Dow Chemical has a long history of using apprenticeship programs. For over 40 years the company has used this programs across Europe. And while it has around 100 programs in the U.S., the company desired to obtain the U.S. Department of Labor registration for its U.S. program.
Last week the company got its wish when the Department of Labor formally recognized company’s U.S. Apprenticeship Program as having been approved National Standards of Apprenticeship. By achieving this milestone, Dow is recognized as having met all of the requirements of an apprenticeship program. Additionally, all apprentices that complete the Dow U.S. Apprenticeship program will now receive a Certification of Completion from the U.S. Department of Labor.
“We are honored to receive this U.S. Department of Labor recognition, further evidence that our Dow U.S. Apprenticeship Program is successfully advancing Dow’s vision of increasing the availability of highly skilled technical workers to support business growth and advance skill development in manufacturing and engineering,” said Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow, who was appointed by U.S. President Trump to lead the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, which has the goal of increasing the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing.
“With Dow’s vast experience and leadership in workforce training we’re sharing these ideas with the Trump Administration and demonstrating the opportunity we have to scale national programs to create a 21st century workforce,’ said Liveris. “This focus on workforce training is essential to creating a growing and vibrant U.S. manufacturing sector.”
Launched in 2015, the Dow U.S. Apprenticeship Program offers a pathway to manufacturing careers through both formal education and on-the job training. This program is among a portfolio of apprenticeship programs within Dow which support STEM education and Dow’s STEM career pathways.
The program has already grown to just under 100 apprentices at seven sites across four states - Michigan, California, Texas, and Louisiana - with projections of reaching 130 by the end of 2017 with continued expansion expected.
“Apprenticeships are a tried and true workforce development strategy,” said Liveris. “Employers that utilize apprentices report higher productivity, higher retention rates and a substantial return on investment. The program supports Dow’s growth in the U.S. by building a talent pipeline in difficult-to fill technical roles.”
Through partnerships between Dow, local community colleges and veterans groups, the Dow U.S. Apprenticeship Program is targeted towards people interested in pursuing a career as an instrument electrical technician, process technician or millwright. Apprentices experience three or more years of world-class training and on-the-job experience. During this time they have their tuition funded by Dow and receive a competitive salary that increases incrementally over their tenure in the program.
Apprentices who successfully complete the program obtain an associate’s degree in process technology, instrument technology, or industrial maintenance and will be evaluated for employment opportunities at Dow. The program also builds Dow’s reputation on a national level as a thought leader on U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, STEM skills development and job creation - making the Dow U.S. Apprenticeship Program good for Dow, the apprentices, and the economy.
The journey to today’s implementation of the Dow U.S. Apprenticeship program began in 2013 with the launch of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) 2.0 Steering Team. Dow’s Liveris co-chaired this team along with Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Within one year, the team produced the Employer’s Playbook for Building an Apprenticeship Prgrogram co-authored by Dow, Alcoa and Siemens.
This same year, Dow piloted the U.S. Apprenticeship program, with the first wave of apprentices hired in 2015. Also in 2015, Dow began to participate in ApprenticeshipUSA activities. The program is a Department of Labor initiative focused on doubling the number of registered apprenticeship programs by 2019.
“Apprenticeship programs provide an opportunity for the public and private sectors to partner in a meaningful way and to prepare the next generation of Americans for tomorrow’s high-skilled, high-paying advanced manufacturing careers,” said Johanna Soderstrom, chief human Resource officer, corporate vice president human resources and Aviation, Dow Chemical.