Students learn about apprentice program at Schaeffler USA

Students learn about apprentice program at Schaeffler USA
Rhonda Edgerton

Dalton High School junior Adam Holden, right, attended Schaeffler USA’s second annual apprenticeship program on Nov. 14 with his parents, Glenda and Chuck.


Schaeffler USA hosted local students at its second annual apprenticeship program open house on Nov. 14 at its onsite Training Academy in Wooster.

Several dozen students, most accompanied by their parents, learned about apprenticeship opportunities with the company through a presentation and guided tour, along with the opportunity to visit with representatives from Akron University and Apprentice Ohio.

The Schaeffler Group is a leading global supplier to the automotive and industrial sectors. With around 89,000 employees, Schaeffler is one of the world’s largest family companies, and with approximately 170 locations in over 50 countries, it has a worldwide network of manufacturing locations, R&D facilities and sales companies.

The Wooster location is centrally located to many of its largest customers in the regional U.S. including Ford and General Motors. Schaeffler employs approximately 2,000 in Wooster.

In 1980 Schaeffler began its pioneering efforts to develop the most capable workforce in the Buckeye State by inaugurating its Tool & Die Apprenticeship Program in Wooster. Today Schaeffler’s apprenticeship program in Wooster is the largest of its kind in Ohio.

As it seeks to train the next generation of America’s manufacturing talent, Schaeffler training specialist Carrie McKelvey said, “We like to tell students that the educational skills they earn through this program will serve them very well at Schaeffler or anywhere else their career might take them.”

“My cousin works here now, and he thinks this program would be a good fit for me,” said Ace Tyler, age 17 of Canton’s GlenOak High School. “I’m also thinking about college, but it feels like this might be the best of both worlds for me.”

Tyler’s cousin, Noah Hedrick, said he is in the second year of the apprenticeship program he started in 2018.

“I really fell in love with the job,” Hedrick said. “You don’t really know until you’re into it, but they are so incredibly supportive of you.”

McKelvey said Schaeffler is growing at the same time it is losing employees to retirement, and the apprenticeship program is one way of maintaining and growing its workforce. “We are basically self-sustained. Through vertical integration we do everything we need right here onsite, so this is just an extension of that approach,” she said. “If you don’t know what you want to do after graduation, this is a good program for you.”

McKelvey said the apprentice program now has 78 students who are being trained in several trades. The program offers traditional co-ops where students who are college-bound come back and work in their field of study or the hands-on learner program, which allows students to work as assemblers while they are trained by journeymen in such state-certified trades as machine repair and electrical maintenance, industrial design, product design and production, and tool and die maker.

The college credit path includes college technology classes held at Wayne College and the main campus of Akron University and leads to a bachelor’s degree in the college of applied science and technology.

According to McKelvey, apprentices get increases in pay every 1,000 hours, starting at $13 an hour up to $19 an hour and then even more as they become journeymen. Apprentices receive a comprehensive benefits package featuring medical, dental and vision insurance; a 401(k) with company match; tuition reimbursement; and paid vacation and holidays as they work their way through the program.

Students work 40 hours a week as assemblers, and their class training time is in addition to this. Students are not paid for the hours during their classes, but the training and materials are free.

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