Kennesaw, Ga. – Based on data from a previous study by the Graphic Communications Workforce Coalition (GCWC), for every 10 people in a printing company, almost 4 will be eligible to retire by 2030. With a well-known shortage of skilled labor across the entirety of the US workforce, printing companies and manufacturers are desperate to replace their very experienced, specialized workforce. This urgency is why Heidelberg is taking a proactive approach to developing the next generation of print industry professionals through vocational development with its Apprenticeship Program both in the United States and in Germany.
“This is not an issue that can be fixed overnight,” said Cedric Muenzing, Vice President of Lifecycle Operations for Heidelberg USA. “It takes commitment from companies like Heidelberg in training and helping our industry move forward. It can be difficult recruiting in this particular field, but we’ve taken great steps in ensuring competitive pay and benefits along with growth opportunities for all who are hired into our program.”
The Need is Urgent
While Heidelberg USA has been hiring individual apprentices since 2007, starting at the end of 2020, it began recruiting larger groups. So far, the program has hired six people this year with a goal of hiring an additional twenty-five people over the next 18-24 months in the US alone. In Germany, the company brought on over 120 people to begin training at one of the company’s four sites in September 2021.
“It’s an understatement that the need is urgent for a new generation of skilled professionals in the printing industry and beyond,” said Muenzing. “We are committed to identifying and training individuals who are good with their hands, don’t mind getting dirty, and enjoy working on equipment – even with no previous print experience – to learn and develop with Heidelberg and gain true comprehension of our technology and state-of-the-art equipment.”
The Heidelberg Apprenticeship Program spans two to three years, starting with an intensive training program at the company’s Print Media Center outside of Atlanta. The training covers every operating, electrical and mechanical function on a Heidelberg press in addition to pneumatics, software, and application. After the introductory course, the apprentices are placed in a base region and will work with an experienced journeyman Mentor for two to three years. Through this on-the-job training, the apprentices will gain valuable experience and develop skills in the field. According to apprentice Kyle Wilson hired in 2020, “There is always going to be more to learn in the field. The quality of our work and skills will always improve as time goes on.”
Apprentices are paid throughout the entire training period along with receiving per diem for travel and food, their own set of tools, and the ability to qualify for a company-paid car. After passing a final exam, the apprentices will begin as trained service technicians specializing in one of Heidelberg’s many product areas with the opportunity to have lifelong career growth with Heidelberg.
To be accepted into the program, candidates must be at least 21 years of age and possess basic mechanical repair experience and a familiarity with mechanical tools (electrical aptitude a plus).
“As our industry evolves, it has become more difficult to find qualified technicians and skilled operators,” said Rogers English, Service Skills Development Manager. “The Apprenticeship Program is the perfect opportunity for us to help identify the next rising stars of the print industry while also exposing a new generation to the excitement and possibilities that print has to offer.”
To learn more about the Apprenticeship Program, visit https://news.heidelbergusa.com/apprenticeship
Images includes: Heidelberg Apprentices training at its Print Media Center outside of Atlanta, Georgia
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