This article appeared in the September 2021 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Manufacturers have arrived at a unique crossroad between traditional production and the influence of technology. As more companies adopt Industry 4.0 practices and are leveraging software and data to evolve their own processes, the need for software engineers has grown and will continue to grow.
Bosch, a leading global supplier of technology and services and the largest automotive supplier in the world, is changing the game when it comes to cultivating the talent needed to sustain the company’s mobility program in the years to come. Early in 2020, Bosch unveiled a unique software engineering apprenticeship program to develop engineers who will lead the way on embedded control systems to support the company’s mobility efforts.
“Our program is really looking for coding but with a focus on hardware,” says Chris Morgan, Senior HR Specialist-Apprenticeship Program and a 15-year Bosch veteran.
Morgan adds, “That’s where our program starts to differentiate itself. Someone who is working for an IT software company, they might be looking for skills relating to front-end, back-end or a full-stack developer. We’re more focused on deploying software to hardware.”
The new program, which accepted its first cohort of apprentices in August 2020, marries elements of a technology company and a traditional manufacturing apprenticeship, such as welding or tool and die. Morgan says the company recognized roughly two years ago that the need for software engineers was becoming critical and they needed to support that pipeline of talent.
“So, one of the things that we looked at and the reason why we went with the apprenticeship program is that we could essentially help build a pipeline,” says Morgan. “We still have a need for students who are graduating from four-year institutions...but we can help grow a labor force that has a very specific skillset.”
The ever-increasing competition in the industry for talent was also a factor in developing the program.
“When you look at the number of students graduating universities with the skills that the industry is looking for, we’re competing for a lot of the same talent,” says Morgan. “And, at the end of the day, you still have a gap. So how do you address that gap?”
So far, the software engineering apprenticeship program has attracted traditional and non-traditional students. Morgan says a common theme within this first cohort was attracting students working in other fields but whom have always had a passion for software and technology.
“One of our students was a sous-chef,” says Morgan. “His job was preparing food and he was very customer-focused, and we see that in his approach. He constantly has the customer at the forefront.”
“It’s success stories like that, of not only transforming the individual’s life...but also we’re starting to see the impact that they bring to the organization and the value of having that perspective. And, I think it helps us approach our products, our services and our solutions in a way that is something we hadn’t considered before. Ultimately, our customers are going to benefit from that, so that’s just adding tremendous value.”
Bosch is one of many companies within Michigan manufacturing that recognizes the value of adopting Industry 4.0 and how that will evolve their businesses and the industry as a whole. However, it’s not only the technology and systems that need to evolve, but the people as well. Companies like Bosch that recognize the value in building that talent pipeline will be well positioned for the future to come.
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