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Canon Virginia Graduates First Class of Apprentices

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President Obama declared this week National Apprentice Week and in honor of that, employers across the country will host open houses to highlight the significant value of apprenticeships in our economy.


During this week, Canon Virginia Inc. (CVI, Newport News,Virgina) announced the graduation of the first two apprentices from the Canon Tool and Die Apprentice Program, fully accredited by the Virginia Apprenticeship Council. This program allowed Canon to expand technical capabilities for tooling and machining by training employees and developing their technical skills. Graduates will receive a certification from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills and a Journeyman’s card.


In partnership with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, Thomas Nelson Community College Workforce Development Center, and New Horizons Regional Education Center, the four-year program consists of 8000 on-the-job training hours and instructor lead courses delivered by The Center for Apprenticeship and Adult Training at New Horizons. The Virginia DOL played an active role in verifying and approving the Canon curriculum.


Canon Virginia says the company expanded its tool making capabilities 10 years ago, and a skills gap in the workforce was quickly identified. With the growth and expansion of the tool shop, recruitment of talented tool makers and machinists became a top priority to meet growing business demands.


"In an extremely competitive market, establishing a sustainable apprenticeship program is the key to our continued
growth. Inspiring young people to learn a skilled trade and give them a path forward is what motivates me every day," says Scott Blankenship, Director of the Tool Manufacturing Division.


By developing an apprenticeship program, Canon looks to train employees to meet the need and fill the gap in this skilled trade. The company believes that this program has created new career opportunities benefiting current employees and sparking an interest in a new generation of toolmakers and machinists.


One unique aspect of the program is a mentorship component whereby apprentices are partnered with senior toolmakers and machinists. The one-to-one coaching allows apprentices to shadow and learn valuable skills from their mentors that cannot be taught in a classroom environment.


Last year, the apprentices were tasked with an important assignment to design and machine a yo-yo tool used during NPE 2015. “It was a rewarding experience to apply what we’ve learned in the classroom to an actual project used for a tradeshow. We had a unique opportunity to demonstrate our skills and all that we’ve learned throughout the program,” says Jason Rowe, Toolmaker Apprentice Graduate. During the tradeshow, the popular toy was molded in the Canon booth and handed out to attendees.


Sounds like an impressive program and we hope to see more companies in plastics adopt this type of approach in order to help fill the skills gap. If you have, please share your story with us.