The German fan and motor manufacturer Ziehl-Abegg has joined the Guilford Apprenticeship Partners (GAP). This program consists of a four-year work agreement between employer and apprentice and combines the German-style apprenticeship model with a public-private partnership. With this program, Ziehl-Abegg says it is aiming to secure the highly-skilled workers it needs.

“We simply cannot keep up with the growth without trained workers,” says Franziska Milde, human resources manager at Ziehl-Abegg in Greensboro, NC. The U.S. headquarters of the German-based company has experienced a fast expansion in the last few years. After moving to a 100,000-sq-ft facility in 2011, the company started manufacturing and assembling products to supply the growing demand of the North American market.

Close to 10% of Ziehl-Abegg’s working force in Germany consists of apprentices and trainees.

“Ziehl-Abegg understands how valuable apprentices are for a company’s growth,” says Mirco Herrmann, managing director for the North American region. He further explains that apprentices will receive the same benefits as all other employees. Herrmann is convinced of the benefits the program will bring.

“We are in business over 100 years, we are not afraid of long-term investments,” says Herrmann. He adds that the goal of the company is to hire the apprentices they train after the apprenticeship period.

Glenn Sellmer, production manager of Ziehl-Abegg in Greensboro, has high hopes in the program.

“Finding skilled employees is a priority for every employer. With this program, we can train the next generation to become the workforce of the future,” says Sellmer.

The GAP program is directed to high school juniors and seniors, as well as military veterans. The four-year program offers the possibility to earn an associate’s degree in manufacturing through Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) while earning an hourly salary. For apprentices starting in the school year 2018/19, the cost of tuition for classes at GTCC will be covered by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. The hourly salary will be paid by the employer. Juniors and seniors interested in participating must attend a required open house by one of the companies.

Established as an initiative in 2015, the GAPNC, or Guilford Apprentices Partners, is led by local manufacturers in North Carolina. Together, they aim to bridge the gap between students and career opportunities in advanced manufacturing. To apply and learn more about the apprenticeship program, visit