- First of its kind program in the U.S. to target hands-on technical students
- Two initial hires are women graduates who have begun program
- Program encompasses field training in the U.S. and classes at the Koenig & Bauer German factory
- Partnered with Texas State Technical College for qualified candidates
In light of the tight labor market and the acute need for qualified candidates to join the printing industry, Koenig & Bauer (US) took the decisive step to invest in its future and develop new unique apprenticeship programs to fill its technical positions. For the past two years, the Dallas-based division has been working in collaboration with the Training and Human Resources Departments at its factory in Germany along with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) to establish a unique Technician Apprenticeship Program and recruit qualified students. The purpose of the program is to attract and develop new technical talent for the printing industry.
“When we speak to college students, we emphasize that we are offering a long-term fulfilling career, not simply a job,” says Ericka Luneau, Koenig & Bauer (US) Human Resource director. “This is a huge unique opportunity that they might have never considered before. We interviewed a lot of candidates looking for the passion and excitement to join our industry. We are pleased to announce that our first applicants have been chosen—two extremely competent women, who are currently participating in our programs.”
In mid-Janaury 2019, both Kaitlin Sullivan, a recent TSTC graduate with a A.S. Degree in Wind Energy Technology (WET), joined Koenig & Bauer as an Electrician Apprentice and, at the same time, Amanda Beltran joined the company’s apprenticeship program in its machine shop as a new Machinist Apprentice; she graduated with an A.S. in Mechatronics Technology, a complex interdisciplinary field that combines the study of mechanics, electronics, automation and computers.
Both women took different educational paths to eventually choose an exciting career at Koenig & Bauer (US). After being introduced to Koenig & Bauer at a campus career fair, both graduates changed their job trajectories and became excited about the print industry and working on large complex printing presses.
“When we visited Amanda and Kaitlin’s classrooms, it opened up their eyes to a new industry and changed their career course,” says Luneau. “Our program had all of the elements that they desired.”
Sullivan is based in Dallas and is reporting to a regional service manager. She will work in the field with mentors for the next few months until she moves to Germany this spring. Beltran will be based in the Dallas machine shop but her training will also include some fieldwork and specialized training in Germany. Since both women are the first in these particular apprenticeship programs, Koenig & Bauer (US) is encouraging them to provide feedback on how the program can be improved.
To be considered for the program, applicants are required to have a two-year related technical degree. The 18-month program encompasses field training with mentors here in the U.S., classes at the German Apprenticeship School located at the Radebeul factory near Dresden, German language classes, work experience in its assembly hall at the factory, and specialized training in its training center at the factory. Apprentices are paid a salary and given a housing and transportation allowance while living in Germany. They will live and train in Germany for a period up to one year with intermittent field training here in the U.S. Upon completion of the program, an apprentice will resume a service technician position in the field here in the U.S., usually near an airport due to the necessary extensive travel.
After many visits with faculty and an in-depth evaluation of its technical programs, Koenig & Bauer (US) chose to partner with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) to recruit qualified candidates for its Apprenticeship Program. Luneau said that they liked the TSTC model as it is a nice blend of theory and hands-on education including extensive safety training. Koenig & Bauer (US) also appreciated the opportunity to visit students in the classroom with a team of members: Chris Travis, the director of technology, who provided information on opportunities in print; current electricians and mechanical engineers who answered questions about technical aspects; and Ericka Luneau who discussed salary and benefits. Although Koenig & Bauer (US) hopes to add to the Apprenticeship Program year-after-year, it is currently a limited program with approximately two openings per year.
“The instructors at TSTC have been phenomenal,” says Luneau. “We have partnered with them to identify their ‘bright star’ students as they enter the school, not just their graduating class. We prefer to establish a relationship with them early on before they become enticed into a different industry.”
Although the program is in its infancy stage, Koenig & Bauer (US) is planning to extend and duplicate it across the country. “Our plan is to partner with other colleges, perhaps in the Northeast or Midwest, where we have large clusters of customers,” says Luneau. “Our president and CEO, Mark Hischar, is very supportive of the program and sees it as part of his vision for growth in the U.S. He went to Germany to explain the program and gain its enthusiastic support. Our entire organization backs it as well.”