Universal Tools & Manufacturing Co. Apprenticeship Company Spotlight

Manufacturers throughout New Jersey are beginning to take the next step forward when it comes to workforce development. Businesses are turning to newly developed Registered Apprenticeship Programs available throughout the state to create a more productive and knowledgeable staff while at the same time increasing employee loyalty. 

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It’s a challenge to ensure each employee has the right skills to help move business forward, but a Registered Apprenticeship takes this pressure off of companies. Universal Tools and Manufacturing Co. (UTM) was one of the first companies to take full advantage of the NJMEP Pro-Action Education Network™ Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician Registered Apprenticeship Program and it is a testament to their forward-thinking leadership. 

UTM Continues Looking Toward the Future

UTM is located in Springfield, New Jersey and its core business is custom metal stamping and tool and die making as well as the manufacture of decorative hardware. Founded in 1945, UTM remains a family business and is now led by the original owners’ daughter, Dorothy. This women-owned, ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturing business continues working on innovative ways to help drive their business forward as a whole. The latest step toward progress began by taking a look within. By giving select stand-out workers the opportunity to expand their skill set, they will improve employee loyalty and at the same time create a more capable workforce. 

Over the past decade, finding skilled workers has been a monumental challenge for companies in industrial sectors. Unemployment rates are at a historic low but New Jersey manufacturers and businesses throughout the country are still struggling to find individuals with the right skills that allow them to immediately begin contributing to an organization. As shop classes disappear and the stigma associated with a career in manufacturing lingers on, educational programs that emphasize career pathways within a manufacturing organization while at the same time providing the necessary education and training one needs to become a manufacturing professional are paramount. UTM understood the challenge facing manufacturing today and took a proactive approach to managing the Skills Gap. 

Apprenticeship Successes and The Impact on Business

Recently, UTM was featured in an NJMEP Success Story focused on workforce development. Out of the two employees enrolled in the NJMEP Pro-Action Education Network™ Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician (IMPT) Registered Apprenticeship Program, one was interviewed to see how she has already been able to make use of the education she received throughout the program. Even though the IMPT Registered Apprenticeship Program totals a year and a half, she and her employer were able to immediately apply the education to their organization. It was identified that the first MSSC module that “Jessica” passed could be directly linked back to her work at UTM. The first MSSC module in the NJMEP IMPT Registered Apprenticeship Program is Safety and Jessica is now on the company’s safety committee. She has become a key member of this internal committee and can now train employees and upskill additional members of the UTM team. It only took a month before the skills she is working to develop began to pay off for UTM.

Jessica was asked what she herself would like to gain from this program and her answer reassured UTM that a Registered Apprenticeship is of extraordinary value to both the employer and employee. “I would like to learn the ins and outs of a warehouse and how to run a plant.” From the program, UTM identified an employee that wants to contribute even more to their organization since the education she is receiving provides an in-depth overview on how a business operates. This knowledge can go a long way toward cultivating an employee that remains and grows with a company for decades. Now she is being given the necessary education to continue giving back to the employer that is investing in her. 

UTM has proven themselves to be forward-thinking. They embarked on the NJMEP Registered Apprenticeship and took part in the first Cohort NJMEP developed. Without any previous case studies to prove the concept, they invested in their employees and achieved the desired result before the program has even concluded. As UTM and the over 15 other employers currently involved in the NJMEP Pro-Action Education Network™ IMPT Registered Apprenticeship Program progresses forward, keep an eye out for even more success stories and Apprenticeship Company Spotlights in future additions of Manufacturing Matters. 

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