Manufacturers That Do Apprenticeships Right


High school vocational programs aren’t what they used to be, and in-house training programs are a casualty of consolidation and cost-cutting. But for these manufacturers, apprenticeships are an important part of the culture. They see the value of investing substantial money and time teaching specialized skills to smart, hard-working people who are eager to learn, and eager to make a good living.

Bosch Rexroth
This German-owned manufacturer of drive and control technologies, started in 1886 by an engineer and an apprentice, partners with local community colleges near its operations in North and South Carolina, training students in machining and mechatronics. Apprentices learn on the job as they take classes. New graduates train the next class of apprentices on the machines, so they learn to be teachers as well.

Daetwyler Group
This Swiss-based supplier of precision machinery has been running an apprenticeship program in the United States since 1995, providing training in mechatronics, tool and die and CNC machining. In 2014, Daetwyler received the TELL Award from the Swiss Embassy in Washington for successfully implementing a sustainable workforce development program.

Oberg Industries
Donald Oberg, the founder of this diversified manufacturer specializing in precision metal components and tooling, started an employee training program soon after his company began in 1948. This evolved into an apprenticeship program that was formally registered in 1971. Over the years the Pennsylvania-based company has trained nearly 1,000 employees in the metalworking trades and emerging technologies.

Penn United Technologies
This mid-size precision metal manufacturer in Western Pennsylvania took its training in–house in 1997, establishing the Learning Institute for the Growth of High Technology (LIGHT). The 17,000 square foot training center on Penn United’s main campus offers four state-approved apprenticeship programs. In addition, the company offers short-term training programs and college tuition reimbursement in areas including accounting, business management and engineering.

Siemens’ Charlotte, N.C., apprenticeship program sponsors about 10 high school students each summer for six weeks of training. Six or seven typically go on to the full four-year apprenticeship program. For the first two years in the program, apprentices are contract workers. They’re each assigned a mentor and go through onboarding, including safety training. After that, they apprentice as full-time employees as they also complete coursework for a degree in either computer integrated machines or mechatronics.

Apprentices at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., facility study either automation mechatronics (supporting the factory) or car mechatronics (supporting vehicle development), both three year programs. The training, based on the German apprenticeship model, is part of the Volkswagen Academy–a partnership with two community colleges that combines paid on-the-job training with vocational classroom education in mechanical systems, electricity, electronics, machining, welding and automated systems.

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