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Registered Apprenticeship can help manufacturers invest in tomorrow’s industry leaders

Hope Kelly SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Director of Human Resources at Granite State Manufacturing

By: Hope Kelly SPHR, SHRM-SCP; Director of Human Resources at Granite State Manufacturing

It is an exciting time to be a part of the manufacturing industry in New Hampshire.

Our state has a diverse manufacturing industry that offers competitive jobs in fields from aerospace and defense to computers and electronics. As the industry flourishes, so too do the job opportunities that offer excellent starting salaries and the opportunity for career advancement. Enhancing these exceptional opportunities are the top-tier workforce training programs offered through New Hampshire’s community college system. Despite this bright future for the industry, manufacturers in New Hampshire are faced with the significant challenge of identifying the next generation of industry leaders as the largest percentage of our current workforce reaches retirement age.

This is a challenge that we at Granite State Manufacturing (GSM) are working to solve. One of the best ways we’ve accomplished this has been to rely on the training model of Registered Apprenticeship. Over the past year, GSM has partnered with the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) to implement a Registered Apprenticeship program. This has helped us to upskill a cohort of incumbent employees in entry-level positions who will be more skilled, more qualified and a stronger asset to GSM once completing the apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship solves workforce challenges

Registered Apprenticeship, a program of the U.S. Department of Labor, combines classroom instruction and on-the-job training to apprentices. Because apprentices are employees of the company from day one, it is a wonderful opportunity for someone with limited experience or education to earn wages while learning the skills necessary to succeed in a skilled position. Thanks to federal apprenticeship grant funds available through the Community College System, our apprentices received some tuition assistance to help offset the cost of the training offered at Nashua Community College.

While the Registered Apprenticeship has brought significant benefit to our employees, we anticipate that this effort will have a powerful impact on the long-term workforce needs at GSM. Because apprentices are matched with a mentor, the program helps contribute to intentional knowledge transfer that ensures that even when a significant percentage of our employees reach retirement age, we will have access to an internal pool of employees with the skills and knowledge we need.

Looking ahead

GSM, along with others in the manufacturing industry, have a tough battle before us if we hope to stay ahead of the projected demands for skilled workers in our state. Now more than ever, manufacturing companies need to invest in their most important asset: their people. Giving incumbent employees a pathway within the organization through a Registered Apprenticeship has been a proven way for GSM to ensure success for our business and to develop loyalty and commitment to the organization amongst our employees. Our experience working with the ApprenticeshipNH team, CCSNH and Nashua Community College also demonstrated to us that our state’s community colleges are a ready and willing partner in meeting the needs of industry in innovative ways.

Hope Kelly, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is the Director of Human Resources at Granite State Manufacturing (GSM) in Manchester. GSM provides end-to-end manufacturing services that meet the demanding standards of the aerospace, defense, medical equipment and other industries. At GSM, Kelly works alongside senior management to retain a skilled workforce and leads efforts to create career pathways within the organization for GSM employees. She has years of experience in human resources, and is the current President of the Manchester Area Human Resources Association. Kelly can be reached at hope.kelly@granitestatemfg.com or 603-668-1900.

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