German Jobs for American Workers – Competitiveness through Apprenticeships
February 22, 2019
5,300 German-owned affiliates create jobs across the U.S.: from California to Virginia and from Michigan to Texas. They are a vital part of the daily life of American employees and their families. In total, 692,000 people in the U.S. are employed by German subsidiaries, almost half of them in the manufacturing sector.
These companies invest strongly in workforce development. The number of German companies introducing apprenticeship programs at their U.S. branches is increasing every year. Jobs in the manufacturing sector and high-tech fields require specific skills that are hard to find in the job market. Due to this, more companies see the benefits of cultivating their own specialized workforce. German-style dual apprenticeships address both high rates of youth unemployment and skills gaps. The earn-while-you-learn approach offers apprentices a thorough professional education without accumulating student debt and leads to a specialized, highly-skilled workforce that helps the U.S. economy embrace technical innovation, keep pace with market developments, and seize growth opportunities.
While big companies took the lead in establishing their own in-house training programs incorporating key elements used at their headquarters in Germany, many small and medium-sized companies have started following their example during the last years. The German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC) work as accelerators and facilitators, offering interested companies hands-on advice and support in developing curricula, approaching community colleges, marketing available programs and certifying apprenticeships programs, assuring that apprentices receive degrees that fulfill pre-defined standards that are fully equivalent to German degrees.
With this support, U.S.- and other foreign-owned companies have also joined apprenticeship clusters like the Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training in Illinois (ICATT) or the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (GA CATT). This illustrates that the dual model works for any company that makes a long-term commitment to workforce development.
To promote and grow these German-style apprenticeship models further, the German American Chambers of Commerce (GACC) are participating in the Wunderbar Together initiative with their project “German-American Cooperation in Apprenticeship Programs.” The project aims to strengthen existing structures of sustainable apprenticeship models across the U.S.
Apprenticeships can kickstart careers. It is particularly important to stress that apprenticeships are not the end of a career, but just the beginning. If they are designed in a comprehensive way, providing apprentices with a thorough understanding of their work, the materials and the functions of the company, they are the first step on a career path that will lead to increased responsibilities: becoming an apprentice supervisor, further dual training or studies, and ultimately a managerial function.
During the National Apprenticeship Week and as part of the Wunderbar Together initiative, the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) and the Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT) hosted this year’s “GACC Apprenticeship Awards” in Washington, DC. Keynote speaker at the award ceremony was Dr. Emily Haber, the German ambassador to the USA. The award was given to outstanding German companies in the U.S. that are highly committed to the implementation of high-quality and successful German-style training programs in the US. German-American apprenticeship – another example of how our countries are Wunderbar Together!