Qualtek Manufacturing Inc., a privately owned company operating in Colorado Springs for more than 50 years, started a Tool and Die Apprenticeship program in 2014. It's the first such formal apprenticeship training in Colorado registered through the Department of Labor.
The first apprentice, Matthew Struttmann, just completed the four-year certification program, which combines 8,000 hours of on-the-job learning and 675 hours of classroom instruction at Pikes Peak and Pueblo community colleges.
Struttmann received his certificate from Mike Williams, tool and die manager at Qualtek.
As the first graduate, Struttmann has set an example for other young adults who want to pursue careers in skilled trades, said Qualtek President Chris Fagnant.
"Matthew is a highly skilled tool and die maker, and our goal is to have hi building dies here in Colorado Springs for a long time," Fagnant said in a news release.
The program enables high school graduates to enter a training program that avoids student debt and prepares them for a viable career in the advanced manufacturing industry, he said.