The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DUANE M. FORD dford@cov­

Ger­man-style ap­pren­tice­ships have re­cently come to Ge­or­gia. The New­ton County School Sys­tem (NCSS) and Rock­dale County Pub­lic Schools have worked with sev­eral area busi­nesses as well as other or­ga­ni­za­tions to of­fer this op­por­tu­nity. The first lo­cal Ger­man ap­pren­tices be­gan their ex­pe­ri­ence with the start of school this fall.

To get the NCSS’s per­spec­tive on this new pro­gram, the Cov­ing­ton News re­cently in­ter­viewed Tim Sch­mitt, NCSS’s direc­tor of ca­reer tech­ni­cal and agri­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion and work­force in­no­va­tion.

The News: What is a Ger­man ap­pren­tice­ship?


For right now we are call­ing it our “Ger­man Ap­pren­tice­ship In­dus­trial Main­te­nance Pro­gram.” The premise is that a Ger­man ap­pren­tice­ship starts with 10th grade stu­dents and matches them through an in­ter­view process with a com­pany that agrees to take them on as an ap­pren­tice for three years dur­ing tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade. And, while they are do­ing that, the stu­dents also dual en­roll in Ge­or­gia Pied­mont Tech­ni­cal Col­lege’s ( GPTC’s) in­dus­trial main­te­nance pro­gram.

We are build­ing the pro­gram as we go. How­ever, we know there is 100 years of proven suc­cess in Ger­many, so we know it is a good model. As I un­der­stand it, there are over 300 dif­fer­ent ap­pren­tice­ship pro­grams in Ger­many and about 70 per­cent of all Ger­mans re­ceive their train­ing in those pro­grams.

The dif­fer­ences for what it can look like here presents a lit­tle bit of a risk. But to see the stu­dents and par­ents re­act­ing pos­i­tively right out of the gate is promis­ing and they have not even got­ten to the re­ally in­ter­est­ing stuff yet.

The News: How is this pro­gram dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tional youth ap­pren­tice­ship? Sch­mitt:

In tra­di­tional youth ap­pren­tice­ships stu­dents don’t start un­til 11th grade. They get their aca­demic train­ing pri­mar­ily at the high school level in classes that align with their ap­pren­tice­ship job and work-based train­ing at the com­pany. NCSS’s work- based learn­ing co­or­di­na­tor works with each com­pany’s peo­ple to de­velop a train­ing plan for each stu­dent. The plans are dif­fer­ent for each com­pany and each stu­dent.

The Ger­man ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram fol­lows a dif­fer­ent model. There is a stan­dard­ized set of de­sired learn­ing out­comes and cur­ricu­lum dic­tated by the Ger­man Cham­ber of Com­merce and jointly de­liv­ered by the tech­ni­cal col­lege and the com­pany. All ap­pren­tices in a par­tic­u­lar pro­gram and pre­par­ing for a par­tic­u­lar ca­reer, in our case in­dus­trial main­te­nance, fol­low the same plan and learn the same con­cepts and skills.

I don’t know if any way is bet­ter. Our youth ap­pren­tice­ship stu­dents are very good. We have about 94 stu­dents in youth ap­pren­tice­ship and 6 stu­dents in the Ger­man ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram.

The News: Were many stu­dents in­ter­ested? Sch­mitt:

Ini­tially 40 to 50 of last year’s 9th graders ex­pressed in­ter­est. Af­ter the col­lege en­trance exam that shrunk to about 30. Af­ter the in­dus­try tour and more in­for­ma­tion ses­sions there were about 18. The com­pa­nies in­ter­viewed 13 for six spots.

The News: Who are the NCSS stu­dents and com­pa­nies in­volved? Sch­mitt:

We have three stu­dents from Al­covy High School. They are Steven Holmes who is work­ing with Gen­eral Mills, James Kauffman with FiberVi­sions, and Matt Laun­der with Miche­lin. There are two from East­side High School: Amaru Lackey work­ing with Gen­eral Mills and Nolan Miller with Nis­sh­inbo. Rashid Ou­tar from New­ton High School is ap­pren­tic­ing with Veres­cence.

The News: What will a Ger­man ap­pren­tice­ship stu­dent’s week and pro­gram look like? Sch­mitt:

Ev­ery day the stu­dents go to their home high school for first pe­riod, just like any New­ton Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy (NCCA) stu­dent does. On Tues­day and Thurs­day they are bused to the NCCA and then bused to GPTC for the day. GPTC is con­tribut­ing spe­cific cour­ses aligned with the pre­scribed learn­ing out­comes and cur­ricu­lum.

On Mon­day, Wed­nes­day, and Fri­day, they are bused to NCCA for a re­quired high school class dur­ing sec­ond pe­riod and then they go to work for the rest of the day, but in­stead of work­ing on a task that the com­pany might have them do as a reg­u­lar em­ployee, they work un­der an as­signed men­tor on what are called “Chris­tiani projects.”

These projects are de­signed to teach con­cepts, skills, and ap­pli­ca­tions pre­scribed by the Ger­man Cham­ber of Com­merce. The stu­dents have a work­bench and stan­dard­ized tools pur­chased by the com­pany. We are new at this, but I be­lieve, that Chris­tiani projects start with very sim­ple things, like ‘here is a block of steel, turn that into this part based on these spec­i­fi­ca­tions.’ They start that ba­sic and de­velop over time to more ad­vanced things.

The com­pany agrees to pay the stu­dents $8 per hour as 10th graders, $10 per hour as 11th graders, and $12 per hour as 12th graders. They get paid to work on Chris­tiani projects. Now as they go through the pro­gram, I be­lieve there is time built in for them to not only work on their Chris­tiani projects, but also to work on some reg­u­lar job projects.

But re­mem­ber this first group is only 15 years old. Per U.S. Depart­ment of La­bor rules, they can­not even go to the com­pa­nies right now. So we are work­ing with the com­pa­nies to have the work­benches, tools, and Chris­tiani projects housed at the NCCA un­til they get old enough—16 years old—to go to the com­pa­nies.

New­ton County School Sys­tem stu­dents are rec­og­nized by Lt. Gover­nor Casey Ca­gle Aug. 14 at the State Capi­tol dur­ing a spe­cial signing cer­e­mony into the Ger­man Ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram.

Amaru Lackey

Steven Holmes

De­vante Ou­tar

James Kauffman

Matthew Laun­der

Nolan Miller

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