“You’re hired” is probably one of the more popular phrases on television these days, thanks to Donald Trump’s reality program “The Apprentice” on NBC. Learning from ‘The Donald’ himself is seen by many as an education money can’t buy.
Some young people in northeastern Pennsylvania are about to get that kind of invaluable education, along with the full benefits of a working adult, thanks to a new pilot apprenticeship program at SCHOTT North America Inc., Duryea. The first class of nine apprentices will get full benefits, take classes (both online and in-person) and gain practical experience.
The United States Department of Education estimates there are more than 100,000 employers that currently offer apprenticeship programs at more than 160,000 locations. In some sectors of the economy, they are growing rapidly — as much as 75 percent.
In SCHOTT’s case, Anne Marie Martin, a human resources specialist with the company said, “We saw there was a demographic concern in upcoming years and we have a lot of specialized knowledge that would be walking out the door.”
Martin did a phone interview with the NPBJ from her offices in Germany, where SCHOTT has had a similar program in that country for more than 50 years. At any given time, SCHOTT has 150 apprenticeships in Germany.
“As a solution to that demographic challenge, it was decided to take the German apprenticeship program over to the site in Duryea and adapt it to the United States,” she said.
She said the program is part on-the-job-training and the other part includes classroom training which complements the apprentices’ academic experience.
Martin said many high school students are caught in a difficult predicament: a college education isn’t possible but neither is finding a good job. The apprenticeship fills that void and bestows skills that are both in-demand and can travel.
Martin said the apprenticeship programs run between two to three years. “When they successfully complete the program, they will receive a journeyman’s certificate in that trade which is nationally recognized,” she said. The program is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.
SCHOTT is a specialty glass producer that’s been in business for more than 125 years. At the site in Duryea, the company specialize in infrared technology and other glass optics technology.
“We asked what were the specialized trades that are going to need these skill sets,” she said. Martin said that young people naturally gravitate to technology and with the industry changing, it’s a natural fit. She said six of the people hired will work on the line making the glass.
“We also hired a mason metalsmith apprentice and a maintenance machinist,” she said. They were hired in early October. “They had a weeklong orientation, team building activities,” she said.
She said SCHOTT will hire between three to five apprentices at the Duryea site each year. She also expects the program to expand to their location in Lebanon, Pa.
“By the end of the year, we’ll have apprenticeship programs running at both sites in Pennsylvania,” she said.