In today’s ever-changing and IT-focused world, people tend to forget about good old-fashioned jobs that simply don’t have the appeal they used to a few years ago. Being a mechanic isn’t a sought-after occupation but according to BMW things are about to turn around, as they recently announced that they will be doubling their Scholars Program.

The BMW Scholars program is an apprenticeship that educates and trains students to work in the highly-technical environment of advanced manufacturing. So far, in the program’s first seven years active, it had 100 apprentices per year signing up because of the limited availability. Starting this year, the program will double in size, allowing BMW to train 200 people. With this increase, BMW will add a fourth education partner in Piedmont Technical College.

“Technology is constantly changing in the automotive industry,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “Now more than ever, we must invest in highly-skilled workers who can solve problems. Investing in BMW Scholars allows us to develop a pool of talented men and women who will help sustain the future of BMW.”

“Working with our education partners we are able to build the skilled workforce that BMW needs,” said Ryan Childers, department manager for talent programs at BMW. “Ten or more years ago, you might have a mechanic, an electrician and a robotics person all employed in a manufacturing environment. Now we need all those skills in one person. With advanced manufacturing and the new economy, that’s what the market demands.”

BMW Manufacturing first announced the Scholars program in 2011, partnering with three area technical colleges: Spartanburg Community College, Greenville Technical College and Tri-County Technical College. In the program, students attend class full-time and work at the BMW plant for 20 – 25 hours per week. BMW covers the cost of tuition and books, provides healthcare benefits and pays students for their work at BMW.

Since the Scholars program began, there have been six graduating classes and 138 BMW Scholar graduates. Every Scholar has been offered a full-time position at BMW. Students must study in one of the following areas: automotive technology, robotics/mechatronics/industrial maintenance, mechanical or electrical engineering, logistics/supply chain management, or production associate technology or other related manufacturing fields. Students must maintain a minimum 2.8 GPA while in the program.