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Swiss Apprenticeship Model Comes Stateside


May 20, 2013


Swiss Apprenticeship Model Comes Stateside

Bühler North America, a branch of the Swiss-based global firm specializing in plant, equipment and services for processing basic foods and for manufacturing advanced materials, had a staffing problem. According to Bühler representatives, they found that U.S. graduates lacked the hands-on experience needed for employment with the company. They also noticed that in the U.S., postsecondary education costs were prohibitive for many.

So Bühler took matters into its own hands, developing a joint program with Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which they described in detail at an event in April for business, workforce and education leaders. Bühler selects students based on several assessments, including a math exam, personality assessments and interviews. The 3-year program is divided into modules, alternating between classes at Dunwoody and the Bühler Apprenticeship Workshop in Plymouth, Minnesota. Tuition is covered, and students receive a wage. Currently, the credential the students receive is not accredited, but this is a goal for the future.

Other speakers at the event shared the value of apprenticeships. John Ladd from the Department of Labor spoke about new pilot programs to ensure that college credits and credentials are being awarded with apprenticeships. Representatives from Apprenticeship Carolina, affiliated with the South Carolina Technical College system, shared their successes in growing their program from 90 companies in 2008 to more than 500 companies today.

The speakers also discussed the benefits of building a systemic approach to education and workforce development through such initiatives as career pathways and widely recognized industry certifications.

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