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.
September 4, 2012
From matc.edu: “MATC and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Introduce Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship” – OAK CREEK – Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) introduced a new entry-level Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship to help address the skills gap in Wisconsin’s vital manufacturing sector today.
“Manufacturing is leading Wisconsin’s economic recovery, adding more than 12,000 jobs in the past year,” said Lisa Boyd, Administrator of the DWD Division of Employment and Training. “The new apprenticeship training program will help this sector expand further by providing manufacturers the skilled workers they need. Nowhere is the need more critical than in the Milwaukee area, long considered the machine shop of the world. IMT Apprenticeship training offers a new pathway to family-supporting jobs with Milwaukee area manufacturers.”
Administrator Boyd said the program provides entry-level workers an overview of manufacturing, from operating equipment to participating in continuous improvement and understanding industry trends. As entry-level workers, the IMT apprentices begin a career pathway to other industrial skilled trades, such as Machinist and Industrial Electrician. The average annual wage in manufacturing is more than $51,000 compared to approximately $40,600 for all occupations.
The IMT Apprenticeship is the first developed in partnership with MATC and the fifth under the federal Sector Alliance for the Green Economy (SAGE) grant. WRTP/BIG STEP also was involved in developing the comprehensive apprenticeship program to meet the production worker needs of all manufacturers, but metal and plastic manufacturers and food processors in particular. It follows a hybrid model in which apprentices are assessed on-the-job using a combination of time and competencies. The program is structured for 18 months, or 3,000 hours, including 2,736 hours on-the-job learning and 264 hours of related instruction.
“Milwaukee Area Technical College is looking forward to offering the new Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship,” said Nick Triscari, Apprenticeship Coordinator for MATC. “This eighteen month apprenticeship provides entry level manufacturing skills using nationally recognized credentials in the related classroom instruction. We believe this training will ease the skills gap reported by many employers in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.”
The IMT program is the fifth of six new apprenticeship programs to be developed through the $6 million SAGE project grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. SAGE’s purpose is to employ short and long-term strategies critical to the greening of Wisconsin’s workforce by forming partnerships with businesses, educators and other stakeholders to identify and address labor force needs specific to “green” or clean energy jobs in construction, manufacturing and utility industries.
August 28, 2012
From bizjournals.com: “MATC, DWD announce manufacturing apprenticeship to address skills gap” – The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Milwaukee Area Technical College on Monday announced a new entry-level Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship to help address the skills gap many Wisconsin manufacturers say they’re facing.
The program gives entry-level workers an overview of manufacturing, from operating equipment to understanding industry trends. The 18-month program follows a hybrid model of on-the-job learning and related instruction, according to a press release.
The program is expected to open up a career pathway to other industrial skilled trades for the entry-level workers. The average annual wage in manufacturing is more than $51,000, compared with approximately $40,600 for all jobs, DWD said.
The apprenticeship is the first developed in partnership with MATC and the fifth of six programs under the $6 million Sector Alliance for the Green Economy grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG STEP helped develop the program, designed to meet manufacturers’ production worker needs, particularly metal and plastic manufacturers, and food processors.
“Manufacturing is leading Wisconsin’s economic recovery, adding more than 12,000 jobs in the past year,” said Lisa Boyd, administrator of the DWD division of employment and training, in a written statement. “The new apprenticeship training program will help this sector expand further by providing manufacturers the skilled workers they need.”
Nick Triscari, MATC apprenticeship coordinator, said school officials are looking forward to offering the new apprenticeship.
“We believe this training will ease the skills gap reported by many employers in the industrial and manufacturing sectors,” Triscari said.
June 4, 2012
From htrnews.com: “LTC honors apprentices” – CLEVELAND — Thirty-four apprentices were honored recently at Lakeshore Technical College’s annual Apprenticeship Completion Banquet held at Millhome Supper Club in Kiel.
The banquet recognized the completion of the paid-related classroom instruction for individuals in LTC’s apprenticeship programs. In those programs, workers earn while they learn the practical and theoretical aspects of highly skilled occupations. LTC’s registered apprentices are sponsored by employers and paid hourly wages to attend LTC in their specific trades.
