Apprenticeship Positively Changes Businesses and Lives

This post is part of an archived series of blogs called The LeVine Line, written by former Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine during her time at U.S. Embassy Bern.

17 July 2016

One of the Swiss companies that has chosen to deploy their Swiss apprenticeship model in their US facilities is Mikron Automation. They kicked off their efforts with a summer internship program that will then reduce down in numbers to a multi-year apprenticeship program this fall. They are a part of a nucleus of 4 companies – 3 Swiss and 1 US – creating a critical mass ecosystem for apprenticeship within Governor Hickenlooper’s larger apprenticeship push. The others are Pilatus Aircraft, Novartis’ Sandoz facility, and Intertech Plastics.

Mike Gunner, the General Manager of Mikron’s Colorado facility shared with me how much the response to their program has exceeded their expectations. For example:

  • They were chosen by Governor Hickenlooper as the place where he’d sign his latest apprenticeship legislation (Here’s the announcement)
  • They received far more applications for the summer internship program than expected
  • They had hoped to select 5 interns, but the respondents were so well qualified that they accepted 10 instead.
  • When they reached out to their general pool of employees to get 10 people to sign up to be mentors for the new interns (and then apprentices), they thought they would only get a few volunteers (it’s not paid extra). Rather than the 10 that they needed, they received positive responses from 80 of the existing employees.

But rather than just my examples and excitement, how about I share with you the feelings of one of those summer interns as well as that of Mike Gunner! They’re incredibly moving:

Here are the thoughts from Selena Elekovic – summer intern at Mikron Automation in Colorado.

and here are the reflections from Mike Gunner – General Manager at Mikron Automation in Colorado.