Build a skilled workforce with a registered apprenticeship program ... more
Bühler’s Raleigh office started its four-year apprenticeship program in 2014 and now has more than a dozen apprentices. Mike Taylor, the company’s Apprenticeship Program and ML Training manager, worked with an ApprenticeshipNC consultant to structure a program that would build their future workforce. (Bühler Group is headquartered in Switzerland and has over 600 apprentices around the globe.)
“The consultant was super easy to work with,” said Taylor. “I was really nervous about having to come up with a curriculum. She said, just put some stuff on paper about what you’ll teach and how you’ll divide the hours, and we’ll review it. She came in and met with me, took the paper, and then sent back a printed booklet and we were ready. I think there’s a bad fear about setting up apprenticeship programs, but it was a lot easier than I thought. It required minimal effort on our part.”
Bühler’s program in Raleigh is a youth program (though there are programs for apprentices of all ages). Taylor sees apprenticeship as a great way for businesses to strengthen their work force as well as an economical option for workers to get a great education and solid experience. The apprentices come in hungry for knowledge. Taylor's job is to ensure they learn all aspects of the company and become well-rounded employees. There have been some unexpected benefits as well, including opening up collaboration within the company as a whole and enabling easier employee cross-training using the materials created for apprentices.
Taylor would like to see all industries adopt the apprenticeship model. “For me, the old view of apprenticeships is just a stigma and we need to break that,” he said. “Work-based learning, hands-on training is key for some people. It’s an amazing way to learn. You can sit in the classroom all day long, but if you’re not actually doing the work, it’s not the same.” This broadening of apprenticeships is happening today in North Carolina, with ApprenticeshipNC working with employers in IT, healthcare, energy, finance, insurance and other industries to develop apprenticeship programs.
When asked what companies need to know about apprenticeship, Taylor said, “One of the biggest misconceptions is cost and time. The reality is it costs money. It costs time and resources to run an apprenticeship program. But there’s a give-back to it. As kids learn, they become productive and are contributing quite a bit – very fast. It’s hard to put a dollar amount or statistic on it, but you see that return very quickly. Companies need to understand that.”
For an individual interested in apprenticeship, Taylor’s advice is to do your homework to make sure the company is a good fit. “Most of all,” he said, “be open minded. You don’t have to know anything. We teach you. Need to have good work ethic, willingness to learn, and a good attitude.”