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BASF Expands North American Apprenticeship Program for Second Straight Year

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New Jersey-based BASF Corporation, the North American affiliate of the world’s largest chemicals supplier, has expanded its North American Apprenticeship Development Program for the second year in a row. BASF launched its apprenticeship program at eight more regional manufacturing locations in 2023, with the number of such programs available at BASF sites across the US now totaling 28.

In collaboration with colleges local to BASF’s US manufacturing facilities, the company develops training programs that last 12 to 36 months. Apprentices are paid a competitive wage while they’re getting hands-on training and experience, and BASF also covers tuition costs related to the academic programs.

Crucially, BASF has placed a particular emphasis in its apprenticeship efforts on bringing more women into the manufacturing workforce. As part of its work towards that objective, BASF collaborates with the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM’s) Women MAKE America Initiative, a campaign aiming to increase the number of women manufacturing workers by 500,000 by 2030.

In a press release about BASF’s continued expansion of its North American Apprenticeship Development Program, Samuel Blackwell, a Tennessee-based graduate of BASF’s apprenticeship program, said, “BASF’s apprenticeship program gave me great insight into manufacturing and provided me the opportunity to connect in-class learning with my job responsibilities. I appreciate BASF and Chattanooga State Community College for supporting me through this process and I’m excited about beginning my career at BASF.”

Mark Ehrhardt, president of BASF North America and a board member of NAM, said, “BASF’s apprenticeship program is an important pillar of our strategy to address the projected shortage of millions of skilled workers in the United States in the coming years. The manufacturing industry depends on well-trained employees to help drive our business as well as economic growth in the communities in which we live and work. Through our partnerships with local colleges, BASF is doing its part to build the modern manufacturing workforce of the future.”

Samuel Blackwell (center) completes BASF apprenticeship program in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Pictured (l-r): Brittany Davis, Operations Manager, Samuel Blackwell, Process Technician, and Rob Gagliano, Site Director.

At least in the US, workforce development in the manufacturing sector is the 3D printing industry’s greatest weakness. At the same time, it has the potential to be the 3D printing industry’s greatest strength: workforce development in the US manufacturing sector as a whole has been abysmal for decades, and 3D printing is one of the tools with the most realistic possibility of changing that trajectory.

Slowly but surely throughout 2023, major stakeholders from both government and the private sector have been displaying that they understand how urgent is the need to address this problem, while also directly connecting it to the goal of scaling up 3D printing specifically, and advanced manufacturing, in general. Much more work needs to be done, and it seems inevitable that even greater pushes by the US government and companies like BASF will emerge in the years ahead.

Apprenticeships, community colleges, vocational training programs, etc., are perhaps the most viable ways forward for tackling this intractable issue, and they will all require collaboration between the government and corporations to be effective on a sufficient scale. As I pointed out in an article from the beginning of the year, investors who get creative could be in a unique position to coordinate the respective workforce development initiatives of the public and private sectors.

Images courtesy of BASF

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