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Moving Apprenticeship Into Manufacturing's Future

June 25, 2018 | www.cows.org

By: COWS, a national non-profit think-and-do tank that promotes "high road" solutions to social problems, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Moving Apprenticeship Into Manufacturing's Future: Industrial Manufacturing Technician

Manufacturing in the Midwest continues to evolve. Firms increasingly
rely on highly specialized and flexible processes, deploying new
technology that redefines workers’ jobs and the skills needed for them. In
Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP)/BIG
STEP has spearheaded the creation of a new registered apprenticeship
in response to these dynamic forces. Industrial Manufacturing
Technicians (IMT) are now working and being trained at firms across
the upper Midwest. The success of this apprenticeship derives directly
from the WRTP/BIG STEP’s long-standing and deep relationships
with manufacturing firms and labor unions built over the course of two
decades. The success also owes to the long tradition of apprenticeship in
Wisconsin and the ways this project has built from the existing model.
This paper offers the story of this apprenticeship innovation which is
remaking apprenticeship for the new and rapidly evolving manufacturing

The IMT is the product of long-standing collaboration of labor and
management leaders in Milwaukee’s manufacturing sector. Founded
more than two decades ago, the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership
(now called WRTP/BIG STEP), has worked directly with industry leaders
to build training, modernization, staff recruitment and development
strategies to answer the pressing needs of area manufacturers. WRTP/
BIG STEP staff bring years of manufacturing experience and expertise
and rely on information and insight gathered annually on industry needs.
The annual industry needs assessment directly engages manufacturing
leaders to identify emerging issues and strategize on solutions to industry
trends. WRTP/BIG STEP developed the IMT in response to issues
identified in that process.

In 2011, staff at the partnership realized that they were hearing
consistently about a need for skills inside plants throughout their
network. Inside plants, the job titles were inconsistent, but the skills
needed were consistent. Over the course of more than a year of meetings,
staff worked with industry leaders to hone in on the issue and to carefully
identify the skills needed. This process helped industry leaders realize
that, despite greater flexible specialization inside firms, the skills in short
supply were similar across firms. As the shared skill need became better
defined, WRTP/BIG STEP began to see ways that apprenticeship – with
its applied model of learning – could be the answer to industry needs. To read the full article, click here.

Catalyst Connection has been approved by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a sponsor of the Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship program. Manufacturing companies can join Catalyst Connection’s program and offer the IMT apprenticeship to current and new employees. Beginning on September 1, 2018, Catalyst Connection will offer this 18 month/3,000 hour apprenticeship program that combines related instruction with on-the-job training. Catalyst Connection will assist companies with customizing tasks related to on-the-job competencies, related instruction courses and reporting requirements.We also have training providers and guides in place to ensure a successful experience for the apprentice and the employer. To learn more, click here.