MASON, OH—Festo Didactic Learning Systems North America is expanding its Mechatronics Apprenticeship Program (MAP).

“Festo’s side of the apprenticeship provided an affordable, unique, hands-on approach to learning mechatronics. This program taught me the very basics of electrical power up to advanced industrial troubleshooting,” said former Festo Didactic apprentice Kenneth Bibb. “I was able to gain more learning and experience with Festo than I would have in a traditional four-year university. Festo has set my life up perfectly by providing the skills I needed through the apprenticeship to begin a successful mechatronics engineering career.” 

The award-winning mechatronics program has been a growing collaboration among Art Metal Group, Clippard Instruments, E-Beam, MQ Automation, Nestlé, Festo Didactic and others. At its core, MAP supports manufacturers locally and nationally in training and retaining skilled workers. Heading into its sixth year, MAP will begin accepting apprenticeships on a rolling admission basis instead of a semester schedule. The program will consist of 57 weeks of training instead of five semesters. This transition will allow for more apprentices to enroll faster, train faster and get to work faster. 

“Ohio currently ranks third nationally for the number of apprentices and first in the Midwest,” said Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “As employers are facing pressing workforce challenges, they are increasingly turning to apprenticeships to find talent and students are finding the earn-while-you-learn model without racking up student loan debt very rewarding. It’s a win-win.”

In January 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law earmarking $17.5 million per year for businesses that pay for employees to upgrade their technology skills. Through Ohio’s TechCred program, the state will reimburse up to $2,000 per employee and up to $30,000 per employer when a company pays for a current or prospective employee to earn an industry-recognized credential in technology-focused programs like MAP. 

Nationwide, apprenticeship continues to experience strong growth. On Sept. 1, the White House launched the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative—a national network of more than 200 employers and other organizations who signed on to create almost 500 hundred new registered apprenticeship programs. Through the new federal initiative, companies agreed to build new programs across a wide range of industries and to hire 10,000 new apprentices in the coming year. The Department of Labor also announced plans to invest over $330 million through grants to states, employers, labor organizations, and workforce intermediaries to expand and diversify registered apprenticeships. 

According to, a website managed by the Department of Labor, 93 percent of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship retain employment, with an average annual salary of $77,000. 

“Manufacturing workers must be tech savvy with well-rounded skills in today’s industrial job market,” said Tony Oran, vice president of Festo Didactic North America. “It used to be that coding and software design knowledge were skill sets mainly associated with office jobs, but now they’re an integral part of modern factory life. With some of the most exciting innovations in advanced manufacturing taking place here in Ohio, our job, along with our partners in industry, education and government is to remove obstacles and introduce students to these promising career pathways.” 

At the Festo Learning Center, a full-scale Industry 4.0 Experience Center is also in the works. The new center and showroom are aimed at closing the STEM skills gap by bringing technical education, industrial applications and actual manufacturing all under one roof. The Experience Center will house the latest in Festo technology from networked cyber-physical stations to factory robots, assembly components and supply chain technology.

Classes will be held at Festo’s Regional Service Center, a 47-acre state-of-the-art logistics and manufacturing plant that serves all of North America.