For more than seven years, BMW Manufacturing has offered the BMW Scholars program, an apprenticeship program that educates and trains students to work in the highly-technical environment of advanced manufacturing. Today, BMW Manufacturing announced that it will expand the number of apprentices in its BMW Scholars program to 200, doubling the size of the program. With this increase, BMW will add a fourth education partner in Piedmont Technical College.
“Technology is constantly changing in the automotive industry,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “Now more than ever, we must invest in highly-skilled workers who can solve problems. Investing in BMW Scholars allows us to develop a pool of talented men and women who will help sustain the future of BMW.”
BMW Manufacturing first announced the Scholars program in 2011, partnering with three area technical colleges: Spartanburg Community College, Greenville Technical College and Tri-County Technical College. In the program, students attend class full-time and work at the BMW plant for 20 – 25 hours per week. BMW covers the cost of tuition and books, provides healthcare benefits and pays students for their work at BMW.
“Working with our education partners we are able to build the skilled workforce that BMW needs,” said Ryan Childers, department manager for talent programs at BMW. “Ten or more years ago, you might have a mechanic, an electrician and a robotics person all employed in a manufacturing environment. Now we need all those skills in one person. With advanced manufacturing and the new economy, that’s what the market demands.”
Additional Education Partner
With the expansion of BMW Scholars, the company will add Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, South Carolina, as its fourth education partner.
“Teamwork and collaboration between BMW and our education partners have been the key to the success of BMW Scholars,” said Childers. “I’m confident that adding Piedmont Technical College will only enrich our program. It’s through this great public-private partnership that the next-generation of BMW associates are being developed.”
Since the Scholars program began, there have been six graduating classes and 138 BMW Scholar graduates. Every Scholar has been offered a full-time position at BMW.
BMW Scholar Success Story
After spending nine years in the U.S. Army – including two combat tours in Iraq – and four years in law enforcement, Joel Pridmore decided he needed a career change. Pridmore, a 2004 graduate of Dorman High School, said he wasn’t sure what career path to take until he read about the BMW Scholars program on the Spartanburg Community College website.
“I watched the BMW Scholar recruitment video on my phone one day and saw all the robots welding cars,” Pridmore said. “I love technology and that really piqued my interest.”
Pridmore applied through Spartanburg Community College and became a Scholar in 2016. For nearly two years, he’s attended classes full-time and worked at BMW about 20 hours per week. He will graduate the program in May with an associate’s degree in mechatronics.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity BMW has given me to learn and to apply my skills on the job,” he said. “This program has been a blessing to me and my wife, and I’m excited to see where my career goes in the future.”
To Apply As A BMW Scholar
Persons interested in the BMW Scholars program should apply at one of the four education partners:
- Spartanburg Community College – Jennifer Little, 864-592-4808, email@example.com
- Greenville Technical College – Susan Gasque, 864-250-8105, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tri-County Technical College – Cheryl Garrison, 864-646-1573, email@example.com
- Piedmont Technical College – Chris Lipp, 864-682-3702, firstname.lastname@example.org; Charles Dixon, 864-941-8656, email@example.com
Students must study in one of the following areas: automotive technology, robotics/mechatronics/industrial maintenance, mechanical or electrical engineering, logistics/supply chain management, or production associate technology or other related manufacturing fields. Students must maintain a minimum 2.8 GPA while in the program.
BMW Manufacturing currently produces 1,400 vehicles each day, exporting 70 percent of these models to 140 global markets. The model portfolio includes the BMW X3, X4, X5 and X6 Sports Activity Vehicles and Coupes (and their variants). The all-new BMW X7 will debut in late 2018. Last year (2017), the Spartanburg plant produced 371,284 vehicles. The plant has a production capacity of 450,000 vehicles and employs 10,000 people.
In June, the BMW Group announced it will invest an additional $600 million in the Spartanburg plant from 2018 through 2021 to support manufacturing infrastructure for future generations of X models. An additional 1,000 jobs will also be added through 2021.