Koenig & Bauer and Texas State Technical College (TSTC) have developed an apprenticeship program aimed at attracting and developing new technical talent to the industry.
For the past two years, Dallas-based Koenig & Bauer (US) has been working in collaboration with the parent company’s training and HR departments in Germany, along with TSTC, to establish what is claimed as a ‘unique’ technician apprenticeship program and recruit qualified students.
The printing equipment manufacturer noted a tight labor market and an acute need for qualified candidates to join the printing industry.
Ericka Luneau, Koenig & Bauer (US) human resource director, explained: ‘When we speak to college students, we emphasize that we are offering a long-term fulfilling career, not simply a job. 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-January 2019, Kaitlin Sullivan, a recent TSTC graduate with an A.S. Degree in Wind Energy Technology (WET), joined Koenig & Bauer as an electrician apprentice. 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.
Both women took different educational paths to eventually choose a career at Koenig & Bauer (US). After being introduced to Koenig & Bauer at a campus career fair, both graduates changed their job trajectories and moved into the print industry. 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.
‘When we visited Amanda and Kaitlin’s classrooms, it opened up their eyes to a new industry and changed their career course,’ commented Luneau. ‘Our program had all of the elements that they desired.’
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 in the US, 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 in the US. Upon completion of the program, an apprentice will resume a service technician position in the field in the US.
The apprenticeship program is currently limited to two openings per year. Koenig & Bauer (US) hopes to add to the apprenticeship program year-on-year. Koenig & Bauer (US) is also planning to extend and duplicate it across the country.
Luneau stated: ‘Our plan is to partner with other colleges, perhaps in the Northeast or Midwest, where we have large clusters of customers. Our president and CEO, Mark Hischar, is very supportive of the program and sees it as part of his vision for growth in the US. He went to Germany to explain the program and gain its enthusiastic support. Our entire organization backs it as well.’
On working with TSTC, Luneau said: ‘The instructors at TSTC have been phenomenal. We have partnered with TSTC to identify its “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.’