The ‘dual system’ on the fringe of the Atlantic Ocean. In a workshop located one floor above the assembly hall of the American headquarters of the German chainsaw maker, Stihl, in Virginia Beach, VA, young Americans are learning how to file, mill, grind, weld and code machines, supervised by a German trainer. They are part of a group of apprentices who are doing a German-style dual training. Indeed, to make its chainsaws, hedge trimmers and brush cutters, the international leader from Swabia (€2.6 billion in sales, 12,026 employees in 2011) needs extremely specialized workers (mechatronics engineers, toolmakers…). Since it couldn’t find the right workers on the American labor market, the company has decided a) to move production to the US and b) to introduce the German apprenticeship system – though adjusting it to the American education system.
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