It's not by design, but the workforce of Canon Virginia Inc.'s apprenticeship program at its mold making unit skews a little older than most.
Rather than the young people out of high school usually seen in manufacturing apprenticeship programs, those training at CVI are between 27 and 49 years old. They were all veteran employees at the Japanese firm's large factory in Newport News, Va., before becoming apprentice injection mold builders.
"We don't exclude the external, but what we said we'd always look internal first to see if there's somebody that wanted a promotion or wanted an opportunity to learn a trade," said Rhonda Bunn, senior director of human resources and corporate communications for CVI.
"It just worked out that we've always found internal candidates that were really, really good and really, really interested in the program," Bunn said.
The sprawling factory has a large potential applicant pool, with 1,700 employees. There's only about 60 staff in its mold making unit, with more in a separate injection molding division that producers parts internally for Canon.
The mold making division, which has had eight apprentices, builds injection molds for Canon but also sells to other manufacturing companies.
Bunn said the apprenticeship has given employees a path to improve themselves professionally.