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Zippo adds new machinist apprenticeship program

Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development Eileen Cipriani visited Zippo Manufacturing Company on Wednesday to tour the facility and announced the company’s new registered apprenticeship program for machinists in McKean County.

“Zippo has a history of providing quality apprenticeships, and they are adding another program,” Cipriani said. “It is important to recognize local talent, and individuals can ‘earn while you learn’ with an apprenticeship. They also get a journeyman’s certification, which stays with you for life.”

The apprenticeship, which will help prepare workers for new jobs in the manufacturing industry, is an addition to the programs Zippo already has in place.

Era photo by Christine Holtz

The machinist apprenticeship program was approved by the Department of L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office. It will be sponsored by Zippo and will provide hands-on training for technology skills with computer-controlled lathes and milling machinery. Zippo also has a Tool and Die maker apprenticeship program.

“Zippo is committed to keeping rewarding careers in Pennsylvania. We recognize the need for vital trades and developing a skilled workforce, such as with our Tool and Die and other specialized roles,” said Mark Paup, president and CEO of Zippo Manufacturing Company and W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company. “So expanding Zippo’s apprenticeship programs is a perfect fit — especially with the incredible amount of internal knowledge our employees possess. We are proud to add the machinist apprenticeship program to our company.”

Manufacturing is an evolving career field, according to Edward Hayden, director of employee relations at Zippo.

“When people think of manufacturing jobs, they may think they will get dirty and go home sore. That is not the case anymore, now they may be programming a robot and getting paid more to do it,” Hayden said.

Also, the amount of workers in the industry may not be increasing, but the productivity is increasing and the complexity of the job is as well.

“I travel the state and see that all over. I talk to my team and say, ‘You won’t believe what they make there’ or ‘You won’t believe how they make that,’” Cipriani said of her visits to various companies across Pennsylvania.

The discussion Wednesday also shared ways the company has had to rethink work schedules and find ways to adapt to recognize that employees need a different balance between their career and life outside the job.

“Focus on the work-life balance is how companies survive and thrive. You’re evolving,” Cipriani said. “In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, who would think that businesses would be considering alternate work schedules for retention? But retention is a challenging issue throughout the state.”

Cipriani explained that in Pennsylvania overall, there seem to be five main barriers to getting jobs: the transfer of licensing for specific careers from another state to Pennsylvania, attempting to re-enter the workforce with a criminal background, a mix and match of skill training, childcare and transportation.

Zippo officials noted the company has a partnership with the YMCA for childcare for employees, and transportation and other concerns have not impacted their search for or retention of employees.

Instead, the main concern for Zippo is skilled laborers to fill the positions of long-time employees who are reaching retirement age.

Originally published: http://www.bradfordera.com/news/local/zippo-adds-new-machinist-apprenticeship-program/article_89bcb9c4-ee01-5d8d-b62c-67e5b82fd688.html

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