Apprentices of Siemens USA think like master craftsmen

[ from New America ]

Image Credit: New America

Image Credit: New America

Apprenticeship Program Profile: Siemens Charlotte

In 2011 when Siemens could not find enough qualified workers for its newly opened gas turbine factory in Charlotte, the company started the apprenticeship program—which is now one of the more than 550 registered apprenticeship programs in North Carolina. Applying to the apprenticeship at Siemens is no less competitive than applying to a top-tier college. “It’s not that you apply and get in,” said Orkhan Patsiyev, a fourth-year apprentice at the program. After four selection rounds, which include transcript screening, aptitude tests, orientation, and pre-apprenticeship—only four to eight candidates are offered the apprentice positions from an original pool of more than 100 applicants.

Once through the selection process, apprentices at Siemens are paid and receive on-the-job training in mechatronics and machining. At the same time, apprentices work toward an associate degree in machining or engineering technology at a community college nearby, with the full cost of attendance paid by Siemens. Once they successfully complete the program, apprentices are hired as full-time employees and can work at any Siemens location in the U.S., with a starting wage at around $55,000 (which is on par with median family income in America). Most importantly, completion of the program comes with no student debt.

This is why Mr. Patsiyev decided to apply for the program, instead of going to college to study mechanical engineering as he originally planned. “I wanted to go to the apprenticeship, where I get hands-on experience, get a two-year degree in machining, which I could [use] to study engineering later, when I’ve already had a full-time job at the company that I want to work,” he said. “That kind of makes me change my mind.”

The apprenticeship at Siemens involves 8,000 hours of training in total during four years. Apprentices spend most of that time (6,400 hours) at the factory, where they are paired with mentors, who are tenured machinists or maintenance workers at the factory. The apprentices work alongside with the mentors, who show them how to run a machine correctly and safely and answer their questions about the process. “Within the first year, I learned a lot, because we got one of the best mentors,” said Mr. Patsiyev. Even as a fourth year student who knows more about machining compared to when he first started, Mr. Patsiyev said that he still turns to his mentors whenever anything comes up. At the end of each year, the mentors provide feedback on the progress of each apprentice to the apprenticeship coordinator.

Apprentices spend the remaining 1,600 hours at Central Piedmont Community College, where they take classes toward an associate degree in either machining or engineering technology over three and a half years. Apart from these technical classes, they can take some optional customized training programs at the college, such as business etiquette and public speaking, at the expense of the company.

THE REPORT: Varying Degrees 2018

New America's Annual Survey on Higher Education: Executive Summary

After years of economic growth following the Great Recession, people still feel anxious about the economy and see higher education as essential for improving personal financial circumstances. While New America’s second annual survey about perceptions on higher education shows that Americans believe pursuing education beyond high school is important for career growth and economic security, they still feel that higher education is not fine the way it is, and that government should do more to make it affordable.

Varying Degrees 2018: New America’s Second Annual Survey on Higher Education surveyed 1,600 Americans ages 18 and older to better understand their perceptions of higher education, economic mobility, and government funding. Like last year, the survey shows unifying themes, as well as differences across various demographics when it comes to the value of education beyond high school in today’s economy and the government’s role in funding this education. We pay particular attention to the similarities and differences of opinion among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in this election year.

Our top findings include:

  • Americans believe well-paying jobs require education after high school. Less than half (48 percent) believe there are well-paying jobs that do not require education after high school.

  • Americans believe education after high school creates opportunities. Most Americans (80 percent) believe there are more opportunities for those who pursue education after high school versus only 14 percent who say there is more opportunity for those who pursue work right away.

  • Americans want change in higher education. Like last year, only one in four Americans believes that higher education is fine the way it is.

  • Americans believe public colleges and universities are worth the costbut feel mixed about private and for-profit colleges and universities. A majority of Americans say community colleges and public four-year colleges and universities are worth the cost (81 percent and 65 percent, respectively). Whereas only about two in five Americans believe that private (44 percent) and for-profit (40 percent) colleges and universities are worth the cost.

  • Regardless of demographics, Americans like their local colleges and universities. Four out of five (81 percent) have a positive view of the higher education institutions near them.

  • Americans support workforce-based programs such as apprenticeship.There is wide agreement (90 percent) that apprenticeships and skills training programs prepare students for a good standard of living.

  • Americans believe higher education is a public benefit and that the government should do more to make it affordable. A majority (60 percent) believe government should spend tax dollars on higher education because it is good for society, compared with 27 percent who say students should fund it because higher education is a personal benefit. Over three-quarters of Americans think state and federal government should spend more tax revenue on higher education to make it more affordable.

Christine Haskell, PHD has built her practice on credible, published research and data. In the Research Series, you’ll find highlights, shareable statistics, and links to the full source material.

