Apprenticeships Done Right

Posted By: Krista Maurer on June 09, 2016

In September, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded $175 million to 46 applicants through its American Apprenticeship grant competition. This investment highlights the importance of this training approach for helping fill the many job openings in manufacturing today.

One of our customer partners, Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is an example of a school doing apprenticeships right. They have 120 apprentices working for about 40 companies. Some local businesses employ as many as 14 apprentices at a time.

Kenneth Flowers, Dean of Career and Workforce Education, said, “For companies to grow like they want to, they need to find the right employees. We are continuing to build our apprenticeship programs by partnering with area companies that are eager to provide ongoing opportunities to the next generation of manufacturers.”

In Southwest Michigan, the focus is on machining, advanced manufacturing and tool and die.

The program is rigorous. Apprenticeships take four years to complete, including 8,000 hours of on-the-job training (OJT) and 576 hours of classroom time including online classes. This training can lead to many career paths including sales, design, work as a foreman, and more.

Kenneth’s own path shows the varied career directions possible through apprenticeships. He completed the Lake Michigan College apprenticeship program in the 90s and is now close to completing his PhD.

He explained how the approach to apprenticeships has changed dramatically over time. “When I went through the apprenticeship program, I picked my classes and did it all on my own. The reason our program is successful is that we now do things differently by helping students sign up, finalize their schedules and advise them on the process six weeks before classes start. This hands-on approach ensures there are no worries for either the company or the apprentice.”

Manufacturers are fully invested. They help the school develop the apprenticeship programs and many even buy subscriptions to cover the online classes the apprentices need.

The Lake Michigan College apprenticeship program, with its combination of OJT, instructor-led classes and online courses, is helping match the right people to the right jobs in Michigan.

What’s happening with apprenticeships in your area?

-- Krista Maurer, Government & Education Group, Tooling U-SME

Tags: apprenticeships, "Department of Labor", grants, "Lake Michigan College", manufacturing, "on-the-job training", training