees must be certified by the
medical department as able to meet the physical demands of the jobs
for which they are to be trained.
Whether or not the trainees are interviewed by the foreman of the
department to which they will be assigned after completion of training
depends entirely upon the individual foreman. Some foremen choose

4

A SHORT-TERM TRAINING PROGRAM

to interview the trainees and show them around the department before
they go to the training school; others do not.
When the trainees leave the employment office, they are given “puton” slips which they turn in at the training school office when they
first report there. The “put-on” slip gives the trainee’s name and
other personnel information, the day and shift on which she is due to
start at the training school, and the specific job for which she is to be
trained. So that trainees will become accustomed to their regular
working hours, they usually attend training school on the same shifts
on which they will work in the plant. Women trainees are assigned
to all three shifts since in this State the Labor Commissioner may
permit the employment of women in manufacturing establishments
between 1 a. m. and 6 a. m., provided that the employer will comply
with established regulations, and that adequate transportation is avail­
able for these workers.
The training school is run completely and independently by the
company and its employees. The school has its own office staff, train­
ing director and staff, guards, and machine and classroom instructors—
all employees of the company. Both men and women serve as in­
structors. Of 45 instructors in June 1951, 9 were women (6 women
machine instructors and 3 women classroom instructors).
The school has a capacity of 600 trainees—200 per shift. The train­
ing course covers a period of 2 workweeks, and new trainees are ad­
mitted twice a week. No distinction is made between men and women
trainees in the training procedures. In June 1951, after about 1
month’s operation, 300 trainees had been graduated and about 160
trainees were in school. Approximately 38 percent of these trainees
were women.

The Schedule
The 2-week (96-hour) training course is divided into 48 hours of
machine instruction and 48 hours of related classroom instruction.
The trainees’ schedules are so arranged that on the first day at the
training school they go to classes in the morning and to shop in the
afternoon. Then, on the second day, they go to shop in the morning
and to classes in the afternoon. This alternating of classes and shop
on a half-day basis continues throughout the 2-week period. Plant
training authorities find that this system relieves the tedium of sitting
in a classroom a full day and provides a closer tie-in between machine
operation and related classroom instruction. In addition, this system
allows two training groups to use the school at the same time. While
one group is using the machine shop, the other group is using the
classrooms.

IN AN AIRCRAFT ENGINE PLANT

5

The sample schedule following shows how this arrangement works
out in the case of an individual trainee.
Trainee Schedule
GEAR GRINDER

Name: Mary Jones
Clock No.: 1443
Starting date: 6/7/51

Shift: 2
Division: 4
Section: A

WEEK I
Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Period
Subj.

Em.

Subj.

1

Indoctri­
nation

35

2

Theory_
_

34

3
4

Em.

Subj.

Em.

Subj.

Shop___

Small
tools

33

Shop...-

Blue­
print

31

Theory..

34

Math_
_

32

32
Blueprint-

31

Shop___

Em,

Subj.

Em.

Subj.

Shop___

Math_
_

32

Shop___

Shop___

Small
tools
Blue­
print

33

Shop _ .

Theory..

34

Shop...

Rm.

—

31
Shop.

Lunch
5

Shop.........

Small
tools

33

Shop_
_

Blue­
print

31

Shop___

Math....

33

6

Shop____

Math_
_

32

Shop...

Indoc­
trina­
tion

35

Shop. ..

Blue­
print

31

7

Shop____

Blue­
print

31

Shop.

-

Math....

32

Shop...

Small. _.
tools

33

8

Shop____

Theory..

34

Shop___

Theory..

34

Shop.. .

Theory..

34

WEEK II
Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Period
Subj.

Rm.

Subj.

1

Blueprint.

31

2

Indoctri­
nation

35

3
4

Rm.

Subj.

Rm.

Subj.

Shop...

Theory..

34

Shop___

Math_
_

32

Blue­
print

31

Small
tools

33

33
Theory_
_

34

Shop___

Rm.

Subj.

Rm.

Subj.

Shop..

Blue­
print

31

Shop. ._

Shop___

Math_
_

32

Shop___

Theory..

34

Small
tools

33

Shop___

Rm.

Shop....

Lunch
5

Shop_____

6....... . Shop... ..

Math_
_

32

Shop___

Theory..

34

Shop___

Blue­
print

31

Small
tools

33

Shop___

Blue
print

31

Shop___

Math_
_

32

7

Shop____

Theory..

34

Shop.. .

Math_
_

33

Shop___

Theory..

34

8

Shop____

Blue­
print

31

Shop___

Small
tools

35

Shop-----

Indoc­
trina­
tion

35

6

A SIIORT-TERM TRAINING PROGRAM

The 48 hours of classroom instruction which each trainee must take
are divided as follows:
Indoctrination: 4 hours.
Small tools : 8 hours.
Blueprint: 12 hours.
Mathematics: 12 hours.
Theory: 12 hours.

