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Megan Wallin-Kerth


BASF Project Implementation Manager Shares Update on Apprenticeship Program

Creating a skilled workforce

Published: Monday, July 25, 2022 - 12:03

Many industries are embracing apprentice and trade programs in efforts to create a strong and reliable workforce for the future—and the manufacturing field is no exception. The BASF apprenticeship program began as a way for young professionals to find success through practical on-the-job training. Internationally, BASF offers apprenticeship in Germany and Switzerland as well as the United States. 

In an interview with Quality Digest, Susan Emmerich, Ph.D., spoke on BASF’s North American Apprenticeship Development Program. As the program’s project implementation manager, she was able to outline key factors that make it a success.

QD: What progress have you seen so far with the program applicants, and what feedback have you received?

SE: We have had 90 percent of the apprentices successfully complete and place-off in full-time technician roles. According to our apprentice exit surveys, 92 percent of the apprentices said they would stay at BASF if offered a similar role elsewhere, and 92 percent said they see themselves in some role at BASF beyond three years.

QD: What benefits (to the apprentice) do you think apprenticeship offers in contrast to, say, the more traditional routes where formal education is emphasized over experience in the field?

SE: Apprenticeships vary across industries and companies, but at BASF our technician apprenticeship program is an earn-and-learn program that provides a full-time competitive wage, offers benefits, and covers the cost of tuition, books, and fees associated with obtaining an industry-recognized certificate program or degree while being trained on the job with experienced trainers. This model provides every apprentice a ready-made technician career path.

Taylor Sargent (left) and Valerie Mayes (right), members of BASF’s most recent apprenticeship cohort at the Seneca, South Carolina, site. Credit: BASF.

QD: How do you think employers in the field of manufacturing specifically will benefit from this program?

SE: Apprenticeship programs create an upskilled and diverse entry-level technician pipeline to meet critical manufacturing workforce goals.

QD: How are the plans coming along for the sites in Alabama, Missouri, Texas, South Carolina, and Ohio?

SE: Our Huntsville, Alabama, site has just launched its first apprentice cohort with plans for a second one this year. Our Hannibal, Missouri, site has launched its second apprentice cohort and plans to launch a third cohort by the end of the year. Greenville and Cincinnati, Ohio, sites are in the middle of hiring their first apprentice cohorts. Beaumont, Texas, has just hired its first apprentice cohort. In 2023, Bishop, Caldwell, and Port Arthur, Texas, sites will launch their apprentice programs. Seneca, South Carolina, is launching its third cohort, and White Stone and Clemson, South Carolina, sites have just launched their first cohorts.

QD: How long is the program, from start to finish?

SE: Anywhere from 12 to 36 months.

QD:  Is there a lot of variance in what types of opportunities participants have once they complete apprenticeships?

SE: The apprentices are being trained both in the classroom and on site for one particular technician role that they will place-off into at the end of the program. Once in the role, BASF offers professional development opportunities that could lead to other types of positions beyond the technician role, including supervisor positions.

QD: What is the strongest motivating factor you see in people who choose to be part of the apprenticeship program?

SE: It varies from person to person, but some of our apprentices have said that they were looking for an opportunity to step into a career with immediate competitive pay while developing their skills on the job. Others have said they were looking for a hands-on job with a career path in which they would be able to continuously learn and grow. We have apprentices that are right out of high school as well as those looking to change careers.

QD: How do you think this will impact the labor shortage of skilled workers?

SE: Apprenticeship programs can reach the full and available talent pool since no experience is needed and the only requirement is a high school diploma. These programs increase the availability of upskilled and diverse entry-level technician workers.


About The Author

Megan Wallin-Kerth’s picture

Megan Wallin-Kerth

Megan Wallin-Kerth is a Quality Digest editor and writer.