July 17, 2014
From wausaudailyherald.com: “The future workforce is here, working” — By Donna Schulz-Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator for Northcentral Technical College – If you follow the news, you’ve heard about a shrinking workforce facing employers. As more baby boomers retire each year, employers need to find and develop individuals who will be able to support the growth of their businesses in the years ahead.
These news stories remind me of a public service announcement from television in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s; the question “Do you know where your children are?” was asked during the 10 p.m. news as a reminder to parents that it was important for them to know where their children were and what they were doing. It seems the question employers dealing with an aging workforce are trying to answer is, “Do you know where your future employees are?”
I can tell you part of the answer is that they’re right here in the community, going to high school (taking classes that might surprise you), and trying to find the answer to their own question, “Do you know where your future is?”
This past year, 309 juniors and seniors from 21 high schools within the Northcentral Technical College district were literally working to find the answer to that question for themselves by participating in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program.
YA is a rigorous one- or two-year program that combines mentored, paid, on-the-job learning with academic and technical instruction related to a specific program area. That means students working at a local bank through a finance apprenticeship are studying business, math and financial management; students completing an apprenticeship in manufacturing are perhaps taking welding, machining and manufacturing classes; students working at a healthcare facility may have taken a nursing assistant course at NTC along with medical terminology, biology, anatomy and physiology at their high school.
These students are seeing a real-world connection between their classrooms and the workplace. An exit survey taken by high school seniors who finished their apprenticeships this year provides some thought-provoking data. Of 173 graduating seniors, 151 have plans to attend some type of post-secondary school. While 26 of these students hope to focus only on school, the rest have plans to work while in school. And here’s where it gets really interesting: 85 percent of those 125 students are continuing to work for their YA employer, and 71 percent will be majoring in a field related to their apprenticeship.
Based on these numbers, you can see that some employees of the future are here now, developing relationships with employers who are helping them find their futures. If you would like to learn more about opportunities to hire a youth apprentice, contact the youth apprenticeship coordinator at your local high school or Donna Schulz at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 23, 2014
From fox11online.com: “Recruiting women for apprenticeships” — Northeast Wisconsin Technical College says it’s getting the word out to women.
Construction jobs pay well, and companies are looking for apprentices.
Look around the average construction site, and you might notice a gender divide.
“Historically, it’s been about 96 percent male,” said Todd Kiel, the NWTC Apprenticeship Manager.
So is the apprenticeship program .
Only about a dozen of the 500 current apprentices are female.
At this info session Tuesday, NWTC urged interested women, like Delphina Orosco, to apply.
“I was looking to get into carpentry,” said Orosco. “Currently, I work at the casino, so there’s not a lot of room for advancement there. But here, there are a ton of advancement possibilities.”
NWTC says apprenticeships are cost-effective ways of job training. Students get paid to be in the classroom or out on a job site.
“Generally speaking it’s one day every two weeks you get paid your regular eight hour a day salary to be here for apprenticeship training,” said Kiel.
The U.S. Department of Labor says women make up more than half of the minimum wage workers in Wisconsin.
That means they make $7.25 an hour.
Jim Golembeski with the Brown County Workforce Development Board says skilled apprentices make a lot more.
“This one says anywhere between 12 and 24 dollars an hour for a carpenter journeyman,” said Golembeski, showing a listing on the Wisconsin Job Center web site.
Right now the Wisconsin Job Center lists 111 construction openings in Brown County alone.
“After a long drought in the construction industry, things are booming,” said Golembeski.
Hopeful carpenters like Orosco say despite the gender gap, they’ll take the chance on building a better life.
“I’m ready to take that on,” said Orosco.
The Brown County workforce development office says there is no guarantee of work, after you finish an apprenticeship program, because it’s too far out to know what the economy will do.
March 3, 2014
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Employers do their part in apprenticeships” — By Donna Schultz, regional coordinator for the Youth Apprenticeship Program at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau —Many local employers are actively working to develop our future workforce by participating in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship, or YA, program.
YA allows high school juniors and seniors to work part-time in a career field they are considering for their future, while taking courses that support that career direction. Students learn from experts in the field and gain skills necessary for success in the world of work. The employers who hire these students benefit because they get direct access to a pipeline of motivated workers interested in building a career in their industry.
Several employers in our area who support YA agreed to share their thoughts on the program:
“It is our pleasure at Bell Tower Residence to work in partnership with the Merrill Senior High School’s Apprenticeship Program,” said Sister Mary Anne Rose, director of resident services. “Mentoring the youth has been a win-win process for Bell Tower Residence and our residents for many years. Many students are interested in pursuing some type of career in health care. Getting experience working at an assisted living community helps the students make some important decisions regarding their future.
