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so what model (3) run the show
drill up front tool and die maker
lag mind set curriculum
boom hands-on






On Friday, we’re going to get the latest snapshot from the Federal government about the state of the job market.

A separate payroll report issued today, found private companies created almost 180,000 jobs in May, fewer than in April.

The unemployment rate remains very high for those under the age of 25 — it’s in the double digits. And at higher rates for teens without degrees.

The News Hour’s economics correspondent, Paul Solman has a report about one program from an auto manufacturer that offers possibilities for some of those workers, part of his reporting on Making Sense of Financial News.

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The BMW factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is BMW’s only US auto plant. Built twenty years ago, mainly for access to the American market, it’s now the sole production facility for their popular X Model line of luxury crossover SUVs, twelve hundred vehicles a day.

But BMWs — and the occasional Teutonic executive — aren’t the only German imports around here.

There are also apprenticeships.

Werner Eikenbusch, Head of Workforce Development, Americas, BMW Manufacturing: “I actually grew up in Germany, in a little village. And my daddy and my mom were of a blue-collar background. So for them, college was not something they really envisaged for me.”

And so Werner Eikenbusch, BMW’s Head of Workforce Development for the Americas, left high school in tenth grade for an apprenticeship, combining on-the-job training, with vocational school.

Werner Eikenbusch, Head of Workforce Development, Americas, BMW Manufacturing: “This German dual-system has a long history, in Europe. It goes back hundreds of years.

So it’s really very much imbedded, and it is actually recognized — you can call it an educational pathway, that for whatever reason did not make it over into the US.

Eikenbusch later became an engineer and rose through BMW’s ranks. A few years ago, unable to find enough skilled workers to fill jobs in the Spartanburg plant, he helped set up an apprenticeship program, modeled on the ones back home.

At first it was far from an easy sell. For one thing, German apprenticeships are associated with unions, a no-no in this famously right-to-work state (for the record, the BMW plant is not unionized.

Ryan Childers, Apprentice and Associate Training Manager, BMW Manufacturing: “For another thing, there’s a little bit of a stigma with going into a manufacturing type career.”

Ryan Childers, a former production worker himself, now oversees the apprenticeship program.

Journalist: “Where does the stigma come from, do you think?”
Ryan Childers, Apprentice and Associate Training Manager, BMW Manufacturing: “Maybe thirty years ago, the textile industry or industries of that nature were a pretty dark environment to work in, dirty environment.”

Unlike modern auto plants.

So Childers hit the recruiting road. He still does, nearly every week, pitching the program at community colleges and high schools.

At Greenville High School’s career day, the main competition was the military, Walmart and a small, local, chain of funeral homes.

The BMW program looks pretty good to these seniors: part-time work, while getting an all-expenses-paid associate’s degree at one of three area technical colleges, with a near guarantee of a job — and further education down the road.

Student One: “I’ve really got in touch with BMW because of the program that they have.

Student Two: “You get to start off with $12 an hour. It’s a great day for kids our age.”

It was a similar pitch that got Amanda Eckle’s attention, while attending a radiology program.

Amanda Echols, Assembly Production Associate, BMW Manufacturing: “They pay for your college, first of all, so you will get a degree when you’re done. You make good money while going to college. I’ve not seen anybody turn it down really.”

Journalist: “But most people would turn it down.”

Amanda Echols: “I don’t think they really understand what it is. I think when they think manufacturing, they think dirty, you know sweaty, nasty. I mean I keep my hands clean all day long — they don’t get dirty at all.”

It’s the robots that get dirty here: fourteen hundred of them rule the roost, making much of the plant seem on automatic pilot.

But there are also 8,000 jobs for humans, starting at $15 per hour, plus benefits.

Brian Ordonez, Apprentice: “You get paid pretty good to be working on the line here.”

Apprentice Brian Ordonez hopes to make robotics his career. He thinks it’s not so much a threat as an opportunity.

Brian Ordonez, Body Shop Production Associate, BMW Manufacturing: “You need a person to tell that robot what to do. And you need that person to fix it.

Journalist: “Well, maybe you will have robots that fix the other robots.”

Brian Ordonez: “What robot are you going to have to fix that robot that’s fixing that other robot. No, you need people; you need people to fix it.”

Well, for the next few years, anyway. Since even the robots still need to wear protective sleeves in the paint shop, I suited up.

Dustin Reid: “You look just stunning.”

Dustin Reid maybe sartorially indiscriminate, but he knows from dirty jobs.

After high school — and the Marines — he spent two years working in a scrap yard, then four as a supervisor in a poultry processing plant, he just as soon forget.

Dustin Reid, Body Shop Production Associate, BMW Manufacturing: “Manufacturing is really, really growing right now.”
Journalist: “But isn’t the American Dream to get a four-year college degree, then get a “good job”?

Dustin Reid, Body Shop Production Associate, BMW Manufacturing: “There’s a lot of students nowadays who graduate with a four-year degree and can’t find work.

