By Josh Moon, Apprentice Instructor, STIHL Inc.
There’s a shortage of skilled workers across the United States and according to Economic Modeling Specialists International, more than half of the current workforce is over the age of 45. That means in a few decades, the demand for skilled workers will be even greater, as the current workforce hits retirement.
At STIHL Inc. in Virginia Beach, Va., we teach current employees new skills that broaden their qualifications and prepare them for a variety of new skilled worker positions. Our apprenticeship program is adapted from the German model of vocational training. In this “dual system,” trainees split their time between hands-on training and classroom education.
Since 2012, the German Embassy in the U.S. has been working with German and American businesses to spread the word about dual-style training systems like the program at STIHL Inc. The program, called the Skills Initiative, is designed to provide local training and education on reinvigorating workforce training systems to better match Germany’s successful dual training style. The success of our apprenticeship program is one of the many reasons STIHL Inc. was asked to participate in the Skills Initiative.
Recently, STIHL Inc. apprentice Daniel Swartzel and I went on the road with The Skills Initiative Road Show. Also along for the ride were several members of the Department of Economics at the German Embassy, as well as Norbert Fuhrmann, an educator from Germany.
Our goal during the Skills Initiative Road Show was to showcase this dual system to key leadership and students across the East Coast and Midwest. Through a series of roundtable discussions, we spoke with business leaders, government officials, education representatives and students in six different cities from Georgia to New York. We told them about the German dual-style training system and how we adapted it to fit our needs.
It’s a system that works quite well at STIHL Inc. Apprentices gain exposure to many different job skills and receive broad training. They work with a variety of machines including PLC’s, pneumatics circuits, electrical circuits, robotics and close-tolerance production machining. This hands-on education takes longer, but definitely pays off in the long run. A partnership with a local community college provides apprentices with an opportunity to receive their associate degree.
At STIHL Inc., the apprenticeship prepares our future employees to handle the many different tasks and high expectations that we have. Hopefully, it will help prepare us for the predicted shortage of skilled workers that could cause problems for other companies in the coming years.
To learn more about The Skills Initiative Road Show visit: http://www.germany.info/skillsroadshow or watch the video.
To learn about employment opportunities at STIHL Inc., visit: http://www.stihlcareers.com