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Renewing Our Manufacturing Workforce

The Rock River Valley Chapter apprenticeship standards were first certified by the U.S. Department of Labor in July 1960. The initial certification addressed the occupations of Tool & Die Maker and Precision Machinist. The occupation of the Gear Cutting Machinist was added in 2011, Mold Maker was added in 2013 and the Precision Machinist occupation was restructured as CNC Precision Machinist in 2013. Hundreds of men and women have started their manufacturing careers through the Rock River Valley Tooling and Machining Association (RRVTMA) apprenticeship program.

We currently (Spring 2016) have 100 apprentices being sponsored by 36 manufacturing companies.

What is an apprentice?

Apprentice Cody Insko at Jefferson HS Academy Expo

It’s a job.

Apprentices start working from day one with incremental wage increases as they become more proficient.

It’s on-the-job learning and education.

Apprenticeship includes on-the-job learning from an assigned company mentor and related technical training through Rock Valley College.

It’s a credential.

Upon completion of the apprenticeship, all apprentices receive a recognized journeyman credential from the RRVTMA. If the sponsoring company is registered with the Department of Labor, a nationally recognized journeyman credential is also issued.

What apprenticeships are offered?

  • Tool & Die Maker
  • CNC Precision Machinis
  • Gear Cutting Machinist
  • Mold Maker

How does the program work?

To achieve the Journeyman Certificate, each apprentice must complete the following:

  • On-the-job training
  • 10,000 hours for Tool & Die Maker or Mold Maker
  • 8,000 hours for CNC Precision Machinist or Gear Cutting Machinist
  • Related technical training
  • 640 classroom hours
  • 10 courses over four years

If an individual, how do I get started?

If you are working for a company that currently participates in the apprenticeship program, talk to your supervisor or an HR staff person. They will be able to outline the process used by your company in selecting individuals for their program.

If working for a company that does not have an apprenticeship program, express your interest in pursuing an apprenticeship to your supervisor. The company has to agree to sponsor you in the four year program. For more information, you and/or your supervisor can contact Don Williams, Apprentice Administrator.

Dutch Hinck, RG Manufacturing congratulating his apprentice Jesus Quesada on winning toolbox at IMTS

If you are looking to pursue a career in manufacturing through the apprenticeship program, there are a couple ways to get started. One is to contact any of our member and sponsoring companies to see if they are currently hiring apprentices. The member companies are listed at the membership tab on the RRVTMA website and a list of sponsoring companies can be obtained from Don Williams.

A second possibility is to take the NTMA Aptitude Test that the RRVTMA offers a couple times each year. With permission, your test scores and contact information will be provided to our member and sponsoring companies.

How do I sign up for the NTMA Aptitude test?

The date for the next NTMA Apprentice Aptitude test is April 23, 2016. If you would like to preregister for the test, please click here. The cost for the test is $30.00.

If a company, how do we get started?

First, consider the benefits of sponsoring an apprentice in the RRVTMA program.

  • Means to build and maintain a knowledgeable manufacturing staff
  • Demonstrates to our employees that, as owners, we believe our company is strengthened through this apprenticeship program
  • Employees training and mentoring apprentices provides opportunity for them to share their skills and knowledge resulting in greater job satisfaction
  • Provides motivation to employees and a sense of loyalty to our company
  • Demonstrates to our customers how serious we are in remaining competitive
  • Sends a message to the community that we provide great employment opportunities
  • Improves quality, efficiencies and problem solving capabilities within the company
  • Excellent program with nationally recognized credentials
  • Many manufacturing shops are owned by individuals that received their start in business through an apprenticeship program

Zachary Haugdahl, Advanced Machine & Engineering receiving Journeyman Certificate at 2012 Graduation

The RRVTMA apprenticeship program provides a broad exposure to manufacturing related courses at Rock Valley College along with recommended on-the-job training program relevant to a sponsoring company’s needs. For manufacturing success in the Rock River Valley, it is critical that our work force possess a sound understanding of manufacturing principles such as print reading, metrology, materials, cutting tools, CNC, CAM, and CAD.

Second, look to your current employees for possible apprentice candidates. Many of our sponsoring companies are selecting apprentice candidates from their current employee base. Be selective as the apprenticeship program is a minimum of four years in duration and encompasses challenging technical courses at Rock Valley College. The NTMA Aptitude test can be conducted and the scores provided to aid in your selection process.

Third, if looking for a new employee to consider as an apprentice candidate, contact Don Williams. On occasion, he is contacted by individuals expressing interest in a career in manufacturing or the apprenticeship program.

Who do I contact for more information?

Don Williams
Apprentice Administrator
P 815.978.3698
F 815.516.8431
don@nullrrvtma.com