New vocational training program aims to address lack of young workforce with technical skills.
German-Style Apprenticeships Come to Georgia
Georgia’s manufacturing industry may have received a poor grade recently—D+, according to the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University—but a new apprenticeship program gaining steam in the Peach State aims to turn that around.
One of the biggest problems facing the U.S. manufacturing industry is difficulty attracting young people with technical skills. In Germany, however, many students participate in a dual vocational training program in which they receive both on-the-job training through an apprenticeship as well as theoretical training and education in vocational schools. This has benefits for both the industry as well as for young people themselves. The industry benefits by securing skilled labor, reducing the costs of settling in a new employee, increasing motivation and loyalty to the company, and seeing better performance. Young people are rewarded with good job prospects, practical orientation and a recognized certification, and income during training period.
Now, Georgia has established its own German-style apprenticeship program. The Georgia Consortium of Advanced Technical Training (GA CATT) Program, the first of its kind in the U.S., was created in partnership between the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S. The program was launched with the support of the Central Education Center, Coweta County’s College and Career Academy. It unites the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S. with the Technical College System of Georgia and eight Coweta County manufacturing companies.
Under GA CATT, high school students will have the opportunity to begin their apprenticeship in 10th grade with a combination of traditional high school classes, college-level manufacturing courses, and apprenticeship modules that will pay $8 per hour. By the 12th grade, students will spend 80 percent of their day learning at the manufacturing site earning $12 per hour. Upon graduation, students will have earned a high school diploma, German apprenticeship certificate, and an associate degree in Industrial Mechanics through West Georgia Technical College.
“I’m very excited about expanding the GA CATT program across our state,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who brought the various stakeholders together to create the program. “I look forward to working with industry and business leaders to offer diverse options for all of Georgia’s students as we continue to build a better Georgia through workforce development.”
GA CATT accepted 10 students as part of the inaugural program, and classes began in early August with the start of the new school year. Lt. Gov. Cagle hopes this model can be incorporated in school districts through the state as Georgia continues to better prepare high school students for the evolving and dynamic workforce that awaits them after graduation.
Charlie Post, NFIB member and president of TSI Solutions, a company that helps Georgia manufacturers and machine builders optimize the performance of their equipment, is very excited about the program and is advocating for it across the state.
“I consider it a game-changer because if the state of Georgia can implement this kind of a program statewide, it will rocket launch the state to the top of the heap in terms of desirable manufacturing states,” Post said.
Additionally, while GA CATT is focused on manufacturing, apprenticeships in Germany go beyond that industry, so there could be opportunity in the future for adapting an apprenticeship model to training for other businesses as well.