L3-Harris employees talking with John Stark High School students. courtesy of Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
A two-year pilot program in Franklin is providing educational opportunities for students and helping to meet the needs of local manufacturers.
The seeds of the NH Forward Industry Educational Partnership were sown at a manufacturing night in October 2019, organized by Franklin City Councilor Jo Brown. Five local manufacturers discussed their businesses and subsequently visited the high school and talked about career options with students.
The program is modeled after the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC) Apprenticeship Program.
Committee member Ken Wells says NH Forward’s aim is to coordinate adoption of GACC’s expertise with Franklin’s resources and needs, solicit commitments from industries, and ensure state and federal requirements for registered apprenticeship programs are met.
“By getting industry involved all the way down to the high school level, students are assured of two things, they are not going to be stuck with a huge amount of debt and assured of good skill sets. They will study for what companies are hiring for.”
He says this type of education is eco-nomically sound. “For so many years, students have heard that the path to success is a liberal arts education, well it isn’t the only path. There are great jobs in manufacturing and tech, especially in New Hampshire.”
Students who successfully complete the program receive a guaranteed job offer from the sponsoring company and earn an associate degree from Lakes Region Community College through NH Running Start that allows students to also earn college credits while in high school.
Brown says it is not just a great opportunity for the students but also for the city of Franklin to grow its own workforce.
“With everything else going on in Franklin, downtown development, the water park opening, the timing is great,” says Brown, referencing the new whitewater and outdoor park that broke ground in July and is expected to provide an economic boost as a tourist destination. “We don’t want to leave our students behind.”
“The GACC program aims to create for New Hampshire the same apprenticeship opportunities I enjoyed as a young man in Austria,” says Pecco Beaufays, owner of the Highland Inn in Andover. “It is no exaggeration to say that my GACC-style apprenticeship experience was the key to my later success in life.”
Matthew Allen, director of careers and education at German American Chamber of Commerce in New York, says the GACC model is based on the German dual-education apprenticeship model. In addition to on-the-job practical training and related technical instruction, apprentices are exposed to operations at their host companies and receive a well-rounded education.
Beaufays says U.S. schools prepare students for a job, while in Germany they are prepared for a career. “Very often, the executives of German companies began their careers as apprentices,” Allen says.