As we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of the job market remains uncertain. Employment throughout the US hit record highs this year, and while manufacturing employment is also down, many ICATT Network Companies are taking advantage of the slow down to focus on hiring and training. The Summer 2020 cohort of the ICATT Apprenticeship Program is around the same size as last year at 45 apprentices, which is great news for anyone looking for a career in manufacturing. There are several factors that may be playing a role in the consistent hiring of apprentices.

The nature of manufacturing itself is one of the reasons that these jobs remain, even in downtimes. Almost everything we touch and use must be manufactured, from the pumps and sensors that keep our drinking water clean, to the mills that grind our flour, to the plastic caps on our tube of toothpaste. And each of those manufacturers is dependent on other suppliers working together, each using other suppliers in turn, to create a piece of the whole.

This creates an interconnected web of manufacturers and suppliers who all need to keep their businesses running and all need skilled employees to get the job done.

During the crisis, several ICATT Network Companies remained open and operational as essential businesses to support ongoing efforts. Chicago Plastic Systems has been manufacturing plastic partitions for over 20 years and now this product is more important than ever before. Herrmann Ultrasonics has boosted production to keep up with the increase in demand and a higher volume of orders from clients who make medical masks and apprentice Konrad Ryk has been a key employee. WITTENSTEIN’s apprentices have played a vital role in the production of supplies needed for medical manufacturers.

ICATT Network Companies also know that they need a skilled workforce to be ready to ramp up production when conditions improve.

“Market conditions can change quickly, as we’ve seen again and again,” said Mark Zumdohme, President of Graepel North American. “When I think back to a recent year that was very busy, hindsight tells me the preceding slow season would have been the perfect time to prepare.”

“These are extraordinary times. As manufacturers, we don’t know what’s going to happen. But we do know in America we will rebound,” said Tony Velotta, Organizational Development Leader at Scot Forge. “And when we do, we need to have that talent pipeline filled and ready to go. We have doubled our number of apprentices because we’re anticipating the three-year payoff.”

Learn more about the ICATT Apprenticeship Program as a career pathway.