The Atlanta focus of a German foundation is once again paying off for the city, as 12 apprentices from the country arrive this week to hone their skills while contributing to local companies.
The German youngsters hosted by the Joachim Herz Foundation will receive two weeks of training at Georgia’s technical colleges before fanning out to manufacturers, logistics providers, universities and other firms around the metro area and the U.S.
The foundation is partnering with the Technical College System of Georgia on the initiative, which is part of an ongoing effort to improve technical education in Georgia by learning from the well-established German apprenticeship model.
Germany, a manufacturing powerhouse, has been able to keep its factories competitive and export engine alive even as it has raised wages over time, largely thanks to government support and a corporate culture that values tech training from a young age.
While the South has drawn billions in foreign manufacturing investment, some companies have complained about a shortage of technical skills when setting up shop in the region.
The German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States Inc. has been helping local communities address that problem through the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training, which matches companies with technical schools and their students.
Meanwhile, the Hamburg-based Herz foundation saw that German students involved in technical fields didn’t have the same access to overseas study programs as their liberal-arts-oriented counterparts.
The program started in 2015, when the technical college system hosted 12 of the 21 apprentices brought over by the Herz Foundation. Shortly after that, Herz partnered with the Halle Foundation to send faculty from each of Georgia’s 22 technical institutions to learn about the model in Germany through the Global Faculty Development Initiative.
Apprentices, known as “Azubis” in German, will spend two weeks living with host families and attending five Georgia technical schools — West Georgia Technical College, Central Georgia Technical College, Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Atlanta Technical College and Southern Crescent Technical College — before beginning up to 10-week work experiences.
Recruited in part by Atlanta attorney and foundation adviser Yonni Kim, companies hosting the apprentices are:
- Jim Ellis Audi of Atlanta
- GACC South, Atlanta
- Kuehne and Nagel, East Point
- Kennesaw State University
- BOS USA
- Zwick Roell, Kennesaw
- Schaefer Container Systems, Atlanta
- Voestalpine, White, Ga.
The Joachim Herz Foundation was started after the death of the eponymous German entrepreneur and real-estate developer.
Mr. Herz, the second son of the founder of the Tchibo coffee empire, branched out to the U.S. and amassed a second fortune in real estate, finding ishome away from home in Georgia, where he was killed in a boating accident at 66.
The foundation now owns his ranch in Covington, Ga., where visitors can still see the lakes he created with the tractors he loved to ride, as well as his first aircraft and the 50 oak trees he planted for his wife, Petra, who is now the executive chair of the foundation.
Learn more about the foundation and the “Azubis Going USA” apprenticeship program in this 2015 Global Atlanta story.