Training

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All skills in Rimworld improve simply while they are used, there is nothing special that needs to be done in addition to that. If a colonist is assigned to a task (via the Work tab) with a sufficiently high priority, they will, eventually, perform that task and (depending on the task) gain skill points in the governing skill.

However, it's also true that untrained workers can be a liability. For example, a poorly trained cook will cause food poisoning more frequently, and an untrained miner can waste 1/3 of the potential resources while trying to extract them, and do it more slowly to boot. A colonist may need just a touch of something to be exactly the pawn your colony needs.

This article will suggest a few special ways to manipulate adult colonists into training certain specific skills, even if they have low or no starting levels in that skill. Child colonists Content added by the Biotech DLC have a different way of training.  

  • Note: The simplest, fastest way to "train" a colonist is via a skilltrainer. However, as those are hard to find and moderately expensive (market value 750), and finding one with the skill you want (1/12 chance each) can be a challenge in itself, this article will assume those are not available to you at this time.

Overview

Skill Work Low-risk tasks High-risk tasks
Longer duration Longer duration & Less yield Personal dangers
Shooting Hunt Shooting tamed animals
Hunting animals unable to revenge
Hunting wild animals
Melee Hunt, Fight Fist-fight prisoners Fighting tamed/wild animals
Construction Construct Deconstruction, Smoothing, Walls & Floors Any constructing (ex. grand steles)
Mining Mining Any mining, even with deep drilling
Cooking Various Cooking psychite tea, wort, smokeleaf Butchering, Making kibble Cooking meals (risk of food-poisoning)
Plants Sowing, Harvesting, Plant cut Chopping trees, Sowing (unskilled crops) Harvesting
Animals Handling Train tamed animals Milk & shear animals Tame wild animals (risk of animal revenge)
Crafting Craft, Smith, Tailor Destroy apparel at smelter Produce poor-quality products to sell/deconstruct
Artistic Artistic Create sculptures
Medical Doctor Perform surgery on tamed animals & prisoners (infections??)
Hemogen pack extractionContent added by the Biotech DLC
Social Warden, Negotiate Recruit prisoners
Reduce resistance of prisoners
Trade Attempt to negotiate peace treaties
Intellectual Research Research technologies, apply techprints
Making drugs & medicine

Task/Skill connections

In a few cases it is not obvious that a specific task trains a seemingly unrelated ability:

  • Cooking:
  • Making medicine and hard drugs (flake, yayo, etc.) requires and trains Intellectual (not Crafting).

Additionally...

  • Cutting stone blocks does not train any skill (but requires Crafting to be allowed as a task).
  • "Smith" and "Tailor", despite being listed separately, are actually sub-skills of Crafting, and do not have their own skill level.
  • Many Construction tasks that could plausibly be Crafting tasks (smithing or tailoring) are not. For instance, steel hoppers (used by nutrient paste dispensers), a steel chess table, cloth/wool/fur bedrolls and fabric/leather animal flaps are all "Construction".

Training a skill

This is usually only necessary and recommended if you 1) want a certain ability on a specific colonist, 2) can afford to not use this person for normal productive work while they "train", and 3) are willing to invest their time (and yours) for their future in your colony.

A colonist that is bad at everything and passionate for nothing should be assigned to be a hauler and cleaner, or maybe the guy who fulfills that annoying caravan trade request 5 days away, before you give them a "real" job. Long, slow experience is not a great investment of their time, not when someone else can do it faster, and that "skilled" colonist would be wasting their skill hauling or traveling.

  • If you train a colonist by letting them do busy work, you are wasting one of the most valuable colony resources, namely work hours.

Daily XP cap

There is a "soft" XP cap of 4000 points per day for each skill, after which experience is at only 20% of normal (multiplied by traits and passions, as normal). Some skills do train quickly, so find a different activity; training over the soft cap is not a good use of time. (This can be seen by mouse-hoving over the skill in the colonist's Bio tab.)