“Indoctrination” or Orientation Training
The first class which every trainee attends is “Indoctrination.” At
this meeting, the trainees introduce themselves and complete certain
necessary papers. After this is done, the instructor tells them about
the company and the training program. The trainees are shown
about the school and its facilities and are informed of the various rules
and regulations. The shifts, shift hours, and lunch hours are ex­
plained, and the trainees learn how to punch their time cards. Rules
on such things as smoking, parking and transportation facilities, and
the treatment of cuts and bruises are explained.
The second hour of indoctrination is devoted to wage and salary
administration. The company’s job evaluation and employee per­
formance rating plan as well as night-shift premiums, holidays, pay­
days, promotions, and all other matters relating to wages are explained
to the trainees. In addition, trainees are told about the services avail­
able to them through the company’s staff of personnel advisers.
In the third hour of indoctrination, which is given early in the
second week of training, health and safety are discussed. Fire and
other hazards and the procedures to be followed in cases of emergency
are explained. Health, sanitation, the group hospitalization plan,
and medical care provided by the company are explained. Safety
devices and safety clothing and why they are required or suggested
are discussed. Employee social groups and activities are described.
The fourth hour of indoctrination is the last class which every
trainee attends. This meeting is devoted to a review of company
policy and the most important items on w'ages, health, and safety.
Quality control and loss through scrap are emphasized. In addi­
tion, the trainees are asked to raise any questions, doubts, or “gripes”
which they may have and to evaluate their experience at the training
school.

Related Classroom Instruction
Almost half the trainee’s time is spent in the classroom attending
classes in “Small tools,” “Blueprint (operation sheets),” “Mathe­
matics,” and “Theory.” The classes in blueprint are designed to

IN AN AIRCRAFT ENGINE PLANT

7

teach the trainees how to read and use the blueprints and operation
sheets necessary for their work. The classes in mathematics cover
fractions and decimals used on the job. Small-tools classes provide
instruction in the use and care of micrometers and gages of various
kinds. Theory classes deal with elementary theory of cutting tools,
grinding, and inspection.
Certain classrooms are equipped with projection facilities, and re­
lated motion pictures and strip films are used throughout the training
course. For example, a film, “How to Run a Drill Press,” is shown
in the theory class early in the training program and again after the
trainees have almost completed the course. By seeing how much more
they understand during the second showing of the film than during
the first, trainees gain self confidence.

Shop Training
The 48 hours of machine instruction are given in the shop sections
of the training school. Here, the trainee is assigned to an instructor
who has been chosen by the company from among experienced machine
operators in the plant. These instructors are chosen not only because
of skill in operating their machines but also because they have some
ability to teach others. Over the period of training, the trainee learns
how to operate one machine and how to perform certain basic opera­
tions on it, using the necessary parts, blueprints, and tools. Also, the
various parts of the machine and the care necessary for its satisfactory
operation are explained.
The trainee (man or woman) may be taught how to operate any one
of the following machines:
Engine lathe.
Turret lathe, horizontal.
Speed lathe.
0. D. grinder.
1. D. grinder.
Gear tooth shaper.

Gear tooth grinder.
Thread grinder.
Miller, vertical.
Miller, horizontal.
Drill press.

Instead of machine operation, some trainees, both men and women,
are taught one of the following two jobs:
Inspection

Burr bench

Because the company considers that the physical demand is too great
for women, instruction on the following two machines is limited to
men:
Turret lathe, vertical

Radial drill

On first introduction to their machines, women trainees receive
safety glasses and a cap or bandanna and are instructed as to necessary
health and safety precautions. Numerous reminders on health and
safety are provided throughout the training period.

8

A SHORT-TERM TRAINING PROGRAM

Figure 3.—Instructor at right demonstrates controls of a gear shaper to trainee.

Comparison With World War II Program
Although this company did an extensive amount of training of
single-purpose machine operators during World War II, the present
training program is in certain respects quite different. For example,
during World War II, training was done under the supervision of the

