Mon, Oct 04, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Labor council to offer mechanics training

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) expects to partner with a top-notch German auto maintenance plant to train students to be professional mechanics, as part of a vocational program introduced by Germany.

"We have been approached by a world-class car manufacturer with the possibility of setting up a cooperative program where students enrolled in this vocational program may acquire car maintenance skills using the latest technology," said Chiang Wei-kung (蔣維功), Enterprise Training Division Section Chief at the CLA.

Chiang said the co-operative program, when established, may change conventional conceptions of the car maintenance profession.

"In the past, those guys in the workshop lying under a car doing repairs were known as mechanics, and were not deemed to be professionals. However, with today's advanced technology, a car maintenance worker needs to learn to work with computers and all the technological aspects in order to conduct car repairs -- these people are known as `engineers' instead," Chiang said.

Chiang said the program is expected to be up and running in two or three years.

"In the meantime, quantitative research on the number of car engineers needed to meet market demand is to be conducted," Chiang said.

The vocational program, officially known as the Taiwan-Germany Elite Program (台德菁英計畫), was initiated last July. Students work as apprentices in the private sector while earning an associate degree diploma and a professional degree certification from the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, or the DIHK, as it is known by its German acronym.

Students enrolled in the program have part of their tuition fees reimbursed by the CLA, while the employer hosting the student provides wages amounting to half of what a permanent employee is paid.

This year, five new programs are being offered: hotel management, commerce management, industrial mechanisms, microtechnology and mechatronics -- which combines mechanical engineering and electronics in the design and manufacture of products.

"All these programs have been carefully selected. First the DIHK provided us with 360 classifications of professional fields practiced in Germany, and then we asked Taiwan's commerce unions to screen them. The unions then selected 78 types of professions they felt were worth promoting in Taiwan. Out of those, the CLA then picked the final five based on various factors of availability," Chiang said.

The program, which has long had a good reputation in Germany, will be monitored to determine its effectiveness.

"As of the end of the academic year, half of the first batch of students had failed to pass their first-year of program due to stress," Chiang said.

Chiang explained that most students had not secured a solid academic foundation in high school and therefore faced difficulties dealing with both school and work.

"The CLA will strengthen its student counseling. We are planning to set up an assessment program where we may gauge each student's progress in the program," Chiang said.

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