Shop Talk

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. 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.

Could an apprenticeship be right for you or your business?