Should Your Company Start a Manufacturing Apprentice Program?

A manufacturing apprentice program is one of the best ways to ensure quality workplace performance.

Often apprentice programs are overlooked because business owners and recruiters assume that a college education or vocational program has provided adequate preparation for their future employees. They are confident that satisfactory transition from textbook to factory floor can easily be achieved by scheduling a brief orientation and a few training sessions with the job supervisor.

Top-performing manufacturing companies have already learned, however, that this assumption often leads to wasted time and money. Most of these success-driven companies have their own apprentice programs.

Historically, apprenticeships were a basic requirement for most vocations, particularly if they required highly developed skills. During the Renaissance, for example, the Italian master painter Cennino d’Andrea Cennini required 13 years of training before his apprentices could move forward to the status of journeyman. In Padua, the minimum period of apprenticeship was three years.[1] Even though today’s hi-tech world is far more efficient, the same type of meticulous hands-on training with supervised practice is still a basic requirement for almost any manufacturing position. This level of performance can rarely if ever be achieved overnight.

In an excellent article that appeared in the February 8, 2017 edition of Tooling U-SME, John Hindeman, Tooling U-SME’s Learning and Performance Improvement (LPI) Leader, presents the following six beneficial factors of an apprenticeship program. We will present the first three of these factors in this article and the other three in the next blog.

  1. Apprentice training ensures better employees for the company. Trained employees will also have better retention rates.

Apprenticeships that provide workers with advanced skills have the added benefit of avoiding hefty student debts from graduate programs that upon completion usually cannot offer immediate employment. Onsite training provides both immediate income and a secure working environment with built-in potential for advancement.

  1. High-performance companies, according to i4cp (formerly the Human Resource Institute) are 4.5 times more likely to grow existing apprenticeship programs or start one.[2] Also, companies receive $1.47 in increased productivity, reduced waste and greater innovation for every dollar they invest in an apprentice.[3]
  2. Apprenticeships are time-savers. When urgency requires immediate recruitment of a suitable candidate, companies cannot afford to wait until potential employees complete their college program before they sign a contract. On-the-job training also gives employers a highly skilled worker who is trained to perform specific tasks.

By considering a manufacturing apprenticeship program as foundational to your company, you will not only build loyalty into your Lean culture, but also ensure quality performance and a higher employee retention rate.

About Lean Learning Center

The Lean Learning Center was founded in 2001 to address the gaps and barriers that are holding back companies from successful and sustainable lean transformation. In addition to the advanced curriculum, the Center has developed a learning environment designed specifically for adult learning utilizing techniques that include discovery simulations, case studies, personal planning, and reflection – ultimately engaging people at a deep and personal level. We bring our unique lean understanding in creative ways to executives, managers, supervisors, change agents and front-line employees.

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[1] http://italianrenaissanceresources.com/units/unit-3/essays/training-and-practice/

[2] https://www.shcoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Developing-Americas-Frontline-Workers-i4cp-UpSkill-America-2016.pdf

[3] https://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/opa/OPA20152138.htm