Original Date: 06/05/2006
Revision Date: / /
Information : Maintenance Apprenticeship Program
The Rockwell Collins Apprenticeship Program for maintenance personnel is a partnership among Rockwell Collins, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Kirkwood College that has benefited all participants. The quality of training has allowed employees to acquire knowledge and skills, adding value to their job performance while increasing employee flexibility in the ever-changing workforce.
Rockwell Collins’ maintenance personnel were previously divided into craft-specific job classifications that included building operations, grounds maintenance, carpenters, plumbers, and pipe fitters among others. Employee responsibilities were limited to those within a specific job code, allowing little flexibility in making job assignments to address changing workload requirements. To eliminate the need to hire external contractors and improve labor flexibility, Rockwell Collins combined all personnel under one multicrafted job description. However, since personnel were not skilled in all crafts, the need for a formalized training program to complete the worker skill set was identified.
Classroom instruction is now conducted 4-8 hours per week through most of the 4-year training program, with apprentice assignments fine-tuned to provide a broad-based skill set. Classes are held both on-site and off-site and taught by instructors from Rockwell Collins and Kirkwood Community College. Training is Rockwell Collins- specific in nature using company methods and equipment, with initial focus on safety-related training such as forklift operation.
Partnering with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local and the Department of Labor, Rockwell Collins established the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC). The committee is actively involved in the apprentice hiring process, determines the content of training, oversees the administration of the program, monitors apprentice progress, and administers discipline as appropriate. The JATC is comprised of equal membership from both Rockwell Collins and the IBEW local. Apprenticeship candidates are approved by both the company and the IBEW, and chairperson and secretary roles alternate between company and the IBEW each year. JATC has developed a point system to rank program applicants by their experience levels to qualify for interviews. The committee conducts experience interviews with standardized questions to verify depth and quality of experience. Qualified Rockwell Collins applicants are given first consideration, then outside applicants are considered.
The JATC is responsible for the content of each class and monitors effectiveness through course and instructor evaluations. The JATC sets quarterly assignment rotations to expose apprentices to all facets of their responsibilities and to provide them the opportunity to work with experienced journeymen. Performance reviews are conducted at the conclusion of each rotational assignment. Apprentice test scores are monitored along with absenteeism, tardiness, and use of personal time to detect and correct negative patterns. Certifications have also been added to some apprentice skills.
The Rockwell Collins Apprenticeship Program has developed properly trained and multiskilled employees, providing greater flexibility in assigning skilled employees to meet tasking requirements. Rockwell Collins has identified the Apprenticeship Program as providing cost savings versus outsourcing.
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