Omaha, Neb. — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and the German American Chambers of Commerce joined Claas of America today at its North America headquarters for a ceremony for the state’s first German Dual Study Apprenticeship Program. The ceremony was a featured event at the Growing Nebraska Skilled Workforce Conference at Claas of America and featured a delegation of government, education and business leaders who discussed new solutions for solving the skilled workforce shortage.

Claas and Graepel Manufacturing, two German companies with North America operations based in Omaha, became the first two high-tech manufacturers in the state to sign on and commit funds for the three-year ICATT Apprenticeship, a dual study program promoted through the German American Chambers of Commerce. The ICATT Apprenticeship Program helps manufacturers develop a pipeline of skilled talent and train the workforce they need to grow through its globally recognized program.

The Growing Nebraska event featured Gov. Ricketts; John Albin, Nebraska Department of Labor Commissioner; Mark Tomkins, president and CEO of the German American Chambers of Commerce of the Midwest; John Fonda, CEO of John Day Company; Phil Raimondo, CEO of Behlen Manufacturing; and Mark Zumdohme, president of Graepel North America.

In addition to the ceremony, the leaders reviewed best practices for addressing the skilled workforce shortage, including apprenticeship programs, in a special panel discussion. The panel, led by Deb Franklin, Vice President of Human Resources North America for Claas, was made up of several company CEOs and representatives from the Nebraska Department of Labor, ICATT and Metropolitan Community College.

“The Growing Nebraska Skilled Workforce event brought together leading innovators to help more Nebraskans find a pathway to many of the great opportunities that are available in our state,” Gov. Ricketts said. “Companies like Claas and Graepel North America have high-quality jobs and tremendous career paths for our state’s workforce. The German Dual Study Apprenticeship Program is an innovative way to address the skilled workforce shortage by helping both people who are looking for great jobs and employers working to recruit and develop talent.”

“As a long-line manufacturer of technically advanced agriculture equipment, Claas relies on a dedicated and highly skilled workforce to build the high-efficiency machines that the markets demand,” said Franklin. “As a long-term business resident of Nebraska, we’re thrilled to commit to this important apprenticeship program that helps create new opportunities for our region’s workforce.” 

The dual study program is a work-based education model that combines classwork with on-the-job practical experience. ICATT partners with companies and community colleges to develop tailored curriculum based on industry standards and individual company needs. The program was established by the German American Chambers of Commerce of the Midwest. 

In addition to the ICATT apprenticeship program, Claas is also using the DOL Registered Apprentice Program to provide other critical training for some of its current employees. The ICATT and DOL apprenticeship program training will be handled through Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.

“We’re tremendously excited about the opportunities that these two training initiatives will bring with on-the-job training for local skilled workers who are interested in the opportunities that Claas North America has to offer,” Franklin said.