Candidates

A good candidate may not be completely, truly "useless" - maybe they have skills, just not the skills we want, or no skills that we can use now (maybe because other colonists are better, maybe they just need to be improved). Regardless, a candidate for focused training has 1) no skills that we currently value/need, and 2) some sort of potential we do value (or we'd ignore them and assign them as our full-time Hauler/Cleaner/Refueler/Ammo loader/Undertaker/Prisoner Feeder/etc.).

Specific combinations of traits (good and bad!) and/or passions can determine if a colonist is a trainee candidate or a faceless drone.

Lack of passion

Be aware that if a skill has no passion (no "flame" icon(s) next to it), it will train far more slowly than skills that do reflect a colonist's passion for that skill, gaining only 35% of the experience that a single-passion skill would, and only 17.5% the experience of a double-passion skill*.

(* assuming no other learning modifiers - see Traits)

Training up a non-passion skill to a low level is far more realistic than to something middle or high-level. For example, if you have a drone with a 0 in Construction and you want to train them to Level 3 so they can haul material to those blueprints, that is not overly difficult, 6,000 experience. However, training from Level 6 up to level 8 is 2.5x as much work, 15,000 experience, and you might spend years on such a project without any bonus to training speed. It's doable, just not very fast.

Temporary Zone restrictions

A technique to create a allowed area or home area (with single colonist) specifically to restrict a colonist to a very certain area, in order to force them to perform a task.

As an example, let's say you want a colonist to smooth the floor in your freezer in the next few days, and do nothing else. In this case, you will create a new zone for them, containing exactly these areas in your base:

  • the area where the work needs to happen (freezer in this example)
  • the colonist's bedroom (so s/he can go to rest as usual)
  • the recreation area and dining table
  • a place where food is stored, so they can get their meals (maybe not necessary in this example, because the freezer is already covered, but critical to include)

These areas do not have to be adjacent (connected). The zone can be composed of several disconnected areas.

Now you use the "Schedule" tab to restrict them to this newly created zone. S/he can still move freely between those areas, but will not perform any "task" unless that task is inside the designated zones. This means s/he will not use any skills outside the temporary zone, and you will not need to manipulate her work tab to keep her from doing anything but smooth the freezer floor.

This is a very effective method, not just for training, but for prioritizing important work in general. For instance, if you have several colonists assigned to Construction, you can assign all but your best away from your new dining room furniture that you're building.

Combat training

If you feel you are not prepared for the next raid, you can train a few combat abilities. This is most easily done manually, i.e. with the trainee drafted and you micro-managing their actions. That means you cannot easily manage the colony in the mean time, and it can be awkward to train more than one colonist at a time without constantly pausing the game. This possibly means a net loss of productivity in your colony and/or a slowing of gameplay in general, so consider your options, depending on your colony's needs and your own personal priorities and preferences.

You can instead assign them "Hunting", but this is slow and dangerous; animal "revenge" is often a risk, depending on the target. However, it has its advantages (see below), and you can often let them hunt for days without oversight.

Activities that do not improve combat skills:

  • Attacking downed targets.
  • Attacking structures or buildings.

Shooting

The easiest way to train shooting is to prioritize the colonist to the "Hunting" task in the Work tab, give them a ranged weapon, and send them on their way. The best possible method is with an EMP launcher or smoke launcher, since they do no damage, and, therefore, a colonist can train for an indefinite amount of time without chance of hurting an animal and possibly triggering revenge. Outside of that, giving them a long-range weapon (e.g. a great bow or bolt-action rifle) makes hunting safer because animals are less likely to enrage and retaliate if shot at from long range. To guarantee safety, only hunt animals that will never retaliate. (See specific animal descriptions for full information.)

Giving a really bad shooter a weapon not suited for the task, such as a machine pistol of "awful" quality, means that they will possibly hunt for a long time before actually killing the animal. Do not expect colonists that you train this way to be very productive food-providers for the colony.

