Youth Apprenticeship program graduates a record class; keeps focus on employment training
Tradition has it that a first anniversary requires gifts of paper and a second anniversary means something cotton.
For the Workforce 2020 Youth Apprenticeship program, which marked its 20th anniversary in Ozaukee County this year, the payback is always the same regardless of the year — high school students who are better prepared for life in the working world.
According to John Higgins, coordinator of the county’s Youth Apprenticeship program, interest by students and workplace mentors continues to grow.
This year, there were a record 35 students from five area high schools honored during a recent graduation and recognition ceremony at the Cedarburg Cultural Center.
“We are slowly growing,” Higgins said.
“Hopefully, next year we will be able to place 40 students.”
Making those placements requires support from the private sector, which Higgins said is also growing. This year, 27 workplaces took on students in the program.
“We are very pleased with how receptive employers have been to the program. Some have accepted two or even three students, and many take part year after year,” he said.
The apprenticeship program has made such an impact on some of its graduates that they have gone on to become mentors for students contemplating career paths.
One of those graduates-turned-mentors, John Roller Jr., owner of Roller Precision Spindle Repair in Grafton, spoke at the recognition ceremony.
Higgins said the transformation many students go through while completing the apprenticeship program is impossible to ignore.
“The students grow so much in the time they are in the program. When they apply for the program as sophomores, they usually come in unsure of themselves,” he said.
“As seniors, they leave confident and ready for the work world.”
Higgins used the award ceremony to make a pitch for future involvement in the program.
“You have heard of the skills gap? There is no shortage of skills,” he said.
“What we have is a mentor gap in this country — not in this room, mind you. Young people need someone to teach them the way how things are done.”
Higgins said not only do mentors help the student apprentices, they also “leave a lasting legacy” with the next generation of workers.
As in the past, the most popular area of study this year was health science, with a focus on nursing assistants. Sixteen students completed that speciality.
At Harbor Club in Port Washington, mentor Stephanie Elliott worked with Callen Brault of Cedarburg High School, Lian Brenner of Ozaukee High and Samantha Clemins of Port Washington High.
At Anita’s Gardens in Port Washington, Danielle Beining was the mentor for Greta Copes of Cedarburg High and Taylor Trottier of Ozaukee High; and Keri Grotelueschen was the mentor for Emma Hess of Ozaukee High.
At Ellen’s Home in Port Washington, mentor Tanya Wolfgram worked with Arianna Eidenberger and Laurel Friede, both of Port High; and mentor Sonja Perez worked with Lindsay Landers of Cedarburg High.
Mentor Karen Bialas at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton worked with Lisa Gensrick of Ozaukee High.
Grafton High student Brittany Cassel was matched with mentor Jenny Boegel at Belgium Gardens.
At Stone Haven in Grafton, mentor Karen Tuttle worked with Cedarburg High student Tiffany Lemke.
Mentor Dawn Nimtz worked with Aimee Marx of Grafton High at Lasata Care Center in Cedarburg.
At Heritage Nursing & Rehabilitation in Port Washington, mentor Shanna Gonzales worked with Emily Zietlow of Cedarburg High.
At Gables on the Pond in Random Lake, Jennifer Schanen of Random Lake High worked with mentors Lisa Birenbaum and Debbie Lewis.
Port High student Grace Spitzer was matched with mentors Jenny Boegel at Belgium Gardens and Sonja Perez at Ellen’s Home.
Eleven students completed the manufacturing apprenticeship.
At RAM Tool in Grafton, mentor Tory Laubach worked with students Donald Volkmann of Grafton High and Jeremy Wichmann of Ozaukee High.
Corey Bucholz of Grafton High worked with mentors Missy Propper at GenMet and Tory Laubach of RAM Tool.
At Advanced Technology International in Cedarburg, Mike Sarver was the mentor of Jacob Chvala and Tyler Ryan, both of Cedarburg High.
Kyle Benson of Port Washington High completed his apprenticeship with mentor David Pike at Pace Industries in Grafton.
At Waukesha Metal Products in Grafton, mentor Craig Retzlaff worked with Quintin Fareta of Grafton High.
Mentors David Kreutzer and Clint Arndt of Kapco Metal Stamping in Grafton worked with Darren Haynes of Cedarburg High.
Port High student Corvan Kotlarek worked with mentor Steve Kruse at Neff Engineering in Mequon.
At Oldenburg Metal Tech in Port Washington, Thomas Schminke Jr. worked with mentor Jeff Decker.
Curtis Rutkowski of Cedarburg High completed his apprenticeship with mentors Nathaniel Klug, Alec Michel and John Cain, of MPE in Milwaukee and Cain Industries in Germantown.
Five students completed the transportation, distribution and logistics apprenticeship.
Thomas Schimke Jr. of Port Washington High worked with mentor William Krzyzanek of Kaliber Collision Repair in Port Washington.
At Krueger Auto Tech in Cedarburg, mentor George Heimsch worked with Zack Welter of Grafton High.
Dustin Bahr of Random Lake High worked with mentor Jason Vorpahl at Vorpahl Farms in Random Lake.
Corky VanSluys of Corky’s Tire & Auto Service in Cedarburg was the mentor for Owen Liebelt of Grafton High.
At David Hobbs Honda in Glendale, Jeff Buchkowski was the mentor of Zachary Nelson of Cedarburg High.
In the financial specialty, Jacob Deming of Cedarburg High worked with mentor Lois Roeske of Port Washington State Bank.
At GenMet in Mequon, Erin Reiels of Homestead High completed the information technology apprenticeships with mentor Missy Propper; and Joshua Moses completed the STEM apprenticeship with mentors Missy Propper, Nick Grosenick Sarah Busneiwski and Russ Klienert.
In the promotions program, Megan Staelens of Cedarburg High worked with mentor Karl Boettcher of Visual Image Photography of Cedarburg.
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 “departments/programs.”
Imgae information: STUDENTS, MENTORS AND business leaders took part in the Workforce 2020 Youth Apprenticeship recognition program held May 18 at the Cedarburg Cultural Center. Apprenticeship graduates were Jacob Deming, Callen Brault, Lian Brenner, Brittany Cassel, Samantha Clemins, Greta Copes, Arianna Eidenberger, Laurel Friede, Lisa Gensrick, Erin Reiels, Kyle Benson, Corey Bucholz, Jacob Chvala, Quintin Faretra, Darren Haynes, Corvan Kotlarek, Curtis Rutkowski, Tyler Ryan and Thomas Schminke Jr. Also lending their support to the program were Pam King of the Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce, Wendy Mayer of Workforce 2020, John Oldenwald of Ozaukee High, Dawn Nimtz of Lasata Care Center, JoDean Hackl, Carl Hader and Aaron Hilts, both of Grafton High, Tory Laubach of RAM Tool, Karl Boettcher, Clint Arndt of Kapco Metal Stamping, Corky VanSluys, George Heimsch, John Higgins of Workforce 2020, Steve Kruz, David Pike of Pace Industries, Sonja Perez of Ellen’s Home, Michelle Polum of RAM Tool, Lois Roske and Annie Noster of Port State Bank, Tanya Wolfgram of Ellen’s Home, and Daniel Solozano of Port High. Photo by Sam Arendt