ISS3 2012

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Page 36 of 51

The More You Know Enlisted Rating Advancement System (ERATS) brings evolutionary changes BY PACM KEITH ALHOLM, FORCECOM The last time the Coast Guard's advancement system underwent a major change, gas was 24 cents a gallon, Elvis Presley was a private in the Army and a ͵rd lass petty ofϐicer with four years in the Coast Guard made $170 dollars a month. t was 195ͺ and the oast uard just adopted the Navy's service -wide examination process that is currently used and remains largely unchanged. Rating advancement correspondence courses are even older, and have been in use since 1927. More than half a century later, the Coast Guard has decided to change how enlisted people train for advancement. Why change it now? According to Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Bill Gibbons, a performance analyst at the Mission Support Branch at Force Readiness Command Training Division, the service has long recognized advancement training system the needs improvement. "During rating occupational analysis, we ask general questions about rating health. The lowest responses always came in one speciϐic area Ǧ the existing course materials always being out of date," said Gibbons. Gibbons conducted further research into the members' concerns, and found the same problems have been ofϐicially documented as far back as 1970. "Fundamentally, the system was ϐlawed because we were always looking backwardsǡdz he saidǤ oǡ in ʹ00ͺǡ several training managers and rating force master chiefs got together to discuss the problems and came up with potential solutions that provided the groundwork for the new system. The Enlisted Rating Advancement System (ERATS) makes evolutionary changes to our current system to improve performance expectations, guidance and accountability, while remaining highly adaptive to our changing world of work. "The new system is designed to be more compatible with the way people learn," said Gibbons. He continued to say most Coast Guardsmen obtain knowledge necessary for advancement informally, on the job, rather than in A or C schools. "Good training actually replicates what you are doing in the ϐield on the jobǡdz he said. According to Gibbons, this isn't surprising to seasoned enlisted personnel. What is surprising, however, is discovering that retention rates for on-the-job training can exceed those of classroom training because the skills are put to immediate use. The biggest change ERATS brings to the ϐield is an emphasis on actual job performance needs, instead of the amassing of general rating knowledge. The primary tool enlisted people must become familiar with under ERATS is the rating performance qualiϐications ȋ ȌǤ The RPQ's should be familiar because they contain all the essential elements that were in the original enlisted performance qualiϐications ȋ Ȍ they replacedǤ ǯs will still be completed on the job, and a member's performance will still be observed and evaluated by a professional development coach. are signiϐicantly more advancedǤ utterǤ hey RPQ's, however, ǯs resemble ǯs in the same way a ͵7ͺǦ foot High Endurance Cutter is similar to a 41ͺǦfoot ational ecurity are both white with red and blue stripes; they are both commanded by a captain, manned by dedicated Coast Guardsmen and they are capable of multi-mission performance. However, there is no doubt which is better equipped for operating in today's maritime environment. The same can be said for RPQ's. In addition to all the elements of EPQ's, ǯs have speciϐic standardsǡ conditions and steps for completing each task. They also identify speciϐic references used on the job and additional instructions for how the performance development coach can evaluate the performance being monitored. The references listed in the RPQ's are the same manuals, job aides, books and multimedia used in the ϐieldǤ For the ratings already transitioned to ERATS, the RPQ's are the primary learning tool for preparing for the rating advancement test and service- wide examination. The performance qualiϐication guides ȋ Ȍǡ or correspondence course, is no longer required for advancement. "On the job you are surrounded by (learning) resources. You have someone who has expertise who can coach you," said Gibbons. Instead of launching correspondence courses that are obsolete by the time they are published, the RPQ's now serve as the roadmap for training enlisted members to take the rating advancement test and service-wide examination. ERATS combines the structure of the PQG with the effectiveness of on the job training. "Training degrades rapidly if it isn't applied," said Lt. Christopher McCann, a training manager who works with Gibbons. "We want training to emulate what is done on the job and have the trainee apply those skills in a work setting as quickly as possible," he said. With the end of the performance qualiϐication guides and expanding of the RPQ's, one might think it would increase the time needed to develop and publish updates to the system. A key component of ERATS is the creation of an integrated process team called rating training advisory council (RTAC). Each rating's RTAC serves as the authoritative and principle means of making resource-neutral decisions impacting enlisted advancement training. The council is empowered to effect immediate change under speciϐic guidelines. At a minimum, an RTAC is comprised of a Rating Force Master Chief (RFMC), rate training master chief (often the A-school chief), the program and rating knowledge manager (SWE writer) and the FORCECOM training manager and hief *TTVF t ating nowledge ᕇ RESERVIST 35

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