New to the LTC apprenticeship program this year, the first completers of the Child Care Services Apprenticeship were honored. Tiffany Tyler and Flavia Calina, both of Sheboygan, represented the first apprenticeship program in the service sector beyond the industrial and construction trades by addressing the audience about their new journeyworker status.
“Apprenticeship has been recognized for more than 100 years,” said Leigh Ann Kramer, head of the Early Childhood Program at LTC. “It is quite an honor for our program to be included. I’m pleased by the recognition Tiffany and Flavia have earned, and I know they will be great representatives.”
Jon Waldhuetter, academic dean at Moraine Park Technical College, was the guest speaker at the banquet.
Apprentices from Manitowoc County who were recognized – including their hometown, apprenticeship area and sponsoring employer – are:
Kiel – Rod Eckhardt, metal model maker, The Vollrath Co.; James Kopp, industrial electrician, Johnsonville Sausage;
Manitowoc – Kevin Bundy, machinist, Manitowoc Pattern & Manufacturing Co.; Timothy Houghton, machinist, Manitowoc Pattern & Manufacturing Co.; Brian Klein, maintenance mechanic, Spartech CMD; Ryan Metzger, maintenance mechanic, J.L. French Corp.; Nathaniel Roethel, electrical/mechanical maintenance technician, Rockline Industries; Christopher Schmidt, carpenter (millwright), Allstates Rigging; Jody Smith, maintenance mechanic/millwright, GKN Sinter Metals;
Newton – Dylan Baryenbruch, machinist, Stecker Machine Co.;
Mishicot – William Bernhardt, maintenance mechanic, International Paper Co.;
Two Rivers – Dustin Behnke, machinist, Jagemann Stamping Co.; Jeffrey Leider, machinist, Manitowoc Pattern & Manufacturing Co.; and
Valders – Jacob Schaus, sheet metal worker, Schaus Roofing & Mechanical Contractors.
May 25, 2012
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Wausau West students share stories from apprenticeships” – More than 60 high school juniors and seniors are working in part-time positions in the Wausau area through Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program. I’ve written a number of articles about the YA program for the paper in the past year, but for this article, two current YAs have agreed to share their experiences, in their own words.
Morgan Zernicke, Wausau West senior
I’ve been in the Youth Apprenticeship program for two years. My first year, I worked at Zernicke Farm, doing field work, barn chores and feeding calves. Currently, I’m working at Marathon Feed, where I provide customer service and do anything I am asked to do. I always wanted to go into the agricultural field, but my job at Marathon Feed has made me think more about what I really want to do for my future career. I’ve made the choice to stay in the agri-business area. I’ve been accepted to Northcentral Technical College this fall. I will graduate with an associate degree in Dairy Science Agri-business and hope to work in Marathon or Lincoln County after graduation. The YA program has helped me discover that a career in agriculture is a good fit for me.
Michaela Ketchum, Wausau West senior
Not many students could say their senior year has been as victorious as mine has been. As a full-time student at Wausau West High School working as a certified nursing assistant at Kindred Transitional Care, I have strived better to be not only a family member and a student, but a friend to many new patients that I care about deeply. The Youth Apprenticeship program has taken me down numerous exciting and new roads that have helped direct my future. Without this program, I would never have been so eager to plan my future as a registered nurse. While being a CNA, I have had so many opportunities to understand how essential the health field is and what struggles are truly out there. The Youth Apprenticeship program is such an important milestone for a student’s life and can even help them to find the key to their future.
If you’d like to connect with a student looking for an apprenticeship or want to learn more about the YA program, contact your local high school YA coordinator or Donna Schulz at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau at email@example.com.
April 18, 2012
From wbay.com: “Workshop promotes trade apprenticeships for women” – Green Bay - Northeast Wisconsin Technical College hopes a workshop being held on campus Tuesday night will help push more women to become involved in a new apprenticeship program at the school.
The workshop is from 5:30 to 7:30 on April 17 in the executive dining room of the student center.
Mandy Dombrowski is an electrical apprentice at NWTC, and is proof the trade isn’t just for men.
Tuesday she was working on bending pipe that would run to electricity boxes.
