According to the Federal Department of Labor, registered apprenticeship programs are essential to meeting the need for a skilled workforce facing American industries by training millions of qualified individuals. Unfortunately, we see fewer and fewer young people wanting to go into the trade and opting instead to start college immediately out of high school, but we believe that that is not the only path to a rewarding, lifelong career.
Registered apprenticeships allow companies to build a pipeline of skilled workers with industry-specific training and hands-on experience. A recent high school graduate can enter our apprenticeship program and begin earning a wage while simultaneously learning the trade. In four years or less, he or she can be registered with the state of Pennsylvania as a journeyman.
An employee can develop a successful career with a competitive salary with little or no educational debt, all while earning a steady paycheck.
Hamill has maintained a registered machinist apprenticeship program for almost 50 years and is a leader in developing the curriculum to ensure that program graduates have the skills needed to compete in the evolving manufacturing workforce.
In 2006, Hamill participated in a pilot program through the Department of Labor and the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (“NIMS”) to compare the effectiveness of competency-based apprenticeships versus the traditional hourly-based ones. The ultimate finding of the program was that apprentices from competency-based programs were more complete and well-rounded than those from hourly-based programs.
As a result of the NIMS pilot, we converted to a competency-based model which uses NIMS credentials to verify skills and trigger wage increases.
Each time apprentices earn a credential while employed by Hamill, they receive a monetary bonus. Additionally, apprentices receive wage increases based on how many NIMS credentials and competencies they earn. Often, graduates of Pennsylvania’s vocational schools earn NIMS credentials while they are in high school, so that when they are hired as apprentices at Hamill, they have the opportunity to move up the wage scale more quickly.
Apprentices are required to earn 8 NIMS credentials to be eligible for their PA Journeyman papers.
Hamill apprentices also attend the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA), Pittsburgh Chapter Apprenticeship Program for the related instruction portion of their machinist apprenticeship.
This program offers 144 hours of instruction per year for four years. Apprentices have the opportunity of “testing out” of individual years so that they can complete the program at an accelerated rate.
Apprentices attend instruction classes once a week from September to June while simultaneously acquiring their daily on-the-job training at the plant.