As manufacturing jobs require increasingly higher levels of technical skill, U.S. companies are struggling to find workers who possess the necessary qualifications to thrive in these rewarding careers and grow their firms’ business. To help address this critical issue, Schaeffler Group USA (Schaeffler) and The University of Akron (UA) have partnered to offer three innovative educational programs specifically designed to meet the needs of the manufacturing sector and its evolving workforce.
A long history of apprenticeship programs in the Americas
Under the partnership with UA, Schaeffler employees now have three distinct options to earn an academic degree and further their professional development:
Option One: Employees can complete an apprenticeship linked to an engineering technology degree in on the following fields: Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology or Mechanical Engineering Technology.
*Each of Schaeffler’s four apprenticeship tracks is aligned with at least one of the above engineering technology degrees.
*Coursework from the degree program serves as the curriculum for the apprenticeship program, along with other non-credit courses such as blueprint reading, welding, etc.
*All Schaeffler apprentices are automatically enrolled as UA students. Classes are held at Schaeffler as well as Wayne College and the College of Applied Science and Technology on UA’s main campus.
*Graduate apprentices receive an Apprenticeship Certificate/ Journeyman’s Card from the U.S. Department of Labor as well as an Associate of Applied Science degree in one of the three engineering technology fields.
Option Two: Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Technology degree
*Schaeffler employees can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Technology from UA by attending classes part-time over three years. Classes are held at the Training Academy on the Schaeffler campus in collaboration with the Wayne County Schools Career Center.
*The extensive curriculum encompasses subjects such as manufacturer computer applications, robotics, lean manufacturing, quality control, and more.
*Students are encouraged to continue their studies toward a bachelor’s degree.
Option Three: Preferred Corporate Partnership Scholarship Awards
*Eligible Schaeffler employees and their dependents can receive a scholarship award equivalent to 25% of their tuition for undergraduate, credit-bearing courses at UA. Graduate, credit-bearing coursework is eligible for a scholarship equal to 10 percent of tuition costs at UA.
“Today’s manufacturing environment is quite sophisticated, and we must ensure that our employees have the advanced training they need to be successful,” said Matt Frary, vice president for Transmission Applications at Schaeffler Group USA. “Building on our successful apprenticeship partnership, our newly expanded agreement with the University of Akron gives our employees access to customized coursework that seamlessly meets the needs of their work at Schaeffler. It also provides them the development tools to take their careers to the next level.”
The partnership between Schaeffler and UA dates back to 2015, when UA was tasked with delivering the curriculum for Schaeffler’s nationally recognized apprenticeship program. In the ensuing years, the two partners have significantly expanded their cooperation.
For example, in addition to offering a traditional apprenticeship program, UA has aligned the curricula from three of its engineering technology associate degree programs with at least one of Schaeffler’s state-approved apprenticeship tracks. Apprentices in these four tracks are able to complete their Associate of Applied Science degree in either Mechanical Engineering Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Technology or Electronic Engineering Technology as they simultaneously earn their journeyman’s card. UA and Schaeffler further cemented their joint commitment to creating a highly trained technical workforce by offering the Advanced Manufacturing AAS degree on Schaeffler’s campus to employees who had not earned a college degree in this field.
Schaeffler and UA also formalized a corporate partnership package that offers discounted tuition to employees and their dependents who wish to further their education, but are not involved in the apprenticeship program.
“As an educational institution, we are happy to partner with manufacturing companies like Schaeffler to find solutions to their workforce needs,” said Elizabeth Kennedy, dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology. “Not only will these agreements help to increase the number of individuals who make up the region’s skilled technical workforce, they will also provide greater access to educational opportunities for Schaeffler apprentices, employees and their dependents.”