Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers

Tamar Jacoby, The Atlantic, Oct 17, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

It is tempting to want to simply import Germany's successful apprenticeship training model to the United States, says Tamar Jacoby, but such an idea should be approached with caution. For one thing, the system is expensive - from $25K -to $80K per apprentice. It also depends on significant government involvement in industry in order to create and maintain cross-industry standards. And it is focused on blue-collar training, which is seen as second-rate on this side of the ocean. But, on the other hand, the system is flexible and effective, it is popular, and it trains highly skilled workers who produce world-class machinery. But note the attitude: “German companies want to train,” one trade association executive told us, “because they know the schools can’t do it. Especially in today’s tech economy, vocational schools alone can’t prepare the workers we need.”

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