Partnership with Lakes Region Community College enables new approaches to workforce training
A special collaboration is happening in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region that will make a lasting, positive impact on the entire state’s advanced manufacturing industry workforce. Industry leaders EPTAM Plastics and Freudenberg Sealing Technologies have partnered to offer employees at both companies the opportunity to participate in a component of the ApprenticeshipNH training program together, completing all on-site, hands-on instruction at EPTAM’s Northfield location. There, instructors – employed as adjunct faculty through Lakes Region Community College (LRCC) to teach Machine Tool Math – share their expertise while program participants earn while they learn and receive hands-on training.
“This partnership empowers companies in industries where workforce shortages are most severe to share resources and upskill existing employees with the goal of promoting them to advanced positions,” said Emily Zeien, grant manager for ApprenticeshipNH. “EPTAM Plastics and Freudenberg Sealing Technologies are a great example of related companies being creative rather than competitive for the betterment of their employees, the regional economy, and New Hampshire’s advanced manufacturing sector as a whole.”
The eight student participants from EPTAM and five from Freudenberg receive college credit from LRCC for completing the Machine Tool Math course through ApprenticeshipNH. The course is one of a half dozen that apprentices will participate in over the course of their apprenticeship. Because the program is designed for apprentices to earn while they learn, they’ll also receive their regular paychecks for time spent in on-the-job training, along with planned wage increases as they progress through the three-year program. Admission into the ApprenticeshipNH program at Freudenberg was highly selective, with more than 30 applicants for the five spots.
The differing specific needs of each company makes collaboration more attainable, especially in a tight job market where New Hampshire’s unemployment rate remains low. Apprentices learn fundamental approaches in math and engineering together, but apply them differently when they return to the shop floor. Freudenberg is a global manufacturer of sealing products ranging from customized individual solutions like gaskets and hydraulic seals, to sealing components for electric vehicles, such as membranes, high-precision molded parts, and other products for the automotive, aviation, engineering, and shipbuilding sectors, as well as others. EPTAM is a full-service precision machining company that manufactures plastics and other components for medical devices, semiconductors, aerospace, and emerging industries such as oil and gas.
Because EPTAM and Freudenberg apply their employees’ skills in different ways, the learning environment is a positive and collaborative one which builds loyalty within the industry and within each company. And, according to participants in the program now, learning with individuals from another company makes pursuing professional development less intimidating. The fact that Lakes Region Community College brings the program on-site at or convenient location near their place of employment removes other barriers for participants such as investments in travel and time.
To learn more about the ApprenticeshipNH program, including additional opportunities, visit earnlearnnh.org, or contact Emily Zeien at [email protected]. To learn more about Lakes Region Community College, visit LRCC.edu.