Bringing together businesses and the community to solve workforce needs creates an innovative pathway that can prepare students for jobs in local manufacturing industries. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted apprenticeships and work-based programs across the state causing numbers to drop and now the companies, school systems, and communities are working hard to rebuild the demand for the programs. Expanding and revitalizing apprenticeships can help companies stay competitive globally while supporting communities locally if they create a curriculum together to fill the pipeline and invest in the future of manufacturing.
One such example is the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (GaCATT), which is helping to close the skills gap by providing authentic German apprenticeships to prepare high school students for careers as industrial mechanics, tool and die technicians, and machinists. Overseen by the German-American Chamber of Commerce, GaCATT requires a strong collaboration between local school systems, technical colleges, and employers.
GaCATT currently offers three of the 300+ competencies available in Germany, Advanced Manufacturing Technician, Computer Numerical Control (CNC), and Mechatronics. These flexible programs can begin as early as the tenth grade or after students graduate high school. Students combine technical college classes, curriculum-driven projects, and customized training unique to their host company’s needs, to prepare them for a final exam and project where they prove their knowledge and skill against industry standards.
Successful apprentices will earn:
- High School Diploma
- German apprenticeship certification
- US Department of Labor apprenticeship certification
- Technical college credentials (certificates, diploma, or associate degree)
- Over $25k in wages
Students will graduate from this no-cost program without any college debt. The 2016 and 2017 classes produced 5 fully certified German apprentices in Newnan, Griffin, and Covington, and more than 40 students have completed the dual-enrollment portion of their studies and entered the workforce. The program is currently expanding into the West Georgia Technical College, Lanier Tech, and North Georgia Technical College service regions. GaMEP’s Larry Alford, South Metro Atlanta region manager, serves on GaCATT’s Statewide Advisory Board.
Now more than ever it is important to invest in your current and future workforce so that people feel valued, appreciated, and understand that they can have a bright future in manufacturing. If your company is interested in bringing a similar program to your area or learning more about other work-based learning programs in the state, contact your Region Manager.
Also, don’t miss our upcoming webinar on Safely Employing Young Workers Under 18 on October 5th. Register here.
By: Raine Hyde, Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership