Why Apprentice?

Gateway Technical College graduates

In early September, we wrote a bit about what exactly an apprenticeship is and why it’s important for anyone interested in beginning a manufacturing career.

For a quick overview, apprenticeships are essentially paid internships in a skilled field, meaning that your experiences are a direct gateway into your chosen career path in manufacturing or other careers requiring sharp STEM skills. And, as we mentioned, in some cases it’s even possible to take regular academic courses while doing so.

Apprenticeships made the news again this month in an editorial by Chris Kaiser for Manufacturing and Engineering Media’s March issue. Kaiser is the President and CEO of BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling, Inc. located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The company is one of the premier makers in the world; they specialize in developing and manufacturing precision boring tools and modular boring systems. Their products help reduce tool management time as well as provide cost-effective precision solutions for any tooling problem.

Kaiser’s goal, similar to many U.S. manufacturers, is bridging the skills gap–in other words, matching the thousands of unemployed Americans with skilled manufacturing jobs. This task isn’t as easy as one might think, though. On the other side of the spectrum rests Switzerland: a tiny country with one of the most competitive economies in the world due to their strength in manufacturing. Kaiser claims that this supremacy is due to the developed apprenticeship programs (nearly 66% of Swiss young adults partake in a vocational school of some sort).

With those types of numbers, it seems difficult to refute Kaiser’s apprenticeship system, called the KAISER Approach for his own company. 2-3 trainees each year learn the crafts of precision tooling each year in Rumlang, Switzerland and leave the program with a “highly specialized and marketable skill set.”

The program receives between 5 and 50 applications each year, and accepts 2-3 apprentices that will then be trained to the exact standards Kaiser operates at. And, as one might expect, approximately 50% of apprentices receive a job offer at Kaiser after completing the program.

Kaiser suggests that this may be the approach to bridge the skills gap in America, and bring companies closer to their prospective employees by training each one themselves. And we think that moving forward, apprenticeships are going to regain much of their importance in the growing world of American manufacturing. We all have to work together to close the skills gap, and apprenticeships are a great place to start.

Would you be interested in an apprenticeship as a path to future employment? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter!

photo credit: Gateway Technical College via photopin cc