Festo Didactic yesterday opened the doors of a learning laboratory in Eatontown, N.J., to teach the high-tech skills that U.S. manufacturers are finding in short supply.
"Most American production processes have adopted advanced manufacturing techniques that require fewer workers on the shop floor," says Nader Imani, CEO of Festo Didactic. "But there is a tremendous and growing demand for more workers with technical training that can operate and repair sophisticated equipment and plan production."
Festo Didactic, a unit of the Germany-based automation product manufacturer Festo AG, designs learning labs, equipment and programs to train workers in industrial production.
Earlier this year, Festo Didactic established a North American training center at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C., part a $23.5 million advanced-manufacturing training facility scheduled to be completed in 2017.
At yesterday's opening event at the New Jersey facility, hundreds of attendees viewed the latest manufacturing training tools and attended seminars and a trade show.
Festo Didactic established a foothold in New Jersey in June when it acquired Lab-Volt Group, a company that had been headquartered in Farmingdale. The move enabled Festo Didactic to broaden its range of products and services beyond the 3,500 courses it offers annually in more than two dozen languages around the globe.
The company's training has its roots in the German apprenticeship model, says Daniel Boese, general manager of Festo Didactic. High schools in Germany give students technical training based on the needs of local manufacturers, and the companies in turn providing apprenticeships to train the students.
"Often, those who become chief executive officers in German manufacturing companies have come through the apprenticeship program, where a hands-on emphasis of the manufacturing process gives them a full understanding of all the facets of the production techniques and challenges of the facilities under their watch," Boese says.
While Festo Didactic focuses on training, its parent company is known for developing high-performing pneumatic and electrical automation technologies for mechanical engineering tasks. Festo AG employs 17,600 worldwide and serves 300,000 customers in 175 countries.