Loading Events

« All Events

Building The 21st Century Workforce With Innovative Apprenticeships

October 6 @ 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT

Pre-Pandemic studies have shown that in the United States there will be a shortage of 3.4 million workers in the next 10 years. This number might be exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis on the US economy and the medium-to-long term effects of school and college closures and distance-learning on America’s future workforce. Advanced manufacturing is already confronted to an underqualified workforce and hundreds of thousands of unfulfilled jobs. Looking to the world-class benchmark standards of the dual education systems in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, which blend academic theory with practical hands-on learning, apprenticeship programs are increasingly part of the work-force development solution in the United States in particular in the high-tech industries. From the Space Coast of Florida to the manufacturing hubs of Ohio and The Carolinas, hear from some of the world leaders in technical education and from global companies that have successfully integrated these innovative apprenticeship programs into their work-force development.

This program will be graced by the presence of the Consul General of Germany in Florida, in honor of the German Presidency of the European Union.


Topics for discussion

  • Is implementing a German style apprentice program in the US difficult bearing in mind the differences between the US and German educational systems?
  • What type of industries / companies are they most effective in?
  • What does a “German-style” apprenticeship in the US look like?
  • How do they differ with other types of apprenticeships?
  • Which educational partners are necessary to make apprenticeships a success?
  • What role do apprenticeships play in helping companies attract and retain a diverse workforce especially in the high-tech industries?



  • Andreas Siegel, General Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany for Florida – Miami (FL)
  • Andreas Brockman, Head of Technical Training and Education USA – Festo Didactic – Mason (OH)
  • Robert Ellis, HR Team Lead Supervisor Training and Apprenticeship – ZF Group – Gray Court (SC)
  • Kai Schmidt, Director Human Resources & Facilities – Airbus OneWeb Satellites and Chairman and Co-Founder of the SCCAP – Merritt Island (FL)
  • Todd Schwartz, Executive Director EACC Cincinnati – Moderator

This program is brought to you by:

Speaker Bios:

Andreas Brockmann started with FESTO in Cincinatti in June 2017 as the Head of Technical Training & Education, U.S. He previously worked in the Engineering Division at York Technical College in Rock Hill, SC as the Department Chair in Industrial Maintenance Technology, Mechatronic & Welding. For the Mechatronic Department he created a very unique Associate Degree based on the needs of the industry partners in the Charlotte NC area. Andreas has over 32 years’ experience in automation with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an Apprenticeship Instructor certification from IHK/AHK. He started his career in a German apprenticeship program in 1983.

Kai Schmidt was born and raised in Muehlhausen (Germany) and started his career as an Officer Cadet in the German Army. After obtaining a Master Degree in “Educational Science, Psychology and People Development” at the University of the German Armed Forces in Munich, he joined EADS/Military Air Systems (Airbus) as an HR Manager in 2009. From 2011 till 2014 he worked at SIGNALIS as Head of Human Resources & Site Manager in Munich, Bremen and Paris before joining Airbus Defense and Space in Ottobrun. In May 2015, Kai was appointed HR Director at Airbus OneWeb Satellites in Florida’s Space Coast where he manages all key HR processes in France and the United States. Kai is Co-founder and Chair of the German/Swiss apprenticeship program – called the Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship & Workforce Initiative – for the Space Coast aerospace, aviation, aircraft and defense companies.

Andreas Siegel is a career diplomat with a broad range of international experience in strategic, political, economic and cultural affairs. Before coming to Florida in July 2019, Andreas headed the German Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Prior to that he was Head of the Strategic Planning Division for External Cultural Policy in the Directorate General for Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. From 2010 to 2013 he was posted in Brussels as First Counsellor at the Permanent Representation to NATO, coordinating in particular arms control and counter-terrorism matters. Prior to this, he worked in Strasbourg/France at the Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe (CoE), in Berlin, serving as the German spokesperson for European cultural policy and coordinating German cross-border cooperation with neighboring countries as well as in Poland, Boston/USA, Lilongwe/Malawi (South-Eastern Africa), Rabat and Casablanca/Morocco.

Robbie Ellis is the HR Team Lead Supervisor for Training and Apprenticeships with ZF Transmissions in Gray Court, SC.  Over the past 4 years Robbie has worked closely with Public School Districts, The SC Technical College System and local Community Officials to develop what is now recognized as one of the leading apprenticeship programs in the state.  Robbie spends a great deal of his time promoting apprenticeships throughout the Upstate of South Carolina by speaking with students, parents and educators on the opportunities available through such programs.

Prior to joining ZF, Robbie had a 17-year career with Sealed Air Corporation, where he held various roles in manufacturing management and the last 8 years as Training Manager.  Robbie has a degree in Business from Lander University and resides in Easley, SC with his wife and daughter.


October 6
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT


Your Computer or Connected Device