German companies with facilities in the USA are applying the German apprenticeship system to train workers for long-term careers, often partnering with community colleges and other training providers. You might catch this video on the German Embassy’s Skills Initiative on local DC channels WUSA9 and WJLA. What do you think about the dual work education system?
Some Americans think of apprenticeships as something of the past. Visions come to mind of medieval scenes of tanners, shoemakers, or cobblers. Instead, they may be more acquainted with the phrase “to learn a trade”. Regardless of terminology, choosing to bypass a traditional four year degree for a job-specific training is far less common in the United States than in Germany.
In Germany, half of graduates of high schools and junior high schools chose a track that combines training on the job with further education at a public vocational institution. This apprenticeship model is one reason why Germany has the lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe and has been able to keep manufacturing jobs in the country.
To pull the veil from vocational education and to put a voice to the process, we interviewed an American living in Berlin who is currently in his second year as an apprentice at a German car company.
What kind of apprenticeship are you doing?
I applied at the car company to do a Mechatroniker Ausbildung (Mechanic/Electric apprenticeship). Mechatroniker is a combination of two words: Mechaniker and Elektroniker (Mechanic and Electronic technician). Since most of the vehicles in today’s market have so much technology involved, and with more and more electric vehicles on the streets, they combined both of the fields together, into the one apprenticeship.