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Apprentice Programs on the Rise as Answer to Technical Talent Shortage

Er2 Image Group’s template for training installer apprentices.

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THE TRADITIONAL WAY of training technical talent may be changing rapidly in light of an existing shortage of some more specialized jobs in the trades. Recognizing this development, we at ER2 Image Group, a printing and environmental design company that has steadily grown in the Chicagoland area for more than 30 years, have established The ER2 Image Group Installer Apprentice Program.

We’ve continued to perform outstanding environmental designs for a variety of projects, growing this category rapidly and successfully. ER2’s installs have taken us from State Street in the heart of downtown Chicago to LinkedIn’s brand-new offices in Omaha to football stadiums in Washington D.C., all in no small part to the highly passionate and experienced team of installers we have.

However, to scale that growth, more “best-of-the-best” installers were needed.

The bar for talent was set so high we needed to train up, rather than hire out. Alan Schellerer, VP and partner at ER2, explains: “We figured, ‘Why not establish a true Installer Apprentice program right here for people who are hungry to learn a new trade and skill set?’”

Each member selected for ER2 Image Group’s program will work as an apprentice under one of the company’s highly experienced installers, who will teach them the ropes of the trade. In the process, the installers will receive exposure to a rare, on-the-job learning experience that can’t be found in any classroom or traditional teaching environment.

Does an apprentice need to have prior experience in the trade? Not necessarily. And in the case of ER2, it’s far more important that the candidate has a commitment to learning because it could represent an entirely new direction in life for them.

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I believe the program may be good timing for candidates who have recently exited a job during the pandemic, are done with that career path, and want to dive into an entirely different and more fulfilling direction – including literally seeing the results of their labor vividly brought to life with every project.

We find that home-growing employees, especially in the installation world, is something that serves as a great model for the environment we’re in right now.

As a result, ER2 Image Group’s Installer Apprentice Program is not only creating opportunities for new talent to thrive in the company, but also providing hope for industrial and manufacturing companies that apprenticeships can be taken seriously as a viable solution vs. searching for ready-made answers in the marketplace that are in short supply.

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Gary Schellerer is the VP/Partner of ER2 Image Group. Gary has been with ER2 since the beginning, when his dad said they were going into business together 27 years ago. ER2 has been able to grow by steering themselves with the right technology, the best people, and consistent customer service. Today, with more than 60 talented employees and an army of the most aggressive printing devices available, ER2 Image Group has become one of Chicago’s finest large/grand-format graphic agencies.

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