Siemens Energy program seeks to put high school seniors on working track
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CHARLOTTE—A global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering is making a big investment in its future workforce.
A pilot apprenticeship program at Siemens Energy promises non-college track seniors an hourly wage, an education, and a job after graduation.
The company recently offered high school senior Rebeca Espinal a paid internship, a free associates degree from Central Piedmont Community College, and a full-time job at the Charlotte-based gas turbine manufacturing plant after graduation. It was an offer Espinal could not refuse.
“An opportunity like this does not come very often,” said Espinal.
Espinal is one of six students under a new apprenticeship program launched by Siemens last year to help the company meet its growing demand for highly-skilled workers.
“I go to school in the morning. I come here at 11:30 a.m. and depending on the day, we each have a mentor so they will be training us on what they normally do how to run machines,” said Espinal.
The selection process is rigorous. Apprentices must have stellar grades and attendance records. Training manager for Siemens Charlotte Campus Pamela Howze said the program is rare in U.S. manufacturing.
“It's a huge benefit to us as a company because we have what we refer to as a 'legacy workforce'. We have a lot of people here who have been here for 40 plus years. We have very little turnover, less than 2 percent. So we feel like in the next few years we'll start to see a large number of people retire and this is our progression plan to back fill those positions,” said Howze
Siemens invests $170,000 per student over a four-year period. The investment is huge for students too, such as senior Douglas Rodriguez, who already knows where he will be in two years.
“I'm thinking about continuing in the apprenticeship program, finishing the program and hopefully becoming a machinist, working here as a good career,” said Rodriguez.
Siemens considers the program an investment in the company's workforce as well as the future of the community.