Building a Robust U.S. Work-based Education and Apprenticeship System at Scale:Can Lessons from Europe Help?

High youth unemployment in the United States and Europe is a result not only of sluggish growth, but also a skills mismatch—the new generation of workers lacks the skills that employers need. Economists now predict a looming shortfall of 3 million skilled U.S. workers by 2018. Meanwhile, there are 2 million job vacancies across the European Union, despite high levels of unemployment. In response, the U.S. government and the European Union have both sought to expand career and technical education (CTE) opportunities in key industries, like the European Union’s Copenhagen Process and President Obama’s initiatives to build a “middle-skill” workforce and renew American manufacturing through the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0.

Previous scholarship on apprenticeships has been limited due to the difficulties of comparing the German system of education and other European systems with that of the United States. The AICGS Project on Employment, Education, an Training, of which this Policy Report is a part, provides a unique assessment of European and American approaches to developing the skills of the future workforce, pointing out strengths and shortcomings on both sides of the Atlantic and offering practical suggestions to policymakers, businesses, and educators engaged in enhancing tomorrow’s work force

This publication is an example of AICGS’ commitment to expanding the German-American dialogue to the state and local levels and increasing awareness in the United States of EU member states’ long experience in the area of workforce development.

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The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.