Conference: Leading representatives from government, industry, and academia discuss growth and job creation

05/16/2012

High taxes, costs of health care, and the lack of skilled workforce are the biggest challenges German enterprises face in the US. Therefore, strategies for more jobs and growth were discussed by German and American representatives from politics, businesses and science on May 16 at the conference “Manufacturing, Innovation, and Workforce Training: What works in Germany and the US for Jobs and Growth“ in Washington, DC.

After United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca M. Blank delivered the keynote address for the conference, outlining Germany as one of the most important partners of the US, participants discussed best practices and current challenges. German manufacturers commended the strong innovative force of the US, export opportunities and a motivated American workforce. On the other hand high corporate tax rates, high health care costs and the lack of skilled workforce on the labor market are the three biggest challenges German manufacturers are currently facing in the US. German companies like BMW Manufacturing Co. and KOMET of America – the latter a classical Mittelstand firm ­– rely on their own initiatives when it comes to health care and workforce training. BMW for example is currently building an internal family health care facility in South Carolina.

Thomas Zielke, Representative of German Industry and Trade in Washington, DC, remarks: “This dialogue on similarities, differences and best practices Germany and the USA is of utmost importance to German industry. Over 3.500 German subsidiaries employ about 600.000 people in the US. We’re glad that the interest of American policymakers and the public in industry and particularly in Germany has risen significantly.

Also widely discussed was the German system of vocational education and training, which experts agreed upon is not exactly transferable to the US. Panelists from both sides of the Atlantic indicated that they are constricted when it comes to standardization for technical programs, as it is widely determined by states, not at the federal level. There is a need for more industry involvement, on the local and national level, in developing competency based technical education to better support workforce development. Agreed upon is the importance of transforming the narrative surrounding technical training and manufacturing jobs in the United States as an honorable and worthwile profession. 

The conference “Manufacturing, Innovation, and Workforce Training” took place at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC. It was hosted – besides Aspen Institute – by the Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT), and the German-American Chambers of Commerce, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington, DC, and the German Center for Research and Innovation.

For videos of the conference and more information please click here.

Please find the presentations of the speakers, Rebecca M. Blank (Deputy Secretary of Commerce), Friedrich Hubert Esser (President, Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training) and Patrick D. Gallagher (Under Secreatry for Standards and Technology and Director, National Insitute of Standards and Technology, US Departement of Commerce) below:

Presentation Rebecca M. Blank

Presentation Friedrich Hubert Esser

Presentation Patrick D. Gallagher