Apprenticeship program attracts most students ever

Sixty-five high-schoolers receive on-the-job training in fields that range from the skilled trades to health care

PARTICIPANTS IN THE 2018 Ozaukee Apprenticeship Program graduation cerermony last week were (front row, from left) Ashtyn Bellinger, Savannah Schultz, Brianna Huber, Emma Zindars, Chloe Herbrand, Lauren Janza, Samantha Hoffman, Zachary Uselding, Derek Mueller, Ryan Umhoefer, (back row) Kelly Coniff, Grace Aspenson, Thomas Becker, Nathan Hassler, Calvin Boese ,Drew Geib, Tony Cook, Matthew Horstead, Brandon Czebotar, Nicholas Rapp, Brice Scholtus, Trevor Gusky and Allison Vojnovich. Not pictured were Jilia Dombrowski, Morgan Grueneberg, Alison Jeske, Jennifer Rutkowski, Nicholas Franzen, Mariah Niles, Leah Place, Summer Schmit, Kaitlyn Schoreder, Esme Bains, Avery Orosz, Trindy Pate, Cailie Ansay, Jordan Burmesch, Victor Herek-Wrixton and Melissa Mieloch. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

In a ceremony at the Cedarburg Cultural Center last week, Ozaukee County’s Youth Apprenticeship Program recognized its most recent group of graduates.

“There are some amazing things that happened this year,” said John Higgins, Ozaukee Youth Apprenticeship Consortium coordinator. “We had more students than ever before, and I got to watch them become amazing people.”

Sixty-five students from Ozaukee County high schools, as well as Random Lake High School, participated this year, 14 of whom will continue next year, Higgins said.

“Apprenticeships are becoming more popular,” Higgins said.

While most people think of apprenticeships as a way to start youths on a career in trades such as carpentry, plumbing, welding and the like, the Youth Apprenticeship Program has a much larger reach.

More than half the students who participate in the program go on to a four-year college, seeking careers in areas such as finance, business, health care and architecture, Higgins said.

He talked about one graduate who is a surgical nurse at Froedtert Hospital and another who’s a registered nurse at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Apprenticeships not only educate students, they also help train them for the future. It matches students with mentors as they learn skills that will help them in the workforce now and in the years to come in areas as diverse as agriculture, food and natural resources, architecture and construction, communications, logistics, finance, health science, manufacturing and transportation.

The mentors teach everything from the skills needed for a job and give practical advice, such as the need to be on time, dress appropriately and get along with coworkers, Higgins said.

There are about 36 employers who are active in the program, he said, and in the last three or four years as many as 60 employers have participated.

Apprenticeships are as important for employers as they are for students, Higgins said, noting that many are finding that as their older workers retire, there are fewer people waiting to take their place.

Students get a lot from the program as well, but they work hard, too, he said. They often start in the apprenticeship program the summer before their junior or senior year of high school, and they log 350 to 450 hours a year while taking a full load of classes.

“We had a couple kids who put in over 950 hours,” Higgins said. “That’s fairly unusual.

“When you’re a youth apprentice, you work 10 to 15, sometimes 20 hours a week all while you’re going to school full time. That’s a lot.”

They get paid while they work, making good money for students, but the biggest pay off comes after they graduate. Many have jobs, good paying jobs, waiting for them, he said.

“People are finding you can really make a heck of a living wage nowadays with a trace,” Higgins said, noting $65,000 annually isn’t unusual. “In Ozaukee County, for an awful lot of students and parents, it’s off to a four-year college, but what we’re finding is you can have a four-year degree and still struggle to find a job.”

Among the employers participating this year are Aurora Medical Center, Capri Communities, Newcastle Place, Magnolia Hill, Ellen’s Home, Anita’s Gardens, Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Oldenburg Metal, MPE, Standard Machine Co., Carlson Tool & Manufacturing, Snider Mold, Charter Steel, Pace Industries, Kapco, Grob Inc. Calibre, Eric Von Schledorn Ford, Schmit Bros. Ford, Corky’s Tire and Auto, Krueger’s Auto, the Bog, Mark Robinson Custom Trim, Port Washington State Bank, Kohler Credit Union and Lasata Senior Care Campus.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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