BMW seeks to address a skilled automotive manufacturing labor shortage through the implementation of apprenticeship programs in the UK and U.S. While neither of them is limited to high-school students, the company hopes to begin attracting young people to the industry long before they apply to four-year institutions.
One of their factories in Spartanburg, South Carolina offers a program based on the German apprenticeship system, a practice that goes back hundreds of years. Young people, who are still facing high unemployment rates even after obtaining four-year degrees, are offered part-time work and an associates degree paid for entirely by BMW. The company sees this as a way to not only boost employment overall, but also to create a pipeline for automotive talent - something that many manufacturers feel is in short supply as of late.
An additional apprenticeship program, called the Go Girls Technical Program, begins next month in the U.K. Targeted at young women ages 15 to 24, the program seeks to draw more women into auto manufacturing to even the ratio between men and women working in the industry and offer insight into the daily challenges faced by engineers and technical workers. The program will take place in Hams Hall and the Oxford and Swindon plants, allowing participants to follow the production of their MINI vehicles. The Go Girls Technical Program recruits based on the grades of the women who apply, and hopes to even further fight the stigma of going into a manufacturing career.
While there may be a prevalent need to fill the currently dwindling manufacturing labor force in America, the growing availability of skilled labor in Mexico provides automotive manufacturers expanding to Mexico with an alternative solution. Manufacturing in Mexico not only provides many auto companies with a well-educated work force, but also reduces manufacturing costs overall.