What she loves about this trade is that no two days are the same.
“You think, you troubleshoot. It’s a lot of different things, not one thing sitting at a desk. You go to different job sites all the time,” she said.
NWTC is working to attract more women to the apprenticeship program through a workshop Tuesday. Women working in different trades will give out information and be on-hand to answer questions.
“I want to make sure that anyone that thinks about it at least comes to check it out as a viable opportunity,” NWTC apprenticeship manager Todd Kiel said.
Kiel says NWTC would like to increase the number of women in the program from 10 percent to 25 percent.
“We always think of construction jobs as being jobs for big burly men and you have to really be strong, and that’s not necessarily the case anymore,” he said.
“So many people think it’s just job site, construction, but once you’re done with the apprenticeship program, there’s so many different areas you can go into,” Dombrowski said.
Different areas that are opening new doors for women.
March 6, 2012
From etc.coop: “Students today, lineworkers tomorrow” – If there’s one thing that electric cooperatives, municipal utilities and investor-owned utilities have in common, it’s this: a lineworker shortage looms. But as one generation packs it in for retirement, an all-out effort is under way to ensure that a new generation is prepared to take its place.
According to the Center for Energy Workforce Development, about 42 percent of all skilled lineworkers could retire by 2015. Nearly 31,000 entry-level apprentices will be needed by all utilities.NRECA is among the center’s members working to make more training available on a local or regional basis.
CO-OPS MEET COLLEGES
“We have helped establish five programs at community colleges in Mississippi. The first one was developed about 12 years ago,” said Micheal Weltzheimer, vice president of safety and loss control for the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi.
“The programs enable us to hire green employees that have most of the certifications they’d otherwise need two years to acquire,” said Weltzheimer. “Those include forklift operations, pole climbing, commercial drivers’ licensing, first aid and CPR training.”
Co-op staffers, serving on advisory panels or as guest instructors, help make Rural Utilities Service standards, employed by co-ops, central to the coursework offered by many programs.
“RUS standards provide consistent training focused on the needs of distribution co-ops and the generation and transmission co-op,” said Mary Lund, vice president of human resources at Dairyland Power Cooperative.
The La Crosse, Wis.-based G&T has supported lineworker apprentice training at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire for more than a decade.
“We were involved in designing the training field, and we also provided some of the equipment,” said Lund.
In Indiana, co-ops have incorporated community college training into their apprenticeship programs, so that all entry-level lineworkers receive the same instruction.
“If we have storm-related problems, we know that when we send guys from one end of the state to the other, the training is exactly the same,” said Gayvin Strantz, manager of job training, safety and loss control at the Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives.
“Over the past 20 years, the majority of the lineworkers in Indiana have been through our program or an identical program run by Hoosier Energy, our Bloomington-based G&T,” said Strantz.
Students at Ivy Technical Community College in Indiana attend one of the required apprentice lineworker classes. (Photo By: Indiana Statewide Assoc. of Rural Electric Cooperatives.)
Craig Moeller was a member of the first lineworker class at Missouri’s Linn State Technical College. Co-ops have been working with the school for nearly two decades.
After graduating with an associate’s degree in December 1998, Moeller began a lineworker apprenticeship with Boone Electric Cooperative in Columbia, Mo. Today he is the manager of field training for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
“The Linn State experience gave me work skills and knowledge to work in the field and further my career by going back to school and getting my bachelor’s degree,” said Moeller.
The specialized training pays off. “Once you get your journeyman’s certification you can earn $28 to $48 an hour, plus benefits,” said Dan Hopkins, professor of electric power technology at Dodge City Community College in Kansas. “This can be a very good living.”
Average annual lineworker salaries top $63,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
FROM STUDENT TO EMPLOYEE
Trident Technical College in Charleston, S.C., provides a 14-week lineworker training course that offers students graduating high school in the spring the potential of being hired by a co-op come autumn.
“This has opened up some doors for some high schoolers who have wanted to get into this field,” said Kevin Mizzell, technical training coordinator at Berkeley Electric Cooperative, Moncks Corner, S.C.
Each training program is tailored to meet evolving needs.
