Apprenticeships at STOBER: American Style

Apprenticeships have long been recognized worldwide as a great way to bring young people into the workforce. An Apprenticeship is a dual-track learning program, typically 4 years long, in which the Apprentice actively works in a business and gains valuable work experience, while at the same time going to school and getting the related theoretical knowledge and “book smarts.” After completing the program, both the business and the Apprentice have invested in themselves and each other. If there is a good fit between the two parties, and a suitable position is available, the Apprentice fills the position and continues their career path with the same business, hopefully for many years to come.

At STOBER, we started our Apprenticeship program back in 2006. At the time, we had about 65 employees and we were finding it increasingly difficult to find “finished” candidates to fill all the positions we anticipated hiring in the coming years. Because we are a family-owned subsidiary of a German company, we were familiar with the concept of Apprenticeships through our headquarters in Pforzheim, Germany. We started our Apprenticeship program to create a “talent pipeline” to help fill our staffing needs. Over the years, we have had over 45 Apprentices in 9 different disciplines graduate from our program. Those graduates are now among our best employees and many are in leadership positions within our company.

An Apprenticeship is typically funded by the employer. At STOBER, Apprentices work 30 hours a week in the company, while spending 10 hours a week in class. Typically, these courses are taken at the local Maysville Community and Technical College, but also at other colleges and universities, depending on the curriculum needs. STOBER pays for tuition and books, as well as for the time spent in class, with full employee benefits. The Apprentice also earns a competitive wage, usually graduating the program with an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree, and zero student debt.

With ever increasing shortages in skills and talent throughout America, it becomes more important than ever for businesses to invest in the development of their employees. Employee development can come in many forms: Co-op positions, internships, mentorships, tuition reimbursement, Learning Management Systems, etc. I encourage every business leader to consider making formalized a People Development program as a cornerstone of their company culture. A strong company culture will improve your brand, hiring, retention, employee engagement, loyalty, and employee satisfaction. Apprenticeships, although not as widespread in America as they are in Europe, are gaining momentum here also, and could be an important component of your future workforce development success.

Peter Feil
Vice President and General Manager, STOBER Drives Inc.

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