Customer Service Is at Our Core—And in the Classroom

Natalie Rogers

From younger generations just entering the workforce to established workers considering a career change, the Okuma Apprenticeship Program has a diverse student pool devoted to setting a new standard in service.

Since its inception in 1995, Okuma’s Apprenticeship Program for distributor service technicians has flourished. With 28 years of classroom and hands-on learning, certified instructors, and true mentorships, this popular program only continues to put Okuma customers first.

Designed to provide a convenient, comprehensive pathway for OEM technical training, Okuma’s Apprenticeship Program develops individuals in our distributor network. And as we passionately pursue a customer for life, this strengthens our extensive service offering by ensuring our customers always have access to equipped, skilled, and proficient service technicians within their own communities.

Overall, the goal of this program is to train a highly skilled workforce committed to quality, competence, and professionalism and who are ready to provide Okuma owners with a world-class customer service experience.

Dedicated to Your Shop’s Success

Historically, the program started at The Okuma Technology Institute at what is now the Partners in Technology building and consisted of eight students who attended a series of rigorous electrical, mechanical, and operator training. The apprenticeship has evolved over time based on feedback from distributor management, program management, the Okuma Distributor Training Council, and the apprentices themselves to build a more robust training experience inclusive of tactile knowledge and subject matter experts. The high demand for skilled labor, coupled with distribution’s workforce needs, inspired Okuma to get creative with how to strategically increase program capacity without compromising curriculum or sacrificing results.

“When we discovered that distributors reached out a year in advance to reserve program spots and planned part of their operations around which students could enroll in the apprenticeship, we upped the class sizes and committed more resources. Our current class is Okuma’s largest to date, with 38 apprentices enrolled.”

—Natalie Rogers, Training Program Manager

Apprentices take full advantage of the program’s new flexible apprenticeship model and hybrid learning methods to shape their own successes. Designed to serve more apprentices within our growing distributor network, this unique program structure adds virtual learning methods to instructor-led classrooms and lab- or shop-based opportunities. These eLearning courses are one-hour, self-paced, and great for obtaining baseline knowledge prior to attending classes for the core curriculum. Some apprentices even come into the program with previous experience, which is accounted for in the program’s flexibility; training plans are individualized to account for learning styles, sought-after skills, and technical requirements.

From younger generations just entering the workforce to established workers considering a career change, the Okuma Apprenticeship Program has a diverse student pool devoted to setting a new standard in service.

"The Okuma Apprenticeship Program not only helped me solidify my understanding of CNC fundamentals but gave me hands-on, practical learning and exposure to the wide range of the Okuma model lineup. I became more confident and competent at reading, interpreting, and accessing all Okuma documentation and resources available to me when troubleshooting out in the field. Okuma’s dedication to continuous education empowers their distributors to provide the best customer experience possible, which makes them my favorite brand to represent."

—Meghan Deebach, Okuma Certified Service Technician, Gosiger Northwest (2022 Apprentice)

Fundamental and Functional

Available to individuals with more than six months of employment at an Okuma distributor, the apprenticeship program teaches the essentials. First, at OMTA or through training courses of comparable curriculum, apprentices take courses in a classroom setting that cover installation and maintenance competencies on core lathe, vertical, and horizontal machining centers, as well as current OSP control models.

Upon completion, students move from the classroom to Okuma headquarters, Partners in Technology, or Tech Center locations. At these facilities, with machine tools on-site and available for operation, students study machine recovery, spindle procedures, and in-depth electrical troubleshooting as part of the CARE (Constantly Available Resource Experts) curriculum.

Access to machine tools is critical in this second phase of instruction. It allows the apprentices to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to scenarios under the supervision of expert instructors. They put their skills to the test alongside teachers who can answer questions, provide assistance, or guide them to think differently about a situation.

Learning From the Experts

Instructors for the Okuma Apprenticeship Program are subject matter experts and principal engineers who have field backgrounds and technical skills at the highest level. With fifteen years of minimum experience, our instructors have seen a wide range of service-related issues in the field and understand that a down machine is lost profitability. They have a broad knowledge base of controls, machine models, and are usually the authors of manuals and procedures used throughout daily operations. Providing students with seasoned teachers is essential to equipping distributors with the expertise needed to manage technical complications, solve operational challenges, and perform installations successfully and quickly to ensure our customer’s machines are back online as soon as possible.

Passionately Pursuing a Customer for Life

We continually invest in solutions to help our customers succeed because we’re passionately pursuing a customer for life. We have a steadfast belief in offering exceptional customer service experiences; the Okuma Apprenticeship Program is just one way we live out this mission. Class offerings, training courses, expert instructors, and customized learning experiences come together to make sure best-in-class machine tools, technologies, and products used extensively throughout manufacturing processes have best-in-class service teams.

Step into Machine Tool Technical Training

Want to become as efficient as possible on your Okuma machine like our apprentices? You’re in luck! OEM training courses with end-user-focused skillsets on our products and technologies are available to our customers at OMTA. For more information on educational opportunities, check out our Okuma Machine Tool Academy or contact your local Okuma distributor.

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