Making a comeback: apprenticeships on the rise

Any manufacturer out there is keenly aware of the skilled talent shortage. Ask a manufacturing executive about their No. 1 business concern, and more often than not the answer will be “finding people with the skills I need.” Unfortunately, as more baby boomers reach retirement age, this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

The skilled worker shortage has helped to popularize something that seemed almost lost to history: apprenticeships. More and more companies are finding these programs invaluable in attracting and developing the young talent they need.

Apprenticeship programs in the manufacturing technology industry abound and will likely increase. The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced $90 million available this year through the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative to double and diversify the number of apprenticeships by 2018. These new investments will be part of ApprenticeshipUSA, the department’s coordinated effort with industry and education leaders, nonprofits, and local governments to highlight the benefits of apprenticeship and expand the use of this time-tested, earn-while-you-learn model.

For the past 50 years AMT member company Advanced Machine and Engineering (AME) of Rockford, Ill., has thrived through its robust apprenticeship program. Founded in 1966 by Willy Goellner, a German immigrant with machining and engineering experience, AME has relied extensively on its apprenticeship program as a workforce strategy. A four-year program, the apprenticeship includes five work days and classes on Saturday mornings.

“Our apprentices learn to operate every piece of our sophisticated equipment from sawing, lathes and mills to assembly, quality and inspection,” said Dietmar Goellner, who is AME’s CEO and Willy’s son. “Each gains a sharp eye for detail and discovers the area of machining where he or she excels. We value each apprentice as a member of the family and encourage their professional development to become managers, directors and even vice presidents of the company.”

In addition to investing mightily into their apprenticeship program, AME invests in sophisticated equipment to move the company forward, advance employee skills, and increase production. “It’s not just about the bottom line. We want to make a lasting impact on the lives of our employees and give back to our community,” Goellner said.

For more information on apprenticeship programs, visit or

Categories: Smartforce

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