Wacker NeusonAEM was proud to participate in an apprentice signing ceremony celebrating the certification of Wacker Neuson’s equipment technician apprentice program held earlier this week at its facility in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

AEM President Dennis Slater and directors Kate Fox Wood and John Somers were in attendance at the ceremony, which commemorated the State of Wisconsin’s formal certification of the Wacker Neuson program, featured remarks from its president, Johannes Schulze Vohren, and included a tour of the member company’s newly revamped facility. Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards Director Karen Morgan from the State of Wisconsin’s Department of the Workforce Development was also on hand to sign the official apprenticeship agreement alongside Schulze Vohren.

“The program is intended to act as a funnel for qualified technicians into our dealer network,” said Jake Gaylord, technical training manager for Wacker Neuson and author of the program. “As a manufacturer, we heard from our dealer channel partners that they have trouble finding qualified skilled technicians to work on their equipment. We designed the apprenticeship program to help fill this gap by allowing technical apprentices.”

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 53 percent of all jobs required more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree. Only 43 percent of the country’s workforce is properly trained to fill those jobs. This 10-percent gap continues to be felt throughout the nation and across industries, including equipment manufacturing.

In response to the ever-growing skills gap, Wacker Neuson developed the Construction Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program in partnership with Kohler Engines, Waukesha County Technical College, and the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. The partnership facilitates paid instruction in online and instructor-led training to complement the paid on-the-job tasks and experience that apprentices will gain. Over two-and a-half years, students are employed by a dealer, attend training sessions once a week at the Wacker Neuson facility, and are given instruction in a variety of areas such as shop skills, welding fundamentals, telematics, engine diagnostics and repair, as well as general “life skill” training and communication fundamentals. After completing the program, apprentices are awarded a state-recognized journeyman certificate that is transferable across state lines.

“This program is comprehensive and checks every box for a manufacturer, supplier, or dealer looking to fill the talent pipeline in the equipment industry,” said Slater. “This model shows how effective apprenticeship programs can be in retaining talent in the skilled trades sector. Wacker Neuson’s new program – one that includes partnerships, innovation, mentorship, and education – will provide specialized training and education to address our nation’s growing skills gap.”

Wacker Neuson will officially kick off its first class of apprentices in the fall of 2019 and will be recruiting applicants from a variety of sources such as National FFA, SkillsUSA, local schools, veterans groups and existing employees.

For more information about the program, please contact Wacker Neuson’s Jake Gaylord at jake.gaylord@wackerneuson.com.

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