Nov 16, 2015

Skills Initiative
(© Germany.info)

The German Embassy hosted a Skills Initiative event last week in conjunction with the Aspen Institute’s Skills for the Future. The event was titled, “Future Prospects for Skills and Apprenticeship Programs in the US and Germany,” and offered a fresh look at how to address the skills gap in the US and beyond. Deputy Chief of Mission Philipp Ackermann delivered opening remarks in which he addressed the growing problem of youth unemployment and the success Germany has seen with on-the-job training. Over 100 guests, including think tankers, policy makers, and businesspeople, gathered in the Embassy auditorium to hear from experts on skills training and to participate in a Q&A with a distinguished panel.

“The trustful cooperation of employers and trainees, chambers and trade unions, government and individuals is regarded to be a key factor for Germany’s economic strength and its social stability,” Dr. Ackermann said in his opening remarks. Indeed, it is the cooperation between schools, businesses and government that has made Germany’s dual training system such a huge success.  The dual training program divides on-the-job training with classroom education to produce well-rounded workers with recognizable certification. In Washington, the Embassy has worked with US partners to bring this style of training across the Atlantic. The goal is not to reproduce the German system here, Ackermann stressed, rather to take best practices and apply them to the US market.

The Benefits of Workforce Training

Other speakers – including John Colborn, the Director of the Aspen Institute, Herman Nehls of the German Embassy, and Jeff Bridgford from King’s College in London – agreed that apprenticeship can help to solve some of the greatest challenges facing Europe and the US. Chancellor Merkel has said many times Germany’s apprenticeship programs as the reason for Germany’s low youth unemployment rate, and Dr. Bridgford produced statistical evidence that shows the effect that training programs can have on employment. Countries with programs in place, he said, see the difference in employment numbers.

Skills Initiative
(© Germany.info)
After the opening remarks, the Head of Science and Technology, Robin Mishra, moderated a panel discussion about on-the-job training. He was joined on stage by David Langdon of the US Department of Commerce; Eric Seleznow of the US Department of Labor; Sarah Currier of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center; Daniel Marschall of AFL-CIO and Hans Hartenstein, the CEO of STEAG Energy Services.  Eric Seleznow summed up the US and German goals the best: skills training is not a program, but a national strategy.

© Germany.info

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