Learning any foreign language will have benefits for your personal life and your career, but depending on your location and the particular demographics of your area, some languages may offer very particular advantages. Take the case of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in Tennessee, with a population of 175,000. And it also has a legacy of German influence — in fact, the area’s leading daily newspaper, the Chattanooga Times, was run by a German-American family from 1878 (just a decade after its founding) through the end of the 1990s! The German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States reports that some 1,500 German companies — nearly half of all those in the U.S. — are located in the southeast.
But Chattanooga is also the seat of a 1,400-acre Volkswagen plant that directly employs over 3,000, plus an additional 9,500 indirect suppliers. Since the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant began operation in 2011, it has financially impacted a variety of local industries, and it continues to report over $300 million annually in local car supply contracts.
Any international company with major branches abroad values employees who can speak the company’s mother tongue and communicate with team members based out of foreign headquarters. Learning German in Chattanooga can help boost your job prospects and raise your level of desirability as a candidate for a variety of native German companies settling in the Chattanooga area.
The reasons to learn German in Chattanooga extend far beyond the mid-career job search, though. If you’re the parent of a young student with a budding interest in automotive technology, take note that Chattanooga State University has partnered with the Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations, to develop two unique apprenticeship programs based around practical training for work in the industry. The Volkswagen Academy, adjacent to the plant itself, incorporates German curriculum into the program. Your child could get a leg up in the competitive admissions process for these programs if he or she learns to read, write, and speak German from a young age.
As a manager, there are likewise several benefits to having your Chattanooga-based employees learn German. We’ve seen that Volkswagen Group is one of the major area employers, but other German companies have a growing influence in Chattanooga as well, including Walter Chemie, Siemens Corporation and Siemens Building Technologies.
Having your employees learn German in Chattanooga can add value to your business, allowing your team to communicate effectively at both the local and international level with German-speaking representatives in key industries. Those critical foreign language skills can also enhance your team’s understanding of the cultural systems under which German businesses operate, easing communication and collaboration with those organizations. Learning German can help you and your business gain connections, form partnerships, and take advantage of new opportunities in southeastern U.S. markets.