Finding a Relevant Workforce
North Carolina’s skilled workforce is a big reason EGGER selected Lexington, North Carolina, for its first North American manufacturing facility. As a family-owned company, EGGER places a high priority on development and training to position employees for success and upward mobility within the company.
- LocationLexington, NC
- Square Footage859,000 s.f.
- Operational25 months
“We see our employees as members of the EGGER family, and as such, we are committed to helping them succeed,” says Bernhard Ebner, plant manager, technical/production for the Lexington facility. “Today’s manufacturing jobs are highly-skilled, so by offering continued training and support, our vision is to provide not just jobs, but long-term careers.”
To address its ongoing needs for talented workers during its three-phase, 15-year expansion process, EGGER established its own European apprenticeship model in nearby Thomasville. The company partnered with Davidson County Community College to create and fund a training program that provides students with an opportunity to learn on the job while they study. Five other local manufacturers have since joined the Davidson and Davie Apprenticeship Consortium (DDAC).
The program offers high school students a four-year apprenticeship in mechanical and electrical trades, full benefits package, scholarship to earn an associate’s degree during the apprenticeship, and the opportunity for full-time employment with EGGER after graduation. Apprentices attend school one day a week and receive on-the-job training with a DDAC partnering company four days each week.
“We are particularly proud of our apprenticeship program,” says Ebnar. “Apprentices enjoy the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree debt-free, while earning a paycheck and advanced skills for a lifelong profession.”
Many visitors have toured the Lexington facility since it opened, including a visit from U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia in February 2020. Scalia was impressed by the technology and innovation that was on display, as well as the company’s commitment to sustainability through the reuse of wood materials and its apprenticeship program for developing the future workforce.
“Officials have shown appreciation for our commitment to workforce development, recruiting existing talent, and investing in training and development to provide the skills needed to succeed in the industry,” says Carsten Ritterbach, plant manager, commercial services.
“We hope these types of programs will draw more companies to the area,” adds EGGER corporate training manager Michael Holmes. “If that’s the case, we hope to entice those manufacturers to join the consortium to provide more opportunities. Even with six companies in the consortium now, we do have a limited number of apprenticeships. The more companies we pull in, the more opportunities we have to employ people in Davidson County.”
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray.
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