GE's Manufacturing Apprentice Program Excels in MA

Feb. 28, 2012
Apprenticeship Program Helps Bolster the Ranks of Skilled Job Applicants
Photo: Courtesy of GEGE's skilled machinist trainee Matt Clark and machinist trainer Alex Tennant.

One key to building a highly-skilled workforce for advanced manufacturing operations is great training. Often that training takes place on the job, over the course of a career. GE Aviation's River Works aircraft engine manufacturing facility in Lynn, MA (incidentally one of the original General Electric locations), recently benefitted from an innovative apprenticeship program that helped bolster the ranks of skilled job applicants as the veteran machinist workforce was retiring.

Noting a mismatch between the skills needed for available jobs and those offered by applicants, River Works on-site executive leader and General Manager, Maria Deacon stepped forward and initiated a partnership with the North Shore Community College (NSCC) to create a pilot apprentice program. Maria put together a team and brought in Master Black Belt, Lean Six Sigma machinist, Susan Pavlou to direct the training program.

"We were really driven to get the program started, so we moved pretty fast," Pavlou said. "Last November we were talking with the college, and by January we had signed an agreement and started those people in February." A crucial piece of the program, Sue said, was cooperation and participation of Local 201 of the IUE-CWA.

Currently 19 students are involved in the first wave of the pilot program, which began academic work in February this year; twelve in the skilled machinist path, and seven in the machine repair path. In June the students began working the 7:00 to 3:00 shift at the Boston-area aviation facility, full-time. 

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