“The program helps youths develop people skills, responsibility and dependability. Witnessing the students become members of the Bell Tower team is very rewarding. Our residents enjoy meeting the students and often get to know them very well.
“It has been a learning experience for the youths in the program as well as for the Bell Tower employees who mentor and minister with them. These students are our future caregivers. It is a privilege to observe the growth in the students as they participate in the program,” Sister Mary Ann said.
“Peoples State Bank has mentored over 20 YA students in the past six years. Six students are working as apprentices currently, and four students who successfully completed the program continue to be employed at Peoples,” reported Dawn Borchardt, Operations/CSR Systems specialist. “Peoples is a community-owned bank that strongly believes in giving back to the community that has helped make us successful. In 2013, Peoples and its employees supported 400-plus organizations in north-central Wisconsin with over 6,900 volunteer hours and monetary donations exceeding $100,000. Our belief in seeing the potential also extends to the Youth Apprenticeship program. (It) is a fantastic way to help our youth discover a career path that is right for them, while giving them hands-on training, support, and tools they can take with them as they develop into young professionals.”
Mona Kraft, director of human resources at AROW Global Corporation in Mosinee agrees. “We’ve had great success with the youth apprentice program here at AROW Global in Mosinee for two years now. The students who work here seamlessly keep pace with their peers. They do equal work for equal pay, and it’s a great introduction into the workforce. AROW’s vice president and general manager, Scott Firer, understands that not all graduates have the option or desire to go on to college. He feels that working at AROW is an excellent alternative to learn a trade in a clean, fun environment that offers a competitive wage and benefit package.
“AROW Global is the leading manufacturer of windows for the North American transportation market. The students who work here are coming in at an exciting time as AROW’s present and future growth means nothing but opportunity for them. It’s a win-win situation for both the company and the students. As an employer, AROW benefits from hiring bright, engaged apprentices, and the students gain work experience along with obtaining school credit.
“When asked what our Mosinee students like about the program, Clinton Goethlich said he appreciates the ‘real world experience, and the way that the program allows us to tap into and broaden our interests.’ Jacob Schildt was most appreciative of the employer interest and involvement, stating, ‘It’s not every company that will go ahead and hire a bunch of kids.’ That’s true Jacob, but here at AROW, we think they should,” Kraft said.
The YA program covers a variety of areas from agriculture to welding. Employers interested in connecting with a student looking for an apprenticeship or learning more about the YA program, should contact their local high school YA coordinator or Donna Schulz at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.
February 25, 2014
From fox6now.com: “Increasing demand for apprenticeships as aging workers retire” — Want to get paid to go to school? With an apprenticeship — you can do just that! Through an apprenticeship, an individual has access to on-the-job training and related classroom instruction. A participating employer teaches the skills of the trade on the job. The classroom instruction is theoretical and practical knowledge pertaining to the given trade. It’s an option more and more students in Wisconsin are taking — with the growing need for skilled manufacturing workers in the state.
“The student works 32 hours a week and goes to class eight hours a week, but they’re paid for 40 hours a week,” Debbie Davidson with Gateway Technical College said.
In a nutshell, that’s how an apprenticeship works. Students get hands-on and in-classroom training in a service, construction or industrial field. Typically, the programs run anywhere from three to five years.
“Apprenticeship is really unique in that you start with an employer with a need and match them with an individual to go through the training,” Davidson said.
Officials with Gateway Technical College say the demand for apprenticeship opportunities has grown, as has the number of students enrolling in programs at the school.
“In 2012, we had a total of 49 apprentices. Then, a year later, we had 80 apprentices. Now we have 140,” Davidson said.
“We’ve already started plans on four brand new programs coming up and we know that we’re going to be doubling our numbers within a very short time,” Wisconsin Apprentice Training Representative Sandy Briezman said.
So what’s driving the renewed interest in apprenticeships? We’re told it’s a skills gap, fueled at least in part by soon-to-retire workers.
“The skills gap that we’re seeing now is what was projected even before the downturn in 2009 because people were planning to retire at that point. They stayed a little bit longer, but they kept aging, so now we’re seeing people are actually at that point of retirement and companies are seeing that we need to fill that gap — and before our people leave and retire how can we utilize them to train that next generation of worker?” Davidson said.
Davidson says the late 90s were really kind of the high point for apprenticeship programs.
The Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards says statewide, there were more than 15,000 apprentices in 2001. By 2012, they had dropped to about 9,700.
February 24, 2014
From madison.com: “As trades rebound, demand for apprentices grows” — By Dennis Punzel – If Donald Trump hosted “Apprentice Wisconsin,” he’d have to change his catchphrase from “You’re fired” to “You’re hired.”
