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National Apprenticeship Week 2021: Training Manufacturing’s Next Generation of Skilled Talent: Berry Global

To commemorate this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), we are highlighting how Registered Apprenticeship provides a critical talent pipeline that can help address some of our nation’s pressing workforce challenges. From our conversations with manufacturers across Maryland, we know hiring and maintaining a qualified workforce continues to be one of the greatest concerns for our industry. As more experienced workers reach retirement age, more local companies are tasked with having to figure out how to replace this invaluable knowledge and skill within their operations.

In honor of NAW, we visited with three Maryland companies who are turning to Registered Apprenticeship as the long-term solution to this challenge. The first company to highlight – Berry Global.

BERRY GLOBAL

Berry Global is a Fortune 500 global manufacturer of plastic packaging products. More than 200 products are produced at Berry’s local plant in Baltimore, where the tool room staff is responsible for keeping 150 different molds in good working condition. As tool room manager, Young Kim is responsible for ensuring his department is well staffed – now and in the future. With several machinists on his team approaching retirement age, Kim recently decided the time was right to take on an apprentice and is now working with MD MEP to build a program to train a new CNC machinist.

As a Registered Apprenticeship Sponsor for the State of Maryland, MD MEP sponsors some of the first competency-based apprenticeship programs in the state. Unlike traditional apprenticeships that demand an individual complete a set number of learning hours and tasks, competency-based programs rely on assessment and require apprentices to demonstrate their proficiency in a specific set of skills to earn certification. By registering under MD MEP, Berry works directly with our team to decide on the specific skills the apprentice needs to master at each level of the curriculum, while MD MEP does much of the heavy lifting when it comes to administering the program.

Berry’s new apprenticeship opportunity was offered to Christian Kyte, who had worked for the company for six years. He began his CNC machinist training this past August and will complete the program over the next five years.

“This apprenticeship is helping us stay ahead of a labor issue. Hopefully, if down the road I lose a machinist to retirement, I will have Christian certified and ready to go,” says Kim. “The program also works well for Christian, as he can set his own schedule to complete the online classroom training. MD MEP has provided very in-depth training materials, and everything Christian learns in this program will help him advance in his career.”

To learn more about training your company’s next generation of talent through apprenticeship, please contact MD MEP at 443-343-0085 or info@mdmep.org.