President Trump has initiated a new administration protocol of greeting each foreign dignitary personally at the entrance to the White House upon each visit.
Today German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the White House and attended a cabinet room roundtable discussion with U.S. and German business leaders on the topic of vocational training. Anticipating a future trade negotiation President Trump also brought Commerce Secretary Wilburne (Ross) to engage:
12:58 P.M. EDT [Transcript] PRESIDENT TRUMP: Chancellor, thank you very much. Such a great honor to get to know you, to be with you. I want to thank all of the business leaders who have joined us to discuss a subject that’s very important to me — training our workforce for the 21st century, especially with respect to manufacturing jobs.
We’re working every day to bring back jobs to our country, and thousands and thousands are already coming back. You’re seeing it, you’re reading about it in the papers every single day. We want to make sure that we have the workforce development programs we need to ensure these jobs are being filled by American workers.
Germany and the United States have incredible opportunity to deepen our partnership as we continue to develop a strong workforce in both of our countries. Both Germany and the United States are pioneering job-training programs. Here in the United States, companies have created revolutionary high-tech and online courses. And, of course, for decades, Germany has been a model for highly successful apprenticeship — that’s a name I like, “apprentice” — apprenticeship programs. As a result, Germany’s youth unemployment rate is much lower than many of the other countries, especially the EU countries.
I welcome collaboration between our two countries and our industry leaders. We have some of our great industry leaders here, as you know, Chancellor. Great people. We must embrace new and effective job-training approaches, including online courses, high school curriculums, and private-sector investment that prepare people for trade, manufacturing, technology, and other really well-paying jobs and careers.
These kinds of options can be a positive alternative to a four-year degree. So many people go to college, four years, they don’t like it, they’re not necessarily good at it, but they’re good at other things, like fixing engines and building things. I see it all the time, and I’ve seen it — when I went to school, I saw it. I sat next to people that weren’t necessarily good students but they could take an engine apart blindfolded.
Companies across the country have a chance to develop vocational training programs that will meet their growing needs and to help us achieve greater prosperity. The German apprenticeship model is one of the proven programs to developing a highly skilled workforce.
Germany has been amazing at this, and I’m glad that the leaders of so many companies represented today have recently launched successful programs right here in the United States. And we need that because we’re training people as the jobs are pouring back in — and they are coming back in big league.
I believe that both countries will be stronger if we continue to deepen our bilateral cooperation on vocational training as we build off the best ideas, create the greatest opportunity for growth, and improve the lives of so many workers.
I want to thank everybody in the room. I want to thank my daughter Ivanka, who’s with us today. And mostly — and most of all, I want to thank — Chancellor, I want to thank you very much. It’s a great honor to have you in the White House. It’s a great honor to have you in the United States. And I look forward to spending time with you.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (Speaks German.)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Maybe before the press leaves I’d like to ask some of the folks around — the great leaders of industry and business to introduce themselves, say a couple of words. And then we’ll get onto a little bit more private meeting, okay?
MS. ROMETTY: Okay. I’m Ginni Rometty with IBM. And we’re going to talk about two programs. One is a certification program, which, Mr. President, today, we’re going to announce 2,000 veterans that we’re certifying in cybersecurity to be employed.
And then the second is something called P-TECH, a public-private partnership. Think of it as a six-year high school, but the graduates come out with an associate degree and with a curriculum that business will hire. And we will have 100 schools by the end of the year. And you’ll meet one of our recent graduates. In a second, Janiel Richards will introduce herself and tell you about herself — trained at the intersection of business and technology.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Great job.
PARTICIPANT: We’ve found that a lot of the private-sector companies have done a great job trying to train the workforce for the jobs that they need, the jobs of the future. In a lot of cases in America, we’re finding that we don’t have enough qualified applicants for the jobs that we have available, so in working with the private sector — and Ginni has been a great leader of that — the White House has been trying to get behind a lot of these programs that can help make sure we’re training the American people for the jobs that we’re hopefully going to be producing in the future.
SECRETARY ROSS: Our hope is that, today, we really come with a way forward, some specific programs where we can interact between the educational community, the business community, and the government. Because this is a monumental problem that needs a monumental solution.
MS. RICHARDS: Thank you for the introduction. Good afternoon, all. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. It is both an honor and a pleasure to be here today.
As mentioned, my name is Janiel Richards. In am 19 years old, and I am from (inaudible). Enrolling in IBM’s P-TECH school was the best decision for me personally and professionally. I did not fully realize the weight of the opportunity I was given; however, looking back, it was a life chance.
P-TECH strengthened my confidence and provided me with mentors who helped me strive. I learned the importance of understanding computers, and gained new skills in both coding and programming. I graduated the program in four and a half years — relatively early — and I graduated with my high school diploma and associate’s degree in computer science, as well as internship experience at IBM.
