PLATTSBURGH — Germany's apprenticeship model could be coming stateside.

North Country Workforce Development Board Executive Director Sylvie Nelson went oversees in early November, alongside 10 other New York- and Michigan-based Workforce Development representatives.

The week-long visit to Germany was to give reps time to study how the country's trainee programs were designed and conducted, with hope of advancing apprenticeship models in their respective states.

"Similar to the German model, the visit will help the North Country Workforce Development Board identify apprenticeship programs and systems of how local businesses can implement them to maximize their investment," Nelson said in a news release.

"In Germany, there are standardized occupational profiles, or curricula, developed by the federal government in collaboration with employers, educators and union representatives," she continues.  

"Can we reciprocate these in New York State?"


The North Country Workforce Development Board, a public-private entity, considered themselves the line joining education with workforce. 

That connection gets made through employment-related services offered via the board's regional OneWorkSource Career Centers, located in Plattsburgh, Malone, Elizabethtown and Indian Lake.

"Businesses look to the North Country Workforce Development Board for skilled employees, expertise in job training and supportive services," its website says.

"Job seekers, both adult and youth, receive referrals and placement in quality jobs, education, and training programs."


According to the release, Germany's workforce development effort was world-renowned. 

"(It) emphasizes apprenticeship," the release says. "It's a system of training that combines on-the-job, paid experience with classroom learning.

"This sets students up to compete for jobs directly out of school and obtain relevant professional licenses more easily." 

And, while still in Germany, Nelson told The Press-Republican that she had met with German government officials from the Federal Ministry of Education & Research, as well as the German Office for International Cooperation in Vocational Training. 

"We learned how apprenticeships are industry-driven and how the federal government oversees the programs," Nelson said. "While each state runs them — including the funding of schools, teachers and development of curriculum. 

"Yearly, the federal government, with industry input, review the apprenticeship programs, decide to modernize or eliminate them."

Commonly referred to as "dual training," the release says, that type of learning was highly respected in Europe. 


That's atypical compared to the U.S., the release says, "where, for the past 40 years, the preferred career pathway has been through colleges and university.

"This academic-only approach has left the U.S. with an urgent need for technical jobs." 

That's because, in the United States, fewer than 5 percent of youth train as apprentices and, the release says, a majority of that percentage study in the construction trades. 

"In Germany, the number is closer to 60 percent in fields as diverse as advanced manufacturing, IT, banking and hospitality," it continues. 


Nelson, in her upstate New York role, said the apprenticeship model could soon make a North Country debut.

"We will organize a roundtable of shareholders in early 2020 to discuss some of the highlights of the trip and how we can implement some of things we are learning," Nelson told The Press-Republican.

"Already, we were contacted by a high school and community college who are interested in being part of the discussion." 


Helping to send the local North Country Workforce Development Board rep to Germany were sponsors Community Bank N.A. and Coryer Staffing. 

Community Bank Vice President and Regional Banking Manager Kent Backus said his group was a continued partner with the local Workforce Development branch.

"A strong workforce development program is key in providing a trained and ready work force in an ever-changing job environment," he says in the news release. 

Coryer Staffing Co-Founder and COO David Coryer had a similar sentiment. 

"We are devoted to expanding employer investment in a skilled workforce pipeline and recognize this learning experience as a valuable opportunity to ensure the vitality of our community," Coryer says in the release.


Email McKenzie Delisle:

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle

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