A four-year college degree had always been the plan for Chad Robinson—until he learned about apprenticeships at Siemens Energy. As a student at Olympic Community of Schools in Charlotte, Chad had a front-row seat to Siemens’ emerging apprenticeship program and watched as the company began to invest in equipment and training for students like him. After learning that he could complete a Siemens apprenticeship, get paid to learn, wrack up real-world job experience and acquire a degree debt-free, Chad was sold.
Siemens employs 350,000 people across the world in a number of different sectors, but their Energy Sector, power generation division is located right here in Charlotte, NC. Siemens’ Apprenticeship Manager, Roger Collins, explains that while they don’t make electrical power, they build the machines that make the power—including steam turbine engines, gas turbine engines and generators. After moving this division from Hamilton Ontario to Charlotte in 2011, Siemens needed to hire nearly 800 people. As many of you are familiar, that was a daunting challenge that the workforce wasn’t prepared to answer. Siemens took matters into their own hands and launched an apprenticeship program that would ensure they had a pipeline of qualified individuals to meet their growing needs.
Today, Chad Robinson is in his fourth year of his Siemens apprenticeship. He splits his time between the classroom and the factory floor and is paid for both parts of his job. In the early days of his apprenticeship, Chad was paired with a mentor to shadow while he learned all he could. Today, he gets to work on projects involving computer numerical control machining—a process where he can write programs to automate machining tools like Bridgeports and lathes. For Chad, one of the most rewarding parts of his apprenticeship is designing things on a computer and then seeing them at work in the real world.
Apprenticeship Manager Roger Collins says that the program has helped alleviate many of their workforce issues. Not only are apprentices set up for bright futures, Siemens also gets to reap the rewards: after completing the program, the organization can gain a highly-trained, highly-educated and loyal employee who has practical and valuable knowledge of the company’s policies, processes and procedures. That’s why they work so closely with area high schools and community colleges to align workforce needs with education systems.
Chad has a simple piece of advice for other students considering internships: don’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing because there’s not just one route to be successful in your life. Today, because of his apprenticeship, his future opportunities are limitless. Check out Chad’s takeover of our Twitter account here.