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Bold Strategy to Reinvigorate NC’s Manufacturing Talent Pipeline

D is for Dual-Education: A Bold Strategy to Reinvigorate NC’s Manufacturing Talent Pipeline
When asked about their top business concern for the future, most North Carolina manufacturers say the skills gap or workforce development. Nationwide and in North Carolina, manufacturers are not able to find the skilled workers they depend on. Dr. Terri Helmlinger Ratcliff, executive director at the NC State Industrial Extension Services (IES), recently traveled to Germany with The Center for International Understanding and the University of North Carolina General Administration to examine their successful workforce development system – dual-education. In her article, D is for Dual-Education: A Bold Strategy to Reinvigorate NC’s Manufacturing Talent Pipeline, she examines how dual-education works and how this German model can be brought to North Carolina.

Dr. Helmlinger Ratcliff begins her article by considering the main question posed by North Carolina Vision 2030: Are we ready? North Carolina is facing critical challenges with a fast-growing population, especially in workforce and talent supply. “To overcome these challenges, we must focus on developing high-quality, homegrown human capital – especially in advanced manufacturing fields, which are becoming increasingly skills based.” Dr. Helmlinger Ratcliff found Germany’s dual-education model eye-opening, offering a high-impact range of solutions utilized and promoted by well-known companies like BMW and Siemens. She noted of the trip, “The crucial element of the experience was firsthand exposure to the larger cultural underpinnings of Germany’s wildly successful dual-education system, which combines classroom learning and practical training to create a strong and skilled workforce, boost employment rates and improve economic viability across sectors.”

She explains how the dual-education model runs counter to most U.S. education and training systems that place the focus on “learning” before “doing.” In Germany, however, dynamic workplace training is combined with rigorous academic education, fully integrating theory and practice. Dr. Helmlinger Ratcliff concludes her article by discussing how North Carolina can implement Germany’s dual-education model. Specifically, she outlines how NC State, as the state’s largest research and engagement-focused land grant university, is well-positioned to lead the development of dual-education and apprenticeship initiatives here in North Carolina. Read her full article here. If you want to learn more, contact Beth Gargan at