Manual hunting

Outside of the Hunting task, a special case of deliberately slow "hunting" is to draft a colonist and have them attack a specific target. Some resilient animals, such as a grizzly bear, rhinoceros, elephant, megasloth or thrumbo, can give a lot of shooting skill by kiting them* and continually shooting them with a low-damage weapon. You need to be very careful with this approach because those animals can do a lot of damage if given the chance to get into melee range. Also, this approach does require constant micromanagement, and you, as a player, won't easily be able to oversee other manual tasks in the colony in the meantime.

A special benefit from it is, that you get a 750% increase in xp, if the enemy is in agro mode (haunts the shooter) instead of 90xp per shot with the shortbow, you get 765 for the same shot, no matter if it is a hit or not.

(* "Kiting" is a general tactic where the player attacks a target and then runs away, encouraging the target to chase them - the image is a kite being pulled by a kite-flyer, the kite following but never catching the puller. Assuming the player's pawn is faster, they can stop, quickly shoot again, and then keep running, repeating the process indefinitely. This requires constant oversight. Kiting can also be used to lure a target away from an area, or into a specific area for other purposes, such as an ambush, mechanical traps, or to fight with a third party.)

The best weapon types for this tactic are weapons with a fast windup and high shot frequency, not too short a range, and low damage. This makes you use the skill more often, by firing more shots and having your "training dummy" last longer from low damage.

With large targets, it's quite possible that you will down the target rather than kill it outright. You can then either kill it for no further combat XP, or choose your medical pawn to "Rescue" the animal, patch it up, and then either release it to later repeat the exercise or euthanize it, which produces additional medical XP and more leather and meat than killing by hunting.

It is even possible that actually killing the animal will take so long that your colonist will pass out from exhaustion or go into starvation. You must have a capable shooter available to finish off the animal and end the training if necessary.

If using tamed targets, you can stop before killing them, and train up your Medical colonist(s), patching the target up for next time.

Melee

Fighting anything with melee attacks will increase the melee skill. Hunting with melee attacks works, but animals are prone to fighting back so be warned (this is true even for animals that never retaliate when hunted from range). You will have to draft the colonist and "hunt" the animal manually by attacking it. An undrafted colonist will not hunt if they are lacking a ranged weapon.

If you want to train a character this way, use the best possible armor *(whether flak or plate armor, or just a good duster) so they will take less damage from the animal. Taking no damage at all is not likely, so do not train a colonist that you require to be in good shape; they will at least have a few bruises for a day or three, reducing their manipulation skills and movement ability. Also be aware that attacking herd animals (like muffalos and wild boars) can enrage the entire herd, usually leading to a heavily injured colonist, or worse.

Use bare fists, to make the training session last as long as possible.

Tamed animals will fight back, so they are not safe training dummies; they can however be kept in a controlled environment which makes them more convenient targets. There is also no risk of an entire herd taking revenge for you hurting their friend. You can patch up the animal you just abused afterwards, which will train the medical skill. Turtles, especially, make good training "partners", with a small target and good natural "armor".

Using melee attacks does raise the skill very quickly, and you will hit the "soft" XP cap of 4000 points in a matter of a few attacks. Disengage afterwards, because training over the soft cap is not efficient.

To level melee more safely, take prisoners who are incapable of "Violent" and repeatedly punch, then heal them in their prison cell. To avoid accidentally killing your prisoners, use fists only with neither a melee nor ranged weapon equipped. Carefully watch the health of the prisoner pausing the game between each punch if needed. A colonist with no weapon (not even a ranged weapon) does up to 7 base blunt damage per punch (see Base Melee Stats for details), so when any single body part falls below 8 hp remaining, stop and allow the prisoner to heal. This will allow you to train medical skill as well.

Civilian Skills

You can slow down the work deliberately, by working under poor conditions (outside, in the dark, not using electricity, in the cold, ...). For many skills, experience is granted over time and not by work units. Crafting as slowly as possible means you will waste less material in the same time span. Only do this while crafting at level 5 or lower; from level 6, you can expect to at least break even on average with regards to material cost.

Animals

The animals skill is very versatile, and can be trained in various ways.

