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Industrial Apprenticeship. Our Associate Partners at Siemens are among American corporations embracing a very old idea- and perfecting it for the age.

In a five pronged approach, Siemens is investing in the workforce they have, looking to veterans and college programs, and including apprentices.

female worker
Siemens – Emily Grimes – Developing job skills

Here they describe the five areas of workforce development they are targeting:

  • “EMPLOYEE TRAINING: Investing approximately $50 million annually to provide training and continuing education for employees.
  • COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES: Helping students gain classroom experience working with both the software and hardware they’ll encounter in advanced industry. Siemens PLM Software’s Global Academic Partnership Program provides PLM software to more than one million students yearly at more than 3,000 global institutions, where it is used at every academic level – from grade schools to graduate engineering research programs. Siemens has committed to grant an additional $2 billion worth of industrial software to educators. The Siemens Cooperates with Education program has equipped more than 500 colleges and technical schools in the United States with the same technology used by industry giving students and teachers valuable credentials urgently needed by U.S. manufacturers. 
  • VETERANS: Hiring more than 2,500 veterans in the last 5 years and committing to hire 300 U.S. veterans per year for the next three years, and training them on the technical skills they need to work in Siemens’ business.
  • APPRENTICESHIPS: Expanding a U.S. apprenticeship program based on the successful German model by nearly doubling the total number of participants in its apprenticeship programs.
  • STEM: Shining a spotlight through the Siemens Foundation on the opportunities for young adults in STEM middle-skills careers – and on training models that work. The Foundation has invested more than $115 million in the U.S. to advance workforce development and education initiatives in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • HANDS-ON: Since 2015, Siemens has hosted nearly 1,000 high school students from the greater Detroit area at Manufacturing in America, where they attend STEM-related educational workshops, get hands-on exposure to manufacturing equipment and network with working professionals.”

See details on their programs

IEC Chesapeake has written a good deal about the history of apprenticeship in the United States- and how the industrial revolution here created a split in the models between Europe and the States.

Due to the fact that labor was plentiful and cheap, American businesses turned to fast, mass production, hiring whoever would step up and “fill a spot”; by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, apprentices were seen to be expensive and time consuming. Apprenticeship in most American businesses (except Trades) went by the wayside.

In fact the U.S. did outproduce Europe, and did manufacture goods at an astounding rate; but this came at a cost too. The labor behind production felt no loyalty to the corporate entities and would leave a company for another, taking whatever they had learned with them.

Sadly, successful industrial apprenticeship today is often called “the German method”, because the Germans held fast to the tenants of apprenticeship and use it for everything from Trades to the highest corporate positions. They really embraced it. Kudos, or should I say gut gemacht.

It’s a big ocean, and never too late to turn the boat around…Thank you, Siemens, for being a good skipper, and leading us back to developing our youngest workforce alongside age and experience.

We think it’s a winning combination.

Grant Shmelzer, Executive Director  
IEC Chesapeake/IECC