A Spotlight on Heidelberg USA's Apprentice Program
KENNESAW, Ga. — December 22, 2016 — Through its Apprentice Program, Heidelberg USA is addressing the need for more technically skilled operators in the printing industry through vocational development, educational outreach and real-world application. Paul Cavanaugh, skill service development manager at Heidelberg USA, has been the manager of the program since 2007 and is responsible for the recruitment, hiring and training of apprentice technicians. Gareth McEwen, technical support manager at Heidelberg USA, will also play a role in hiring a new apprentice instructor.
This year, Heidelberg welcomed 90 new trainees into the program based in Wiesloch-Walldorf, Germany. In March, Heidelberg USA partnered with the Printing and Imaging Association of Georgia (PIAG) to host its ninth annual SkillsUSA Georgia Competition in Advertising Design and Graphic Communications at Print Media Center Atlanta, and hopes to grow its own apprenticeship program in the United States.
“As our industry evolves, it has become more difficult to find qualified technicians and skilled operators,” says Cavanaugh. “While this may be a challenge for Heidelberg, we know that our customers are also experiencing difficulties when it comes to operating the latest equipment. We see a future opportunity to provide more supplementary training to our customers, and to educate the next generation of operators.”
Cavanaugh stresses that the Apprentice Program is incredibly important, not just to Heidelberg, but to all companies that need skilled labor. “We have an aging workforce in the U.S. in regards to the repair, maintenance and operation of sophisticated industrial equipment. It is getting increasingly difficult to find someone with the raw talent needed to teach these skills.”
Heidelberg’s apprentices receive their “basic” training over a period of three years. According to Heidelberg, to be accepted into the Apprentice Program, candidates must possess a strong interest in operating the latest technology in offset equipment, as well as basic print knowledge and experience with color management.
The program begins with a comprehensive two-month introduction at Print Media Center Atlanta, where the apprentice learns print application basics and all operational functions on a Heidelberg press and peripheral equipment. In addition, the apprentice will gain hands-on exposure through practical applications by working in the field with experienced instructors during customer installations.
Cavanaugh notes that anyone with an interest in repairing small engines, motorcycles, car engines, etc., or is going to a technical college to learn how to work on industrial equipment, automotive, machinist or aircraft, is the type of person who will be able to fill the future roles in the printing industry.
“I have found that sometimes because a person enrolls in an automotive repair class, they think that is the only field they can apply to. Mechanical and electrical principles apply to all machinery.”
Heidelberg USA will also add an Apprentice Press Instructor to its growing team of trainees. The selected candidate will become well-acquainted with prepress, press and postpress processes, while also gaining in-depth knowledge of print theory, color management, and efficiency.
“Heidelberg is one of the few companies that can provide a long-term career in the graphic communications industry,” McEwen points out. “We want to afford the opportunity to learn and develop while supplying the industry with highly trained print instructors to train on the functionality of Heidelberg’s state-of-the-art equipment.”