Why does the new program require mentors?
On the job training in the water treatment industry occurs as a form of an apprenticeship. A less experience employee shadows a more experienced employee and learns what to do in the field.
The Modular Education Program (MEP) incorporates this interaction and gives it a formal structure to ensure that the learner is able to progress in an efficient and effective manner. When the learner completes a hands-on activity, he/she is asked to reflect on the experience in an electronic portfolio. This reflection demonstrates how well the learner has understood specific concepts. The mentor's role is to review the portfolio and the learner's comments and to provide feedback. It's an opportunity for the mentor to catch problems and steer the learner onto the correct path.
Who should be a mentor?
The ideal mentor is one who has more experience correctly addressing issues in the field than the learner. The MEP allows for multiple mentors per learner, so that the company can designate one person as the mentor for any activities having to do with water softening and another person as the mentor for all drinking water related activities.
A mentor does not need to be WQA-certified. The mentor should be in the same company and if possible, at the same company location as the learner. This allows for shorter response time, which will help the learner progress faster. If the mentor is not at the same location as the leaner, free internet-based video chat software, such as Skype, can help bridge the distance. When mentors are not available within a company, dealers may be able to get some assistance from their vendors or consider hiring a contracted mentor.
Mentors should download the Learner Progress Tracking tool to help them and their learners plan their weekly time investment. The Tracking tool lists the recommended activities to be completed each week and approximates the amount of time the learner will need to spend to complete them and for the mentor to review them.
What is the time commitment for a mentor?
The time commitment will depend on the progress the learner is making and the types of activities he/she is completing. Basics activities can take as little as 10 minutes to review or as much as 30, depending on how much detail the mentor provides in the written feedback. Portfolio review can also be done verbally in a face-to-face meeting between the learner and mentor or on the phone. See the Learner Progress Tracking document for weekly estimates and the MEP Support page for additional tools.