Today's metalworking environment has changed dramatically over the past two decades but many apprenticeship programs haven't matched those changes. One trade organization that is transforming the way metalworking apprentices (metal fabrication, mold making and machine shop) are trained is the Tooling & Manufacturing Association. Founded in 1925, the TMA is located in Park Ridge (near Chicago) and is Illinois' premier full-service manufacturing association that serves member companies in that state with various services and programs.
One of TMA's largest and most in-demand training programs is its Related Theory Apprentice Training Program that benefits both the students and the many metal working companies that need skilled employees now more than ever. How best to train these young people in the trade has been the cause of some controversy over the years, however TMA is finding and implementing new methods and avenues of training metalworkers in the 21st century.
At one time, TMA's apprenticeship program had upwards of 400 students every year. However, the economic downturn in 2008 resulted in the program's temporary suspension due to a lack of students. In 2011, the program was revived and revised. Two separate sessions of first year related theory apprentice training are currently running.