Swiss Companies Bring Long Tradition of Apprenticeships to the U.S. – Creating Jobs, Building Skills, Sharing Prosperity


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Switzerland’s Vice President and Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann signed a joint declaration of intent between the United States and Switzerland. This declaration will provide a framework for the two countries to cooperate in such areas as work-based training, curriculum development, credential recognition, pathways to career development, and the expansion of programs into new industry sectors. The agreement is between the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Labor, and Education and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of the Swiss Confederation.

This signing with Switzerland comes about one month after a similar signing with Germany on the topics of apprenticeships and career and technical education. These bilateral agreements demonstrate the importance that the Obama Administration has placed on expanding apprenticeship opportunities in the United States – as we work toward the goal of doubling apprenticeships in the coming years.

In conjunction with the signing, a number of Swiss companies announced plans to expand or create new apprenticeship programs in the United States. Many of these firms will partner with local community colleges in the U.S. to provide the classroom portion of the apprenticeships.

These commitments were made by major companies such as:

Nestlé, an international food and beverage manufacturer headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland with U.S. headquarters in Glendale, California, has committed to formalizing and accelerating their existing U.S. apprenticeship program.

  • With 25 manufacturing facilities in the United States alone, Nestlé will widen the program’s impact in as many Nestlé facilities as possible. As part of this effort, Nestlé has agreed to work with the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education to implement a series of innovative workforce development pilot programs in select Nestlé facilities, which will support Nestlé’s commitment to become an ApprenticeshipUSA LEADER. The LEADER program is a business to business campaign to share best practices and promote the use of Apprenticeships in the United States. It is anticipated that this Nestlé commitment will involve between 120 and 250 apprentices by 2016.

With U.S. headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois, the Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) provides property, liability, automobile, umbrella and workers’ compensation policies to the construction, financial, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, real estate, and technology sectors.

  • At the January 2015 Swiss Investment Roundtable at the White House, Zurich committed to explore a U.S. apprenticeship program for its facilities in the United States, particularly in skilled positions such as underwriting assistants and claims assistants. As part of that commitment, Zurich will explore a professional skills-development partnership with learning institutions and other businesses in the insurance industry. Since the White House conference, Zurich has been in consultation with Harper College, located in suburban Chicago, to explore the establishment of a workforce development program in coordination with other local insurance companies. Zurich has also signed on with the Department of Labor as an ApprenticeshipUSA LEADER.

Bühler Management Group, with a U.S. headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, produces technology for plant and equipment and related services related to basic foods and advanced materials manufacturing. Bühler’s U.S. apprenticeship program is modeled after its apprenticeship academy in Switzerland, and runs active apprenticeship programs in Michigan, North Carolina, and Minnesota.

  • Bühler’s Minnesota site currently trains 15 apprentices who also attend classes at nearby Dunwoody College of Technology (DCT). Apprentices also regularly visit customer sites for on-the-job training. The program’s first five apprentices will graduate in Minnesota in 2015, where they will receive a journey worker card from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Bühler is also currently working on accrediting its program with a Technical Associates Degree.
  • In Michigan, Bühler employs 12 apprentices, four of which are enrolled in the machining program and eight in the machine building program. Both are four-year programs, after which apprentices receive a journey worker card from the Department of Labor and Industry.
  • In North Carolina, Bühler is currently training three apprentices in the four-year North Carolina Triangle Apprentice Program, which focuses on welding and construction. Apprentices receive a journey worker card from the Department of Labor and Industry and an Associate Degree in mechanical engineering technology upon successful completion of the program.
  • In 2015, Bühler is expanding its apprenticeship program in engineering and automation, including the development of a mechatronic specialist program, which aims to be part of the State-wide program for developing automation talent.

With U.S. headquarters in Huntersville, NC, Max Daetwyler Group is a worldwide leading supplier of precision machinery, offering single-source manufacturing capabilities with a focus on serving the needs of the health care, automotive, civil engineering, consumer goods, and the manufacturing industries.

  • Daetwyler has been running a Swiss-style apprenticeship program in the United States since 1995, providing training in various technical trades, including mechatronics, tool and die, and CNC machining. Upon graduation, students earn an AAS degree in Mechatronics Engineering Technology and are awarded a Journeyman's Certificate by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The company also works with Central Piedmont Community College, which awards apprentices an Associate Degree in Mechatronics at the completion of their training. Daetwyler has agreed to be an ApprenticeshipUSA LEADER.

Below is the full list of Swiss firms that have committed to continuing, expanding or implementing apprenticeship programs in the United States.

Committed to new apprenticeship programs in the United States

  • ABB Ltd.
  • Alevo Group
  • Burkhardt Compression
  • Firmenich AG
  • Givaudan Group
  • Holcim Ltd.
  • Mercuria Energy
  • Mikron Group
  • Schindler Holding
  • Wicor Group (Weidmann International Corporation)

Committed to expansion of their existing or already announced apprenticeship program in the United States

  • Bühler Group
  • Daetwyler Group
  • Feintool International Holding AG
  • Kudelski Group
  • Nestlé Group
  • Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.
  • SFS Group AG
  • Zurich Insurance Group

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Last updated: 2015-07-09 11:49

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