Written by: Susanne Svenningsen, Program and Project Manager at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and John Vellema, Partner and Senior Enabler at Business Through People ApS.
This article was first published by: Lean Frontiers, Inc., February 2021 - find it here.


The TWI (Training Within Industry) programs were developed in the US during the 1940s when the United States went to war in Europe and millions of men left jobs in manufacturing to join the armed forces.

This created an unexpected gap in the workforce and made it necessary to recruit millions of people who had never worked in a factory. Half of these were women who until then had fulfilled the role as a housewife. Thus, it became necessary to develop a program to quickly support production of war material, and thereby train the inexperienced worker and handle the challenges of employing the new employees.

A group of experts consisting of specialists within management and education – from the industry and the academic world – was appointed and TWI was created and spread with lightening speed.

One of the fundamental principles of the TWI programs is the “multiplier effect”, which made it possible to spread the method quickly in both USA and Japan.

The method was - and still is - spread through an efficient and standardized course: TWI Train-the-trainers trains TWI Trainers to train employees according to a standardized method. In this way, training of employees is done quickly, efficiently, and standardized.

One American female worker drives rivets into an aircraft while another sits in the cockpit on the U.S. home front during World War II. (Harold M. Lambert/Getty Images)

TWI disappeared from US – but was introduced in Japan

After the war the men and women who had been serving in the army returned to their normal jobs. This meant that almost all TWI trained employees were replaced, and this quickly put an end to the use of TWI in the US.

While TWI disappeared from the US the method was brought to Japan by the American government. The purpose was to rebuild Japan’s industry and to prevent the rise of communism. TWI spread fast and today Japanese industries still train hundreds of people in TWI annually. One of the companies that in 1951 embraced TWI was Toyota and TWI is still a cornerstone in Toyota’s team leader training.

TWI emerged again in the US and spread around Europe

Not until the beginning of the 00s did TWI slowly return to the US and in mid-00s TWI emerged in Europe and later also in Denmark.

However, TWI has previously been used in Denmark. As early as in 1948 a TWI course was held in Denmark for the first time (source: Christian Obbekær Hansen).

In recent times Novo Nordisk A/S and LEGO System A/S were the first in Denmark to work systematically with TWI again. Later TWI spread to more companies, service trades, and public sector organisations.

What have we learned from 80 years of history?

We have learned that people still make mistakes and that building positive relations, improving work processes, resolving complex problems, and creating a safe workplace are still important foundations for a successful business and will be in the future.

But we have also learned that we have the means to help improve these foundations – the TWI (Training Within Industry) programs.

“Do The Job He Left Behind” poster from World War II.

The TWI programs

3 different TWI programs were developed in the USA during Second World War:

TWI Job Instruction: Quickly training employees to do a job correctly, safely, and conscientiously

TWI Job Relations: Building positive employee relations, increasing cooperation and motivation, and effectively resolving conflict.

TWI Job Method: Improving work processes and procedures to produce greater quantities of quality products in less time by making the best use of the people, machines, and materials currently available.

2 additional TWI programs were developed after Second World War.

TWI Job Safety: Creating a safe workplace by preventing accidents from happening.

TWI Problem Solving: Resolve complex problems involving process and people to get rapid, sustainable business results.

Your next step could be:

If you have any questions to the content in this article or to Training Within Industry (TWI) in general, you are most welcome to ask them directly to one of our Enablers, or by calling us. 

No matter what you do, it all starts with you daring to take the lead. 

About the author

Susanne Svenningsen is Program and Project Manager at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy A/S.