Economic Development and Growth through Education
We now put in about 20 apprentices per year, and these
are skilled machinists. The programs are for tool and
die makers and very high-skilled setup people. This year
we apprenticed a third occupation, which is electrical-
mechanical and programming. As a result of this
addition, we put a total of 42 apprentices into the fall
semester this year.
Do you see this as a way to deal with your aging
This is the pipeline that backfills into those
positions— that’s how we look at it. Some companies
look to apprenticeship programs for immediate results.
We have a longer-term approach. I’m looking at this
ten-years down the road. Everything that Schaeffler
does starts with a ten-year to twenty-year plan, whether
it’s how we’re going to manage a new product or how
we are going to form a workforce. Apprenticeship is an
investment in our future, and it’s an investment in the
What do you think is the top positive outcome of
an apprenticeship program?
The top positive outcome for Schaeffler is that
we’ve got a highly-skilled, trained workforce. They
totally understand the systems that we have in place,
and they also represent our future leadership. We’ve had
numerous people travel to Germany anywhere from one
year to two years for additional training, and when they
return, they become the next technical leader.
We have someone right now, who started out as an
apprentice, went from there to be a toolmaker, and then
said, “I want to learn more. I want to do more.” So we
moved him into a supervisory role, and he wanted to
do even more. As a result, we offset his costs to go to
college and earn a business degree. We’ve now moved
him into what we call a segment leader, where he
manages a business unit that represents $80 million per
year. This is clear evidence that apprenticeship can offer
a definite path forward in your career.
What has it been like starting a new apprentice-
ship program today versus your experience in 1988?
Apprenticeship Carolina has been very helpful.
When we got ready to run the new apprenticeship
program in electrical-mechanical and programming, an
apprenticeship consultant came out and met with us
and the local technical college. They helped provide
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