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Posts Tagged ‘apprenticeship’

Photo: John Ydstie/NPR
Apprentice industrial clerk Henrik Tillmann assembles a valve for a commercial aircraft galley kitchen at Hebmuller Aerospace near Dusseldorf, Germany.

The old-time way of learning a trade — by working as a low-fee apprentice for a few years — never completely died out and remains the reason Germany is a manufacturing powerhouse.

In the second of three reports at National Public Radio (NPR), John Ydstie explains.

“Manufacturing accounts for nearly a quarter of Germany’s economy. In the U.S., it’s about half that. A key element of that success is Germany’s apprenticeship training program.

“Every year, about half a million young Germans enter the workforce through these programs. They provide a steady stream of highly qualified industrial workers that helps Germany maintain a reputation for producing top-quality products.

“Henrik Tillmann is among the current crop of young apprentices. The 19-year-old is training at Hebmuller Aerospace to be an industrial clerk, which qualifies him to do a variety of jobs from materials purchasing to marketing. Each week he spends three-and-a-half days at the company’s production center, and a day and a half at a government-funded school. Before he can become a clerk, though, Tillmann must first learn how to build the valves Hebmuller sells to aerospace companies.

“He will be a better clerk, says his boss, Axel Hebmuller, because he’ll know the valves inside out when he describes them for customers. …

“Hebmuller says only 3 of the 16 people who work for his company went to university. …

“Felix Rauner, a professor at the University of Bremen, says … the U.S. approach to vocational education has been ineffective partly because it’s often not directly connected to specific jobs at real companies.

“Also, says Rauner, U.S. society has stigmatized vocational education, so most American parents see college as the only path to status and a good career for their children. Rauner says there’s a troubling trend in that direction in Germany, too. But, in Germany there’s still lots of prestige attached when someone, trained through apprenticeship, achieves master status.”

In the US, entrepreneur and philanthropist Gerald Chertavian had to pretty much reinvent the wheel for his nonprofit Year Up, building partnerships with companies to give his organization’s young adults serious internships. The internships are not quite apprenticeships but they lead to real skills and real jobs. Year Up’s expansion around the nation is proof of the pudding.

I’m also familiar with a genuine US apprenticeship effort in Rhode Island. Led by Andrew Cortés, founder of Building Futures and Apprenticeship Rhode Island, it produces the skilled construction workers that employers look for.

For more on Germany’s approach, click here.

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Photo: Leigh Vincola, ecoRI News
David Kuma, left, is learning to farm under the tutelage of Ben Torpey.

In this story from Leigh Vincola, an ecoRI News contributor, several good things are happening simultaneously.

“David Kuma set out to grow more of his own food as he learned about industrial agriculture and all of its poisons. His father, a biologist, always had a garden growing up, so an innate knowledge of plants followed his curiosity.

“Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., raised partially in rural Illinois and then in Attleboro, Mass., Kuma understands urban, rural and suburban lifestyles and how plants can fit into each.

“Today, Kuma is one of three participants in the Southside Community Land Trust’s (SCLT) farm apprentice program …  Acknowledging that it has been historically difficult for minority populations to enter into commercial growing, the program’s mission is to provide organic farming experience and education to those who are interested.

“Kuma is partnered with Ben Torpey at Scratch Farm, a small-scale, chemical-free operation at Urban Edge Farm. Urban Edge is a state-owned, 50-acre piece of land managed by SCLT, where seven separate farms grow and share resources. The farm was established to give new farmers access to land and a community to learn from. As part of his paid apprenticeship, Kuma spends a full day on the farm two days a week and is learning a lot quickly. …

“From transplanting and cover crops to solarizing and low-till cultivation, Kuma is learning what it takes to run a small-scale farm naturally. His eyes have been opened to the importance of soil health.

“ ‘There’s a lot more to it than putting seeds in the ground,’ he said.

“For Torpey, having an apprentice is rewarding.

“ ‘Dave comes with a intuitive sense of plant biology and his curiosity reminds me that what we’re doing is fun,’ Torpey said. ‘It encourages me to experiment with new things.’ ” More here.

Don’t they both look happy? Nature can do that to you.

Photo: Scratch Farm

 

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