Promoting from Within through Registered Apprenticeship

Creation Date: 02/24/2021

Employer Name: Prysmian Group
Career Pathway: Manufacturing
Location of Service: 62832-3803
Program: Apprenticeship Illinois
Organization: Man-Tra-Con, Corp.
Program Details: Training - link to employer video

General Cable, a brand of Prysmian Group, is located in DuQuoin and employs 200 people at family sustaining wages and benefits.  The company has been in business for over 50 years providing employment opportunities to rural communities in the heart of southern Illinois.  The facility is located directly across from the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds which is home to one of Illinois’ annual state fairs.  Each year the company produces thousands of miles of medium voltage power distribution insulated cable that is used across the country in large utility applications.

After a merge with The Prysmian Group, a global supplier of a comprehensive range of optical fiber, cable and connectivity systems for the telecommunications sector, General Cable quickly realized a growth in operations and a need to increase their workforce.  This led to an exhaustive search for experienced Industrial Maintenance Technicians, however, the company was facing difficulty in recruiting technicians with the specific skillsets needed for their operations.  Man-Tra-Con learned of this need and reached out to Eric Perks, Plant Manager, and Greg Tharp, Facilities and Maintenance Manager, to offer support for their hiring and training needs and a relationship was developed. 

Eric and Greg were also concerned about the number of their employees who would soon be reaching retirement age and the effect this would have on their workforce.  They recognized the gap this would leave in their personnel but they also understood that with these retirements, they would lose a wealth of knowledge, experience and talent that couldn’t easily be replaced.  This was especially critical for the Industrial Maintenance Technician positions they had been trying to fill.  Man-Tra-Con presented them with information on apprenticeship and how that model could be used in their operations to quickly upskill existing employees while those employees continued to work on the job.  After discussions with the local community colleges, a curriculum was built around the specific training needs for the company’s maintenance technician positions.

Man-Tra-Con, as the Intermediary, assisted General Cable with registering the program with the Department of Labor and in May 2019 the company’s official Industrial Maintenance Technician Registered Apprenticeship was launched.  Five existing employees were selected from the shop floor to participate in the apprenticeship program and in July 2019 began the yearlong accelerated technical instruction while continuing to work.  The classroom instruction was provided on-site at the company around work schedules and the apprentices were paid during their time in class.  This allowed the company to continue meeting production needs and provided these employees with the opportunity to learn new skills while not missing out on the wages needed to continue providing for their families.  Additionally, the apprentices were mentored with experienced maintenance associates so they could apply the new skills learned in class on the job.  The apprentices will continue their on-the-job training for another year to complete the hours required for the apprenticeship.  Upon successful completion of the training, they will receive a Certificate of Completion from the Department of Labor.

A combination of Apprenticeship State Expansion grant funds and WIOA formula funding were utilized to offset the costs of the technical instruction provided in the apprenticeship program.  The Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship provided the technical support in registering the program while Man-Tra-Con has sponsored the program for General Cable taking care of the administrative responsibilities for DOL.