Apprentice Program Expanding to 100 Students

A second cohort of students in the Dow U.S. Apprenticeship Program will soon be in place, doubling the number of people who benefit from this creative way to build the workforce of tomorrow. The expansion not only involves more apprentices, it involves more locations, as two Dow sites in Louisiana have been added.

Apprenticeship programs help prepare the next generation of employees for tomorrow’s high-skilled, high-paying advanced manufacturing careers. The apprentices are high school graduates who spend 10 hours a week working at a Dow facility and 15 hours a week in classrooms at a nearby community college.

“It’s a three-year program where the apprentices get a full-time salary while learning their trade. They gradually transition to less time in the classroom and more time on the site,” said Dustin Troxclair, Apprenticeship Program Tech Leader at Dow’s site in Plaquemine, Louisiana. “After those three years, program graduates have an associate degree in industrial technology and a foot in the door for permanent employment.”

One thing they don’t have: college debt. Dow pays the costs of the program.

In 2015, the program launched with 50 students at five locations in Texas, California and Michigan. This year, 50 new students will swell the ranks of apprentices to 100. And the skills being developed are also expanding. In the first year, apprentices trained for careers as chemical process technician or an instrument electrical technician. This year, millwright technician is being added.

The program supports a major initiative of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a national effort to secure leadership in emerging technologies, create high-quality manufacturing jobs, and enhance global competitiveness. A shortage of workers with the skills required by modern manufacturing threatens to limit growth and productivity.

“It’s more challenging to find quality craftsmen these days,” said Troxclair, who is currently part of the selection process for the Louisiana apprentices. “This is an opportunity to get talent at the high school level and train them all the way to the level of journeyman.”

Michael Galvin, who is nearing the end of his first year in the apprentice program at Dow’s site in Midland, Mich., said the combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job experience is extremely effective.

“You can go to school and learn everything they can teach you, but the only way you’re going to get a good grasp of everything about a job is by learning hands-on,” Galvin said. “This program has been great. I’d recommend it to anyone.”