IN AN AIRCRAFT ENGINE PLANT

9

production departments. At the present time, however, training is
under the control of the personnel department.
During World War II training was not conducted entirely by the
company; some of the training was done by outside public and private
institutions. In addition, some trainees were not paid while in train­
ing. Training is now conducted entirely by company personnel, and
trainees are employed and paid while in training. The company
feels that this arrangement is much more successful than the old
system; company employees are better able to coordinate training
with company requirements and trainees prefer being paid employees.
Company spokesmen say that if a training program is worth while
they are willing to pay for it.
Mechanical aptitude tests were given to prospective trainees during
World War II, but this practice has been discontinued. Applicants
are now screened by the employment office on the basis of their em­
ployment applications and interviews. The foreman of the depart­
ment to which the trainee will be assigned may, if he chooses, also
approve the selection of prospective trainees. Company training
authorities feel that after the trainees have spent 2 or 3 days in the
training school they can usually tell whether or not they will be
successful. They regard this as a better test than the aptitude tests'.
During World War II the training of single-purpose operators was
spread over 6 to 8 weeks. The present program takes 2 weeks. The
company found it unnecessary for trainees to know as much of the
complicated blueprint and theory as they were being taught; therefore,
some of this instruction has been eliminated from the present course.
Also, since there were not enough machines to go around during World
War II, most trainees watched an operator run a machine instead of
running the machine themselves. This meant that it took the trainee
longer to learn how to operate the machine. The present program
provides a machine for each trainee, thereby shortening the learning
time. This is controlled by proper scheduling.

Other Training Programs of Related Interest
Other training programs of this company are related in certain ways
to the training of women machine-tool operators. For example, part
of the foreman-training program is devoted to orienting the foremen
to supervision of women employees. The company’s adviser on poli­
cies relating to the employment of women meets with the foremen
during their training program and talks with them about the inte­
gration of women employees into their departments. She provides the
foremen with information about the differences between the attitudes
of men and women workers, the physical limitations of women, their

10

A SHORT-TERM TRAINING PROGRAM

home responsibilities, and other pertinent matters. Suggestions are
offered on how to get the best cooperation from women employees and
how to help them with their personal as well as their work problems.
In addition, a training course is provided for the company's staff
of personnel advisers. As in the case of the foremen, the adviser on
women employees gives a talk to personnel advisers in which she in­
forms them about the special problems of women employees and how
to deal with them. In this talk, emphasis is placed on the dual re­
sponsibility of many women employees—their job at the plant and
their job at home. Information is given the personnel advisers on
child-care problems, community agencies, State labor laws, and other
items of special importance to women.

Evaluation of Single-Purpose Program
Although this training program has been operating very success­
fully, there are still a few problems to be solved. For example, it
has been found that some trainees are dissatisfied after they get to
the plant. By contrast with the school, the plant seems noisy and
crowded. Also, trainees do not get as much attention in the shop as
they did in the school, and, in some cases, they are not treated with as
much understanding. Since the training school has specially selected
personnel, some reactions of this type were expected; and although a
completely satisfactory solution does not seem likely, training author­
ities are working on the problem.
In addition, the training school has had some trouble with women
trainees quitting even before they complete their training. The most
frequent reason given by the women is the need to care for their
children. The company, through its special adviser on women, is at­
tempting to lessen this problem somewhat by working with community
social-welfare agencies to encourage the community to provide more
and better facilities for child care.
Another difficulty in the program arises from the fact that in certain
departments the work is of such a nature that an operator is not
usually on the same job for more than 1 or 2 days a week. Since these
operators must be more versatile than the average, foremen in these
departments think that the trainees should be given more varied train­
ing than is provided by the single-purpose program. This is, of
course, a technical training problem, and the training-school authori­
ties are working on its solution. It is their opinion that the needs
of these departments are special and should be met by a different and
longer training program than the one described here.
Since the final test of training is made in the production depart­
ments, plant foremen are asked to report on the trainees after they

IN AN AIRCRAFT ENGINE PLANT

11

have been placed in the plant. Reports of the foremen’s opinions of
trainees are prepared regularly by a member of the staff of the train­
ing school after consultation with the foremen. The report for June
1951 states:
At the present time I have contacted 34 foremen on all three shifts
who have had trainees for a period of 3 days or more. The foremen on
the whole are very well pleased with these people and feel there is no
comparison between them and green help from outside.
It is the general opinion of the foremen that these people have a good
understanding of the machine. Many of these operators have been left
alone on their new jobs their second and third day over here.
The majority of these people have an excellent attitude. They are
interested, eager to work, and open to suggestions. This is quite a con­
trast to the new hires from outside.
The foremen feel that the indoctrination and classwork is very valuable
to them. They do not have time to give new help this sort of thing in a
comprehensive manner and consequently the trainees have a much more
well-rounded understanding of general shop procedures, safety, etc., than
a new hire can acquire over a considerable length of time.
It has been necessary for several foremen to put trainees on machines
other than the ones on which they are trained. They have taken this in
stride and have come along very well on these new jobs.
In Department . . . and in Department . . . the foremen feel that the
trainees need more time on the machines. The work is such in these
departments that an operator is not usually on the same job for more
than 2 or 3 days. As a result of this the trainees should, in the fore­
men’s opinion, be more adaptable to varying jobs than the single-purpose
operators that are being trained in the school.

On the whole, plant authorities and company executives feel that
tiie single-purpose program is a success.

o