Page 16 - MetalForming-Aug-2018-issue
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  Tooling by Design
By Peter Ulintz
Apprenticeship Programs
and Unfilled Positions on the Rise
Skilled, educated and adaptable workers, willing to retrain and update their skills to keep pace with changing technology, often emerge from company- and government-spon- sored apprenticeship programs.
What is an apprenticeship? It is a combination of on-the-job training and related instruction for skilled occu- pations. Sponsors of such programs include employers, joint employer and labor groups, and employer associa- tions. The good news is that such pro- grams are on the rise.
Nationally, 21,000 registered pro- grams have more than 505,000 appren- tices enrolled as of 2016, a figure that has climbed 29 percent since 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, the real number of apprenticeships likely is larger because unregistered apprenticeships, which the Department of Labor cannot track, also exist.
Employers and apprentices seem happy with the system, with a 2009 report from the Urban Institute show- ing that nine of 10 employers would “strongly recommend” registered apprenticeships. Moreover, 65 percent of employers experience program- completion rates above 70 percent,
Peter Ulintz has worked in the metal stamping and tool and die industry since 1978. His back- ground includes tool and die making, tool engi- neering, process design, engineering manage- ment and advanced product development. As an educator and technical
presenter, Peter speaks at PMA national seminars, regional roundtables, international conferences, and college and university programs. He also pro- vides onsite training and consultations to the met- alforming industry.
Peter Ulintz
Technical Director, PMA
better than the 59-percent, 6-yr. grad- uation rate for college students (report- ed by the National Center for Education Statistics) in 2017.
Wanted: Apprentices
So what’s the bad news? As appren- ticeship programs are on the rise, so, too, are the number of unfilled appren- ticeship positions. While employers report concerns about the bureaucracy and time required for registering new apprenticeship programs, the bigger issue appears to be the need for more apprentices.
Nationally, 21,000 registered programs have more than 505,000 apprentices enrolled as of 2016, a figure that has climbed 29 percent since 2011.
Professional trades such as advanced design and CNC automation programming for manufacturing cells are two career paths lacking skilled workforces. In addition, automotive and other industries need welders and welding technicians with skills and experience working with advanced high-strength steels, stainless steels and aluminum alloys.
Looking ahead, new materials require new process technologies, and the skilled technicians to implement, optimize and support them. The same is true of emerging technologies such as composite sheet forming and addi- tive manufacturing. In addition, as new
fuel-cell technology, hybrid and elec- tric-powered cars, and autonomous vehicles enter the marketplace, pro- duction will require specialized skills, as will maintenance and repairs.
Challenges for Employers
With fewer teens working during high school, there is an ongoing need to equip them with practical training and hands-on experience to help with securing skilled manufacturing posi- tions after graduating.
However, despite the many advan- tages of apprenticeships, there has been no great rush by young people to become apprentices. Instead, for many, a college degree remains their primary goal after high school.
Moreover, there continues to be a degree of social stigma attached to those who do not pursue academic degrees. College-educated parents may support apprenticeships in principle, but in practice, they like it more when other people’s children become apprentices.
However, companies and trade unions wanting to attract apprentices can and should borrow a page or two from university recruitment practices of student athletes. In other words, roll out the red carpet. Give apprentice candidates a “campus tour” of your facilities. Provide them with presenta- tions highlighting the benefits of being an apprentice. Hold receptions where recruits can interact with company executives and employees. In other words, make them feel important, because they are.
Finally, just as coaches meet with student athletes and their parents, meet with the parents of potential apprentices. Family buy-in is crucial when young people are making life- changing decisions, and that certainly includes apprenticeships. MF
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