In September 2019, Kevork Bardak graduated from the ICATT Apprenticeship Program after completing his training and education with Richard Wolf Medical Instruments Corporation. Kevork is now working as a Maintenance Technician and Assistant Trainer at the company, helping guide a new cohort of apprentices through the program. Richard Wolf, which is a leading manufacturer of medical technologies that has been an ICATT Network Company since 2016, received the 2019 German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC) Apprenticeship Award.

“When I heard about the award, my first feeling was shock,” said Kevork. “It’s incredible to see how much the apprenticeship program has changed since I started here. Three years ago, we had one machine in a corner upstairs. Now it has turned into a full training center downstairs with all the machines we need.”

In the span of a few months, Kevork has also made an important transition: from apprentice to trainer. He said his experience going through the program has helped him identify the needs of current apprentices and work with them to build their skills and confidence.

“It helps understanding that even the simple things might need explanation when you’re learning to work on a machine,” he said. “Learning on the machines – the mill, the lathe, everything is a process in the beginning. But training isn’t rushed, and apprentices become a lot more comfortable as they learn. The program was great for me because it brought me into a field I wanted to get into. It’s really hard to get into manufacturing without experience, and this apprenticeship gives you experience.”

As a trainer, he strives to give apprentices support while also letting them take the lead on projects as their capabilities grow.

“It’s important to be clear and thorough but not micromanage,” said Kevork. “You don’t want to lay everything out for them. Let them have their ideas and plan, and then you can correct them and guide them toward the correct path. Allow apprentices to make mistakes from time to time. Nothing serious or life-threatening, but using the wrong tool or doing something the wrong way helps a lot with learning. You don’t forget your mistakes as easily as being told not to do something.”

Learn more about the ICATT Apprenticeship Program as well as affiliated MAT2 and GA CATT Apprenticeship Programs.