Training the Fluid Power Professionals of the Future
Ask a group of sixth graders what they would like to be when they grow up. You will receive glamorous answers, such as professional athletes and actors. You will hear prestigious answers, such as doctors and lawyers. You will also hear adventurous answers, such as police officers and pilots. If you ask the same question to that same group of students when they are high school seniors, you will likely receive some of the same answers, but many will state a profession they hadn’t thought about six years earlier. However, I’m fairly confident that a very small number of high school seniors utter the words “hydraulic” or “fluid power” when describing their future careers.
The fluid power industry, like many others, has the challenge of educating the populace about the industry and the opportunities within. Perfection Servo, a hydraulic and electronic industrial repair company, has faced this challenge for many years. Finding young talent with fluid power experience is difficult due to the pool being shallow, and finding experienced talent is even more difficult because those individuals are coveted assets of companies within our industry.
That typically leaves us to grow our talent from within. We will introduce intelligent and hardworking individuals to the world of fluid power by having them join our hydraulic teardown and prep team. Once they have paid their dues, we will offer company-sponsored fluid power education at local colleges. Those individuals who demonstrate an understanding of the discipline are then promoted into our hydraulic test department, and then the very best are selected to begin training as a hydraulic technician. This process of formal education and on-the-job training can take anywhere from 3-6 years. We invest a lot of time and money into these individuals, but in the end we are rewarded with a highly productive member of our team, and they are rewarded with a stable and high-paying career.
This process has worked and will continue to work, but we are also experimenting with an internship program. We have partnered with Northwest State Community College and have offered two summer internships for those who are working towards their degree in Mechatronics. The program runs 10 weeks, and we provide a housing stipend and living wage. Our interns spend four days of every week working in our teardown/prep/test department, and one day shadowing an experienced technician. They learn a great deal about Perfection Servo’s business, the wide variety of hydraulic components in the marketplace, and the challenges that manufacturers and hydraulic service companies face.
The response we have received on the program has been terrific. Our interns have appreciated the real-world experience, and Perfection Servo has enjoyed contributing to the training of our future fluid power professionals. Perfection Servo’s internship program will continue to supply a steady infusion of talent and will enable Perfection Servo to remain a leader in the industrial hydraulic repair marketplace.
Does your company offer an internship and/or training program for the next generation of fluid power professionals? If so, we want to know about it. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in a future issue of the Fluid Power Journal.
By Brian J. Carr, General manager, Perfection Servo