National apprenticeship week highlights company-based education options

Businesses beginning to fill gaps left when grads don’t have workforce skills.

Carolina Journal – RALEIGH — Blum Inc. had a problem.

In the 1990s, the international company’s North Carolina operation was running short of workers. Machinists. Technicians. Most of all, the company needed young employees who could expand the business and its bottom line.

So Blum opened an apprenticeship program.

“The idea was very simple,” Andreas Thurner, Blum’s apprenticeship manager, told Carolina Journal. “We wanted to do the same thing that we did in our Austrian [operation].”

Thurner went on to help found Apprenticeship 2000, a Charlotte-based organization that recruits apprentices for a number of businesses in the area.

In a country with a growing “skills gap,” Blum’s story is all too familiar. Universities are struggling to keep up with changing technologies, Thurner said. The lag means college graduates are unprepared for manufacturing and engineering jobs.

If companies can’t find skilled workers, Thurner said, there’s just one solution. Recruit and train them yourself.

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