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Mubea graduates fourth class of apprentices ready for a career in advanced manufacturing

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

A fourth group of students is on their way to careers in advanced manufacturing through their participation in the Mubea North America apprenticeship program.

The six students were recognized at the Mubea Apprenticeship Graduation ceremony at the Metropolitan Club in Covington and brings the number of those that have completed the program to 33.

Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Secretary Derrick Ramsey speaks to the Mubea 2018 Apprenticeship Graduation class (photos by Mark Hansel).

Kentucky Secretary of Education and Workforce Development Derrick Ramsey was the featured speaker. He has attended every Mubea apprenticeship graduation since being appointed to Gov. Matt Bevin’s Cabinet in 2015.

Ramsey was born in the small town of Hastings, Florida but has deep ties to the Commonwealth.

He was the first African-American starting quarterback for the University of Kentucky football team. He went on to a nine-year career in the NFL and was a member of the Oakland Raiders team that won the Super Bowl in 1981.

Ramsey was appointed Labor secretary in 2015 and was named to his current post earlier this year. He was also Deputy Secretary of Commerce under former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher from 2003 to 2007.

Ramsey told the graduates apprenticeships excite him because they ignite his passion for affordable education and the development of the state’s workforce.

Education and Workforce Development Secretary Derrick Ramsey talks to the 2018 Mubea apprenticeship graduates:


“I spent 16 years on three university campuses and what I got to understand early on is how offensive it was to see young people take on such debt,” Ramsey said. “Doing the work that I’ve done over the last 30 years on university campuses and now in the workplace, if I was a young person today, and did not have a scholarship in hand, I’d do what you guys are doing. There is no way, I would take on this kind of debt.”

When he returned to Kentucky in 2015, he knew finding ways to make education affordable had to be a priority. Ramsey’s career paths have always either involved athletics or politics, so he was doing what he wanted to to do, but the calling that he had was driven by his love for the Commonwealth.

“So, when I was assembling my team, one of the things I mentioned to Gov. Bevin was to thank him for the opportunity of allowing me to be a secretary here, but secondly, I want to be an impact player.”

Without his athletic skills, which allowed him scholarship opportunities, Ramsey said there is no way he could afford to attend a four-year college if he were a student today. Ramsey told the apprentices that a debt of just $30,000 would take the average student more than 15 years to repay.

“I’m not sure what skillset I would be in, but I would be a skilled worker, no question because the average skilled laborer in America today makes $60,000,” Ramsey said.  “I didn’t make $60,000 until  my third year in the NFL, but that was almost 40 years ago, it’s a little different now, they make real money now.”

The point Ramsey was making was that because of the opportunity afforded the apprentices by Mubea, they can now determine their future path.

“So when you have an opportunity to control your own destiny, what a way,” Ramsey said. “If I can control what I make, I’m going to make it. You just have to be willing to work. “

Ramsey estimates that there are 116,000 open jobs in the Commonwealth today. In the next five years, that number is expected to be 326,000 to 350,000. By 2028, it could be as high as 700,000.

“I run into people all the time and they tell me I can’t find a job.,” Ramsey said. “You know what I tell them, open your eyes. From janitorial to brain surgeon, there are that many jobs out there.”

Of course, the better paying, more secure jobs require education and/or training.

The Mubea apprenticeship program provides both, with no debt, and a salary during training.

“I am extremely proud of you because today it is so hard just to get folks to get off the duff and go to work,” Ramsey said. “What you have decided is that you wanted to have a good life, but more importantly, you wanted to have a career, which is what this incredible opportunity at Mubea has provided.”

Mubea North America CEO Doug Cain addresses the students at the Mubea 2018 Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony at the Metropolitan Club in Covington.

Mubea North America CEO Doug Cain told the graduates that they were doing more than charting a rewarding career path.

“You are joining a family and I think that’s important for you to know,” Cain said. “Stay focused, but realize that you’ve got a support group. You wanted to be here and you were chosen.”

German-based Mubea has long recognized the value of apprenticeships. 

“We invest as a company, in everything associated with the apprentice program, including the equipment, including the class, including the pay it’s $2-plus million a year,” Cain said. “That’s how committed we are to it.”

With that much invested, Mubea has to be sure it is getting the right candidates.

“The class that we have coming in this time, 50 people applied and we selected seven,” Cain told the group. “When you join, you are a member of an elite group. In the four years of graduations, we have had nine people graduating a year, so you are a part of a select group in that regard.”

Mubea manufactures automotive components, such as springs, hose clamps and stabilizer bars. It started operating in Kentucky in 1982. The company has invested more than $200 million in North America since 2010, 80 percent of that in Northern Kentucky. It employs 10,500 worldwide, including 1,400 in the region.

Luigi Tiddia, General Manager of Mubea’s Hose Clamp Division, oversees the apprenticeship program here. He told the apprentices they should be proud of what he believes will be the first of many accomplishments with the company.

Mubea Apprenticeship Manager Drew Farris speaks to the latest class of graduates at the ceremony.

“It might have been a rough time, it might have been an easy time, it might have been a good time, but this is the first milestone that you guys have achieved,” Tiddia said. “The key to all of this is to continue your education, but not right away. Learn first, use what you have learned over the last three years.”

Still, in a company where technology changes rapidly, Tiddia emphasized the need for continued growth.

“This is for us like a pillar in our plans that with your knowledge that you share do the best you can every day,” Tiddia said. “But time doesn’t stop, so you need to continue keeping up with technology. Now it is time to celebrate, and we will celebrate, but it is your day and you should be proud of that, and I’m proud of it.”

Mubea Apprenticeship Manager Drew Farris mentors each group that comes through the three-and-a-half-year program and said each is a little different. 

He tries to deliver a special message to each class. This year he encouraged the graduates to share their experiences with family and friends.

 “Share when you go home – you finished the apprenticeship program, so hopefully you love what you do,” Farris said. “You love your family and your family better love Mubea because you are going to spend a lot of hours there.”

Because the job is so demanding, he said the apprentices need to strike a balance in their lives.

“Understand your family’s needs by providing a work and family balance, so share when you go home,” Farris said. “When you talk about going back to school, tell them why you want to go back to school. Talk about why you want to back to Gateway to take that extra class. Get the support of your family, because you are going to need that extra support.”

The Mubea apprenticeship program is designed to offer selected students the opportunity to pursue a career in one of four Skilled Trades Specialties:

• Industrial Maintenance

• Machinist

• Mechatronics

• Tool & Die

Studies include on-the job training as well as classroom instruction at Gateway Community and Technical College Northern Kentucky Manufacturing Center. 

Required courses are paid for by Mubea and of course, Apprentice employees are paid for the hours worked at Mubea. This in-depth training program will require 3 to 5 years of training depending on the students’ background, abilities, and selected career path.

For more information on the Mubea apprenticeship program, or for other opportunities at Mubea North America, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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