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German-Style Apprenticeship Program Gets More Exposure

I had the honor of moderating a panel discussion at the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance Summit at the Cobb Galleria on October 26.  The topic was the launching of an apprenticeship program for Coweta County high schoolers based on the highly successful program that’s been running for over 100 years in Germany.

The panel consisted of (from left to right in the photo) Mark Adrian, national sales manager of Festo Didactic, the industrial training division of Festo Corporation, and four individuals who were instrumental in launching the Coweta initiative:  Martin Pleyer, COO of Grenzebach, Stefanie Jehlitschka, VP of the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., Joe Dan Banker, Executive Director for Academic Affairs for the Technical College System of Georgia, and Mark Whitlock, CEO of Central Educational Center, Coweta County’s charter college and career academy.


The consensus of the panel was that technical apprenticeships are desperately needed to attract young people to manufacturing careers and thus narrow the “skills gap” that exists across the country.

The German approach may be difficult to emulate in this country, but it is clear from the global success of German manufacturers that there is a lot we can learn from their approach.  And we can’t get started too soon.

If you agree, please raise your voice to your local high school administrators, your local school boards, and your state legislators and senators.

Supporting the growth of a statewide apprenticeship program is the best thing we can do to ensure the expansion and prosperity of Georgia’s manufacturing sector.  And that’s good for all of us.

For more insights into the topic, read this article in The Atlantic Monthly, “Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers.”


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