On June 5, the GMF hosted U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker as part of a signing ceremony for a joint declaration of intent between the U.S. and German governments. The declaration promotes cooperation in dual education training and apprenticeship programs. Secretary Pritzker, who provided keynote remarks at the ceremony, was joined by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu as well as Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Labor Portia Wu, and Acting Assistant Secretary of Education Johan E. Uvin, who served as signatories to the declaration. The German delegation included Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Rachel and German Ambassador to the United States Peter Wittig.
In her remarks, Secretary Pritzker highlighted that, for the first time, the Department of Commerce is prioritizing skills and workforce development. However, she emphasized that the federal government alone could not put in place the programs necessary to develop the skilled workforce needed to feed a robust high-tech manufacturing economy. Instead, the federal government must seek partners to ensure the United States has the skilled workforce it needs to compete in a 21st century global economy. The joint declaration serves as a shining example of that effort.
While the declaration marks an important step in developing the U.S. economy, it serves a dual purpose of strengthening the bilateral relationship. Pritzker remarked, "The effort to bring [the German] dual system of training to America may be one of the most valuable German imports to [the United States] over the long term."
This event, which took place on the 43rd anniversary of Willy Brandt's speech announcing the inception of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, signified that GMF's mission of strengthening transatlantic relations is as important and relevant as ever. The spirit of cooperation embodied in the Marshall Plan remains alive and well half a century later.
GMF plans to continue this conversation by relying on our network of partners, developed by our flagship Marshall Memorial Fellowship and Urban & Regional Policy programs, who are actively involved in promoting workforce development, starting with a speaking tour on German-style apprenticeships taking place this week throughout North Carolina and featuring German Minister of Culture, Siegmut Keller.