NIMS Manufacturing Leaders Benchmark Swiss Apprenticeship

In an effort to continuously improve training of the American workforce, representatives of the U.S. precision manufacturing industry journeyed to Switzerland to meet with Swiss manufacturers and explore that nation’s apprenticeship system. They were not disappointed with what they learned.

The group was led by Harry Moser, NIMS Board Member and Agie-Charmilles Chairman Emeritus; and included Gregory Chambers, NIMS Board Chair and Director of Compliance, Oberg Industries; Jeff Kelly, Chairman & CEO, Hamill Manufacturing; Erick Ajax, Vice-President, E.J. Ajax ; NIMS Deputy Director James Wall. Oberg Industries, Hamill Manufacturing and E.J .Ajax all have NIMS based apprenticeship programs.

Upon their return, Mr. Chambers reported extensively about the Swiss system to the NIMS Board of Directors and engaged the Board in discussing how U.S. companies and NIMS might replicate appropriate and successful components of the system. All the industry participants reported to the Manufacturing Summit on November 9, contrasting Swiss recruitment and training with current American methods.

It is of great interest that apprenticeship is highly regarded in Switzerland –socially as well as economically. 70 percent of the Swiss workforce is educated and trained through apprenticeships, including many white collar occupations such as bankers and architects.

It was clearly enunciated by the American leaders that the U.S. needs to do so much more in elevating apprenticeship training as a means to a profession in American manufacturing.

The trip was sponsored by the Swiss Office of Trade and Promotion. NIMS has a unique and excellent relationship with the Swiss. Over the past several years the Swiss have been hosts to the winners of the NTMA-NIMS apprenticeship competition and gold medalists from the NIMS Precision Machining Competition at the Skills-USA Championships.