I learned that technology is omnipresent and opens endless doors. I am now a digital commerce design developer at IBM, where I use my skills to create website pages and checkout pages for the marketplace, I work with professionals from The Indexer, who specialize on web development. I’m also pursuing my bachelor’s degree at Early College. Without the support of P-TECH and IBM, I would not be where I am today. I believe that every student should be offered this chance.
Thank you all.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s a great job. Thank you very much. Great job. Wow. Who wants to follow that? (Laughter.)
MR. KAESER: Mr. President, Chancellor, Vice President, my name is Joe Kaeser, and I work for Siemens. It’s a company which has been in this great country for more than 160 years. We produce revenues and services worth $24 billion ever year, and 60 manufacturing sites in all 50 states in the country.
So thank you for what you’re doing. (Inaudible) in that aspect we brought the apprenticeship to the country, which has, in the meantime, also (inaudible) Department of Labor, so we roll it out everywhere in the community. And I feel very honored today to be part of an initiative that brings not only the apprenticeship and the training for the current manufacturing into play, but also the next generation of manufacturing going forward so we combine the present and the future for our great America and great manufacturing.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Great job. Great company too, by the way. Great company.
MR. BENIOFF: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President, I am delighted to be here, and great to see you and the Vice President as well.
Salesforce, as you know, is the fastest-growing of the top five software companies in the world today, and we’re on a path to create 2 million jobs and add 200 GDP to the world economy through our platform. Our software, as you know, 90 percent is engineered here in the United States, and, as the Vice President knows, handmade in Indianapolis and in San Francisco, where I’m from.
And I’ll tell you, as we have kind of created these jobs all over the world, I see a great opportunity right here in the United States to create apprenticeships. And we’d love to encourage you to take a moonshot goal to create 5 million apprenticeships in the next five years.
And I think the key is, is that we see all these great programs and all these great companies doing workforce development. But if we all came together, if we all unified and created a great program with your leadership, I think we could create this 5 million extra jobs in the U.S.
And you know, our companies are some of the greatest universities in the world. We shape these employees, we train them, we educate them, we bring them in, and I think we can do this. I think this is really exciting.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, congratulations, and you’re going an incredible job. And nice to know you. And really, what you’ve done is just amazing. And let’s do that, let’s go for that 5 million. Okay? (Laughter.) Very good.
Ivanka, go ahead. Say something.
MS. TRUMP: Thank you. And welcome, Chancellor, and to the many U.S. and German CEOs who are here today to discuss vocational education and workforce development. I applaud my father’s commitment to creating millions of jobs, and specifically making sure that all Americans have the skills required and necessary to fill the jobs both of today and of the future.
As many of us realize, ingenuity, creativity often comes from the determination of the private sector, so it’s great to have such great private sector leaders here to share their thoughts and best practices with us today. And thank you for being here.
THE PRESIDENT: Klaus.
MR. ROSENFELD: Mr. President, Madam Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Klaus Rosenfeld. I am the CEO of Schaeffler. Schaeffler is a global automotive and industrial supplier with more than $14 billion U.S. sales, around 87,000 people globally and 75 clients.
We manufacture bearings and other high-precision components and systems for a broad variety of applications and sectors. Our products are everywhere where things turn, be it in cars, machines, airplanes, trucks, or even in washing machines. The company is family-owned, so we place great value on a culture where we think long-term and focus on quality, technology, and innovation. For us, the employee has always been critical, and will always be critical.
We have started business in 1969 in South Carolina. Since then, the Schaeffler family has invested more than a billion in the Palmetto State. We have grown through acquisitions. We’re about to finish multimillion expansions in Ohio and South Carolina.
For us, the U.S. is critical. We have started our first program here in the ‘80s — 1980 in Wooster, Ohio — and since then we have spent a lot of money in vocational dual training. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, Klaus, very much.
MR. KRÜGER: Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. From my side, thank you for inviting us. Yeah, it’s a great pleasure for us, for me. I would like to explain why, at BMW, we call the United States of America our second home.
I’m proud to be here because we were — nearly 25 years ago we were founding our biggest plant in the BMW Group network in South Carolina. We created 9,000 jobs, and we know that in the area around South Carolina, I know we created an additional 4 to 5 to 6, 7 jobs — the 9,000 people we employ at BMW in South Carolina.
We have invested heavily in the further education and training and vocational training. It was around about $200 million in the last five years, and I can commit that we will invest another $200 million into training in the next five years.
