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What Germans Know Could Help Bridge U.S. Workers' Skill Gap....

Posted by on Mar. 8, 2014 at 9:54 PM
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1 mom liked this

What Germans Know Could Help Bridge U.S. Workers' Skill Gap

President Barack Obama promotes job training at General Electric's Waukesha, Wis., gas engine plant in January.

President Barack Obama promotes job training at General Electric's Waukesha, Wis., gas engine plant in January.

Jeffrey Phelps/AP

Job training programs are failing to turn out enough skilled workers to fill job openings in the U.S., a phenomenon that puzzles some European companies that expand into the U.S.

President Obama freely admits that America needs to improve the way it trains workers. In a speech at a General Electric manufacturing plant in Wisconsin earlier this year, he said, "We gotta move away from what my labor secretary, Tom Perez, calls 'train and pray.' You train workers first and then you hope they get a job."

In other words, not enough Americans are training for the jobs industry needs to fill. Nationwide, about 4 million job openings are going unfilled, but 10 million people are unemployed, according to Labor Department statistics.

The phenomenon is puzzling to some European companies that have expanded to the U.S. and are used to a more skilled workforce.

The German Way To Train Workers

The White House has tapped Joe Biden to review America's jobs programs, a move welcomed by the German American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta, which represents about 1,500 German companies throughout the South.

"It's pretty much that middle gap," explains spokeswoman Martina Stellmaszek. "They have no problems finding engineers — there are great engineers in the United States — or really very low-qualified jobs — there is also no problem filling that. But it's really that middle segment where in Germany, we have the vocational training system to exactly train for that."

Stellmazek is referring to the three-year apprenticeship every German trade worker must undergo before being certified in a skilled job. They work three or four days a week at a company and go to school for the other one or two days. The Chamber of Commerce awards the certificates and sets standards for what is taught in vocational schools.

"If you have a certificate that you're an electrician, it doesn't matter if you do it in Hamburg or Berlin," Stellmaszek says. "Companies know what they get."

Europeans are often baffled when they try to hire U.S. workers, she says.

"You don't really know what you get," she says. "If someone tells you they're an electrician, they could have just exchanged light bulbs at an amusement park or they could have worked, maybe, at complex problems."

Stellmazek knows it's impossible to import such an elaborate program to the U.S. It's based on the guild system of the 1800s, and counts on reciprocity — workers trained by a company must work their first three years for that company before they can leave. But the program is also the reason Germany isn't seeing a skills gap like the U.S.

College Educations Instead Of Manufacturing Skills

Emory University economist Raymond Hill says America's go-to-college message, boosted by college financial aid policies, worked in the U.S. for a while as manufacturing went offshore. But higher wages in China and a U.S. energy boom have changed the manufacturing landscape as well as the kind of jobs available. Now, companies can't find workers with the right training, Hill says.

"If you tell everybody, 'Get a college education; that gets you into the middle class. Doesn't matter what you major in, you just need that college degree.' Well, is it any surprise?" he says. "Now we see this manufacturing coming back to us, and that's what we have to get ourselves prepared for."

Hill is banking on a local approach to create a skilled workforce, in which companies partner more closely with tech schools. In Tennessee, for example, Volkswagen partnered with Chattanooga State Community College to import the first full three-year apprenticeship from Germany.

Later this year, the Obama administration will award one grant in each state to a community college with the most promising job training program.

by on Mar. 8, 2014 at 9:54 PM
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Replies (1-10):
stormcris
by Christy on Mar. 8, 2014 at 10:05 PM

I think I love this post. I do hope they figure out the right way to implement this.

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Mar. 8, 2014 at 10:07 PM
3 moms liked this

I do wish we would bring back the paid apprenticeship in this country for skilled labor education. 

Quoting stormcris:

I think I love this post. I do hope they figure out the right way to implement this.


Saphira1207
by Bronze Member on Mar. 8, 2014 at 10:50 PM

I agree with both of you.  It would really help if people had a better idea of what jobs (well paying) were actually available so they could train for that.  But I think a problem will be the  - how do I say this .... - "feel good" degree message we've been getting in the states.  What I mean is, people are encouraged to find their educational bliss/degree and the assumption is that following their hearts will lead to money.  It doesn't work that way in reality and few are getting that message.  There's an emotional aspect that people are very attached to and, I think, they are unwilling to let it go just yet.

