Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations held grand opening ceremonies on Friday for the Volkswagen Academy, described as "a unique, cutting-edge training center that will prepare employees for work, host an advanced vocational program and provide meeting facilities for outside groups when it is fully functioning."
The Volkswagen Academy has 163,000 square feet of space that houses a conference center, LEAN center, automotive center, automation center and vocational skills center. It contains 19 classrooms, a cafeteria with seating for 100 people, a gift shop and a coffee shop.
Volkswagen has partnered with Chattanooga State Community College and the state of Tennessee on the construction of the facility and on its curriculum.
Officials said the primary purpose of the Volkswagen Academy is to prepare new employees for work at the Volkswagen plant. As part of their training, each employee gets introduced to Volkswagen’s products, strategy and structures during the first week of employment. In subsequent weeks, employees learn about efficient production processes based on the Volkswagen production system.
“Volkswagen offers its employees a custom-tailored education and advanced training with the Volkswagen Academy in Chattanooga,” said Dr. Horst Neumann, a member of the Board of Management at Volkswagen AG with responsibility for human resources. “With this academy, we promote opportunities for personal growth within the scope of professional career developments for the newcomer, the skilled worker, as well as the expert. This concept motivates every single employee/team member and lives up to our claim of being a first class international employer. This is how we establish a top team who will implement our US strategy successfully. The standards of the new training academy, such as placing Profi-rooms for on-site training in the middle of the production area, are trend-setting,” Neumann said.
Hans-Herbert Jagla, executive vice president of human resources at Volkswagen Chattanooga, said, “The Volkswagen Academy closely cooperates with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Tennessee Technological University. This allows young talent to be enthralled with Volkswagen early on.
”Also, this concept combines academic studies and professional training, which is similar to the German model of academic studies combined with practical experience.”
The Volkswagen Academy features modern classroom facilities with contemporary technology found in the finest university settings, but also features all the aspects of the manufacturing facility on a smaller scale to allow for hands-on training. 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, whether it is the body shop, paint shop or the assembly shop, it was stated.
"Under Governor Bredesen, Tennessee has made tremendous strides in improving the knowledge and skill sets of Tennesseans, from K through 12 to adult worker training," said Commissioner Matt Kisber, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. "In Tennessee, we're committed to helping companies make best-in-class products by providing a skilled, productive workforce. The Volkswagen Academy will become a significant asset in our state's efforts to strengthen and diversify Tennessee's economy through innovative, advanced worker training.”
Partners in the project include: the state of Tennessee, Chattanooga State Community College, Tennessee Technology Center, Tennessee Technological University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
County Mayor Claude Ramsey said, “It is incredible to see how far we have come since July 15, 2008, when Volkswagen announced they would build cars here in Hamilton County. Today’s dedication of the Volkswagen Academy brings us closer to the day when new cars will run off the assembly line.
“Those cars will be constructed by the graduates of this training center and most of those workers will be from Hamilton County. Their success, Volkswagen’s success, is something we can all celebrate today and in the months and years to come. It is exciting to know our local workers will pass through these doors on the way to a better future.”
Mayor Ron Littlefield said, “Through this new training center, Volkswagen is setting a new standard. This is proof of their dedication to the necessity of having a distinctively trained and educated workforce. This new facility will provide an exceptional opportunity for those seeking employment at the new plant.”