We are proud, as we are the biggest net exporter of vehicles in the United States. We have an annual net (inaudible) of $10 billion — exported from South Carolina. Seventy percent of our production is being exported. And I’m proud to be here because we have one apprentice who’s with us from — we have two main programs at Spartanburg, a BMW Scholar Program, which was founded in 2011 and has around about 100 people in the program, and they graduate and create — get a great job at BMW. We are very proud on the skillset — we need them for maintenance jobs.
And I would like to talk about as well employment of skilled veterans, which we are setting up with our dealers in the United States to have their highly qualified veterans working for BMW dealers in the future.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ve seen your plant in South Carolina. It is incredible. And congratulations, that’s really great. Thank you.
MR. KRÜGER: Thank you. May I invite you for the 25th anniversary in June? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I know I shouldn’t have said that. (Laughter.) You know what, if I can, I will do it.
MR.KRÜGER: Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: I wish I could, but if I can I’ll do it. Absolutely.
MS. DAVIS: Mr. President, Madam Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Marie Davis, and I work at Schaeffler’s Automotive and Industrial Plant in Cheraw, South Carolina. Cheraw is a small town with a population of 5,800, and is nicknamed “The Prettiest Town in Dixie.”
It is a great honor for me to be here today along with my peers — apprentice Chad Robinson with Siemens Gas Turbine Plant of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Maria Puckett with BMW, from BMW plant Spartanburg, South Carolina — and to be able to share my experiences with you regarding the Schaeffler apprenticeship program. BMW and Siemens also have very similar programs.
I joined the Air Force after high school and served for four years. After returning home, I applied to and was accepted into the Schaeffler apprenticeship program. This is a very unique three-year program of classroom and hands-on experience, completed in conjunction with Northeastern Technical College, which provided me with special skills for my career. As part of the program, I also received an associate’s degree in machine tool technology and a Department of Labor certificate as a certified journeyman apprentice.
After completing my apprenticeship, I worked as a CNC operator, was then promoted to (inaudible) leader, and am now planned maintenance supervisor. I am very glad that such an apprenticeship program existed in Cheraw, which allowed me to start and build my career with Schaeffler. I hope that more companies will follow BMW, Siemens, and Schaeffler and offer apprenticeship programs to develop skills that will allow for more manufacturing in the United States.
It is an incredible privilege to be invited here today. Thank you so much for listening to me.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Great job. Thank you. Very nice.
I know this one. (Laughter.)
MR. LIVERIS: Mr. President and Madame Chancellor, what an honor it is for me to be here. I’m Andrew Liveris from Dow Chemical. I feel like Germany is our home, to match my BMW colleague’s point about the U.S. being home. We have been in Germany, and in fact the Chancellor’s backyard of former Eastern Germany for a long time. And the Chancellor graced us with a visit to our apprenticeship program there which — Mr. President, the two things I want to talk about today is in fact apprenticeship, and — there’s a book here that I can show which has DOW and Siemens’ name on it. And just to let you know that we are working already together as two collaborators across the Atlantic to actually scale up programs like the one that was mentioned by the young lady to my right.
So I want to talk about that and how we can scale it up through this great leadership that you’re showing. And I also want to talk about veterans and displaced workers, especially in places like Michigan, where we are based.
We have community college work called Fast Start, which is taking displaced workers and reskilling them. When new tech meets industrial tech, as Madame Chancellor says, opportunity is there. But we’ve got to create it by scaling right. So I want to also talk about that.
And my last comment is, a big thank you for lending us or giving us Ivanka and Jared. They’ve been a tremendous duo in making this program real in very short weeks. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. Vice President.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you, Mr. President. Let me just express my appreciation, along with the President, for the participants in this important conversation. All the businesses that are gathered here from across the United States and across Germany are an inspiration, and the innovation that you’re bringing to career and technical and vocational education and to apprenticeship.
I’m especially impressed, Mr. President, with Janiel, and I don’t know that I’ve seen a more inspiring debut at the Cabinet table than anyone. (Laughter.)
Let me also express my appreciation to the Chancellor for suggesting that we bring together, across the Atlantic, business leaders who have really been breaking new ground in this area, for which Germany is so celebrated. We’re grateful for your leadership and look forward to sharing ideas about how we can strengthen the workforce in both of our countries.
And lastly, let me just thank the President. As a former governor from a great manufacturing state, I can tell you that one of our very first conversations was about the innovation that Indiana was bringing to career and technical and vocational education. I can assure you that the passion that you see at this table today by the President is authentic, and at his direction, we’re going to work as an administration to strengthen the opportunities from secondary education on forward to open the doors for more vocational education, more technical education, and more apprenticeships across the United States to the betterment of the people of this country. And we look forward to working with our international partners to drive greater opportunities for Americans.
So thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mike. Appreciate it. Okay, thank you folks. [Media Excused]