Building That Pipeline. One Apprentice at a Time.

Posted By: Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME on April 13, 2017

At Tooling U-SME, we have the privilege of working with hundreds of manufacturers of all sizes across the country. We hear about their challenges with filling the people pipeline and are happy to share winning strategies and solutions from other companies that once faced similar struggles.

One company we hold up as a role model is KYOCERA SGS Precision Tools (KSPT), based in Munroe Falls, Ohio, which produces solid carbide cutting tools. This 65-year-old manufacturer is the epitome of a high-impact learning organization (HILO).

KSPT recognized the impact of retirements earlier than most companies. To stay competitive, about 13 years ago, KSPT instituted an integrated, sustained training program, along with a strong apprenticeship program. (Read more here.)

KSPT leadership charged Gary Miller, director of training and occupational development, with the execution. Gary was dubbed “Super-Trainer” in a recent Industry Week story, and we couldn’t agree more!

As you’ll read in the article, Gary spends a lot of time building a strong pipeline of workers both via high school/college internships and a four-year certified apprentice program recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

While the principles of apprenticeships go back thousands of years, they are making a big comeback. I get questions all the time about how to set up programs and implement best practices. It’s important to note that the new apprenticeship programs are different from their predecessors. Today, the learn-while-you-earn model is a formal competency-based program. Informal, time-based programs are out.

Companies establish programs around industry-wide standards, such as the DOL’s Registered Apprenticeship program.

What makes these “new” apprenticeship programs so powerful is a collaborative approach. To ensure this national industry standard is met, programs involve industry, educators, DOL, unions, workforce agencies, and community-based organizations.

As companies like KSPT have learned, success comes from getting out in front of the skills gap crisis.

Without a doubt, apprenticeship programs are a critical part of creating the next generation of manufacturers. Business benefits are meaningful: boosted retention rates, reduced recruiting costs, and improved productivity.

To learn more about apprenticeship programs, download a copy of our complimentary white paper, “Apprenticeships: Modernizing a Proven Workforce Development Strategy.”

Tags: apprenticeships, "Department of Labor", "Gary Miller", IndustryWeek, "Kyocera SGS Precision Tools, Inc.", manufacturing, "Registered Apprentice", "Tooling U-SME", training, "workforce development"