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SC’s Competitive


Advanced Manufacturing


Let’s move on to apprentice-

ship. Schaeffler has the distinction

of being the first company to start a

registered apprenticeship of its kind in

South Carolina.


It began in 1988, when we

started looking at the workforce

for toolmakers and realized it was a

craft that was going away. We asked

ourselves, “What do we need to do

to grow new toolmakers, and how do

we go about that?” Unfortunately,

there was no Apprenticeship Carolina

in 1988, so we went to the local

technical college and said, “Look, if

we do something with apprenticeship,

can you support it?” They said, “Yes,

we can do that. We can help you out

and make this work.”

We went through four different

iterations before we finally got it all

ironed out. We worked directly with

the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL)

to get it registered. They helped, and

the technical college helped us get it


Our first group started out with seven




The Schaeffler Group’s Apprenticeship Program in Cheraw is the

oldest U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) certified journeyman

program of its type in South Carolina. Begun in 1988 as the result

of a dual effort between Northeastern Technical College (NETC)

and Schaeffler Group, the program focused on tool and die makers.

In 1994, the apprenticeship program broadened to include

skilled setup machinists. Both programs are designed to combine

education and on-the-job training for the apprentice. The two

curriculums are each 7,000 hours in length and combine classical

European and American apprenticeship training concepts. In 2016,

Schaeffler apprenticed a third occupation — electrical-mechanical

and programming.

Schaeffler hires 15 – 20 apprentices most years, but a total of 42

apprentices were added to the 2016 fall semester as a result of the

newly apprenticed occupation.

Since the program’s inception, over 300 apprentices have been


Graduating apprentices receive:

2-year Associate Degree in Machine Tool Technology from NETC

Apprenticeship Journeyman License from USDOL

Schaeffler has a 90 percent retention rate of apprentices who

graduate the program.

Apprentices train at Northeastern

Technical College.