Youth Apprenticeship program had record year in Ozaukee County
There is much talk about the skills gap in the American workforce, but that is not the way John Higgins sees it.
â€śI say there is not as much a skills gap in this country, but there is a mentor gap,â€ť Higgins said.
â€śYoung people need someone to teach them all along the way how things are done â€” the right way things are done to develop skills that lead to successful careers.â€ť
Higgins speaks with a decided level of expertise on the topic. He is the consortium coordinator for the Workforce 2020 Youth Apprenticeship program in Ozaukee County.
To underline his point, Higgins noted that last weekâ€™s Youth Apprenticeship graduation ceremony at the Cedarburg Cultural Center included 25 high-school students â€” a record for the program.
It is the 19th year of the apprenticeship program which covers the countyâ€™s five public school districts, as well as Random Lake.
The graduation also drew more than 85 people, many of them employers and mentors.
â€śThe students, parents and mentors had a chance to share stories, and there was a lot of energy in the room,â€ť Higgins said.
â€śThe businesses that participated this year were great. I think the message was clear â€” we have the students who want to work but we need more mentors from area businesses to come forward and nurture the next generation of new employees.â€ť
The most popular area of study this year was the nursing assistant program, which drew 14 students from three area high schools.
At Harbor Club in Port Washington, Catherine Torcivia served as mentor to students Naomi Campbell and Christopher Mullen, both of Cedarburg High School.
Cedar Springs Rehabilitation in Cedarburg provided apprenticeships to Brittany Saunders of Port Washington High School and Angelina Lanser of Cedarburg High. Their mentor was Diane Presser.
Cedarburg students Montana Weiland and Alexandra Stahl were apprentices at Lasata Care Center in Cedarburg, working with mentor Dawn Nimtz.
At Belgium Gardens in Belgium, Ozaukee High School student Angel Bleichwehl and Cedarburg High student Erin Moss worked with mentor Patty Loomans.
Ellenâ€™s Home in Port Washington provided apprenticeships to Rachel Reedy of Port, Fallon Holdridge of Ozaukee and Mariah Carrillo of Cedarburg. Sheri Mondloch was their mentor.
Mariah Carrillo also did apprentice work at Anitaâ€™s Garden in Port Washington, under the mentorship of Danielle Beining.
At Aurora Health Center in Grafton, Natalie Anderson and Jacob Reed, both of Cedarburg, worked with mentors John Brooks and Karen Biallis.
Alexa Paape of Ozaukee completed her apprenticeship at Woodland View senior residential facility in Fredonia, working with mentor Debra Richards.
Three students completed automotive technician apprenticeships.
Tires Unlimited in Port Washington provided an apprenticeship to Curtis Peneau of Ozaukee. He worked with mentor Steve Peterson.
At Schmit Bros. in Saukville, Craig Panzer served as a mentor to Alex Becker of Port Washington High.
Justin Bublitz of Grafton High completed an apprenticeship at Schmit Ford in Thiensville, where he worked with mentor John Nemke.
Three students completed apprenticeships in the hospitality and tourism field.
They were Adam Plaman of Port High, who worked with mentor Lori Buzer at Harbor Club in Port Washington; and Lisa Gensrick of Ozaukee High and Zarah Osmanski of Grafton High, both of whom worked with mentor Judy Hazlett at Aurora Health Care in Grafton.
The manufacturing track also drew three students.
At Neff Engineering in Mequon, Christian Stevenson of Homestead High School worked with mentor Steve Kruse.
At Waukesha Metal Products in Mequon, Homestead student Jeremy Steger worked with mentor Vicki Pinnow.
Cedarburg High student Thomas Schuett completed his apprenticeship at MPE in Cedarburg. His mentor was Dawn Kubiak.
At Port Washington State Bank in Port, Ashley Savatski of Port High completed a finance apprenticeship. She worked with mentor Ann Noster.
Visual Image Photography in Cedarburg hosted apprentice Megan Staelens of Cedarburg High. Her mentor was Carl Boettcher.
Looking ahead, Higgins noted that the consortium has already received 60 new applications from students interested in learning more about careers in wide range of professions next school year.
Prospective employers can get more information about hosting an apprentice by calling Higgins at 268-6074 or visiting pwssd.k12.wi.us under the pull-down menu for â€śdepartments/programs.â€ť
Image information: A RECORD CLASS was honored last week during the 19th annual graduation of the Workforce 2020 Youth Apprenticeship program. Taking part in the ceremony were (front row, from left) students Natalie Anderson, Angelina Lanser, Adam Plaman, Lisa Gensrick, Zarah Osmanski, Montana Weiland, Rachel Reedy, Naomi Campbell, Megan Staelens, Ashley Savatski and Tom Schuett, (back row) State Rep. Duey Stroebel, John Brooks of Aurora Medical Center, Lori Buser of Harbor Club, students Chris Mullen and Jacob Reed, Karen Bialas of Aurora, Dawn Nimtz of Lasata Care Center, Sheri Mondloch of Ellenâ€™s Home, State Sen. Glenn Grothman, students Justin Bublitz, Bob Jordan, Jeremy Steger, Carl Boettcher of Visual Image Photography, Michelle Janda, Dani Mejchar, C.J. Hoffmann, Annie Noster of Port Washington State Bank, John Higgins of Workforce 2020 and Dawn Kubiak of MPE Inc. Photo by Sam Arendt