Pete Carroll's Book Recommendations


When I mentor folks, or even in my client work, I emphasize the context of decision making. Too often people look at the end result of someone's performance, or a flashy title--they see the external outcomes.It's an illusion. What matters is someone's internal processing. When people are looking outside of themselves for advice, common questions include:

  • Looking for guidance on how to get to the next level? Who do you look to?

  • See someone who's career or life situation looks appealing? How did they get there?

  • Want to learn a skill that someone else is good at? How did they learn what they know?

It's so important to understand their influences, beliefs, and underlying values. If you are looking at a leadership figure for advice, ask what they read. It can give you a lot of insight into how they think, what motivates them, and how they define success.

The Road to Character by David Brooks--via USAToday. The book draws upon historical figures like Dorothy Day, George Marshall, Augustine, George Eliot, and President Dwight Eisenhower to show how selfless qualities sometimes considered to be old-fashioned in today’s individualistic society can lead to a greater good. The common thread in each tale is a humbling triumph. In each path, however, there first comes rock bottom.

It has affected my language in almost everything I tell them about leadership and serving each other.

Grit by Angela Duckworth.--via The Next Big Idea Club This book is a great read for anyone interested in psychology and personal development. Grit describes what creates outstanding achievements, based on science, interviews with high achievers from various fields and the personal history of success of the author, Angela Duckworth, uncovering that achievement isn’t reserved for the talented only, but for those with passion and perseverance.

In terms of being resilient, we can find ways to instill resilience by training people to believe that they have abilities that allow them to maintain hope. The reason you bounce back is because you know you have a chance and you believe.

Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Successby John Wooden. via The News Tribune When it comes down to it, success is an equal opportunity player. Anyone can create it in his or her career, family, and beyond. Based on John Wooden's own method to victory, Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success reveals that success is built block by block, where each block is a crucial principle contributing to lifelong achievement in every area of life. Each of these 32 daily readings takes an in-depth look at a single block of the pyramid, which when combined with the other blocks forms the structure of the pyramid of success. Join John Wooden and Jay Carty to discover the building blocks and key values--from confidence to faith--that have brought Coach to the pinnacle of success as a leader, a teacher, and a follower of God.

In the bottom-right corner as a foundation of his “Pyramid of Success” for leaders and coaches, Wooden wrote: “Enthusiasm: Brushes off upon those with whom you come in contact. You must truly enjoy what you are doing.”

The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey. via Sports IllustratedWith more than 800,000 copies sold since it was first published thirty years ago, this phenomenally successful guide has become a touchstone for hundreds of thousands of people. Not just for tennis players, or even just for athletes in general, this handbook works for anybody who wants to improve his or her performance in any activity, from playing music to getting ahead at work. W. Timothy Gallwey, a leading innovator in sports psychology, reveals how to

  • focus your mind to overcome nervousness, self-doubt, and distractions

  • find the state of “relaxed concentration” that allows you to play at your best

  • build skills by smart practice, then put it all together in match play

Whether you're a beginner or a pro, Gallwey's engaging voice, clear examples, and illuminating anecdotes will give you the tools you need to succeed. "Habits are statements about the past, and the past is gone." (page 74)

The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday--via Sports IllustratedThe book draws its inspiration from stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. Stoics focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher. As Marcus Aurelius put it nearly 2000 years ago: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Ryan Holiday shows us how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Their embrace of these principles ultimately mattered more than their natural intelligence, talents, or luck.

The robot lawyers are here - and they’re winning

[ from BBC ]

Image Credit: BBC

Image Credit: BBC

Amid the dire - and somewhat overhyped - predictions of occupations that will be decimated by artificial intelligence and automation, there is one crumb of comfort. Yes, lorry drivers, translators and shop assistants are all under threat from the rise of the robots, but at least the lawyers are doomed too. (Some of my best friends are lawyers, honest.)

That at least may be your conclusion when you hear about a fascinating contest that took place last month. It pitched over 100 lawyers from many of London's ritziest firms against an artificial intelligence program called Case Cruncher Alpha.

Both the humans and the AI were given the basic facts of hundreds of PPI (payment protection insurance) mis-selling cases and asked to predict whether the Financial Ombudsman would allow a claim.

In all, they submitted 775 predictions and the computer won hands down, with Case Cruncher getting an accuracy rate of 86.6%, compared with 66.3% for the lawyers.

Quite a triumph then for a tiny start-up business. For Case Cruncher is not the product of a tech giant but the brainchild of four Cambridge law students. They started out with a simple chatbot that answered legal questions - a bit of a gimmick but it caught on.

Christine Haskell, PHD has built her practice on credible, published research and data. In the Research Series, you’ll find highlights, shareable statistics, and links to the full source material.