There are two animals related tasks where unskilled colonists can be a liability:

  • Failed tame attempts may cause the animal to retaliate; this often leads to the animal handler getting injured, usually as far away from the base as possible...
  • Milking or shearing animals can fail, resulting in all of the product going to waste; this is especially painful when shearing (gathering wool), because wool takes many days to grow back.

Because of this it is best to let unskilled animal handlers only train animals that are already domesticated. If this fails, some food will be wasted, and the animal might lose some training from decay, but nothing worse will happen. Only your qualified animal handlers should be allowed to try to tame wild animals, or to milk or shear tamed animals (if you care about the product).

It is very finicky to assign all your animal handlers to the jobs best suited for them. It can be done with manipulation of temporary zone restrictions and pens, but the recommended way is to install a mod like Work Tab: it allows for fine-grained control of the various animals related sub-tasks.

Artistic

There is not much to be said about training artistic; just have your aspiring artist craft as many sculptures as possible.

If you are looking to beautify your colonists' rooms, and/or have lots of material and are looking for the best value return in the shortest time, make large sculptures. On the other hand, if you are short on material and want to get the best return out of that material, and have a little more time to spend, make small sculptures

"Awful" sculptures actually have a negative beauty value, so they actually make the environment more ugly. Great to put into the bedrooms of ascetic colonists, but should be deconstructed or sold otherwise.

Use the material that you can spare the most of; wood is often a good choice. Contrast that with jade, which has the best balance of beauty and availability, and so should be reserved for more capable, possibly inspired artists.

Construction

Construction is already trained quite efficiently by simply using the skill, since construction is such a common activity in an expanding colony.

As a rule, do not train construction when high value material is involved, such as textiles (for carpets), steel (for many workbenches/etc.), or components (when making things like power generators). If the colonist "botches" construction in these cases, the entire amount of a valuable material will be irretrievably wasted; only do this if you have plenty of surplus material so such loss does not matter.

Deconstruction

Deconstructing items gives considerable Construction experience. There is no Quality involved, no chance to botch, no minimum level, and skill level only affects speed. This is (with smoothing, see next) one of the safest and cheapest ways to train Construction.

Smoothing

Smoothing walls and floors counts as construction, is very time consuming (a good thing for training), and has no quality penalty associated with it. It is perhaps the best way to train a low skilled worker, since there is zero risk of wasting materials or creating bad products. Having your apprentices do the smoothing keeps the master constructors free for more demanding/time-critical work. Restrict the trainee colonists to the respective areas by creating a temporary zone, and let them do wall and floor smoothing exclusively for a while.

Walls and floors

If you are about to build a lot of walls or floors in the colony, you can use zones (as described above) or temporarily take your capable builders off the construction task, and let only your trainee(s) build the floors, walls and roofs. None of these have a quality stat, so it is not possible to create bad products. The apprentices will take a little longer, and probably "botch" construction several times, but the end result will be the same.

Wooden chairs

The amount of work it takes to build a wooden chair is much more than most other items. Each chair built generates roughly 1,000 progress points, allowing you to estimate 1K progress points to each chair built. Wood is cheap on many maps, so the "investment" of 45 wood (which then can be deconstructed to get half back) can be worth the training.

Making furniture is not the best monetary return to train construction, because colonists with low skill will produce low quality/low value furniture. However, you can either sell it as it is, or keep deconstructing and reconstructing any "unacceptable" furniture until you get lucky and a desired quality level is produced, so long as you do not mind losing some resources along the way.*

(* the popular mod Quality Builder helps tremendously here)

Repairing things

You can damage structures, usually purpose-built stone walls, deliberately by attacking them with melee attacks, shots or grenade blasts, and then have your construction builders repair them.

  • Only do this with a colonist that really needs to be up to speed in construction now, and if you have absolutely no other suitable construction work to do at the moment. Damaging structures just for training is a waste of work hours not only for the trainee, but also for the colonists drafted to do the damaging.

