When Pharmaceutical Associates Inc. (PAI) sought to standardize and enhance its leadership training, the solution was clear. Apprenticeship would provide the combination of classroom and hands-on experience needed to yield quantifiable results.
Kelly Shumaker, human resources director at PAI, worked with Apprenticeship Carolina™ and Greenville Technical College to develop the company’s customized supervisory apprenticeship. She described how the program delivered real-time learning at the Greenville, South Carolina, site, allowing employees to apply their new skills immediately.
EDGE: Please give us some background on Pharmaceutical Associates Inc. (PAI).
Kelly Shumaker: We manufacture and market generic liquid pharmaceuticals for North America. PAI carries out all of its R&D activities at the Greenville facility, and we employee 350 associates here.
EDGE: How did your apprenticeship program evolve?
KS: PAI wanted to focus on developing supervisory skills for new or upcoming leaders. We decided to include seasoned leaders as well as those who never had the actual training, who perhaps had been put into a leadership role with no preparation.
We designed the program so associates who attended would gain hands-on experience, and have the opportunity to apply the newly-learned skills immediately. Part of the program was used to review the associates’ results from applying their new skills and to reinforce what was learned in each week’s sessions.
EDGE: Is there anything specific that you’d like to highlight about your apprenticeship program?
KS: Because this type of training has been limited throughout the years, the apprenticeship provided a great foundation for all the students, whether they were a current leader or a soon-to-be leader. They could continue to grow and expand their leadership toolboxes. It was eye-opening for many and a reinforcement for others.
EDGE: From your experience, how much work does it take to start up an apprenticeship program? How do Apprenticeship Carolina and the local technical college support its successful implementation?
KS: Once you meet with all the parties involved, it’s a matter of completing some paperwork, which is available in template form. The fun part comes when you are working to design the actual syllabus for the apprenticeship: defining what is needed, how long it’s needed, and when it’s needed.
The college is easy to work with because they follow up and follow through, and Greenville Tech’s instructors are helpful in offering input and designing the courses that fit your specific needs.
Once the apprenticeship starts, you’ll still need to continue to devote a little bit of time to the program because there will be training that is OJT, and the classes may be held on-site. But that is minor when compared to the overall package that you are receiving. All in all, it’s a relatively straightforward process.
EDGE: What are some of the financial benefits of apprenticeships (such as the Tax Credit, SCAI grant, and/or future benefits of a well-trained employee)?
KS: From a financial standpoint, the tax credits and grant monies provided an incentive for us to develop training opportunies that otherwise we would not have been able to provide. Another benefit was having closed classes dedicated to our needs. The instructors came to our location and were able to learn about PAI and some of the opportunities the students were facing, which was priceless. There was consistency among the instructors as well, where one instructor taught several sessions. This added a dimension that you would not normally have in a public enrollment class.
EDGE: Can you think of a word or phrase that best describes apprenticeship?
KS: Apprenticeship is real-time learning. Because you learn and apply those skills immediately. And, you are earning a wage at the same time!
EDGE: What do you like most about apprenticeship?
KS: The best part of an apprenticeship program is to provide people with the opportunity to be their best. It’s seeing their excitement at having learned something that they can immediately apply.
It’s watching people blossom.
EDGE: What would you say to another company that is undecided about starting an apprenticeship program?
KS: I’d say that the work that you must do upfront to get everything started is minor compared to the outcome. And Apprenticeship Carolina will be there for you along with your local technical college to help work out the details.
EDGE: Is there anything else you’d like to add about Apprenticeship Carolina and the SC Technical College System?
KS: I have worked with Apprenticeship Carolina and the SC Technical College System through many years and several different companies. They are easy to work with and very helpful. They want to see South Carolina raise our skill level and, thus, our wages. And I truly believe that this can be done, as long as we are all reaching for the same end goal.
Founded in 1968, Pharmaceutical Associates Inc. (PAI) is the generic pharmaceuticals division of Beach Products Inc.
PAI is among North America’s leaders in quality, safety and productivity, and has been at the forefront of producing better-targeted suspensions, oral solutions, elixirs, syrups and liquids for 50 years. PAI offers a broad portfolio of more than 60 prescription and over-the-counter therapies to treat patients and continues to expand its products and technologies. Some of its core strengths include brain, immune, metabolic and digestive health.
PAI carries out all its research and development actives at its state-of-the-art, 300,000-square-foot manufacturing operations in Greenville, South Carolina. The facility includes quality assurance, lab, manufacturing, packaging and distribution departments. Every department conforms to the latest Current Good Manufacturing Practices enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.