Ferrero Employer Success Story
By Yvette Wilkinson, Senior Training & Development Specialist and Apprenticeship Program Manager
Ferrero Franklin Park, IL
“You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up.” ―Chuck Yeager
Ferrero is a longtime participant in apprenticeship programs. Skilled trades are very difficult to recruit, so the Project Hire-Ed apprenticeship program at College of DuPage has provided a new path for recruiting our future mechanics and electricians while investing in our star performers. Our apprentices stand out from other employees here due to their initiative and can-do attitude. Some of our apprentices have had some schooling and/or experience running machines at various organizations prior to coming to Ferrero.
If they make it through our screening process, we know they are a strong fit for our organization. Internally, our screening process is very intense. It includes attendance checks, performance checks, an interview process with HR, Maintenance, Electrical, Production representatives, and more. Even if someone does not have mechanical or electrical experience in their background, we ask a series of questions pertaining to their troubleshooting experience and projects they have been involved in personally or professionally. If the candidate proceeds to the interview process it is via a rank order and anonymous scoring system.
Everyone with a college degree knows how challenging school can be. With that said, I advise all of our apprentices at Ferrero to keep pushing forward. One apprentice had to withdraw from a class because there was a very slim chance of passing. However, after consulting with the professor, it made sense to withdraw, which was the next best thing. The apprentice did that and managed to maintain a 3.7 GPA, and then continued the program.
As participants in the apprenticeship program with College of DuPage, the apprentices receive pay for schooling, the cost of college paid for by the organization, and extensive on-the-job training in their field. Each apprentice receives a signed promissory note between the company and employee agreeing to stay employed with us for a minimum of three (3) years after completion of the apprenticeship program. We have built a step progression salary structure throughout the program following each performance appraisal. The apprentices engage in 2000 hours per year of on-the-job training, which entails a rotation schedule in various areas of the factory that match up with the courses they are taking (i.e., welding robotics, hydraulics, etc.). They also have a performance appraisal every six months. If they pass the performance appraisal they move to the next step in pay. We have six steps throughout the program. The final step in pay will get them to the Industrial Maintenance Mechanic or Electrical Technician pay at the time of program completion.
Ferrero has benefited from partnering with the College of DuPage and Project Hire-Ed. It is helping us to build skilled trades capability. It is helping us to ensure that we have very skilled mechanics and electrical technicians. It gives other employees in the organization an incentive to stay employed with our organization. It is an opportunity that so many would like to have but cannot achieve. We are proud to be longtime partners with Project Hire-Ed and the College of DuPage.