This will not train shooting skill. Use the shooters only to damage the structure, then undraft them and have them resume their regular colony duties. Of course the shooters could be the very same people who will do the repair work just after. Shooting skill does not matter much in this case, as pretty much everybody is able to hit a wall from point blank range...

  • By far the best approach is to smooth any stone wall, damage it, and repair it. Smoothed walls count as constructed walls, so they can be repaired. A smoothed granite wall does have 900 hit points, almost as much as a plasteel wall.
  • Under the "Work" tab, designate the colonist(s) you intend to train so that they can only "Repair". Create a zone around the training area, and the general facilities of the base, then restrict the trainees to this zone.
  • Skill training becomes much less effective (x20%) after 4000 XP has been acquired in a skill during a day. Take the trainees off the training task by removing their zone restriction after this soft XP cap has been reached for the day.

Cooking

The cooking skill level is increased by butchering, cooking meals at a stove or campfire, brewing beer, and also by making smokeleaf joints.

If a low-skilled cook butchers, they will get less leather and meat, though that's not always a dealbreaker. If a low-skilled cook prepares meals, they carry an increased risk of food poisoning. This is a fairly disrupting condition that should be avoided, so it is not optimal to train a new cook by letting them prepare meals that you intend to consume (trading them, on the other hand...).

Kibble

Kibble never carries food poisoning, making it a safe practice food. It is highly profitable to make kibble if you have insect meat or human meat, and hay – even if there are no animals to feed – because all kibble has the same market value, no matter the ingredients.

Brewing beer

Brewing has no minimum level, and is not quality dependent except for the time it takes. Let your rookie cooks brew all the beer they want; it will take a little longer, but it will taste just as good.

Smokeleaf joints

This strategy requires drug production to be researched, and to grow or buy smokeleaf leaves, but training Cooking with smokeleaf production is an excellent strategy. Smokeleaf products have good recreational and cash (trade) value, but be aware that the value added by making joints from leaves is not work efficient, so outside of training cooks or making the joints for personal use it is better to sell your leaves directly.

Joints have no quality and obviously cannot carry food poisoning, making it a safe task to train any cook.

Set up a dedicated work bill at the crafting spot or drug lab, and restrict it to the character that you would like to train in cooking. The character needs to have priority to "Craft" things on the work tab. Make sure the drug lab is not occupied by other tasks; the easiest way is to put the smokeleaf job in the first slot on the list of bills.

Crafting

The only way to practice crafting is to make things, either at a crafting spot, tailoring bench or smithy. Drug production and brewing do not train crafting.

If you have no good Crafters yet, you will produce many items of "poor" or "awful" quality. It is not possible to retrieve raw materials from crafted items (unlike constructed items) – after you have crafted an item, you have to either use it or sell it as it is. This means you should not use any valuable materials, such as Thrumbofur, Megasloth wool, Hyperweave or Plasteel to practice crafting. Only let your most competent people handle these super-valuable materials.

If you're concerned about market value, "weapons" are generally not a good class of items to practice crafting because they only sell for 20% of the normal price (for game balance reasons), making it tough to make money from crafted weaponry. However, you can make wooden melee weapons, which gives the same training but uses no steel - and steel is too valuable to waste on training, as we've already discussed. The gladius is one of the best value melee weapons, only requires Smithing to be researched, and for some reason arms dealers accept wooden novelty swords. The mace is not far behind in value, and, unlike wooden swords, a wooden mace is a fine basic melee weapon.

Aside from weapons, armor requires valuable ingredients, so usually crafting is practiced making clothes. Dusters are the best material/value clothing item*.

(* It's not clear what is the best experience/material item, but few colonies have "more textiles than they need".)

Crafted items get a market value that is composed of

  • the work invested into making the item
  • the value of the raw materials used
  • the quality of the item

The market value multiplier for "awful" items is 50%, for "poor" items it is 75%. In those cases it would have been better to sell the raw materials instead of the item! To cut your inevitable losses, only use the cheapest material you can find if you expect to produce a lot of bad quality stuff. Good candidates are (in order of less to more useful/valuable): birdskin, pigskin, lightleather, patchleather and plainleather. (Note that human leather is, for some reason, quite valuable).