For instance, Western Texas College runs its program from a district office of Roby-based Big Country Electric Cooperative. It recently switched from a three-month program to a nine-month program.
“We spend a lot of time on climbing and basic troubleshooting,” said Dave Stephens, an electric lineworker instructor. “When a student has been through our program, they know what to expect on a jobsite.”
Another example: Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Wadena. It has “a number of co-ops that make recommendations to us on how to improve our program,” said Stephen Johnson, an electrical lineworker instructor.
The school, which offers a 12-month diploma program and a two-year associate’s degree, “added more emphasis to underground construction as a result of input from co-ops and other utilities,” Johnson said.
STAY IN SCHOOL
An increasing number of co-ops and statewide associations point toward the advantages of longer associate’s degree programs. Those include more concentration on math and science, and refining the skills needed to read staking maps, and use global information systems and other technology.
Dave Stephens of Western Texas College works with lineworker training students. (Photo By: Western Texas College)
Completion of a two-year program qualifies students for employment with advanced apprenticeship ratings, said Kevin Wheeler, assistant manager of member services and safety director at Lancaster, Mo.-based Tri-County Electric Cooperative Association.
In 1997, Wheeler left an investor-owned utility to help organize the program at Linn State, the school that helped Craig Moeller launch his co-op career.
“When people leave the schools they understand the basic fundamentals of line work,” said Wheeler. “The students coming out of the classes have a lot more information than someone you hire off the streets.”
February 6, 2012
From htrnews.com: “Manitowoc man takes first in HVAC contest” — WISCONSIN DELLS — John Pelnar Jr. of Manitowoc took first place in the Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning contest at the ABC of Wisconsin Skills Competition held Jan. 20 in Wisconsin Dells.
Pelnar is an HVAC apprentice in the ABC of Wisconsin Apprenticeship program on the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Green Bay campus. He is an apprentice with Schaus Roofing and Mechanical Contractors in Manitowoc.
The competition consisted of a two-hour written exam and a four-hour practical exam judged by construction craft professionals.
Pelnar will advance to the ABC National Craft Championships, which will be held in April at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio.
Approximately 100 top apprentices and craft trainees throughout the country will compete in 12 different trades at the 26th annual event.
The ABC HVAC apprenticeship program at NWTC has had an ABC Craft Competition state champion and national competitor in six out of the seven years an NWTC student has participated, according to a news release from the school.
January 26, 2012
From greenbaypressgazette: “Welder-fabricator program unveiled at NWTC” – A welder-fabricator apprenticeship program starting at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College as early as next month is aimed at helping bolster the skills of the area work force while helping meet employer demand for workers with fabrication skills.
The apprenticeship program could start as early as February with an initial group of about one dozen participants in the four-year program, said Todd Kiel, NWTC apprenticeship manager.
It’s envisioned program participants will come from — and fill — jobs within the marine sector, paper industry and manufacturing sectors — to name a few. The program is designed to give participants an American Welding Society certification.
“A lot of people can get to that through the regular (welding) program, but there are a lot of businesses who want their guys to upgrade their skills and this fits in perfectly,” Kiel said. “We had a company call last week that could find welders but can’t find fabricators. We can give them credit for their welding and teach them the fabrication portion.”
About 90 percent of the program is on-the-job training from a skilled worker.
Larry Adamus, maintenance coordinator at Domtar Paper in Rothschild, said the apprentice program allows the mill to beef up the skills of its work force; something needed as more experienced workers move toward retirement age.
Domtar, which has several locations in Wisconsin, initially expects to send three people through the program, Adamus said.
Participants in the program are sponsored by their employers who
pay for employees to attend the 440 hours of required classes.
The program was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards and NWTC.
While the college offers a basic welding program, the welding-fabricator apprenticeship is designed to help teach welders some of the more advanced and niche skills needed in the workplace.
“With all the retirees coming, apprenticeship is going to be big, and these guys are going to have to learn on the fly,” said Scott Massey, welding instructor at the college. “We will cover some of the (welding) fundamentals when they come back, but we’ll also take it up to another level, and these new students will be allowed to move into more realistic situations from work.”
Troubleshooting and problem-solving are skills the program will include, he said.
