USA Dual training system - U.S. Governors in Germany

Group photograph
© Johannes Ebert

50 per cent of all school leavers in Germany decide to take part in a dual training programme. Germany’s recipe for business success is now set to help the USA, too, to train more qualified skilled workers. At the first meeting of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump, the U.S. President praised the German training system, which combines an apprenticeship in a company with vocational college training, as exemplary. In cooperation with the National Governors Association (NGA), the Goethe-Institut Visitors Programme has now organised an information tour for three U.S. Governors and their delegations. The tour gave the visitors an opportunity to gain practical first-hand knowledge of the dual vocational training system in Germany. 

This is not the first foreign delegation to have visited the Farmsen Vocational College of Technology and Media in Hamburg – but the college has never before welcomed such high-ranking visitors. The three Republican Governors Matt Bevin, Mary Fallin and Dennis Daugaard visited several vocational colleges and company training centres in Berlin and Hamburg. They were accompanied by their delegations, consisting of staff from the labour and education departments of the respective states, political advisors and industry representatives. The group was complemented by representatives of the United States Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education in Washington as well as by Foundations and the NGA.

Some impressions

  • Matt Bevin, Governor Commonwealth of Kentucky, Kentucky © Johannes Ebert
    “It is fascinating for this administration to figure out how America can make its workforce more efficient and effective. We need to develop dual work and apprenticeship programmes. And this is what we are here to do – to learn. To find out what works and what doesn’t work. We need to use the best of both worlds. It is not only in Kentucky that many companies cannot find workers with the right training. So I need to find one local school district, maybe even one county within our state, to create a site to test a dual system. With a population of 4.3 million people, Kentucky is the perfect size for model projects – not too small, but also not too large.”

    Matt Bevin, Governor Commonwealth of Kentucky, Kentucky
  • Torsten Haubold, Head of Mechatronics Department, Farmsen Vocational College of Technology and Media © Johannes Ebert
    “I do not believe there is any conflict in this area. I believe in world trade, which involves give and take. We also benefit if BMW manufactures in the U.S. because many parts are supplied from Germany and they build and export many vehicles there. So the plant in the U.S. by no means only boosts American GNP. And that is why I believe it is so important to share our ideas and knowledge. Protectionism is quite out of place here.“

    Torsten Haubold, Head of Mechatronics Department, Farmsen Vocational College of Technology and Media
  • Mary Fallin, Governor State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma © Johannes Ebert
    “I am familiar with the system. I have read up about it and I think Germany has one of the best models for apprenticeship training and dual education. We do have vocational schools in the U.S. too, and in Oklahoma in particular. But the main difference is that in the U.S. we do not have a parallel training programme in companies, which means that the business sector does not make a financial contribution to vocational training. But I think companies should have a great interest in doing that. The economy and its technologies are changing rapidly and the knowledge and skills of the work force have to change just as rapidly.”

    Mary Fallin, Governor State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma
  • Dennis Daugaard, Governor State of South Dakota, South Dakota © Johannes Ebert
    “I like two aspects of the dual system. I like the fact that students begin to have practical hands-on experience in the vocations at a much earlier age. And I also like the fact that employers are very involved in curriculum development at the vocational colleges and that the students also work for an employer. But it will be very difficult to implement this system in the U.S. This system is part of a wider cultural mind-set. In America it would be unthinkable to identify someone at the age of fourteen or fifteen and put them on a particular career track. But I think it is a mistake not to recognise that some children just have different abilities and different interests to others.”

    Dennis Daugaard, Governor State of South Dakota, South Dakota