An Age-Old Solution to the Skills Shortage

One group of North Carolina manufacturers has been reaping the rewards of European-style apprenticeships for nearly 20 years. Now, another group is hoping to replicate their success.


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As members of Apprenticeship 2000 and NCTAP, respectively, both Ameritech Die and Mold and Superior Tooling conduct hands-on orientation sessions to evaluate students' aptitude for summer internshipsand eventually, full apprenticeships. Here, students learn the ropes of turning at Superior Tooling. Learn more.

The average age of employees at Ameritech Die and Mold is about 28. Whenever the company makes a significant change to processes, equipment or software, the Mooresville, North Carolina mold manufacturer’s younger workers “don’t even bat an eye,” says Steve Rotman, company president. Notably, that’s not just because they’re young enough to not be set in their ways. They also have the skills needed to master todays’ computerized manufacturing technology—and as much as 10 years of shopfloor experience under their belts.

That’s because many started at the shop while still in high school as part of Apprenticeship 2000, a Charlotte-area organization that Ameritech has been part of since the mid ‘90s. This workforce development program is based heavily on a structure used in countries like Germany and Switzerland since the Middle Ages.

Now, that model is spreading to another portion of the state, where another mold shop and six other manufacturers hope to realize the same benefits as Ameritech. The North Carolina Triangle Apprenticeship Program (NCTAP) will formally accept its first apprentices this fall under the watchful eye of Apprenticeship 2000, which is serving in an advisory capacity as the new organization gets off the ground. To learn more, check out this article covering the origins and structure of NCTAP through the lens of Wake Forest-based mold manufacturer Superior Tooling. Meanwhile, this Q&A with Rotman sheds light on his experience with Apprenticeship 2000.