Wacker Polysilicon North America announced its support for three new apprenticeship programs at Chattanooga State Community College which will begin this fall. Students who qualify and are selected for the programs will participate in paid on-the-job training at the Wacker Polysilicon plant in Charleston, Tenn.
Of the almost 100 operators and laboratory technicians already employed with Wacker, all have gone through a Wacker Institute program.
The company plans to hire an additional 80 chemical operators in the coming months, and will give first consideration to qualified, eligible graduates of a Wacker Institute program.
“This is a logical next step for us in working with Chattanooga State,” said Dr. Konrad Bachhuber, vice president and site manager at Wacker Polysilicon North America. “Students who successfully complete an apprenticeship program will have high-quality training and work experience—this is not only attractive for Wacker, but to the other chemical companies and manufacturers in the region.”
The company hopes to engage students from chemical engineering technology, electrical/instrumentation systems and mechanical systems tracks.
As an apprentice, students will work one to two eight- or 12-hour shifts each week at Wacker’s Charleston plant. Books and safety equipment required for the program will be provided by the company.
“We believe this integrated approach will be very effective,” said Dr. Erika Burk, human resources director for the site. “Students can develop a better understanding of what they learn in class by applying this knowledge in a highly sophisticated work environment.”
Apprenticeships at Wacker Polysilicon North America will align with existing programs at the Wacker Institute, with a duration of five semesters.
Chemical operator apprentices with the company will work one day a week in the fall and spring semesters, and twice a week in the summer. Mechanical and electrical/instrumentation apprentices will work two days a week.
“With the possibility of tuition being paid through Tennessee Promise, Tennessee Hope or other scholarships, this is a win-win situation,” added Burk. “Graduates from the chemical engineering technology Associate in Applied Sciences program are sought after by many area companies, including Wacker. It’s a fantastic program, and now graduates may enter the workforce with experience obtained at a globally operating chemical company.”
“Chattanooga State has worked closely with Wacker since the very beginning of our project,” said Bachhuber. “We are looking forward to future joint activities with the apprenticeship program.”
Apprentices are not guaranteed a full-time job upon graduation.
For more information about the Wacker Institute or the apprenticeship programs available, contact Chattanooga State’s engineering technology division at (423) 697-4434.