Providing the ‘Golden Ticket’ – Experience to Young People

Everyone is familiar with the world of internships. Held during the summer or following trade school or college graduation – or while also balancing coursework – internships are a common first step in the post-graduate world. Internships can boost your resume in your chosen field to its fullest potential before initiating a job search.

Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) member CSA Group has a comprehensive careers page where their newest opportunities are listed, including any internships that are available. For example, CSA Group recently searched for interns relating to strategy, enterprise risk management, gas cylinder testing, and quality systems.

An alternative to internships is on the rise, particularly in the manufacturing field – apprenticeships. PMI member Franke has an entire page dedicated to apprenticeships, having offered them in Switzerland, Germany, China, the U.S. and more. A global company, Franke places an emphasis on building regional insights using the unique skills and ideas of its people. Combined with support from team leaders, apprentices can use these opportunities to dive into new things and nurture their talents.

And, as mentioned in a previous PMI@Work blog post, Bradley Corporation offers a formal apprenticeship program, paid internships, and a high school youth apprenticeship program it formed in partnership with GPS Education Partners.

Apprenticeships lead to valuable experience

In fields related to plumbing manufacturing, those looking to start a new career from scratch are turning to apprenticeships to gain hands-on experience. As reported by The Daily Progress, Octavia Sandridge decided to become a plumber when her previous housekeeping career ran out of gas. Sandridge applied to and was accepted into the University of Virginia Facilities Management’s four-year apprenticeship program. The program employs and trains participants with classroom and on-the-job experience in carpentry, masonry, plastering, heating and air conditioning, electrical training and plumbing. Despite having no previous practical experience, she is excited to start the program and turn over a new leaf.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), in 2017 there were 533,607 people in federally approved apprenticeship programs, including 181,563 people just like Sandridge, who had just started their studies. An estimated 64,000 of those people completed their programs that year. Of all of these active apprenticeships, about 68% were in the construction industry.

In 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order setting up a task force to establish guidelines and requirements for apprenticeship programs to be eligible for federal aid. Consequently, Congress granted $145 million for registered apprentice programs in 2018. Finally, in June 2019, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was made public that would establish a process for the U.S. DOL to advance the development of high-quality, industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs).

In 2019, the DOL announced additional awards totaling $183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for educational institutions partnering with companies that provide a funding match component. The DOL also made available an additional $100 million for efforts to expand apprenticeships and close the skills gap.

How are apprenticeships already changing the industry?

The University of Virginia is not the only institution reaping the benefits of congressional funds: the DOL recently awarded a $12 million grant to Ohio’s Lorain County Community College through its Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies Grant Program. This funding will be vital in helping Ohio address the workforce shortage and skills gap, which affects manufacturing and manufacturers across the United States. With these funds, the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership hopes to “upskill” 5,000 over the next four years using an “earn-and-learn” model recently approved by the DOL.

In addition, ABB’s U.S. Motors and Generators Business and the Fort Smith, Ark., Regional Chamber of Commerce teamed up to transform its workforce development with apprentice programs – but with a twist. During the summer, the chamber welcomed a group of Swiss apprentices who will spend the summer on assignment. In partnership with Fort Smith Public Schools and a host of area businesses, the Fort Smith chamber has focused on the expanding effort to build a regional infrastructure to develop the talent for a variety of career pathways, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare and information technology jobs.

Recently, the Fort Smith chamber also hosted a “Signing Day” for area businesses and students. The event culminated months of applications, interviews and decisions made by employers and students who were matched for both full employment and apprenticeships.

The manufacturing workforce is in need of skilled trades workers, and apprenticeships are going to be a vital way to introduce more people into the industry. With the skills gap an ever-present problem, those who enter the workforce and gain valuable experience through apprenticeships will be very beneficial to the growth and development of the industry. The future holds a lot of promise for the manufacturing workforce, and it will be exciting to watch things grow in the years to come.