The DeKalb County Technology Center and Volkswagen have entered into a historical partnership that could change the economic landscape of the region.
"This industry partnership with a Global Automotive Powerhouse like Volkswagen will hopefully attract more business and industry to DeKalb County, as our record shows we in Career Tech, are producing 21st century employees." - Jonathan Phillips, Assistant Career Tech Director of DeKalb County Schools
Mechatronics is a combination of mechanical engineering, electronics, and computer controlled processes. The automaker's Chattanooga training program is identical to its program in Germany, which focuses on dual-education system. That system pairs vocational classroom education and paid on the job training.
The Volkswagen Academy is an innovative training center preparing employees for work at the new Chattanooga plant. High tech classrooms also feature all the aspects of the manufacturing facility on a smaller scale to allow for hands-on training, including a machining area, welding area, electricity lab, autotronics center, automotive diagnostics area, and more. The Academy provides advanced vocational programs and promotes personal growth for workers and for those seeking employment. This dual educational track is designed to help workers prepare mentally and physically, so that when they enter the plant they are experts in their field.
Students' cost for Volkswagen Academy is minimal because they're paid about $30,000 during four on the job semesters.
Students who complete the program will begin working in the Chattanooga Plant but will also have the opportunity to transfer to jobs within the Volkswagen family of brands: Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, and Lamborghini. Students will also get the opportunity to continue their education while employed by Volkswagen.
Graduates earn an Associate of Applied science in systems engineering technology with a concentration in mechatronics systems. The graduates' starting pay at the plant averages to $22.50 an hour, or $46,800 a year. That doesn't include possible bonuses and pay increase to $30 an hour.
DCTC is the only secondary school to enter into a partnership with Volkswagen. No local college or university is offering this type of program currently.
"DCTC and DeKalb County Career Tech are proving every day that we are graduating students who are prepared for post secondary education and the Workforce. The Volkswagen Partnership just makes that statement stronger." - Jonathan Phillips, Assistant Career Tech Director of DeKalb County Schools
To add to this historic news, the DeKalb County Technology Center has announced that three students have been selected for the Volkswagen Academy.
Each year only twelve are selected from across the nation to enter the prestigious program. Those chosen were John Carter (Ider), Josh Gravitt (Plainview), and Houston Ward (Ider).
On Monday night, DeKalb County Director of Economic Development Jimmy Durham addressed the Rainsville City Council to discuss the potential of the German giants opening a factory in Rainsville.
"We've seen a tremendous increase on German auto suppliers coming in to this area and looking. You have a great site out here (Rainsville). It's perfect," said Durham. "When these companies come in they're ready to go immediately. We're competing with 120 other sites right now so we have to be ready to go too."
Durham requested that the city order an environmental assessment on the available lots at the industrial park immediately.
Another auto plant in Rainsville alongside RTI would put DeKalb County at the forefront of the automotive industry.