MCALLEN, RGV – Could the South Carolina apprenticeship model work for South Texas? Matt Z. Ruszczak, executive director of Rio South Texas Economic Council, thinks it is worth taking a look at.
Ruszczak is hoping to advance the conversation in the Rio Grande Valley about the pros and cons of developing apprenticeship programs. Earlier in the year several RSTEC members visited with the AHK -German American Chambers of Commerce to research how Germany’s world renowned dual education system of apprenticeship is being adapted for the U.S. During as part of a recent trip to the Hannover Messe Trade Fair in Germany, he also visited manufacturing plants and educational institution where he saw the dual education system of apprenticeship in action on its home turf.
Upon his return, Ruszczak shared a report to the RSTEC board of directors about his insights gained during the visit to Germany. He also provided a link to a webinar produced about the South Carolina apprenticeship model, which has successfully adapted characteristics of the German dual education system of apprenticeship and made them work in a U.S. educational and industrial environment. It features leaders from the U.S. Department of Labor, Apprenticeship Carolina, education institutions and private industry in South Carolina.
Ruszczak met one of the presenters of the webinar, Tana Lee, on his recent trip to Germany.
“The webinar is outstanding and highlights how South Carolina was able to build up a portfolio of over 700 companies that offer apprenticeships, various of which offer youth apprenticeships,” Ruszczak said. “The discussion, as well as a subsequent Q&A, address the challenges of employer engagement, student engagement, liability, transportation, funding, curriculum building, integration of high school & college curricula, the legislative framework, etc. All of these questions get raised regularly when the subject of implementing apprenticeships comes up.”
Click here to watch the South Carolina webinar.
Ruszczak told the Rio Grande Guardian:
“Our region is blessed in many ways, including our young population and our results-oriented educational institutions. Both are among the many factors which make our region attractive for business investment, as they commonly translate to a strong workforce pipeline. Matching the needs of employers with the skills taught to students is a long-standing challenge for communities and institutions all around the world, and in response to this challenge various models have been developed of the years, decades and even centuries.
“One such model which has become in vogue of lately in many discussions is the apprenticeship model, particularly the German version of it, which in its native application engages youth around the age of 16. While it is important to recognize that apprenticeship is a) very complex, b) not a cure-all solution, c) is practically impossible to carbon copy across countries, cultures, regions or communities, d) may not be a good fit for many circumstances, and e) needs deep buy-in, commitment, and support of all parties involved to succeed, it is also always worthwhile to look at how some communities have found success with it, and see what we can learn from them. After all, it never hurts to learn from others to advance our own conversations.
“In that spirit, here is a discussion of how youth apprenticeship, starting during the high school years, was successfully implemented in South Carolina. This recording of a recent webinar highlights how South Carolina was able to build up a portfolio of over 700 companies offering apprenticeships, various of which offer youth apprenticeships. The discussion, as well as the subsequent Q&A, address challenges of employer engagement, student engagement, liability, transportation, funding, curriculum building, integration to existing high school & college curricula, the legislative framework etc., all issues which regularly get raised when the subject of apprenticeships comes up in contemporary conversations.
“I hope those who watch the webinar find it informative and thought-provoking.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows an apprentice learning auto assembly skills with the Apprenticeship Carolina program. Click here to read a story about Apprenticeship Carolina in Brookings.
Rio South Texas Economic Council executive director Matt Z. Ruszczak has just returned from a trip to Europe where he took in the Hannover Trade Fair. Join in as Publisher Mark Hanna discusses with Ruszczak LIVE.
Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Friday, May 5, 2017