“The companies I’ve seen show interest have been across the gamut from local fab shops that will build anything you want them to build to specialized shops like the shipyard or Oshkosh Truck and the sheet metal trades,” Massey said.
The program also is expected to train workers in skills that can be applied to green industries, such as the construction of wind turbines, said Owen Smith, Wisconsin Sector Alliance for the Green Economy outreach coordinator.
The welder-fabricator program is one of six apprenticeship programs developed through a $6 million SAGE grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is the second such program developed with NWTC.
Kiel said apprenticeship programs can help stabilize a work force by providing upgraded skills to the employee, who in turn, may be more likely to stay with their employer.
“There’s always a fear that once you credential people they’re going to leave, but generally speaking the opposite happens. They stick around and become more loyal,” he said. “It builds a higher-skilled, more competitive work force from the employer’s perspective, and it creates an employee who knows you want them around because the employer) is investing in them.”
Kiel said beyond the first group of workers, he doesn’t know what kind of numbers to expect, but he pointed out the program could be run on other NWTC campuses if needed.
January 26, 2012
From nbc26.com: “New Statewide Apprenticeship Program” – Green Bay, WI – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College announcing a new statewide apprenticeship program. The program will offer hands-on training for two high demand manufacturing skills in Wisconsin welding and fabrication. NWTC leaders and the Department of Workforce Development got a tour of the learning facilities this morning.
Owen Smith, Sage Outreach Program said, “We have met one of the key needs for heavy manufacturers in Northeast Wisconsin, as well as provided an integrated program for 2 occupations that are critical to green skill training and green manufacturing in Wisconsin.”
The Welder-Fabricator Program is one of six new apprenticeship programs to be developed through a six-million-dollar grant from the US Department of Labor and the second at NWTC.
January 25, 2012
From dwd.wisconsin.gov: “Welder-Fabricator Apprenticeship Program introduced at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College” – GREEN BAY – The Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS) and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) introduced the new Welder-Fabricator apprenticeship program today, January 25, in Green Bay. The program is the second apprenticeship developed in partnership with NWTC and the fourth under the federal Sectors Alliance for the Green Economy (SAGE) grant.
“This program showcases the responsiveness and flexibility of apprenticeship in meeting workforce training needs in the green economy,” said Lisa Boyd, Administrator for the DWD’s Division of Employment and Training. “Welding and fabricating are integral to producing components of renewable energy systems and energy efficient products. The Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards, in partnership with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, worked jointly to develop this comprehensive apprenticeship program.”
The Welder-Fabricator apprenticeship was developed in response to the needs of Wisconsin’s heavy manufacturing sector. It offers hands-on learning for two high-demand occupations in heavy manufacturing (welding and fabrication) in a single program. It follows a hybrid model in which apprentices are assessed on-the-job using a combination of time and competencies. The program is structured for four years, or 8,000 hours, including 7,560 hours on-the-job learning and 440 hours of related instruction.
“Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is very excited about our ability to offer the Welder- Fabrication apprenticeship,” said Todd A. Kiel, Apprenticeship Manager for NWTC. “We feel it gives us a full range of offerings that provide access to credentials for our constituents. With the increased demand for heavy manufacturing in Northeast Wisconsin, this cannot come at a better time.”
The Welder-Fabricator program is the fourth of six new apprenticeship programs to be developed through the $6 million SAGE project grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. SAGE’s purpose is to employ short and long-term strategies critical to the greening of Wisconsin’s workforce by forming partnerships with businesses, educators and other stakeholders to identify and address labor force needs specific to “green” or clean energy jobs in construction, manufacturing and utility industries.
January 10, 2012
From matctimes.com: “MATC student finds the positives in negatives” – Dennis Sabourin, a student at MATC in the Electricity Program, was incarcerated a few times for mistakes that he made in his past. At twenty six years old he has realized that righting wrongs is important. “One thing my mother said to me and it stuck with me, was that, ‘If you search good enough you will always find that positive in any negative, no matter the magnitude of it,’” Dennis said smiling.
When asked, how did he come to find the positive out of everything he been through? He said, “I’m my mother’s only boy and the second child. My father wasn’t around. The influences that were around were all negative.” Talk about magnitude.
