The Apprenticeship Program of the Shop
(This writer wishes to acknowledge Mr. John Rauth, a Graduate of the Whitin Machine Works Apprenticeship Program who was invaluable in furnishing many copies of The Whitin Review , and whose expertise was a direct result of the program explained below.)
An observation had been made that our country wasn't unique among world nations in enjoying a large, industrious population and in having such desirable climate, geography, and many natural resources. What has been remarkable in the narrated history of the United States and its industrial growth, has been the deep and continuous interest in calling for universal and high quality education.
In order to provide systematic training and education in the many skills needed in manufacturing, the Whitin Machine Works had conducted a training program for nearly a century. Until 1919, the training of individuals in the trades, which called for high skills and a long apprenticeship, was arranged by having apprentices "serve their time" in the department of 'The Shop' in which they were especially interested, and by allowing the apprentices to get proficient through observation and practice in actually doing the work. With systematic and complete instructions provided by their fellow workers and foremen, the apprentices were slowly but gradually advanced through the steps of the trade until they were able to perform the most difficult parts of the art or practice of the trade desired.
Therefore, from largely 1919 onward, the Whitin Machine Works had maintained a thorough program for all of its apprentices that included regular class-time instruction in basic skills and associated areas. After an interruption of several years due to World War II, a revised apprentice program, approved by the Division of Apprentice Training, Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries, and by the U.S. Labor Department, was started in 1948. The courses of training had been designed to train and qualify apprentices as skilled journeymen in several trades. They included a diversified training in many shop departments and then specialization in the trade chosen. The apprentices were supervised on the job by foremen and experienced journeymen and were moved from one work process to another in accordance with a specific, planned schedule for each trade. The training was supplemented by related classroom instruction under the supervision of Mr. Luke L. Lomartire, director of apprentices. The classroom work was designed to broaden the trainees' understanding of their respective trades and their functions in industry, and to give apprentices a complete background of related skills with information.
The apprentice training program's length varied from 3 to 5 years. The training program initially had an enrollment of 86 individuals, for the training in the following trades: drafting, metal-pattern making, wood-pattern making, molding, cabinet making, carpentry, plumbing, electrical trade, machining, tool making, and iron working. In addition to the trades just mentioned, training programs were instituted also for qualifying individuals as erectors of Whitin Machinery.
These divisions included: spinning, roving, combing and knitting, carding and picking. All of the apprentices’ work was divided each week between shop practice and class work, with 36 hours of shop time and 4 hours of class work divided among the following subjects: mathematics, blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, shop theory, and English. During the very first year of class work, each trainee would take introductory courses in each of the subjects just mentioned, and during the subsequent 2, 3, or 4 years, continue with advanced studies pertinent to the individual’s chosen trade in each one of those fields. The class work curriculum was approved by the Division of Vocational Education, Massachusetts Department of Education.
Upon completion of the training program, each graduate received a Certificate of Completion and a Journeyman’s Card from the Apprentice Training Service, State Department of Labor and Industries; and the trainee was awarded a Diploma by the Whitin Machine Works. Since the training school was resumed in 1948, three graduates had received their certificates (at the time of this report in 1951).Of these, two completed the molding course and one in the spinning erecting course. Many more trainees would go on through the apprenticeship program and graduate as management courses were later offered, especially through the 1950’s, the 1960’s, and the 1970’s.
Applicants for the apprenticeship training program were carefully screened. They also had to undergo a series of aptitude tests before being accepted as apprentices. Due to the care and expert attention and training each trainee got, it was always Whitin's expectation that the journeymen trained in this program would receive a reputation for ethical character and high skill, and that they would be able to dedicate their abilities in the textile industry and in service to their country. During the 1950’s the supervision of the program for apprentice training for the Whitin Machine Works was maintained by the following committee:
Mr. Frank Stone-- Personnel Director; Mr. John E. Cunningham-- Plant Superintendent ; Mr. Erik O. Pierson-- Works Manager , and Mr. Luke L. Lomartire—Director of Apprentices
CREDITS AND RESOURCES:
The Whitin Review (Volume 18 # 4, July-August 1951); pp. 9-13; published by the Whitin Machine Works; copyright 1951
Interview with Mr. John Rauth, former W.M.W. employee in Overseas Sales
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