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Manufacturing Apprenticeship Programs Build the Future of the Packaging Industry

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Manufacturing apprenticeship programs create the workforce for the packaging industry of tomorrow. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, registered apprenticeships produce strong results for both employers and apprentices:

  • Apprentice graduates start their career with an average starting salary of $80,000, earning more than $300,000 more than those who do not complete an apprenticeship program.  
  • Employers retain employment of approximately 90% of apprentices who complete their program—a win-win.

Sonoco's own CEO, Howard Coker, began his career as an apprentice/intern over 30 years ago:

"I believe that the manufacturing industry offers the opportunity for an amazing career journey, especially here at Sonoco. While my career has taken me across many different roles divisions and countries, some of my best learning experiences were and continue to be in our manufacturing operations.”

At Sonoco, we believe people build businesses. A team member shares: “I pretty quickly realized upfront that Sonoco had a different take on people and leadership and how I could take my development to the next level.” We’re committed to investing in each team member’s development. Combining academic and technical instruction, our manufacturing apprenticeships include paid work experience to prepare workers for a career in this industry through these four U.S.-based programs:

Youth Apprenticeship:
Designed for high school juniors or seniors interested in a career in manufacturing, this program equips students to explore high-demand manufacturing and operation careers needed in advanced manufacturing.

Professional Apprenticeship: 
We created this program for current technical school students or for those who will attend technical school. Through the U.S.-wide FAME program, we prepare students for a career as a maintenance technician with on-the-job certifications. This two-year program enables graduates to earn an associate’s and an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) certification and cover all education expenses. Unlike other shadow-based programs, our Sonoco-sponsored students create innovative solutions with on-the-job experience under expert mentors.

Fast-Track Apprenticeship:
For recent technical school graduates, we’re committed to developing and progressing these graduates with skill-building and on-the-job experiences, formal learning and development and future career opportunities. 

One employee from a Sonoco Waco, Texas operation shares his experience: “If you apply yourself, have a good work ethic and are creative, you actually can put your name on a lot of different processes. I know this firsthand, because there are several projects that I've worked on that are out on the floor that you can actively see.” 

Career Change Apprenticeship:
This program guides current Sonoco team members looking to make a career change. We focus on building skills and aligning employees with the right job that challenges them to reach their potential.

According to the Manufacturers’ Association, businesses currently lack approximately 3 million manufacturing workers. Apprenticeship programs with on-the-job instruction and technical and basic skills training can help to fill this gap.

Investing in the manufacturing workforce of tomorrow resonates with Sonoco guiding principle—people build businesses. “Sonoco cares more about their people,” states one Sonoco employee of 50 years. “Sonoco is much more involved with their employees and with keeping their employees safe than any companies I worked at previously.” Join us as we build the future packaging industry workforce.

Explore our apprenticeship programs: