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Milliken Invests in Talent Through Apprenticeship

  Milliken employees
  Milliken employee
  Milliken employee
  Milliken employee
  Milliken employee

South Carolina’s workforce has been key to the long-term success of Milliken & Company for over 130 years. Today, with the help of Apprenticeship Carolina™ and South Carolina’s technical college system, Milliken is expanding on that legacy by launching its Textile Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship Program. Craig Haydamack, senior vice president of human resources for Milliken & Company, describes how Milliken’s new apprenticeship program will help attract and develop the top-tier talent that will drive their future goals.

EDGE: What is Milliken’s history in South Carolina?

Craig Haydamack: Milliken’s storied history in South Carolina has woven throughout the state since 1888. With more than 4,000 associates and 17 locations in South Carolina alone, Spartanburg serves as the global headquarters from which we serve the world.

The impacts of Milliken innovations continue to flourish around the world, as our leading performance and protective textiles, floor covering and chemical solutions are utilized across an array of industries. As such, we are creating solutions like apprenticeship programs to foster the highly-skilled manufacturing talent we need to not only maintain our current status but also fulfill future increased demand.

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: Milliken currently offers one registered apprenticeship in South Carolina, the Textile Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship Program at the Milliken Limestone Plant in Gaffney. Two students, who are completing their associate degrees in mechatronics at SCC, are currently enrolled, and we will soon welcome two additional apprentices for a total of four participants.

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.

EDGE: What would you like to highlight about your apprenticeship program?

CH: Milliken’s Textile Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship launched at the beginning of this year. Our plant managers have already seen the benefits of the apprentices’ contributions in the first few months, and they look forward to seeing them continue to evolve professionally.

EDGE:If given the opportunity to recommend the assistance
provided by Apprenticeship Carolina to another company, what would you say?

CH: Apprenticeship Carolina streamlines the apprenticeship model to make it actionable for companies. They are a reliable partner for questions and a sounding board when developing a new apprentice program. Apprenticeship Carolina’s partnership with Milliken is very much appreciated and has allowed our apprenticeship program to become a seamless process. We encourage other companies that are thinking of developing such a program to highly consider working with them.

EDGE: Over the years, Milliken has worked with readySC™, Apprenticeship Carolina, and your local tech college. What do you think is the greatest advantage of using all three of South Carolina’s premier

CH: Partnering with readySC, Apprenticeship Carolina and SCC allows us to take advantage of readily available resources. Without collaboration at this level, apprenticeship programs would be extremely difficult to implement.

Milliken is one of many manufacturers in South Carolina, and we realize that these specialized agencies play a vital role in growing and sustaining our workforce. Together as a state and as a community, we are helping to develop the workforce in South Carolina, which ultimately benefits all South Carolina residents.

EDGE: What other thoughts would you like to add about Apprenticeship Carolina, readySC and your local technical college?

CH: Apprenticeship Carolina, readySC and SCC are all supportive of manufacturing in South Carolina, and specifically, the Upstate. Their vision aligns with ours. We understand that for us to continue as a successful global company, we have to invest in the development of skilled workforce talent, which requires successful partnerships throughout our local communities and across the state.

Milliken & Company

Milliken & Company is a diversified industrial manufacturer that has been in business since 1865. In 1884, the company invested in a new facility in Pacolet, South Carolina, and from that investment, the manufacturing operations grew. Milliken & Company headquarters moved to Spartanburg, SC in 1958, where it has flourished ever since.

Today, Milliken & Company has more than 7,000 associates worldwide and operates over 40 manufacturing facilities in the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Mexico and China. Milliken operates in a number of diverse disciplines, includes specialty chemicals, performance and protective textiles, floor coverings, specialty fabrics, healthcare and business consulting services.