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Manufacturing

German auto supplier doubles down on workforce training

Manufacturing
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Machine tool apprentice Ivan Kurpis and mechatronics apprentice Evelyn Atkins signed on to a three-year commitment at the company's Duncan plant last week. (Photo/Provided)The Draxlmaier Group, a tier one auto supplier, began its first apprenticeship program at its U.S. headquarters in January 2020.

As 2021 nears its end, the program is still going strong in Duncan and, with an ongoing talent drought, even more workers are needed.

Last week, mechatronics apprentice Evelyn Atkins and machine tool apprentice Ivan Kurpis signed on to a three-year training commitment at the company’s R.D. Anderson Applied Technology Center through Apprenticeship Carolina.

“A youth apprenticeship program provides a wonderful opportunity for a company to build its workforce pipeline with talented young people ready to learn," Amy Firestone, vice president for Apprenticeship Carolina, said in a statement. "Apprenticeship Carolina and the technical colleges across our state are committed to building South Carolina’s skilled workforce with partnerships like this with Draxlmaier."

 Since its inception in 2007, the number of apprentices in the program has grown from 777 to more than 37,000 total apprentices statewide.

At the Draxlmaier plant, Atkins will learn how to install and test hardware and software components on production equipment, while Kurpis will begin to shape and replace broken production equipment parts as part-time employees. Modeled after the German dual vocation training system, classroom courses at vocation schools or technical colleges will be covered by the company.

“We recognize the importance of preparing the workforce of tomorrow in-house,” Duncan plant manager Edmund Eggensberger said in the release. “These two youth apprentices will be able to bring in their own talents and ideas as they work with and learn from experienced employees in a dynamic work environment.”

In Germany, the company has hosted apprentices since 1984, but it was only in 2012, that it initiated its first dual vocation program outside of Germany in Brasov, Romania. Since then, apprentices can be found at more than 25 Draxlmaier locations across the globe.

“R.D. Anderson Applied Technology Center is looking forward to continuing our work with Draxlmaier to build its talent pipeline through this unique partnership,” said Jerry Wyatt, acting director of R.D. Anderson Applied Technology Center, in a statement. "We know that a registered apprenticeship program is an effective and proven workforce development tool. Partnerships like this provide unprecedented opportunities for our students.”

Reach Molly Hulsey at 864-720-1223.

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