First 12 US apprentices graduate from VW program

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – The first dozen participants are graduating from Volkswagen’s apprenticeship program at the German automaker’s Tennessee plant.

The graduates completed a three-year curriculum that mixed technical skills with paid experience working in the assembly plant in Chattanooga. Graduates are guaranteed jobs at the plant, with an annual salary starting at $40,000.

The dual track program is based on the German apprenticeship system, and two of the graduates are headed to yearlong exchanges at VW plants in Germany.

Twelve of the original 20 participants are graduating on Tuesday. The program operated in partnership with public colleges has a current enrollment of more than 50.

VW is adding 24 apprentices a year, and new enrollees will also earn an associate’s degree along with their certificates when they graduate.