AlabamaWorks! Innovator Award goes to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International
by Khadijah Torbert
September 20, 2022
Friday, September 9th, AlabamaWorks! was pleased to recognize Mercedes-Benz U.S. International as this year’s Innovator Award recipient for Region 3 for their role in helping to launch the Modern Manufacturing Program at Brookwood High School.
Mercedes-Benz US International Inc. (MBUSI) is an integral partner of West AlabamaWorks (WAW) strategic plan and process. When WAW launched the Modern Manufacturing Program at Brookwood High School MBUSI did not hesitate to come on board to support the program, teachers, administrators and students. MBUSI staff serve as advisors to the program where they share the vision of MBUSI and the workforce needs with the students. They also go above and beyond to support the program through donations to the program so students are able to learn with hands-on materials they would encounter at the plant.
As the modern manufacturing program was replicated with other schools in our region MBUSI added to their commitment by donating a GLE SUV to each participating school for students to take apart and put back together each semester to gain knowledge of the manufacturing process. As the program has been launched in three other regions MBUSI has shared the process of how they partner with our K-12 school system for other regions to replicate.
This year MBUSI added to their commitment by breaking down barriers to implement a youth apprenticeship program for 16–18 year-old students. This unprecedented thought process took much planning and approval but was an important part of the process to train our future workforce for success. So far MBUSI has hired and trained 24 students who are a part of the paid apprenticeship. They work with the students’ schedules to allow them to complete valuable work experience while still enjoying their high school experience. Youth apprentices at the plant have a uniform that identifies them and their role and allows other team members to assist them and mentor them while they are working in the plant. After graduation, students are hired as full-time employees with benefits and a raise. Many students have already moved from entry level jobs to team leaders due to the support and guidance of the apprenticeship program. With MBUSI’s leadership they have shared their process of the youth apprenticeship model with their suppliers who have been able to replicate this success and give students more opportunities in the automotive field.
Donny Jones, West AlabamaWorks Executive Director stated “the partnership between MBUSI and WAW is a great example of how business and industry partners can invest in and encourage our youth who are their future workforce.”
The awards were developed to highlight people and programs across the state that take an innovative approach to solve workforce challenges and help advance Governor Ivey’s Success Plus attainment goal of adding 500,000 highly skilled workers by 2025.