  • See Textiles for a comparative table and full information

Alternatively, you could create a couple extra (large) growing zones with cotton plants, for cloth to "practice" with. Even poor-quality dusters sell for a reasonable price.

Fabrication

Crafting components can only be done by crafters who already have skill level 8 or better. If you have a competent crafter to train further, they can make (advanced) components at a fabrication bench. You will need a lot more advanced components to build the space ship than you can usually buy from traders, so making them early is never a waste of effort. They do not have a quality rating, so as long as your crafter can make them you will get full value.

Note also that items without Quality do not trigger an Inspired Creativity bonus, so they are a good way to train up a crafter before trying for a legendary item.

In the same vein, artificial limbs and organs can be made by anyone who meets the skill requirement, but it is not always easy to know in advance which ones you will need.*

(* Artificial eyes (of either type) and bionic (not "prosthetic") arms add to manipulation, which always seems to be useful. For the less humane, prosthetic hearts are cheap to produce, and profitable and mood-penalty free when swapped on prisoners.)

Intellectual

Intellectual skill is gained by doing research, and by making hard drugs and medicine. There are no special techniques available to make this more efficient. All research done is equally valuable, and neither medicine nor drugs have a quality rating; this means that who you employ for these jobs only influences how long it takes to finish them.

Usually your colony will want to research new technologies, so there is normally no question how to employ pawns with intellectual skill or interest. This is also a good use of any "retired" simple research bench(es).*

(* Note that while a simple research bench can be uninstalled and re-installed elsewhere, a hi-tech research bench can only be deconstructed!)

Crafting wake-up, flake and go-juice are all very profitable, so this is recommended if you do not need another researcher at the time, and can stock up on neutroamine and psychoid leaves.

Medical

There is something that a typical Rimworld campaign never lacks: work for your doctors and surgeons. Still, it is still possible to arrange some extra training.

Performing any type of surgery is staggeringly efficient for training Medical; performing surgery awards 16 times as much XP (per time spent) as other work. This includes all kinds of body part replacements, organ harvesting, and euthanizing animals (and humans).

The XP granted by a surgical procedure depends on work speed of the pawn, work units required and skill passion. For reference: at 100% medical operation speed and Interested passion, 2,000 XP are granted from performing a leg replacement.

Note: Because performing surgery gives so much XP, a single colonist will hit the soft learning cap of 4,000 XP per day rather quickly. Spread out the procedures over multiple doctors and days.

Whether caused by iinjury or included from the start, it's often an improvement to a colonist to replace a damaged limb or organ; a heart with even minor artery blockage can cause a fatal heart attack at any moment. See various links on artificial body parts for costs and improvement/penalties the post-operative patient will acquire.

Animal patients

If human subjects are not convenient, you can "sterilize" and then "euthanize" tamed/domestic animals. If you want, you can also "rescue" wild ones that are downed but not killed, which adds "tending" (aka "bandaging") that animal to the experience. This not only gains Medical XP, but gives a larger yield of leather and meat than hunting an animal. This is a shorter procedure than the human jaw replacement (and worth only a third of the XP) but it has no medical skill requirement, so is great for training completely unskilled doctors.

Depending on the (lack of) skill, a failed procedure is not uncommon, but actually provides more experience. A failed operation results in bleeding from various cuts and scratches, so the doctor-in-training then gets to tend the now injured animal, and then try the operation again - perhaps multiple times. You may wish to turn off "(herbal) medicine" while you bandage animals, since their long-term survival is a non-issue, but you'll have to turn it back on for the operation(s).

Tame chickens are the best source of animals, because the breed like flies and you usually want to weed out the males, and euthanizing a freshly hatched chick will give the same XP as any other animal would.

Non-elective surgery

If you are not squeamish about it, you can use Prisoners for a wide variety of very effective "practice" purposes. Most require nothing more than herbal medicine* and a (often terrifyingly low) minimum Medical skill.

