Friday, September 12, 2014

Festo brings much-needed German-style skills training to the U.S.

According to Georgetown labor economist Anthony Carnevale (via the Wall Street Journal), “two million U.S. jobs go unfilled because of shortfalls in skills, training or education.” One German company, Festo, thinks it has the solution: a German-style vocational program that will apprentice students and young professionals to train them in what employers and jobs require for successful careers.

Some companies manufacturing in the U.S. already have in-house training programs for employees, but for the most part this is relegated to the larger – often foreign-owned (Siemens, Daimler, and Volkswagen) – facilities. It is inherently more difficult for small shops, let alone educational, business, or civic organizations, to implement worker training and engagement programs on the same scale or of the same caliber.

Festo Didactic (didactic meaning “for teaching”), a division of German robotics company Festo AG (which manufactures automation equipment used by other manufacturers) is about to change this and, hopefully, make a significant dent in the 2,000,000 unfilled U.S. jobs.

The education group developed a training program over years of training workers in-house, and is now marketing training and skills-development materials, such as educational equipment and seminars, to outside firms. The educational group recently announced forays into the U.S. with the acquisition of a New Jersey-based company that makes technical training systems, and they envision the future of skills training in the U.S. as resembling the German model: full-time vocational apprenticeships beginning in high school and taking the place of a four-year college degree that would allow young workers to be more employable more quickly and create a far-reaching, permanent solution to our persistent skills gap problem.

As the Journal points out, there are several U.S. companies currently trying to provide training programs as demanded by the industry. Festo joins these, but with a competitive advantage: in order for the skills gap to sustainably decrease, or disappear entirely, the cultural perception of manufacturing has to change. And Festo, with its ability to implement German-style apprenticeship and German-style appreciation for these professions, is exactly the group to do it.

See full article, "German-Style Training for American Factory Workers," from the Wall Street Journal

See the Reshoring Initiative's Skilled Workforce Program.


  1. It's great to see things shifting this way. In the United States, there is such a stigma to not attending college that I think many young adults are afraid not to. To have a viable option such as these vocational apprenticeships and training programs would really go a long way to fulfilling these manufacturing jobs. There absolutely are jobs available in this country; we just have to find ways to make it known. I think this could be a really good step towards that.

  2. It is a good sign to see that t the US industry is moving forward and not backwards anymore, nice article well done