SewingMamaLele
by Leanne on Mar. 8, 2014 at 11:40 PM
I'm no fan of unions, but this is what they do. I think if we made the connection between high schools and unions, we could solve a lot of issues. Streamline kids headed for the trades and put them into apprenticeship programs starting their junior year. By the time they graduate, they should be able to get jobs supporting themselves.
LoveMyDog
by Member on Mar. 9, 2014 at 7:10 AM

Perfect time to do something like this.  There are far too many students going to get their BA in English, Anthropology or whatever who then have to go get an MBA so they have a possiblity to pay off their outragous student loans because everybody knows that you have to have  college education... when they should have just gone to ITT Tech.  People used to come out of the military with marketable skills.  Not everybody has to have a college degree and some college degrees don't lead to jobs.

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Mar. 9, 2014 at 9:20 AM
Places like itt tech are a very real problem.

Most of these so called trade schools are good at only one thing, getting students as many loans as possible. They churn out graduates with these certificates and no shot at a job. Their placement post graduation is abysmal. Most aren't even accredited, yet suck in the money through student loans.

This is the point of this article, that these so called training schools in the US are a failing system.

I do agree with you that our military should do a better job of preparing folks for successful civilian life.


Quoting LoveMyDog:

Perfect time to do something like this.  There are far too many students going to get their BA in English, Anthropology or whatever who then have to go get an MBA so they have a possiblity to pay off their outragous student loans because everybody knows that you have to have  college education... when they should have just gone to ITT Tech.  People used to come out of the military with marketable skills.  Not everybody has to have a college degree and some college degrees don't lead to jobs.

stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Mar. 9, 2014 at 11:43 AM
It's true. I know in my business there are a lot of people paying tens of thousands of dollars to go to Le Cordon Bleu and they are told they can get jobs for 17-20 per hour. Yet the problem is that they don't teach anyone how to work a kitchen line or have any idea how a real restaurant kitchen works. They would be better off starting as prep and busting ass and moving up to sone real line experience, yet they apply for chef or assist chef and can't keep pace in a real kitchen.
There is another training place...the school of bartending. ..nowhere near as expensive but I have seen people finish that course with absolutely none of the skills that make a giod bartender. Plus they have no idea how much of the job is just plain hard work and cleaning.

I know more about networking from solving problems in my office than the last person who came in with a "networking degree. "
These people need real world training.


Quoting NWP: Places like itt tech are a very real problem.

Most of these so called trade schools are good at only one thing, getting students as many loans as possible. They churn out graduates with these certificates and no shot at a job. Their placement post graduation is abysmal. Most aren't even accredited, yet suck in the money through student loans.

This is the point of this article, that these so called training schools in the US are a failing system.

I do agree with you that our military should do a better job of preparing folks for successful civilian life.


Quoting LoveMyDog:

Perfect time to do something like this.  There are far too many students going to get their BA in English, Anthropology or whatever who then have to go get an MBA so they have a possiblity to pay off their outragous student loans because everybody knows that you have to have  college education... when they should have just gone to ITT Tech.  People used to come out of the military with marketable skills.  Not everybody has to have a college degree and some college degrees don't lead to jobs.

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Mar. 9, 2014 at 11:59 AM

I agree...The guy who worked his way up from bus boy, to sous chef is much better trained in the actual function of  a resturaunt than a chef trained in a vacuum...plus he comes to his job student loan free!

The unemployment rate among college graduates who went to traditional, established, accredited four year universities and earned an actual bachelor's degree is still better than the national average. Those folks do much better in the long run, even if they majored in anthropology or English lit for their undergrad degree, overall as group. 

When we look at the national numbers for student loan debt and defaulted loans, these "trade schools" are included in that. 

It would be very very interesting to remove them from the stat run and then compare that with established, accredited universities. 

College isn't for everyone and we need to stop pretending these certificate-offering trade schools are "college". Scrap them completely and return to the OJT stipend paid apprenticeship for skilled labor...That is the point of this article and something I have been saying for about 20 years now.

