Apprenticeships In Action

This profile of MTU America’s manufacturing operation offers a glimpse into how valuable an apprenticeship program can be for American manufacturers. After starting the program, modeled on the one its German parent company uses in Europe, MTU America has discovered a previously untapped labor pool.

Although there are some up-front costs to establishing an apprenticeship program, such as equipment and human resources, Diebel pointed out that MTU doesn’t employ an independent trainer to conduct classes for the students. Instead, shop employees provide the primary training. In addition, the company brings a lead trainer from its German facility to conduct about 4 weeks of training.

On the flip side, having an apprenticeship program enables MTU to avoid the expense of recruiting someone from a shallow skill pool, and the starting wage for a graduate is less than a skilled mid-career employee, Diebel said. As a result, he noted, a manufacturer can see up to a 36 percent return on its investment from apprentice training.

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