Virginia Beach Campus President Joins Local Leaders on Overseas Visit

Virginia Beach Campus President Joins Local Leaders on Overseas Visit

ECPI University Campus President Andy Gladstein joined a delegation of educational, political, and business leaders from the Hampton Roads region on a July visit to Stuttgart, Germany.

The purpose of the visit was to explore Germany’s dual-track vocational education and training (VET) program, which supports about 1.3 million vocational apprentices each year. The delegation visited educational institutions and corporate headquarters related to the VET program to learn about its successful workforce development pipeline, particularly in high-tech industries.

“In America, the education system is very sequenced. You go to elementary, then middle, then high school, and then off to college or onto a career,” explained Gladstein. “In Germany, we learned it’s more fluid. Students start to align themselves with a career much earlier and then divide their time between schooling and formalized practical training offered by employers.”

Gladstein, along with other academic leaders and mayors from the Hampton Roads region, had the opportunity to interview students, administrators, and business leaders to understand how the German apprenticeship model could be adapted within the Hampton Roads education system. They toured multiple facilities, including IMS GearStihl.

Based on their experience, the delegation plans to foster collaboration between high schools, universities, community colleges, and technical colleges in Hampton Roads to emulate the successful aspects of the German VET program.

They aim to create a partnership that will enhance workforce development pathways and economic growth in Hampton Roads, promoting socio-economic equity and cultural awareness for all students.

“Locally at ECPI, we regularly meet with employers to discuss current and future employment needs. Leaders of organizations that rely on skilled workers are concerned about how to replace the knowledge and experience of today’s aging workforce,” Gladstein said.

The Hampton Roads Workforce Council will coordinate the program, which will focus on work-based learning, internships, and apprenticeships in collaboration with local industries.

The Hampton Roads Alliance, a regional economic development organization, and the Hampton Roads Workforce Council will draft an MOU to articulate the goals of this effort, fostering region-wide collaboration between educational institutions, businesses, and legislators to support students and the local industry.

Gladstein enjoyed seeing such a great focus on career education and bridging the skills gap, which has been at the core of ECPI University’s mission since 1966.

“It was inspiring to learn how the German apprenticeship model has evolved to support a culture that recognizes the importance of skilled trades across the economy,” he said. “We have to keep working to build up our workforce, here in Hampton Roads and across the country.”