“When I was in Colombia Correctional Institution I knew I wanted to enroll in school but wasn’t sure for what.” Maybe it was fate or a force of hand. “I tried my hand at the one year Building Services Diploma through Madison Area Technical College; it was all they offered at Colombia. Most of the coursework barely interested me,” Sabourin said. He then found a vital sign or as he so elaborately put it, ‘his positive in negatives’, when he started the electricity portion of the program.
He continued to say, “I knew without a doubt that this is what I wanted to do, I wanted to be an Electrician. I would stay in my room all day reading those old ‘Electrical Textbooks’ wrote in the early ‘80s. I finished one and picked up another. I even fell asleep thinking about working as an Electrician.”
Dennis was able to see his dream manifest itself into reality when a posting from the Joint Apprenticeship and Training for the Electrical Industry caught his eye. He immediately wrote to the Training Director, Mike Chetney, exclaiming his interest in the program.
A letter came back to Dennis from Mr. Chetney and he recommended Dennis to Big Step, one of the best community based organizations in Milwaukee to tutor him for the Electrical Aptitude Test and to help meet their Electrical Apprenticeship’s standards.
Dennis said, “The very last part of Mike’s letter inspired me. The part when he said, ‘Mr. Sabourin, you can make your dreams come true with hard work and dedication’ that positive feedback reinforced my positive motion. I hope the outcome of my story to be a clear example that when you take shortcuts your path is cut short. Even though this field is competitive the rewards are worth the wait.”
Heidi Peterson, Electrical Instructor and Department Chair of MATC, said, “When Dennis first walked into my classroom he was smiling, polite, always asking questions, and always offering to help. One would think that he slept in a bed of roses and woke up in an array of sunlight. I would not have thought he had the kind of background he had. Obviously, it was a growing experience. The highest you can get in my class is 100. Dennis has 109. Most students who need extra credit don’t take advantage of it. This is not the case with Dennis. He does the extra credit anyways.” Talk about getting the most out of your program.
Heidi continued, “Dennis has incredible drive, he takes this serious. With his grades, drive, toppled with his positive attitude; Dennis will go far. He has a future as an Electrician and Dennis will be great.”
Chuck Wimmer, Electrical Instructor at MATC, said, “Dennis is an aspiring outstanding individual who has a strong future as an Electrician. I’m going to have him back as my tutor next semester.
What strikes me as unique about Dennis is that he has the willingness to learn and help others. One day, after class, he urged some students to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for the experience and to craft their skills. I don’t see this type of drive from many of my students.
Most are just doing what they can to get by, while Dennis is doing more. On the days he doesn’t have class he comes and helps his classmates with their lab.”
Dennis, your future is promised, keep surpassing the negatives and continue to make good on the promises. Greatness awaits you.
December 16, 2011
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Community support results on No. 1 ranking” – Congratulations, Merrill! You’re No. 1 in the state for the number of students involved in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship, or YA, Program. Sixty Merrill High School juniors and seniors worked as youth apprentices last year, the highest single-school enrollment statewide. Merrill also had the second-highest district-wide enrollment behind Racine School District, which had 68 students enrolled.
So how does a small community in northern Wisconsin manage to be number one in a statewide program as broad as Youth Apprenticeship? The success is a result of outstanding collaboration between local businesses, an amazing YA coordinator, dedicated classroom teachers, motivated students, and supportive parents.
Marla Konkol is the YA coordinator at Merrill High School. “(YA) takes the classroom out of the high school and provides students with hands-on experiences in a local business. Employers (in Merrill) truly want to help students find a career they will enjoy for a lifetime.”
Youth apprentices work 450 hours at their worksite each year of their program while taking related classroom instruction. A worksite mentor helps them accomplish a list of competencies developed by the Department of Workforce Development with input from industry, so apprentices are learning and working at the same time.
December 6, 2011
From crwmag.com: “Training for the trades” – Even in these dark economic times, 19-year-old Andy Koldeway is still following the light to a brighter future. But the light he’s walking toward isn’t found in the hallowed halls of higher education. Koldeway is working for Schneider Electric in Burlington.
