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Schaeffler’s plant in Wooster, Ohio, has been designated as a center for advanced e-mobility. Beyond machines and systems, this requires highly qualified employees. Which makes it a task for Carrie McKelvey, who heads the Schaeffler Academy at the plant with programs modelled on the German apprenticeship system.
Spearheading the transition into the age of electric mobility: This is the new focus at Schaeffler’s manufacturing plant in Wooster, Ohio. Currently, the facility primarily manufactures torque converters and lock-up clutches for automatic transmissions. Beginning in 2018, however, Wooster will also be producing hybrid modules for a major U.S. automobile manufacturer. To that end, Schaeffler is investing approximately 60 million dollars to expand the site’s manufacturing capacity and add office space. However, it is equally important to invest in the 2,000 employees who work at Wooster. After all, new technologies also require new qualifications, for example in the field of electrical engineering.
Carrie McKelvey has experienced the importance of continuous training in her own career. After graduating from college, McKelvey joined Schaeffler in Wooster in 2000, where she completed the rigorous Leadership Training program. Today, McKelvey is the head of the local Schaeffler Academy, where she is responsible for the on-site training and qualification of employees – which is a process that begins at a surprisingly early age. McKelvey and her team regularly visit Wooster-area high schools to kindle the young students’ enthusiasm for Schaeffler’s preparatory “Pre-Apprentice” program. Over the course of a year, selected students are able to make numerous visits to the Wooster plant, giving them hands-on insights into professional life. Upon graduation, they can enter into a three-and-a-half-year apprenticeship program that teaches them trades such as tool and die maker, machine repair and electrical maintenance. “Such training programs, which cover both theory and practice, are not yet widespread in the USA,” says McKelvey. “This gives us the opportunity to attract the brightest talents to our company and systematically develop their skills.”
The company’s goal is to find the right people and provide opportunities to enhance their skill sets.
Through the Schaeffler Academy, McKelvey is also able to offer college students the “Cooperative Education Program”. This “integrated degree program”, which curriculum is comparable to Germany’s combines formal university studies with a substantial amount of practical experience. This career-development model is in high demand, as evidenced by the 150 students who actively participate in the program each year. Of course, learning does not end once a full-time position has been secured. The Schaeffler Academy offers customized professional development programs and workshops for all employees. Internal training can take place either on the job or outside the usual working environment in halfday or full-week intensive training sessions.
“The company’s goal is to find the right people and provide opportunities to enhance their skill sets,” says McKelvey. Now that Wooster is helping to lead Schaeffler into the age of electric mobility, this applies more than ever.