Building the Future: Investing in Skilled Workforce Through Apprenticeships

Milliken products come to life every day on the manufacturing floor, and our proprietary manufacturing technologies require experienced technicians uniquely adept for specific tasks. From operating highly technical weaving machines to assuring the high quality of product, our manufacturing teams around the world make Milliken innovation a reality. As we invest in the future our skilled workforce, we’re looking to creative avenues like apprenticeship programs to help attract and develop the top-tier manufacturing talent who will be the future of our company.

Sam Mickel, a new Milliken apprentice from Tri-County Technical College in Anderson, South Carolina working at our Cushman facility, shared why he wanted to join Milliken’s apprenticeship program with GSA Business Report. “I wanted to take part in Milliken’s apprenticeship program because I wanted to get a head start on my career and gain experience,” he shared. “I heard a lot of great things about Milliken, like how seriously they take workplace safety.”

Craig Haydamack, senior vice president of human resources for Milliken & Company, shared about our experience in collaborating with local organizations, including the technical college system, to implement our apprenticeship program in Upstate South Carolina with EDGE Magazine,a publication of South Carolina Technical College System. Read on for a summary of our conversation and click here for the full article on their website.

EDGE: What made Milliken decide to begin an apprenticeship program, and how helpful were Apprenticeship Carolina and the technical college system in getting it started?

CH: Apprenticeship programs are an important part of Milliken’s ability to attract and develop top-tier talent in our manufacturing plants. The current low unemployment rate coupled with a highly-skilled workforce means that qualified candidates are likely already employed. An alternative approach to fill our manufacturing talent need is to develop apprenticeship programs by partnering with technical colleges.

Apprenticeship Carolina and Spartanburg Community College (SCC) have been integral in launching Milliken’s apprenticeship program in South Carolina. We have developed a great relationship and they continue to be supportive as we further develop the Milliken apprenticeship program.

EDGE: Please tell us about your apprenticeship program.

CH: Over the course of four years, the apprentices will pair 8,000 hours of on-the-job training from Milliken with job-related technical education at SCC. When complete, the apprentice will have secured a scalable wage increase and be a fully skilled and nationally credentialed textile maintenance technician by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Milliken understands that apprenticeship programs can be a critical component of our technical workforce development. We are hoping to expand this program to other locations by partnering with local community colleges to meet our talent and business needs. We are also considering introducing a youth apprenticeship for high school juniors and seniors with tracks such as maintenance technicians and production operators, depending on their interest and skill set.

EDGE: How have Milliken and its employees benefitted from having an apprenticeship program?

CH: Apprenticeship programs allow Milliken to attract and foster top manufacturing talent and provide a solution for the local workforce at large. We see that as the key benefit. Many of our current highly-skilled associates will be considering retirement. While these apprentices are moving through the program, they are learning from tenured associates who are sharing their extensive knowledge with the next generation.

Milliken has long valued education training and the diverse perspectives that new associates can bring to the company. When we align these values with the right candidates for the apprenticeship program, we are sustaining our current production and facilitating future growth.

Learn more about current career opportunities at Milliken by visiting our careers website.