To help ensure a ready supply of technical talent as its skilled workforce retires, Bosch Packaging Technology, Inc. signed a joint apprenticeship contract with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), both in New Richmond.
“We tried to hire local workers, but it’s not a densely populated area, and we have a need for highly skilled workers, so we had to come up with a new approach,” explained Mark Hanson, manager, continuous improvement coordination and technical functions at Bosch Packaging Technology. “By utilizing our strong relationship with WITC and the state we were able to custom-design a program that gives us the skilled workers we need.”
The program includes electro-mechanical technician and machinist apprentices. The electro-mechanic apprenticeship – the combination of an electrician and mechanic – is the first of its kind in the state and is now considered a new trade in Wisconsin.
Two WITC programs participate in this flagship effort: the Automated Packaging Systems program and the Machine Tooling Technics program, as these are best represented in the work at Bosch Packaging Technology.
The opportunity to become an apprentice was opened to Bosch employees, and four stepped up. Machinist apprentices are Josh Marquand and Brant Couch. Electro mechanical technician apprentices enrolled in the Automated Packaging Systems program are Philip Taylor and Paul Petty. These four apprentices will complete their respective program over a four or five year time span, while also working at Bosch.
Upon completion of the apprenticeship – five years for an electro-mechanical technician and four years for a machinist – the participants receive an Associate’s degree in technical studies, a technical diploma and a State of Wisconsin Certificate of Apprenticeship, commonly known as a journeyman card. A traditional apprenticeship usually results in only the journeyman card.
Upon acceptance in the program, the apprentice signs a contract with the State of Wisconsin that they will meet the obligations required for a journeyman card. During the apprenticeship, Bosch is responsible for ensuring the apprentices meet the minimum requirements, as well as assigning a shop-floor trainer and mentor to each apprentice.
Once accepted in the program, apprentices receive a salary and benefits for their 40-hour-a-week schedule, during which they split time between on-the-job-training and classroom work. In addition, the program covers the cost for tuition and tools needed for coursework. Outside of the program, the normal curriculum requires classroom attendance for 30 hours a week, leaving little time for job training.
“This was a great opportunity for me,” says Taylor, one of the new apprentices. “It’s a perfect scenario, I get to continue working at Bosch, and in five years I’ll have a degree, diploma and journeyman card that will benefit my career and family.”