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Lehigh Valley Engineering Firm Establishing New Apprenticeship Programs

By Colin McEvoy on October 15, 2018

A 2014 photo of the interior of the Bosch Rexroth Bethlehem campus. (courtesy photo)

A 2014 photo of the interior of the Bosch Rexroth Bethlehem campus. (courtesy photo)

The engineering firm and hydraulics manufacturer Bosch Rexroth is establishing new apprenticeship programs at one of its Lehigh Valley facilities, an initiative for which the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) provided assistance.

Bosch Rexroth received approval this month from the Pennsylvania Apprenticeship & Training Council to establish a registered apprenticeship program for students who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering or related fields.

This new program will be unique among registered apprenticeships, as historically the majority of apprenticeships were offered in the technical fields and resulted in an industry-recognized certification for a skill. By contrast, this program will allow engineering and 4-year degreed graduates to receive immediate on-the-job training and rotation cycles.

“Apprenticeships are one of the most recommended best practices for preparing the talent pipeline with skills demanded by employers,” said Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Director of Talent Supply. “Organizations like Bosch Rexroth that develop their employees through programs like this may find improved morale, stronger retention, and higher productivity.”

Both Lehigh University and Penn State Lehigh Valley supported Bosch Rexroth’s application for apprenticeship as students from  these institutions, as well as students from other colleges and universities, will be participating in the new Bosch Rexroth apprenticeship program.

Bosch Rexroth is one of the world’s leading specialists in drive and control technologies, providing innovative solutions for our customers. With locations in over 80 countries, Bosch Rexroth has more than 30,000 associates worldwide.

The company has three Lehigh Valley locations, including two in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park  in Hanover Township, Northampton County, and another in Bethlehem Township. At these facilities, the company manufacturers hydraulic components used in industrial and mobile machinery, such as valves, manifolds, compact hydraulics and power units.

Bosch Rexroth had already been utilizing regional students for internships and training, but the formal apprenticeship program will help the company reach a broader audience, strengthen relationships with regional schools, and ensure its efforts are more aligned with the needs of the Lehigh Valley’s talent pipeline.

“Collaboration with our local and state agencies such as Career Development and LVEDC has been key to ensuring our success through continually enhancing the technical excellence that we have built over the past 51 years in the U.S.,” said Jim Kressler, Director of Engineering and Manufacturing with Bosch Rexroth. “By leveraging the experience of these agencies and local quality educational institutions we will solidify our future as a technical leader in the industry.”

LVEDC first visited Bosch Rexroth more than six months ago through its Business Outreach Program, in which the organization meets with Lehigh Valley companies to help connect them with resources and ensure their business needs are being met.

During this visit, LVEDC learned Bosch Rexroth was altering the training program at its Bethlehem Township location and was interested in learning more about job training and apprenticeship programs, Gelinas said.

LVEDC brought other state and regional partners into the conversation, including Workforce Board Lehigh Valley, Keystone Development Partnership, and representatives representatives from the colleges and universities serving on the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council.

As a result of those meetings, an application was prepared proposing to establish registered apprenticeship at Bosch Rexroth, with Lehigh University and Penn State Lehigh Valley providing letters of support for the proposal.

“WBLV arranged a tour of Bosch Rexroth for Deputy Secretary Eileen Cipriani to showcase their new Bachelor Degree of Engineering Registered Apprenticeship program, which is aligned with Governor Wolf’s strategic focus on using registered apprenticeships as a training model for employers and is also aligned with the Governor’s PAsmart initiative,” said Nancy Dischinat, WBLV Executive Director.

Having a registered apprenticeship program formally in place will make Bosch Rexroth eligible for  new funding opportunities to support the training component, materials, and other resources, Gelinas said.

Apprenticeships are one of the most recommended best practices for preparing the talent pipeline with skills demanded by employers, Gelinas said. Organizations that develop their employees may find improved morale, stronger retention, and higher productivity.

Gelinas recently attended the Pennsylvania Apprenticeship Summit in Harrisburg, which brought together experts from across the country to discuss training about how regional partners and employers can better collaborate in developing and sustaining apprenticeships.

Don Cunningham: An Excellent Time to be in the Lehigh Valley

This column by LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham originally appeared in the November 8, 2018 issue of “Quarterly Connections,” a quarterly newsletter LVEDC distributes [...]

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