Thirty-eight students graduated from TMA's Related Theory Apprentice Program last night, surrounded by their family and co-workers at the Stonegate Conference Centre in Hoffman Estates. These students successfully completed the three-year program while working full-time at their TMA sponsor companies.
"I hear from manufacturers in Illinois that they have jobs available, but they don't have a qualified workforce. We have a critical shortage of skilled labor, but today I am looking at young professionals that will help fill that gap. You, dear graduates, are part of the economic engine of our state now!" said Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, who gave the commencement address. "I'd like to congratulate TMA for being an important part of Illinois' growth by training the next generation of manufacturers. Programs like this prove that we can achieve great things when we work collaboratively."
TMA's Related Theory Apprentice Training program runs for three years. Students attend class twice a week from 6-9 p.m. for 28 weeks each year, in addition to working full-time at their sponsored TMA member company. During their first year, they are taught basic skills such as shop math, blueprint reading, and the basics of machine tool technology. In their second year, students begin their discipline in mold making, tool & die, or computer numerical control programming. In their third year, students continue their education with more advanced training. Certificates were given to students for their chosen track.
"This is the gold standard training program in manufacturing, teaching these students how to design, engineer, program, machine, and manufacture," said Patrick Osborne, vice president of the Technology & Manufacturing Association. "Years from now, you students will look back and remember that at a time when everyone thought manufacturing was leaving this state and country, you were at the forefront of its return. Good luck in your careers in manufacturing!"
Certificates were presented by the head instructors for each track: Jack Krikorian, CNC Programming; Rich Nielsen, Tool & Die Making; and Joe Genc, Mold Making. Joe "Two-Tenths" Genc, who is retiring, was honored for serving as an instructor for over 20 years during his career in manufacturing, which spans over five decades.
The TMA Related Theory Apprentice Training Program has been assisting member companies in training their apprentices for over 70 years. It has been one of the largest, most recognized precision metalworking apprenticeship programs in the United States. For more information on TMA's training programs, visit www.tmaillinois.org.