Bosch, WITC partner up for apprenticeship program
A new partnership between industry and education was forged last week when, after months of planning, Bosch Packaging Technology, Inc. and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), of New Richmond, signed the contracts to begin a new joint apprenticeship program.
“What appealed to us about WITC was that they are a very professional college and have all the resources we needed for the program,” Human Resources Manager Chris Jehle said. “They also had the programs and classes in place to meet our needs for the apprenticeship. They came highly recommended by the state as well. Their proximity to us was a plus, too.”
Bosch sought the partnership with WITC after considering many options to reload their workforce with a large number of employees likely to retire in the next five to seven years.
“Bosch was looking for a way to increase its workforce and give them the technical training they’d need for their jobs,” WITC Academic Dean Nancy Cerritos said. “We saw a way that we could accommodate them, so we felt like it was a good idea for us to partner up to form an apprenticeship. Our mission at WITC is to find employment for our students after they graduate and to work with the employers in the area to help them fill their empty positions. We were able to do that with this apprenticeship.”
The program includes machinist and electro-mechanical apprenticeships, which will involve two WITC programs, including the Automated Packaging Systems program and the Machine Tooling Technics program.
“The programs they offered meet the specifications for what we were looking for,” Jehle said. “The packaging technology program aligns right with our core technologies at Bosch.”
When Bosch opened the apprenticeship to its own employees for the first class of apprenticeships, four of them stepped up; two for the electromechanical technician apprenticeship and two for the machinist apprenticeship. The apprentices will split their time between work and the classroom, spending 20 hours a week at each until they meet the criteria for an Associate’s degree in technical studies, a technical diploma and a State of Wisconsin Certificate of Apprenticeship.
“There seems to be great interest in the program so far,” Jehle said. “We are hoping to have another four or five apprenticeships for the 2014 class as well. And we are also looking at adding a sheet metal fabrication program for next year, too. Hopefully that will work out, but if not we will try and make it work for the year after.”
Tuition and tools needed for the coursework will be reimbursed by Bosch while the apprentices work through their class work and on-the-job training.
“We are seeing a lot of employers having the same problem Bosch is running into now, and they are trying to do something similar by having an apprenticeship program to restock their work force for the future,” Cerritos said.
Taking part in the machinist apprenticeship are Josh Marquand and Brant Couch, while Philip Taylor and Paul Petty are the two electro mechanical apprentices enrolled in the Automated Packaging Systems program. The four apprentices will complete their respective programs over a four- or five-year time span as they continue to work at Bosch.