Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, president of County College of Morris (CCM), along with 11 other education and workforce officials from across the country, recently completed a tour of Germany to examine that country’s apprenticeship programs and vocational education system.
The trip was arranged and fully funded through the Transatlantic Outreach Program (TOP), an initiative of the Goethe Institut. TOP’s mission is to bring North Americans and Germans together to enhance the global competencies of students, bridge the skills gap between education and workforce development, and strengthen the grassroots bonds of transatlantic partnership.
The tour consisted of visiting vocational schools and employers with expansive apprenticeship programs, such as Deutsche Bank, Robert Bosch, Siemens and John Deere Deutschland. The goal of the trip, which took place October 21 – 27, was to learn how the United States might be able to expand experiential learning opportunities for students with the support of industry.
“In Germany all high school students take part in a paid internship program whether they are going into finance, manufacturing or becoming a baker,” said Iacono. “Our big take away was how to build stronger relationships with businesses and how New Jersey and the nation can scale up its apprenticeship programs.”
As a result of the relationships formed during the trip, CCM also has the opportunity to work with some of the other participants on establishing stronger working relationships with industry partners, noted Iacono.
“It was such an honor to be invited to take part in this highly selective program,” said Iacono. “Part of the reason I was asked is that CCM is recognized as an educational leader with a focus on advanced manufacturing and engineering.”
Also taking part in the tour were Dr. Aaron Fichtner, president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges; a learning and development consultant from SAP; two representatives from colleges in Texas; the chair of CompTIA board of directors and Clever Ducks president; a director from the Los Angeles mayor’s office; the director of labor relations and workforce development for the Port of Los Angeles; a senior policy analyst from New America; a senior vice president from ExpandED schools; and the managing director of TOP.
Iacono said he and his fellow travelers were touched by the gratitude the Germans expressed for the role the United States played in rebuilding Germany after World War II.
“They are so grateful to us and interested in maintaining and building upon our strong relationships,” said Iacono.
During the trip, participants also were able to meet with student apprentices at the businesses and schools they visited.
“We learned a lot and it really drove home why all learning should not just take place in the classroom,” said Iacono. “The German apprenticeship programs are doing an excellent job at preparing the workforce of tomorrow.”