Ramstein revives apprenticeship program

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Sara Keller
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Ramstein is known for having one of the most extensive missions throughout the Air Force, and it takes more than just uniformed Airmen to keep this mission going. Local national employees play a huge role in Ramstein’s ability to maintain base operations and keep aircraft in the air, ultimately allowing the base to plan for long-term success and increase installation resilience.

To ensure the hiring of well-trained and educated local nationals, Ramstein will be reviving its apprenticeship program by hiring approximately 20 new employees in various professions. The 86th Force Support Squadron’s Civilian Personnel Office is taking applications from now until
May 30.

The CPO will also be hosting an apprenticeship fair March 3 at the German-American Community Office in Kaiserslautern.

Ramstein’s apprenticeship program is designed to mimic the German system that provides practical hands-on skills as well as classroom education for young adults.

The program is open to German citizens who have graduated from the German school system and are responsible, mobile and able to work independently.

Apprenticeship positions are intended for motivated individuals with an interest in learning a new craft and completing the program, which can take anywhere from 3.5 to four years. Once the apprenticeship is complete, employees may have the opportunity to transfer to a permanent position where they trained at.

Although the program was discontinued in 2012 due to budget cuts after operating for more than 10 years, local leaders recognize that there is an unlimited amount of value in strengthening Ramstein’s workforce and maintaining strong ties within the local community.

“Our local national workforce is an important element of a strong, healthy relationship with our communities around the air base,” said Brig. Gen. Jon T. Thomas, 86th Airlift Wing commander.

“Employees who work on our installations have a sound understanding of what we do, and can share that with their own neighbors to increase broader understanding and appreciation of the role our bases play in the local area. Bringing apprentices onboard ensures that we continue to maintain a skilled and balanced local national workforce as a key element of our overall team here at the 86th Airlift Wing.”

Not only will training and hiring young and competent local nationals serve as a way to empower U.S. and German relations, but it will also serve as a solution to counteract the loss of qualified employees to ensure long-term success for Ramstein.

“We are making an effort to train our successors because we’re anticipating a growing number of long-term employees retiring within the next three to five years,” said Michael Henry, 86th FSS CPO training and requirements section chief. “Having well-trained individuals ready to replace these retirees will ensure there are no gaps in mission readiness.”

Once all applications are received, the CPO office will take a few months to go through the recruitment process and make selections. Those hired will begin their apprenticeships Sept. 2.

“Our local national workforce performs a key role in successfully performing our mission here at the 86th Airlift Wing,” Thomas said. “They provide technical expertise and continuity that, in some cases, does not exist in our military or U.S. civilian workforce. As a result, we need to have a vibrant local national workforce that is balanced across skills and ages so that we can rely on the availability of qualified employees at all times. The apprenticeship program is our way of bringing in young, motivated employees and training them in the skills needed to perform our mission. Once they become qualified and experienced, they then become the trainers of the next group of apprentices that we bring in, creating a sustainable long-term flow within our local national workforce.”

As of now specific training opportunities that applicants will be able to apply for include:

• Logistics management
• Technician
• Automotive vehicle mechanic
• Electrician
• Telecommunications technician
• Engineering technician, drafting
• Painter
• Mason
• Business administration specialist
• Sheet metal worker

To facilitate an apprenticeship in any of the professions offered, Ramstein has a number of responsibilities to ensure a safe, suitable and productive work center for new employees.

“In order to facilitate an apprenticeship we need ‘meisters’ to train our new apprentices,” Henry said. “In the past we didn’t have as many as we’d like, but this year we have a sufficient amount that can truly impact the quality of how our apprentices will be trained.”

“Meisters,” a German word meaning “masters,” are required to attend additional schooling and register with the German Chamber of Labor to claim the title.

Having adequate work centers and teachers for the apprenticeship program will continue to be a priority for Ramstein leaders as they breathe life back into this sought-after program.

“Spread the word,” Thomas encouraged. “If you know of a young, talented local national who would be interested in joining our team here at Ramstein, let them know about this program and encourage them to contact our CPO for more information. This program is a great employment opportunity, and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on the chance to join us simply because they were not aware of the program. Thank you!” Applications can be mailed to:

Civilian Personnel Flight
Training & Resources
Attn: Fabian Mertel
Bldg. 2120
66877 Ramstein-Miesenbach

For more information, contact the CPO by calling 06371-47-2167 or emailing 86fss.civ-training@us.af.mil.