In New Zealand the standard of education and general intelligence is high, but organised methods emanating from older countries for training the staff with special reference to what is called here the “second division” do not sufficiently recognise or make provision for special local circumstances.
In order to stimulate a brighter intelligence among any group of workmen engaged upon a new work and reap the benefit of their thought and ideas, certain selected workmen should be made familiar with the general scheme, as well as with the technical details of such work and the reasons for the measures taken.
The feeling that those in authority over such work are entitled to the possession of the technical details is natural and in accord with our notions of ownership, but modern development of the co-operative spirit shows that taking the whole staff into the confidence of the men at the top and inviting their help is the most effective and harmonious method, tending to dissipate the master and servant feeling and pit each individual against his work only.
To this end the suggestion may be made that, when a work of any magnitude is commenced, involving a number of different engineering problems and engaging a number of different tradesmen and workmen for a long period, a
Rotorua Express passing Ellerslie, Auckland. Class Ab Locomotive W. W. Stewart, Photo
short explanatory account of the whole work, its objects, routine, co-ordination and main technical difficulties be prepared and issued to workmen so that a comprehensive view may be taken of the whole scheme, and the relation of each operation to the whole may be easily understood. This is not a very formidable task and such an account is prepared as a matter of routine by big contractors, when tendering for work of any magnitude, in order that their method, and any special operating features may be fully explained. Were this method followed, part of the knowledge held by the higher officers would be handed out to those engaged on the actual work and, having a direct bearing upon their daily tasks, would be easily assimilated and, in many instances, lead to valuable suggestions being made. It would also inspire young workmen to study the technical side of their avocations. It is well known that the most valuable technical officer is generally he who has graduated on the practical side, and later co-ordinated his experience with a study of the scientific and technical aspects of his avocation. In many instances the thought of pursuing their calling to the higher branches does not occur to young artisans and the method suggested above may, in certain instances, lead to this result as well as to a more intelligent interest being taken by the rank and file in their daily work.