But with this two year degree, I’m able to come and get a career for the rest of my life at a premier manufacturing company.

It pretty much speaks for itself.”

Economist Bob Lerman, who tags along with us in South Carolina, has been studying youth unemployment for decades.

Right now, even college grads under age 25 have a 50% chance of being un or underemployed.

And the long-term prospects are much worse for the one-third of young Americans without any college at all.

Apprenticeships, Lerman thinks, provide a ray of hope.

Bob Lehrman, Economist, American University: “It’s the most promising thing I’ve seen for the broad problem of youth that not succeeding at a four year college.

Brad Neese: “We talk all the time about people without jobs and jobs without people.”

Brad Neese runs Apprenticeship Carolina, a state-funded office founded in 2007 that helps employers set up registered apprenticeship programs.

To sweeten the pot, South Carolina offers a one-thousand dollar per year tax credit per apprentice.

But the companies cover most of the educational and training costs, which can run well over $50,000 a head.

Brad Neese, Director, Apprenticeship Carolina: “We’ve built this thing from 777 apprentices to over 10,000 now. When we started we had 90 companies; we now have 650 today.

The reason we’re growing is that businesses today are saying, ‘we need a pipeline of talent; we need to grow our own. We can no longer find talent in the open market’.”

Even as US unemployment has remained stubbornly high, employers, especially in manufacturing, complain they can’t find enough qualified workers.

So Apprenticeship South Carolina helps tailor the state technical college curriculum to each employer’s needs, like this mechatronics program at Greenville Tech, used by BMW and others.

Journalist: “Do you worry at all that with industry so specifically running the show, that it’s somehow compromising the educational mission?

Brad Neese, Director, Apprenticeship Carolina: “So what, if they’re not reading Shakespeare. These guys want to work with their hands. They want to get into the theoretical knowledge, not of the IM Beck pentameter; they want to get into the theoretical knowledge of Ohm’s Law.

Brandon Richards, Apprentice, United Tool and Mold: “I’m more of a hands-on person, not sitting at a desk, writing and looking at a computer screen.”

Brandon Richards is an apprentice at United Tool and Mold in Easly, which supplies BMW and other German companies, has modeled its new apprenticeship program on theirs.

It starts out with an associate’s degree and then we also pay for their time while they sit in the class. If their hourly rate at the shop is $10 and hour, then they’re going to make that $10 an hour while they’re sitting in school.”

A third generation tool and die maker, production manager Jeremy Arnet, is a true believer in apprenticeships.

When he started here 16 years ago, “I didn’t know the difference between a drill and a reamer and an in-mill.

I see myself and those young kids, all wants the opportunity, but don’t have the skill sets.”

But why?

If apprenticeships are booming in the Palmetto State, they are lagging everywhere else — down 40% nationwide in the last five years.

Werner Eikenbusch, Head of Workforce Development, Americas, BMW Manufacturing: “I think a lot of it really has to do with the mind set: are you willing to think long-term and invest in the front end, because you are going to have the return investment through the career and successful and productive employee. It’s just that you have an upfront cost.

Bob Lerman suggests another reason.

Bob Lerman: “Unless you allow everybody to do the same thing,
Journalist: “Go to college?”
Bob Lerman: “Yes, go to college, you are reducing equality. And people are very uncomfortable saying that my child will go to college but your child might not go to college.

And then there are people who don’t even start college, and what are their options? There’re not very good.

So perhaps apprenticeships should be one of them.

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1. Unemployment is a major problem, especially for middle-aged, educated people. True or false?

2. How does the dual-system or apprenticeship work? Is it well developed in the US? Does it have a long tradition in the US?

3. It’s very prestigious to have a career in the manufacturing sector. Yes or no?

4. What other industries or career options were touted to the high school students at the career fair?

5. Do people assemble the entire BMW cars? Do workers fear that robots will replace them?

6. What is the American Dream? Does everyone achieve the American Dream? Are there alternatives to achieving the American Dream?

7. “We talk all the time about people without jobs, and jobs without people.” What does this mean? Give examples.

8. The apprentice director appreciates literature, history, sociology, art and psychology. What do you think?

9. Are colleges and schools, and businesses completely separate, or do they communicate and cooperate in South Carolina?

10. Apprenticeships are quickly catching on throughout South Carolina. True or false? Why is there a lack of interest or resistance to the dual-system in the rest of the US?


A. Is there an apprenticeship program or dual-system in your city or country?

B. How do people learn and become skilled workers?

C. Is there a shortage of skilled workers? Do companies have a hard time finding skilled workers? Is there a glut of university graduates?

D. People want to achieve the “American Dream”. Yes or no? What is the attitude towards manufacturing work? Would you or your friends like to have a career in manufacturing?

E. Is the apprenticeship program the solution to unemployment and a poor economy?

F. What will happen in the future?

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