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6:00AM

The Apprentice . . . without that jackass Trump

Fascinating WSJ piece from a few days back describing how German companies excel at training up their poorly prepared new workers so well that they're starting to spread their best practices globally.  It's basically a revival of classic apprenticeship training, and apparently German firms like VW are so good at it that companies and states and the fed in the US are looking to copy their methods.

Why?

There are 600,000 skilled, middle-class manufacturing jobs in the US that are - get this! - currently unfillable.

The VW HR person's blunt statement:

We've learned it is better to build our own workforce instead of just relying on the market.

VW's apprenticeship program runs 3 years.

I've gotten asked such questions about the US education system for years at my briefings all over America.  And I've always answered with some variation on the need for companies to both train up poorly prepared workers and reach down into educational systems to do much the same (what if VW oversaw the same sort of thing - for profit - at the right colleges/votec/institutes/etc.?).

But I've never actually come across an MSM article that captured it like this one does.

More:

In Germany, nearly two-thirds of the country's workers are trained through partnerships among companies, technical schools and trade guids. Last year, German companies took on and trained nearly 600,000 paid apprentices

Nice numerical symmetry there - huh?

Story talks also about Charlotte community college that is pursuing the same sort of collaboration with 18 local firms - mostly European.  As one German exec put it:

We think we've found the missing link in the education system between high school and starting college.

In the U.S., falling into that gap costs lifetime earnings that are stunning.

This seems like a way of filling in that void.

It's one of those everything-old-is-new-again stories.

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Reader Comments (4)

Found an article by Joel Klein about a program reinventing vocational education in AZ. I sure wish programs like these were around 20 years ago:P

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2113794,00.html

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Until we teach 'em to read and comprehend in the third grade, we're not going to be able to fill vocational jobs or vocations that support our technilogical society.

And the problem with this country is that we seem to believe that anyone who "might" be capable is supposed to go to college or university . . I guess that's why we have remedial reading at university level. But I digress. As a former Community College Instructor, I can tell you that we're facing a drought of skilled workers because we only want to teach people who can't read or add to be Auto Technicians, Plumbers, HVAC Technicians, Machinists, and Coating specialists (etc.). The rest are audiences for Politicians who promise them a free education but can't create an economy to accomodate them with jobs once they have their degree in Law or Basketweaving . .

Unions no longer support Apprentice Programs so it's up to the Employer to train their employees, all the while hoping that they won't be enticed by a 10 cent an hour offer from their competitors once they become competent. It's an "investment" that more and more companies are gambling on when they find someone well enough educated and intelligent enough to understand a Doctorate in Marine Biology doesn't offer you anything but a title and unemployment . .

July 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Largent

I can speak for tech/IT from experience. Industry there -refuses- to invest in human capital. They expect either other employers or universities to provide vocational training. And there's a related belief that experience doesn't count. So if you want a job, you need to have Latest-Buzzword on your resume. And the more experience you have that is not in Latest-Buzzword, the more the implicit belief that "you can't learn something new" Yeah, that's implicit age discrimination. Add to this the general dependence in the IT industry on labor-intensive tools and techniques ("just throw cheap bodies at the problem") and that's the situation we're in now.

I have a friend who has been looking for jobs for several years. He's been told 'you're over-qualified' and 'you don't have the right skills', often in the same interview. It's particularly galling that my wife's company hires H1B people from India rather than hire this guy.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Emery

Racial politics and legions of busy bodies have virtually done away with any chance of telling a youngster that they are best suited for an "Apprentice" program. Everyone is equal, everyone is a winner. Trophies for all the players. College and boolla, boolla for the masses.

Students in remedial reading programs would tell my wife (the teacher) that they were going to be "Doctors." Those were the ones who were not going to play in the NBA. No concept of reality.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTed O'Connor

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