Apprenticeships in Manufacturing
What is an apprenticeship?
The US Department of Labor defines an apprenticeship as an “earn and learn” training model that combines work-based learning with related classroom instruction using the highest industry standards.
By combining on-the-job learning with related instruction in technical areas, apprenticeships aim to produce qualified, highly-productive employees for careers requiring precision skills. For the employer, the apprenticeship often reveals current employees or candidates who may be qualified for a promotion in their department, or might be fit to replace a retiring worker. For the employee, the apprenticeship model clarifies a path toward specific career goals.
How does it differ from an internship?
An apprenticeship is a work-based training, whereas an internship is a work-based learning. Typically for undergrad students, an internship program offers a chance to work within a respective field and gain real world experience. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and some internships follow a set agenda while others are more loosely defined.
Conversely, an apprenticeship, which is always paid, is geared towards potential employees of an organization and typically runs in a pre-planned, structured fashion. The apprentice undergoes a training in which all the skills required for a particular occupation or trade are being taught and overseen for a skilled and experienced mentor.
Why pursue an apprenticeship?
Though apprenticeship programs are a national system not specific to advanced manufacturing, they have proven to be an effective training model for developing, growing and retaining a workforce of skilled tradespeople. Apprenticeships.gov lists a few career tracks offering apprenticeships that are in high demand right now, including, but not limited to: CNC programming, Machining, Industrial Maintenance Repairing, Mold Making, Die Casting, Plastic Molding, Plastics Fabricating, Tool and Die Making, and more.
This training method is a win-win scenario for both the employer and the employee. Programs do not guarantee employment, however many, if not most, apprentices do often end up staying with the same employer.