A recent high school graduate, Koldeway will soon enroll in an apprenticeship program with one of the state’s technical colleges for training needed to become an electrician. Unlike most high school graduates, his secondary education at Burlington High School prepared him for the job he got straight out of high school.
“It kind of gave me a jumpstart and was practical for what I wanted to do,” Koldeway says of Burlington’s Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) program. “I wanted to go into the trades, and it helped me do that.”
Koldeway’s willingness to jump toward a career in the skilled trades is something the nation — and Wisconsin — need right now, say some employers. According to a recent Manpower survey of 1,300 U.S. employers, skilled trade workers are in short supply and one of the three most difficult job categories to fill.
But not everyone is certain a shortage actually exists. Ken Kraemer, director of the Construction Labor Management Council of Southeastern Wisconsin, is among the doubters.
“Manufacturing may be seeing a shortage … but I’m not seeing a shortage for the union construction skilled workers,” says Kraemer.
Numbers seem to support Kraemer’s assertion. Nationally, unemployment is higher in construction than any other field. In October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an unemployment rate in the construction job category of 13.7 percent and just 7.7 percent in manufacturing.
December 5, 2011
From fox11online.com: “Valley Apprenticeship program recognized” – KAUKAUNA – The state superintendent of education says there’s a training gap between workers and available trade jobs in the state.
Superintendent Tony Evers toured a training center for millwrights and carpenters in Kaukauna Wednesday, where some young people who are going into those fields say they’re finding financial security.
As Evan Gibbs pounds way at his carpentry apprenticeship, he says he’s glad not to be nailed by student loan costs.
“I’m actually making money as I’m training,” said Gibbs. “I have cousins who went to college and stuff, and they’ve been out of college for 10 or 15 years and they’re still paying off student loans.”
In order to start, Gibbs first found an employer willing to take on an apprentice, and then began training through this center and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
December 5, 2011
From jsonline.com: “An effort to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs” – In 2006, Mark Anderson and Steven Horvath started MASTEQ, a machine shop in suburban Milwaukee that designs and manufactures tooling for foundries. Anderson was 28 at the time. Before starting the company, Anderson received instruction as part of a registered apprenticeship program at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
He worked his way up through the ranks as a computer-based designer, where he met Horvath, who served as his boss and a mentor. The two decided to go into business together, and today they employ six people and have plans to expand in 2012.
We need to encourage more young people in Wisconsin and throughout the country to follow in Anderson’s and Horvath’s footsteps by learning a trade and becoming entrepreneurs.
I am in Milwaukee on Thursday for an event in the Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneurs Series. At events across the country, young entrepreneurs and Obama administration officials have engaged in a discussion about how and why the Obama administration is supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.
To further support young entrepreneurship, the SBA and the Department of Labor are announcing the Start Young Initiative, a new partnership to bring entrepreneurship education to the young people enrolled in the Labor Department’s Job Corps. Start Young will run as a pilot program in three cities; Milwaukee is being considered as a potential site.
As part of the Start Young Initiative, the SBA will work with our network of resource partners on a specialized entrepreneurship training curriculum. Job Corps students receive academic and technical training that helps them transition into the workforce, higher education or the military. Now, they will be able to make the transition into entrepreneurship as well.
October 24, 2011
From htrnews.com: “Retired LTC instructors receive apprenticeship awards” — Two retired Lakeshore Technical College employees received state honors at the 25th Wisconsin Biennial Apprenticeship Conference and Centennial Celebration in Madison.
Jack Mattner, who led LTC’s apprenticeship programs until his retirement in 2008, received the Hall of Fame award for his distinguished record of contribution to the apprenticeship system.
“Jack could answer any question you had about apprenticeships,” said Mike Thompson, dean of Trade & Industry and Apprenticeship at LTC. “Even today, I’ll give Jack a call.”
Mattner was innovative in developing LTC’s apprenticeship program and sponsored many initiatives to expand and improve the program, Thompson said.
Richard Schmidt, a millwright, machine maintenance, and maintenance mechanic instructor who retired this year, received the Centennial Educator award.
