Bringing people and Industry 4.0 together: The Feintool Apprenticeship Program
Modula Material Handling in Franklin hosted the 13th «EACC TRANSFORM: INDUSTRY 4.0» symposium in mid-October. The event explored the question of how people, processes and technologies can be successfully networked within the framework of Industry 4.0.
What is the purpose of Industry 4.0?
Keynote speaker Dr. Jay Lee, Vice Chairman & Board Member of Foxconn asked his audience in his opening speech – and provided the answer right after: «It's about making industry more resilient as a whole», which means in terms of people, processes, and technologies.
It was this three-pillar model to which the symposium, under the patronage of the European-American Chamber of Commerce, dedicated its full attention in the «Open Space» part of the technology and networking event. Within the setting of a small trade fair with breakout sessions, solutions for a more robust, globally producing economy were discussed, whether in terms of automation processes, data processing or the «human factor», i.e., the people who are employed in industry - and that is almost a quarter of all jobs worldwide.
So, what role will people play in the factory of the future? What professional skills will be in demand in 30 years' time? What course can we set today to alleviate the shortage of skilled workers? What contribution can successful cooperation between universities, research and industry make?
A vast catalog of far-reaching questions. One thing is clear: Industry 4.0 can only function with appropriately trained specialists. At the EACC symposium, Jens-Uwe Karl and Anke Schank presented a solution approach with which Feintool has been responding to one of the most pressing issues - the shortage of skilled workers - for over 30 years: The Company Apprenticeship Program - as a viable and sustainable measure to address the growing shortage of skilled workers.
The program, which was reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Labor in 1989, aims to train two skilled workers in a technical profession every year. In addition to the internal training structure, an integral part of the program is to reach out to young people directly in schools. Josh Younce, Apprentice Instructor at Feintool, regularly visits High School Career Technology Centers (CTC) classes at various levels (Cinncinati State College, UC & Butler Tech) to convince Highschool Students of the benefits and challenges of a technical apprenticeship.
«We set up the program at the time to get people passionate about technology. Young people who are about to choose a career hardly ever find their way into technical professions; they prefer to go to college. Yet it is precisely the industry of the future that needs highly specialized specialists. And the best way to embark on a promising career is an apprenticeship,» Jens-Uwe Karl.
With 41 vocational apprenticeships completed since then and currently six apprentices, the program, which is also recognized by the Ministry of Education, is on track. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done.