Working to build a sustainable maintenance workforce, Southwire welcomed its first class to the company’s Maintenance Apprenticeship Program in January.
Southwire’s newly-introduced, two-year apprenticeship program is a partnership with local, participating technical education institutions which applies industry standards to a formal training and educational curriculum for apprentices, specifically senior millwrights and senior electronic technicians.
“Southwire’s Maintenance Apprenticeship Program is intended to educate and expand the talent pool for our technical maintenance positions, an area where we see a huge need, both today and for the future,” said Richard Miller, Southwire’s senior vice president of manufacturing, Construction Systems & Solutions. “We knew we needed to create a solution for Southwire to remain efficient in our business. So, we visited and benchmarked other companies who have existing, successful apprenticeship programs, blended some of the ideas with our own, leveraged existing partnerships with technical colleges and created a program that I believe will benefit both Southwire and our future maintenance workforce.”
The first class of apprentices includes ten participants, who will spend a portion of each day attending technical classes at a participating technical college and will devote the remainder of the workday to on-the-job training in a Southwire manufacturing facility. Nine participants from the first class will attend West Georgia Technical College and one participant will attend classes at Gadsden State Community College. Each apprentice will also be assigned a mentor to help guide him/her through the program.
The company expects that, after the apprenticeship is complete, these participants will be equipped with the proper skills to effectively fill open, full-time positions at the senior maintenance level.
“We are pleased to welcome our first apprentices,” said Kenneth Heifner, Southwire’s director of maintenance systems & development and one of the program’s coordinators. “The goal of the Maintenance Apprenticeship Program is to increase productivity, elevate knowledge and technical abilities and improve the quality and sustainability of Southwire’s maintenance workforce, and we are excited to see how this training will benefit our team for the long-term.”
In addition to recognized industry standards, Southwire’s Maintenance Apprenticeship Program will also target curriculum to address the maintenance needs most common to the wire and cable industry and to Southwire.
“The industry is currently facing a severe skilled-trade shortage. There are not enough skilled workers to fill the jobs we need, and the demand is increasing daily,” said Hans Meiring, Southwire’s executive vice president and president of international and operational development. “The creation of the Maintenance Apprenticeship Program is a commitment by Southwire to ensure that we develop local technical skills and take a positive step forward in our efforts to bridge the skills gap. With Southwire’s ever-expanding manufacturing base in the U.S., this is a very important component of workforce development to ensure Southwire’s position in a very competitive marketplace.”