Schaeffler is expanding its award-winning manufacturing apprenticeship program in the United States. Schaeffler is preparing to award journeyman tool & die certification to the first group of apprentices to complete the company’s rigorous three-and-a-half-year training program at its Fort Mill, S.C., location.
Schaeffler Americas CEO Bruce Warmbold underscored the importance of apprenticeship programs to Schaeffler’s long-term growth, “Highly qualified employees are the most important pillar for the future success of Schaeffler in the U.S. Our award-winning apprenticeship programs are among the most important training investments we can make in our workforce to ensure that success.”
“Schaeffler continues to invest in the people of South Carolina, and for that we are extremely grateful,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. “The development of a future workforce is critical to sustaining economic growth. With this expanded apprenticeship program, Schaeffler is showing its commitment to training South Carolinians for future jobs, and we’re excited for the opportunities that this initiative will create for the people of our state.”
As a family-owned company, the German-based manufacturer of bearings and precision components is committed to the continuing education of its employees. Recognizing early on that the key to its manufacturing success in the U.S. is a well-trained workforce, Schaeffler has been offering apprenticeship programs in the United States for 37 years.
In March of this year, the company’s award-winning apprenticeship programs were highlighted at the White House when Schaeffler Group CEO Klaus Rosenfeld joined President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a roundtable discussion on vocational training programs and continuing education in the United States. In his remarks at the conclusion of the White House meeting, Mr. Rosenfeld reinforced the company’s commitment to vocational training, “As a global family business, providing our employees with vocational training and continuing education opportunities is a tradition that we have always held in the highest regard. We look forward to continuing this tradition, in particular with regard to the significant changes that our industry is facing and the need to combine mechanics, electronics and systems know-how. This is not only our social responsibility as an employer, but also our way to ensure long-term competitiveness.”
Launched in early 2014, Schaeffler’s Fort Mill apprenticeship curriculum builds upon the success of similar vocational training programs the company has offered in Wooster, Ohio, since 1980, and in Cheraw, S.C., since 1988. These comprehensive three-and-a-half-year programs are modeled after the German practice of combining on-the-job training with classes at a vocational school. The success of these programs is evidenced by the more than 500 graduates now working at various Schaeffler sites.
The Fort Mill apprentice program is comprised of two main components: academic/shop theory taken at York Technical College in nearby Rock Hill, S.C., and on-the-job training at one of three manufacturing locations on Schaeffler’s Fort Mill campus. The three-and-a-half-year program encompasses 7,000 hours of training divided between vocational and on-the-job learning environments. Apprentices learn the trades of Skilled Setup Operator, Industrial Maintenance and Tool & Die Maker, enabling them to become an internal source for Schaeffler to fill key jobs involving new products and technologies.
Upon completion of the Fort Mill program, graduating apprentices receive an associate’s degree in either Machine Tool Technology (Tool & Die) or Industrial Maintenance from York Technical College as well as an Apprenticeship Certificate/Journeyman’s Card from the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, graduating apprentices are given a guaranteed two-year job assignment with Schaeffler. Top graduates are also encouraged to continue their studies toward an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in engineering, thereby enabling the company to bolster its engineering talent.
“The Schaeffler Group is a world leader not only in their market, but also in workforce development,” said York Technical College President Dr. Greg Rutherford. “York Technical College is proud to be Schaeffler’s regional partner in support of apprenticeships and in providing employee development opportunities. Our respective organizations’ combined efforts to create innovative pathways and partnerships for our students and Schaeffler’s workforce needs have produced results that have been a tremendous benefit for all involved.”
Schaeffler’s Fort Mill campus currently has 14 apprentices studying toward their associate’s degree, while 11 others are completing their on-the-job training. Three of the apprentices from the latter group are preparing to receive their Journeyman Tool & Die certification this summer.
In just the past ten years, Schaeffler has invested over $35 million in its U.S. apprenticeship programs at its facilities in South Carolina and Ohio, during which time the company has graduated 216 apprentices.
Ohio recently recognized the Schaeffler Group for having the state’s largest registered manufacturing apprenticeship program: Schaeffler‘s Wooster facility alone produces the most apprentices of all of the Buckeye State’s manufacturing programs. On a broader level, Schaeffler was named “National Business of the Year” in 2014 by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, after being nominated by the State of South Carolina in recognition of its apprenticeship programs.
To learn more about job opportunities and apprenticeship programs with Schaeffler, visit the company’s careers page online.