As the economy slowly pulls out of its funk, the dormant construction industry is starting to experience a revival. And as construction cranes sprout up in the skyline, the demand for skilled workers across the spectrum of construction trades also is ascending.
“The problem the last several years has been a shortage of work for contractors in the construction industry,” said Wayne Belanger of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin. “Now, it’s a shortage of workers. It’s critical.”
And when construction companies need skilled workers, they turn to the state’s venerable apprenticeship program to fill the void.
Wisconsin’s apprenticeship program, founded in 1911, was the first of its kind in the nation and led to the creation of the state’s technical school system.
“Wisconsin apprenticeship is still considered the leading model in the country,” said Jim Cook, apprenticeship manager at Madison Area Technical College. “In Wisconsin, everybody is at the table — employers, colleges, state government, labor organizations, employer associations.
“Apprenticeship here has survived all the economic and social upheavals of the last century. And because it’s done that, it’s going to survive for a long time.”
The most recent economic downturn, however, did take a toll on the system. As construction projects dried up, many firms had trouble finding jobs for their established journeyman workers and had no need to take on apprentices.
ABC’s apprentice numbers around the state plummeted from around 1,200 in 2006 to just a few hundred. The group sponsors apprenticeships in 12 trades, including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).
“I don’t want to even think about how low it was,” Belanger said. “We’re back to 850 now. We’re on the rebound. It seems like there’s a pent-up demand, and people are putting projects together again.
“The trouble is that a lot of people in the trades have either retired or gone on to something else, and they’re not coming back. That leaves a huge void pretty much at all levels because they haven’t hired new people in the last five years.”
Statewide, the number of apprentices in all trades has dropped from 15,767 in 2001 to 9,793 in 2013, according to the state Department of Workforce Development Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (DWD-BAS). In the construction trades, the numbers have fallen from 8,890 in 2001 to 4,843 last year.
Belanger said the recovery has yet to hit many parts of the state, but that Madison is booming and the Fox Valley and Milwaukee are showing signs of life.
“In Dane County, there’s going to be a construction boom this year,” said Cook, noting that apprenticeships are up about 10 percent with 600 in the program at MATC. “The drive right now for economic development is fever pitch. The only other time we’ve seen this was around World War II, where you had this incredible need and a skilled worker shortage.”
One of the biggest challenges is convincing young people to look into apprenticeships after being pointed toward the four-year college route most of their lives.
“We do a lot of outreach to schools around the area and have more success at some than others,” said Mike Pohlman, president of Nickles Electric. “Some schools don’t seem to want to point kids to the trades.
“We certainly don’t dissuade kids from going to college. We always tell them the trades are another option after you graduate. We’re open to getting a kid into our program that has a four-year college degree.”
One who took that route is Pohlman’s son, Kaleb. After graduating from Marshall High School, he studied electrical engineering at UW-Milwaukee for two years before transferring to UW-Madison, where he earned a degree in civil engineering in 2009.
But with the job market dried up, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue an electrical apprenticeship. He’s finishing up the fifth year of the program and just took the state exam with the hope of gaining journeyman status.
“They’re both gratifying,” Kaleb Pohlman, 28, said of his dual accomplishments. “When I got done with college I was like, ‘Wow, I did it.’ It was a long time and a lot of hard work and when I got done I felt great. Learning this and getting through this apprenticeship is just as much, if not more gratifying.
“I feel like I can do almost anything in the electrical trade. I can bend that conduit, I can run that wire, I can put that piece of switch gear up. You start feeling like you can do anything.”
Kaleb Pohlman’s goal is to use both parts of his education by working about five years in the field and then moving into project management.
“I went to school for a reason, and I did this for a reason,” he said. “I’ve put myself in a pretty unique situation that I think makes me a little more valuable.
“There’s a need for people who can do this stuff. In the next couple years as the baby boomers start retiring, the workforce is going to drop like crazy. There’s not as many people who do trades. That should bode well for people of my generation. If people want to do this, there should be a future in it.”
Apprenticeships, of course, are nothing new, as they date back to the middle ages. Ben Franklin was a printing apprentice; Henry Ford a machinist apprentice.
The state program offers apprenticeships in three broadly defined areas — construction trades, industrial/manufacturing trades and service trades.
Unlike their college-bound brethren, who frequently build up huge debts going to school, apprentices earn while they learn. Employer sponsors are required to pay their apprentices, starting at half the journeyman worker rate for that trade, with scheduled raises as they continue through the program.
Apprenticeships last three to five years with apprentices spending about 90 percent of the time on the job and 10 percent in the classroom. In addition to paying apprentices, many sponsors will also pick up all or part of the costs of tuition and books for the classroom part of the deal.
