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Training Female Labor
A Comprehensive Scheme Evolved by Westland Aircraft, Ltd.

The onset of the World War II forced major paradigm shifts in British manufacturing. There were far to few skilled craftsmen and no time to train new ones in the traditional ways. To meet the wartime production demands, British factories developed specialized training programs and tooling that allowed otherwise unskilled laborers to vastly enhance production. Playing a large part in this scheme was the use of female labor in completely new roles. – Ed.

This article first appeared in the Volume 4, Number 50 (December, 1942) issue of Aircraft Production magazine, and is presented here through the kind permission of Flight International. Thanks also to Bruce Vander Mark for furnishing volumes of Aircraft Production for scanning.

Methods introduced by Westland Aircraft, Ltd., for training unskilled female labour are described in this article. Following preliminary practical and theoretical ''school'' tuition the women are placed in the work for which they show the greatest aptitude, and there is a system of up-grading for those who become really efficient. Tooling throughout the factory is specially planned for use by this semi-skilled labour, a point often overlooked by many firms when planning and designing for production under present conditions. At the end of the article is given a survey of a group of dispersal factories staffed wholely or largely by women.


One of the interesting developments in the aircraft industry, brought about by wartime labour demands, has been the introduction of factory instructional schemes for new female employees. Practically every firm of standing now has some form of training to enable new unskilled labour to become useful, work-producing operatives in as short a time as possible. Even so, some are only half-hearted attempts to find a solution for what is undoubtedly a difficult problem. Often they consist solely of a short training period on some particular branch of work or operation, after which the woman is pitchforked into the factory and left to fend for herself. A week or so later a danger period arises, during which she is thoroughly disgruntled and does her best to leave.


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