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“We have created career paths within our metalcasting facility so that young employees can see how their career can grow as they add new skills,” Kurek said. Supervisors make a difference


because they represent the met- alcasting facility to the employees, and the management must be con- sistently making decisions based on the mutual good of both employees and the ownership.


An Approach of Mutual Investment Brillion Iron Works depends on


its apprenticeship program to fill many skilled positions throughout the casting operation. With apprentices in maintenance, electrical, pattern- making and machining departments, the metalcaster uses this approach as a way to establish relationships with skilled employees that can continue after graduation. “It’s not just becoming a trades-


man,” said Reed Ott, plant manager, Brillion. “It’s what the person can do in relation to operations, to improving quality, to bring new ideas. We want them to buy into the place they work.” Te program usually takes four


or five years to complete, with each participant juggling onsite training alongside journeymen in addition to educational instruction from a local technical college. Apprentices typically spend 40-plus hours in the metalcast- ing facility, in addition to a full day of classes every other week. “After graduation, I would ideally like them to stay forever,” Ott said. “We want to build lasting relationships with individuals who want to be here. For us, we need to make every attempt to get our employees the training they need.” Apprentices are accepted after testing and interviews. Vacancies in the program depend on needs within the workforce. As many as a dozen apprentices may be in the program, spread across the various departments. Brillion evaluates the ongo-


ing training of the apprentices by routinely examining work history. For example, if a maintenance apprentice has spent a majority of time on reac- tive maintenance, he will be steered toward downtime maintenance. Te goal is well-rounded, capable employ- ees who are familiar with a wide range of operations. “We know we will lose people


along the way, but that’s unavoidable,” Ott said. “Te job of management is to make our employees want to stay. We want it to be easy to commit to Bril- lion long-term, because we’re commit- ted to them.”


Broadening Experience Much like Brillion’s attempts to


34 | MODERN CASTING April 2016 Brillion Iron Works ensures apprentices have plenty of oversight from journeymen.


diversify its apprentices’ work expe- riences, MetalTek International, Waukesha, Wisconsin, rotates its engi- neering interns across various areas of the facility in order to best match the individual with the position. Te three-year program involves rotating newly hired engineers through various operations in MetalTek’s facilities, including casting processes, machin- ing, fabrication and testing. “We want to give them a broad


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