Upon completion of the apprenticeship and any licensing requirements, the apprentice receives a state certificate and a journeyman license and goes to work for the sponsoring firm. The construction trades tend to pay the highest, with the base pay for a construction worker at just under $33 per hour.
“It’s a great program,” said Greg Jones, CEO of Dave Jones Inc. “As a plumber, after a five-year program you can be making $70,000 a year with no student debt.”
Jones, 32, completed his apprenticeship in 2004. His father, Dave Jones, also went through the apprenticeship program and founded the company in 1977. The company now has 220 employees and 34 apprentices.
Phil Klahn, 23, got a head start on the five-year apprenticeship he is now finishing up when he started working at Dave Jones Plumbing part-time through a school-work program at Oregon High School.
“The trades were something I was always looking into,” Klahn said. “I wanted to work with my hands. I didn’t really think I could sit behind a desk my entire life.”
Klahn said that, like most high school graduates, he felt the pressure to go to college, but the work-study program opened his eyes to other options. And unlike many of his former classmates, he’s finishing his education with no student loans.
“I was lucky because I knew right away this was what I wanted to do,” said Klahn, who hopes to someday become a project manager or field superintendent. “Everybody thinks that plumbing is backed-up sewers and leaky faucets and leaky pipes. There is a service end to it, but right now I’m working on a 12-story apartment building in downtown Madison. There’s a lot more to it than people understand.”
Klahn’s advice to young people pondering their future?
“I just say keep your mind open to the apprenticeship program,” he said. “It might not be for everybody, but I tell people to at least look into it.”
Mike Pohlman of Nickles Electric thinks that message is spreading, and he emphasizes that the trades are actively recruiting a diverse workforce.
“This whole industry is changing,” said Pohlman, who began his apprenticeship in 1979 and rose through the ranks to become company president. “People are understanding that the trades are a pretty good option these days.
“Our city’s going to keep growing, and we’re going to need people to build it.”
August 26, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Employers, educators discuss student preparation for work” — By Hillary Gavan – Representatives from business and education joined together to discuss new ways to get students trained for the workforce at the 7th Annual Business Education Summit held Thursday at the Eclipse Center in Beloit.
Sponsored by the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation, Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, School District of Beloit and Beloit College, the day’s theme was “Workforce Development – Are You Ready?”
At the event the 2nd Annual Business/Education Partnership Award for the business sector went to Blackhawk Bank accepted by CEO Rick Bastian. The award for the education sector went to the School District of Beloit, accepted by Superintendent Steve McNeal.
Beloit City Manager Larry Arft and McNeal welcomed crowds, and McNeal said it was a blessing to have forward thinking people to move the school district ahead.
McNeal noted there is non-referendum money being put into the Beloit Memorial High School’s new Technical Education Programming Space demonstrating the district’s commitment to getting kids into jobs. The School District of Beloit and City of Beloit, he said, are undergoing joint efforts to train kids for the workforce which rival any in the state.
After the Vice President of ManpowerGroup’s Global Strategic Workforce Consulting Practice Rebekah Kowalkski gave her keynote address, Economic Development Director for the Rock County Development Alliance James Otterstein gave a presentation on Inspire Rock County, a web-based career readiness platform which connects students with businesses and mentors and other resources to investigate careers and apply for jobs.
Susan Dantuma, from Blackhawk Technical College, talked about the college’s youth apprenticeship programs and Bob Borremans, from the Southern Wisconsin Workforce Development, spoke about the Work Today Program where employers in the program pay to have workers trained for job openings at their companies.
Business/Education Partnership Committee Co-Chair Jim Agate said he was pleased with the roundtable discussions which returned this year so educators and the business community could brainstorm together. In the past he said takeaways from the discussions included ideas which were implemented such as mock interviews and the lunch and learn program.
Agate said after Thursday’s events new plans would begin forming.
“We will put all our notes together and move forward,” he said.
Business/Education Partnership Committee Co-Chair Rick Barder said all of those on the Business/Education Partnership Committee put together a program and agenda that was relevant in today’s world with many takeaways for both the businesses and the education community.
Beloit City Manager Larry Arft said the event was a unique opportunity for educators and business as well as government leaders in the community to interact and to share perspectives regarding the needs of public education.
April 11, 2013
From waow.com: “Secretary of Workforce Development calls for more state businesses to partner with schools” — WAUSAU – Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson traveled to Wausau’s North Central Technical College. Newson called on more state businesses to get involved in apprenticeship programs to bridge a skills gap and meet employers needs.
Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to have an apprenticeship program. It dates back to 1911. As the business climate has changed, Newson says business and schools must partner to meet changing workforce needs.
He says technical schools provide the training programs business leaders need and employers can provide high paying jobs that can move workers into the middle class.