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Volkswagen’s U.S. Training Program Produces First Graduating Class

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Aug. 14, 2013—Volkswagen announced Tuesday the certification of its first-ever U.S. graduates from its Automation Mechatronics Program in Chattanooga, Tenn. Twelve U.S. students were awarded official graduation certificates from the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the German American Chambers of Commerce.

“Volkswagen’s Automation Mechatronics Program is at the forefront of establishing high quality standards for vocational training in the U.S.,” said Martina Stellmaszek, president and CEO of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S. (GACC South). “This is the first program in the U.S. that is fully accredited by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the German American Chambers of Commerce.”

After building a $1 billion state-of-the-art assembly plant in Chattanooga in 2009, Volkswagen realized it couldn’t find the needed 2,000 employees with efficient training. Volkswagen then implemented a German-style apprenticeship program in the U.S. to train its future employees with the GACC South overlooking the quality of the program.

“The lack of skilled labor in the U.S. has been an ongoing problem for many companies and has recently been the source for heated political debates. Particularly hard to find are candidates with a STEM background (science, technology, engineering, and math),” said Stellmaszek. “As a result, more and more companies decide to train their employees on their own and frequently team up with technical colleges or experienced trade organizations like ours.”

The Volkswagen training system lasts about three years and combines classroom learning with hands-on practice in a working environment.

“Training programs like this will most certainly have a positive impact on local economies and communities,” said Stellmaszek.

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