PMF Launches a State-Certified Apprenticeship Program

You can’t go to a local, business-related event these days without hearing leaders talk about a crisis facing the manufacturing industry: a lack of skilled workers. For the last five years, workforce development in the Williamsport area has been top-of-mind at PMF Industries, and one that has honestly kept us up at night.

With an aging workforce, we knew if we didn’t think outside the box and use innovative ideas to attract new skilled workers, we’d be in serious trouble in short order. We were firm on the idea of establishing a PMF Apprenticeship Program. But the bigger question at hand was, how would it work? We researched. We held meetings. A lot of meetings. We talked and spit-balled ideas. Often.

Lightbulb Moment

Then we had a break-through. We realized when we are marketing our company, we examine the behaviors of our target audience. We needed to take the same approach with the younger workers we were looking to attract to PMF. We took a deep dive into things we knew they care about (like technology and no student loan debt) and realized we needed to include mention of those things to help us overcome stigmas of a career path in manufacturing.

Melding of the Minds

We worked closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, Keystone Development Partnership, and Central PA Workforce Development Council to develop a strong, innovative state-approved CNC Apprenticeship Program. We developed an Apprenticeship Consortium with 5 local high schools that offer CTC Programs: Williamsport High School, Jersey Shore High School, Keystone Central, Sun Area Tech in New Berlin, and CPI in Bellefonte. Other Williamsport area manufacturers joined our efforts in the Consortium. We volunteered to sit on Advisory Boards at local schools. We worked very hard to bring this program to fruition, and we’re thrilled with the outcome.

Defining the Program

Program. These young people are earning while learning, and the educational aspect doesn’t cost them a dime.

Here’s the breakdown of the 3-year program for the participants:

  • 2000 hours of paid, on-the-job training
  • 144 hours (1 evening per week) of classroom instruction at Penn College
  • No educational costs for the student

Upon completion of the state-certified program, our apprentices have the following:

  • Three years of bonified work experience
  • Earning a decent wage
  • No student debt
  • A state-certified Journeyman designation

All in all, this program offers quite a positive leap into adulthood. We are creating viable career opportunities for young workers who have determined college is not in their plans, AND we’re attracting the new workers we wanted. It’s a real win-win.

Our Work Here is not Done

Finally, it’s important to mention, our work here is by no means finished. We’re continuing to push this effort forward. We’re committed to it. We’re collaborating with other local manufacturers, we’re developing other PMF Apprenticeship Programs, exploring co-op opportunities, and we’re continuing to champion opportunities to show students (as early as middle school) other options for a career path, besides college. The future is looking bright at PMF!

To learn more about our apprenticeship opportunities, please contact Sam Shea at [email protected]