(* at minimum; you probably want to use actual medicine if the operation is important to you.)
  • Install and remove jaw denture, repeatedly. This requires medical skill 2, herbal medicine, no special prosthetics needed, and the patient has no risk of dying on the table. It will leave the person permanently mangled (80% speak/eat), lowering their market value (which is not important unless you want to sell the person into slavery). This procedure is not counted as "organ harvesting", even if performed on a healthy patient.
  • A little more brutal is repeated peg leg/wooden hand replacements - install, remove, repeat. Requires minimum Medical skill 3 and some herbal medicine. Oh - and one (1) "log" (seriously!). Some prisoners start with a prosthetic of some sort, but that's hardly a requisite. Also not counted as "organ harvesting".
  • The grim business of organ harvesting is great training, and can be done up to four* times per customer. The surgeon can take a tongue (no market value), one kidney and one lung without killing the victim (altho' they will be the worse for it), and a heart or liver, which kills the patient*. It is strongly frowned upon by most colonists. It is also profitable, but only do it if you can afford the colony-wide mood penalty, which lasts for 8 days.
* A heart can be replaced with a prosthetic heart (and minimum Medical skill 4), which then either allows the patient to live (in which case this (only) is not considered "organ harvesting"), or allows the surgeon to continue and harvest the liver, which does kill the patient. For the accountants, a prosthetic heart has a market value of 230 (and/or can be crafted at a machining table), while a human heart is valued at 500 - profit, even after a trader gets his percentage. There is no prosthetic liver.
Removing any organ will give all colonists without the Psychopath or Bloodlust trait a negative mood modifier. (For a more complete discussion, see also organ harvesting.)

Mining

Unskilled miners will let resources go to waste if they mine an ore vein. You can check a colonist's mining yield stat to see if they are already at/near 100+%, but even a Skill 6 miner is wasting 5% (or 2 Steel out of every tile), and very high skill levels give a (small) bonus return. If they're not high-skill, do not use them to extract valuable resources from a mountain.

To train miners, restrict them to a temporary zone with a mining job in it that does not include any valuable ores. If you dig into a mountain face randomly, be aware that this could become a space for infestations to spawn if the location is too close to your colony.

If you have developed deep drilling already, you can let your apprentice miners work the drills. Waste of resources is usually not a problem anymore at this point.

Plants (growing)

It doesn't matter who sows (plants) your crops, but letting an unskilled grower harvest your fields will waste some of the product; check the plant harvest yield stat of the colonist. If you need to avoid this, you will have to create a – possibly large – restriction zone to keep this colonist out of the area that they must not harvest. Allow them access only to areas where sowing needs to happen; lower skill levels are slower, but do not hurt harvest amounts.

Chopping trees is a good, safe way to train plants. Disallow the task ("plant cut" in the work tab) for your skilled growers, so your trainees will get more opportunities to chop wood.

If you are growing plants that only skilled workers can sow (like Devilstrand and Healroot), make sure that your trainees will sow all the other fields. Do not let your skilled growers take that work away from them. Again, you will probably need to use restriction zones or work tab micromanagement to facilitate this.

  • The Work Tab mod by Fluffy makes partitioning the growing tasks a lot easier, avoiding the use of temporary zone restrictions.

Social

Each social chat with a colonist gives 4 social XP per per speech balloon at Interested passion and neutral mood modifier.

Having a friendly chat with a prisoner in order to convince him or her to join the colony gives roughly 50 social XP at Interested passion, per speech balloon. If you are recruiting prisoners, only assign the "Wardening" work type to the colonists whose social skill you want to improve. The Work Tab mod (or a similar mod) allows more control over the various tasks related to wardening, so it is recommended to make this more viable in normal colony operation.

Setting the prisoner interaction mode to "Reduce resistance" (and not "Recruit") will allow wardens to keep having conversations indefinitely, allowing skill training. However, this costs a lot of food over time to keep the prisoner alive. Only do this with prisoners you do not want as colonists; recruit them immediately otherwise, so they become productive and improve their skills.