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How to Get Into the Ford Motor Apprenticeship Program
There are two direct avenues to get into a Ford Motor Company apprenticeship program. If you're already working at a Ford manufacturing plant, apply for apprenticeship training through a program sponsored jointly by Ford and the United Autoworkers union. If you're not a Ford employee, look for an apprenticeship program registered by individual Ford plants with the U.S. Department of Labor. For a third, indirect approach, explore community colleges for apprenticeship training. Make sure the college offers job placement services and includes Ford Motor Company plants among their partnered employers.
Students and Unemployed Applicants
Individual Ford Motor Company plants register apprenticeship programs with the DoL to earn tax credits while helping to build a skilled national workforce. To locate an apprenticeship registered with the DoL, go to the My Next Move website. Type in a career term, such as "pipefitter." Select a specific occupation from the resulting list by clicking on the "registered apprenticeship" icon at the far right. Select a state when prompted, and then click on "Find apprenticeships." You'll see listings for Ford Motor Company locations in the "Sponsor" column, as long as a Ford apprenticeship program has been registered for your chosen occupation. Call the phone number provided to find out if openings exist, and to apply.
What to Expect
DoL registered apprenticeship programs are paid programs. This means you'll work for the sponsoring company, receive a regular paycheck and get trained without having to foot the bill yourself. Per general eligibility requirements set by the DoL, apprentices must be at least 16 years old -- or 18, if the occupation selected is considered hazardous. Sponsoring companies also define minimum qualifications, such as those relating to education and physical abilities essential to perform the duties of a given trade. Qualification processes often include aptitude tests, interviews and verification of age and previous work experience or school grades. Once accepted into a program, expect a minimum of 144 hours of classroom training and approximately 2,000 hours of on-the-job training.
Existing Ford Motor Company Employees
The Ford-UAW Joint Apprenticeship Program provides journeyman training to existing employees in trades that include electrical, metals, fluid power, welding, mechanical and industrial truck mechanics. Ask a supervisor or union representative for details about the application process at the plant where you work. Applicants must pass an eligibility test to ensure they have what it takes to get through the rigorous training. Those accepted into the program go through three weeks of core skills training before exploring specifics relating to the selected trade.
What to Expect
The Ford-UAW Joint Apprenticeship Program involves between 576 and 650 hours of classroom instruction, along with approximately 7,400 hours of on-the-job training. The classroom training is provided by local vocational schools and community colleges at no cost to the apprentices. On-the-job training puts apprentices in partnership with journeymen and includes hands-on skills training. Apprentices become journeymen themselves once the training is complete.
Community College Apprenticeship Training
Henry Ford Community College, located near the Ford world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, offers a skilled trades and apprenticeship program that involves at least 576 hours of classroom training. Students include employees participating in company sponsored apprenticeships, such as the Ford-UAW Joint Apprenticeship Program, as well as students who are not yet employed and are paying their own tuition. Students receive certificates at the end of the program. Although students cannot become journeymen without also going through formal training on the job, apprenticeship certification provides them with a valued credential that could get them a foot in the door when companies like Ford are hiring.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.
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