Charlotte takes bold step to close skills gap

July 14, 2013 |

Although the arrival of GIZ didn’t make much of a splash in Charlotte’s local media, back in Germany the news of GIZ’s first U.S. office made front-page news across the nation.

GIZ, or Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, is the nonprofit arm of the German government that will be working with community colleges, workforce boards and chambers of commerce to assist our region in developing our mid-skills talent pipeline.

The skills gap continues to impact the manufacturing sector in Charlotte. Not only do local manufacturers struggle to fill highly specialized positions such as welders and machinists, to make matters worse, the majority of workers in the manufacturing sectors are quickly approaching retirement age. Even with near-guaranteed employment, many community college classes that lead to certificates or degrees in these fields remain well below enrollment capacity, due, in part, to the negative image many young people have of what it’s like to work in manufacturing.

These challenges are not unique to Charlotte. No matter where I travel, Germany, with its dual-track training system, is often held up as a model for manufacturing success. So we decided to go directly to the source and partner with GIZ to help tackle these challenging issues. The trick will be adapting the German model to fit U.S. employers who may be wary of the structured nature of dual-track training.

In addition to creating new training programs, we also have the equally challenging task of getting our next generation of workers – our youth – excited about careers in advanced manufacturing. GIZ has a wealth of experience in connecting the dots for young people, and that will be critical to our effort to ensure we continue to be a leader in attracting and creating well-paying manufacturing jobs to our region.

Read the GIZ Press Release Final.