Thursday, October 20, 2016
Josh Schaeffer of Fremont is one of four current Terra State apprentices at Crescent (photo by Michael Metzger)
Tom Conrad is a vocal advocate of apprenticeships, and it’s not surprising why.
He spent five years as a machine repairman apprentice at Crescent Manufacturing Company in Fremont and now, as the operations manager at the facility, he believes apprentices are the lifeblood of the organization.
“Apprentices are the future of our skilled trades,” he said.
Terra State Community College has partnered with area industries to offer apprenticeships since 1972, but perhaps they have never been more important than they are today given the impending retirement of the baby boomers.
Newspaper headlines on a weekly basis chronicle issues with the shrinking number of qualified workers for skilled trades, and industry is trying to be as proactive as possible.
Terra State is helping to bridge the skilled trades gap and generate interest among teens by partnering with Materion Corp. and Whirlpool Corp. to offer free summer skilled trades camps for area high school students.
Apprenticeships are also a critical part of the solution.
A kind of on-the-job training, apprenticeships involve following and studying a master of the trade on the job instead of in school.
So how does this concern Terra State?
Through Apprenticeship Pathway initiatives, individuals can incorporate their experiences into academic credit and earn a technical associate degree at any of Ohio’s two-year colleges, including Terra State. By advancing their academic credentials, these graduates can contribute to a strong, educated workforce.
The advantages for apprentices are clear:
- Improved skills and competencies that meet the specific needs of the employer
- Incremental wage increases as their skills improve
- On-the-job training and occupation-focused education
- Industry issued, nationally recognized credentials
Employers get a stable and predictable pipeline for the development of qualified workers, a systematic approach to training and the ability to conduct a ready assessment.
State of Ohio apprenticeship programs also offer several advantages to veterans, such as advanced credit based on their DD-214, and participants can use the G.I. Bill for their schooling during their registered apprenticeship program.
Terra State’s apprenticeship coordinator administers more than 60 apprenticeship pathways serving 40 -plus manufacturing companies. These pathways are all customized to serve the individual needs of the student, his or her employer and the particular craft.
A few examples of such pathways are electricians, tool and die makers, job setters, welders and millwrights. Many, but not all, of these programs are registered with the State of Ohio Apprenticeship Council, and more than 90 percent of the coursework is offered for college credit.
Conrad was one of those Terra State students who served an apprenticeship. He earned associate degrees in manufacturing engineering and robotics/mechatronics, and certificates in electricity power and controls, and precision machining.
“I personally would say serving my apprenticeship was more challenging and rewarding than receiving my bachelor’s degree in business,” he said.
He continues to see the impact apprentices have on Crescent.
“Apprenticeship programs create a sense of pride and ownership in the skilled trades department,” Conrad said.
“We have created a self-perpetuating culture of highly skilled employees who are passionate about their positions. Being able to teach another person how to become successful is treated as an honor, while being able to learn the trade is considered a privilege.”
For more information on Terra State’s apprenticeship program, contact Amy Below at 419-559-2324.