Quoting stacymomof2: It's true. I know in my business there are a lot of people paying tens of thousands of dollars to go to Le Cordon Bleu and they are told they can get jobs for 17-20 per hour. Yet the problem is that they don't teach anyone how to work a kitchen line or have any idea how a real restaurant kitchen works. They would be better off starting as prep and busting ass and moving up to sone real line experience, yet they apply for chef or assist chef and can't keep pace in a real kitchen. There is another training place...the school of bartending. ..nowhere near as expensive but I have seen people finish that course with absolutely none of the skills that make a giod bartender. Plus they have no idea how much of the job is just plain hard work and cleaning. I know more about networking from solving problems in my office than the last person who came in with a "networking degree. " These people need real world training.
Quoting NWP: Places like itt tech are a very real problem. Most of these so called trade schools are good at only one thing, getting students as many loans as possible. They churn out graduates with these certificates and no shot at a job. Their placement post graduation is abysmal. Most aren't even accredited, yet suck in the money through student loans. This is the point of this article, that these so called training schools in the US are a failing system. I do agree with you that our military should do a better job of preparing folks for successful civilian life.
Quoting LoveMyDog:

Perfect time to do something like this.  There are far too many students going to get their BA in English, Anthropology or whatever who then have to go get an MBA so they have a possiblity to pay off their outragous student loans because everybody knows that you have to have  college education... when they should have just gone to ITT Tech.  People used to come out of the military with marketable skills.  Not everybody has to have a college degree and some college degrees don't lead to jobs.


stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Mar. 9, 2014 at 12:25 PM
I couldn't agree more. Our building handyman guy can do much mire than many of the "electricians" that we hire to assist him with projects. It is because he has done it himself so many times.
And I never got a "restaurant management" degree and in ourr rotating managers that we keep trying to hire we have had several people apply with hospitality degrees. They had no real idea of anything about the business side of things, much less anything about how to actually make money. I'd take a McDonald's worker over some of these people with 4 year hospitality degrees. ..at least they understand food rotation and teamwork the disturbing fact that many times managing means cleaning the toilet or at least making sure it's done. Often these people would come to me and say "the bathroom needs to be cleaned but we don't have anyone to do it." Really 10 people o staff plus a manager and "no one" to do it? *eye roll*
If they had training for a couple of years they would know that it must be done no matter what. if you ddon't understand that then you don't understand the basics of a restaurant.


Quoting NWP:

I agree...The guy who worked his way up from bus boy, to sous chef is much better trained in the actual function of  a resturaunt than a chef trained in a vacuum...plus he comes to his job student loan free!

The unemployment rate among college graduates who went to traditional, established, accredited four year universities and earned an actual bachelor's degree is still better than the national average. Those folks do much better in the long run, even if they majored in anthropology or English lit for their undergrad degree, overall as group. 

When we look at the national numbers for student loan debt and defaulted loans, these "trade schools" are included in that. 

It would be very very interesting to remove them from the stat run and then compare that with established, accredited universities. 

College isn't for everyone and we need to stop pretending these certificate-offering trade schools are "college". Scrap them completely and return to the OJT stipend paid apprenticeship for skilled labor...That is the point of this article and something I have been saying for about 20 years now.

Quoting stacymomof2: It's true. I know in my business there are a lot of people paying tens of thousands of dollars to go to Le Cordon Bleu and they are told they can get jobs for 17-20 per hour. Yet the problem is that they don't teach anyone how to work a kitchen line or have any idea how a real restaurant kitchen works. They would be better off starting as prep and busting ass and moving up to sone real line experience, yet they apply for chef or assist chef and can't keep pace in a real kitchen.
There is another training place...the school of bartending. ..nowhere near as expensive but I have seen people finish that course with absolutely none of the skills that make a giod bartender. Plus they have no idea how much of the job is just plain hard work and cleaning.

I know more about networking from solving problems in my office than the last person who came in with a "networking degree. "
These people need real world training.


Quoting NWP: Places like itt tech are a very real problem.

Most of these so called trade schools are good at only one thing, getting students as many loans as possible. They churn out graduates with these certificates and no shot at a job. Their placement post graduation is abysmal. Most aren't even accredited, yet suck in the money through student loans.

This is the point of this article, that these so called training schools in the US are a failing system.

I do agree with you that our military should do a better job of preparing folks for successful civilian life.


Quoting LoveMyDog:

Perfect time to do something like this.  There are far too many students going to get their BA in English, Anthropology or whatever who then have to go get an MBA so they have a possiblity to pay off their outragous student loans because everybody knows that you have to have  college education... when they should have just gone to ITT Tech.  People used to come out of the military with marketable skills.  Not everybody has to have a college degree and some college degrees don't lead to jobs.

stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Mar. 9, 2014 at 12:27 PM
Sorry about the restaurant tangent. It's just a perfect example of these waste of money tech programs that I happen to bump up against firsthand all the time.
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