Long-Time Trainer Honored for Apprenticeship Development

Today’s Advisor provides an inspirational example of the positive difference professional trainers can make on future generations in their communities and their industries.

In his 3-decade career with Bosch Rexroth, Mike Bryan has trained nearly 770 apprentices and continuously demonstrated his support for developing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills among the next generation of workers.

His efforts were recently recognized by the German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC), which presented Bryan with its Trainer of the Year award. The award is presented to “outstanding German subsidiaries that demonstrate excellence in workforce training by fostering advanced skills and competence development, especially in young people,” according to Bosch Rexroth (

Bryan, a training specialist who has worked for Bosch for 36 years, has been involved with apprenticeship development for 32 years. In 2008, he left the Bosch facility in Charleston, South Carolina, and transferred to Bosch Rexroth’s nearby Fountain Inn, South Carolina, facility to implement the apprenticeship program there.

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The Fountain Inn 2-year apprenticeship program, which Bryan continues to oversee, is part of a commitment by Bosch and Bosch Rexroth to support workforce development in the community and to develop STEM skills. The program gives engineering students opportunities for on-the-job training and experience in a fabrication shop, machine shop, sign shop, and engineering co-op programs.

Under a partnership with Greenville Technical College, apprentices develop advanced manufacturing skills by working at the Fountain Inn facility and attending classes. When participants complete the program, they are given an apprenticeship certificate, and some are offered employment at Bosch.

Bryan’s dedication to the development of STEM skills extends beyond the workplace. During the past 15 years, he has spent more than 300 volunteer hours per year growing youth STEM programs in area schools. In Laurens County School District, for example, he formed a high school team to participate in FIRST Robotics, which is a challenging, student-driven international robotics competition. Since then, the district’s middle and elementary schools have started FIRST teams.

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“We’re very pleased and honored that Mike Bryan’s work and the accomplishments of the apprenticeship program at Fountain Inn have been recognized by the GACC,” said Mike McCormick, who is technical plant manager at the Bosch Rexroth Fountain Inn facility. “This award is a tribute to Mike’s dedication to help young people develop the skills that they—and Bosch Rexroth—will need for future growth in our rapidly changing economy.”

“Manufacturing jobs—especially today’s high-tech, well-paid manufacturing jobs—strengthen the foundation for vibrant, thriving communities,” McCormick continued. “The apprenticeship program, which provides on-the-job training that directly applies to what is taught in the classroom, has long been a model of success at Bosch. The training and apprenticeship initiatives that we’ve started in several communities help build the workforce of the future.”

Bryan was selected for the GACC award by a jury of vocational training experts, including professors from Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, and German institutions. “Mike exemplifies the role of a leader in the apprenticeship movement by bringing his foresight and expertise to industries and to the community,” said Juror Katherine Newman, dean at Johns Hopkins.

Workforce training is a top priority for German subsidiaries in the United States, the GACC reports. Germany boasts the lowest youth unemployment rate of any industrialized nation in the world—7.9 percent, which the GACC attributes largely to the traditional German vocational training path chosen by 55 percent of school graduates. But nearly 50 percent of German companies cannot find the skills needed in the U.S. labor market, particularly STEM-related qualifications, the organization said, citing the latest German American Business Outlook survey.

Why It Matters

  • Apprenticeships and internships can be effective methods for training the next generation of employees on how to work safely and productively.
  • Establishing good safety habits from the start of a career can yield a lifetime of incident- and injury-free productivity.
  • If you already have such programs, work to keep them up to date and continuously improving; if you don’t, seriously consider starting one.

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