October 3, 2011
From htrnews.com: “Lakeshore-area companies develop the next generation of workers” — MANITOWOC — A machinist with LDI Industries, Russel Paider knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to say it.
“I don’t want to stop with these two new machines … I want to be given the opportunity to learn future new technology,” Paider said while on the production floor of the Manitowoc manufacturer of hydraulic components and lubrication equipment.
That’s the kind of attitude Mark Lukas, LDI’s president, wants to hear and gives him confidence the company’s recent $2 million investment in new machinery upgrades will pay off.
Lukas said a critical component to his company’s growth is developing the next generation of skilled workers.
One strategy for many Lakeshore-area companies is to sponsor employees entering two-, three- and four-year apprenticeships in various trades.
In 1911, Wisconsin passed the nation’s first apprenticeship law, and as the program enters its second century, it may play an even more important role in filling skilled-worker shortages.
September 19, 2011
From the Department of Workforce Development: “DWD Apprenticeship, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Launch Innovative Program to Train Substation Electricians” – GREEN BAY – The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS) and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) today formally kicked off a new statewide program to train apprentices in the substation electrician trade, filling a need for training that is in high demand by employers across Wisconsin.
“We are pleased to be partnering with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to offer this new program to help workers build skills that we know employers in our state are seeking,” said Jane Pawasarat, Administrator of DWD’s Division of Employment & Training, which includes BAS. “Participants will learn how to work with power transformers, how to control equipment used in substations and how to perform other tasks associated with the utility industry, including smart grid technology.
“Innovative collaborations like the one we’re launching today will go a long way toward getting Wisconsinites into good-paying jobs and making Wisconsin the workforce of choice,” Administrator Pawasarat said.
Some Wisconsin companies currently have in-house programs to train substation electricians, but the program at NWTC is designed to meet the needs of all industry partners. The program follows a new hybrid model in which apprentices are assessed on-the-job using a combination of time and competencies. The program is four years, or 8,000 hours, including 7,360 hours of on the job and 640 hours of related instruction.
“At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, we strive to be at the forefront of creating a highly-skilled workforce,” said NWTC President Dr. H. Jeffrey Rafn. “We are excited to offer the new Substation Electrician apprenticeship which will prepare individuals for cutting-edge careers in the utility industry.”
September 6, 2011
From fdlreporter.com: “Labor Day: A time to reflect on the contributions of Wisconsin’s workers” – On the first Monday of every September, we recognize Labor Day as a tribute to the contributions that working men and women have made to the strength of our communities and our nation, contributions that have had a lasting impact on our quality of life.
The people of Wisconsin are hard working, talented, well-trained and educated. Wisconsin has the highest high school graduation rate in the country.
Wisconsin ranks among the top states in labor force participation rates. Wisconsin is a leading manufacturing state, known the world over for quality goods and services, and its standing is due in large part to a highly skilled work force.
At the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, our mission is to advance Wisconsin’s economy and business climate by empowering and supporting the work force. Our vision is to make Wisconsin the work force of choice. Both reflect our agency’s commitment to Wisconsin workers.
June 15, 2011
From WisPolitics.com: “Dept. of Workforce Development: 2011 Apprenticeship Centennial award winners named” – MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and its Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards announced today the 2011 Wisconsin Centennial Hall of Fame Award winners. The award winners were honored at the 25th Wisconsin Biennial Apprenticeship Conference and Centennial Celebration in Madison.
“I am pleased to announce this year’s award winners on behalf of the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards and the Wisconsin Apprenticeship Advisory Council,” said DWD Secretary Scott Baumbach. “We are proud to celebrate 100 years of apprenticeship in Wisconsin, and this is one way to honor those who have been actively involved in the apprentice program’s success.”
Secretary Baumbach said that, in June 1911, Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to enact legislation regulating apprenticeship. Since that time, apprenticeship in Wisconsin has remained a vital partnership between employers, organized labor, the technical college system and highly motivated apprentices.
Individuals and organizations were nominated for awards by apprentice stakeholders. They were selected because of their support for apprenticeship, excellence in their work, and willingness to go “above and beyond the call of duty” for the continued growth of apprenticeship.