Students jump-start their careers with apprenticeships

Ozaukee program gives high school students the opportunity to learn job skills while taking classes so they can transition into the workforce after graduation

STUDENTS IN THE Ozaukee Youth Apprenticeship program celebrated their graduation at the Cedarburg Cultural Center on Wednesday, May 8. They include (top row from left) Mary Sullivan, Sarah Stauske, Matt Heasch, Matt Thompson, Zach Dieringer, Henry Lawhiczak, Dylan Hovey, Desiree Doll, Emma Day, (middle row) Tylor McDowell, Grace Kruger, Justin Wick, Quentin MacDonald, James Cieszynski, James Cullen, Kelly Fahrendorf, Catherine Gwidt, Stacy Ducheny, Kaylee Furness, (front row) Meghan Morris, Cate Heilmann, Sydney Plavtz, Evan Huck, Gwendolyn Moore, Cameron Lewein and Ethan Von Bargen. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press staff

Twenty-six local students graduated last week from the Ozaukee Youth Apprenticeship program, which places high school students at area companies.

The program began in the early 1990s as Workforce 2010 and allows juniors and seniors to become full-time employees after graduation.

During their apprenticeships, students continue to work toward high school graduation and take courses related to the profession as a way of enhancing what is learned on the job. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development oversees the program.

“We’ve had some pretty amazing stories. I often have students call me and tell me how their experience got them their dream job,” Coordinator John Higgins said. “There are some huge benefits because they’re walking into adult jobs as high school students. It’s hard work.”

Most of the students are placed in an apprenticeship program the summer before their junior year and must complete a minimum of 450 hours of work. Higgins said the students are paid and the training costs of companies participating are covered.

Students typically go to school for half a day before going to their jobs, Higgins said.  

Last year, 82 Ozaukee County students applied for apprenticeships. There are 57 new applicants for this summer. Across Wisconsin last year, more than 2,900 employers and 4,000 youth apprentices participated.

On Wednesday, May 8, local students celebrated their graduation from the program at the Cedarburg Cultural Center.        “The program keeps growing every year because employers are realizing the valuable skills the young apprentices are learning. It saves a lot of time from having to train new employees year after year,” Higgins said.

One recent program graduate, manufacturing apprentice Grace Kruger, had the opportunity to speak to the Legislature in Madison about the benefits of the program.

About 65% of the students go to four-year colleges and the remainder usually attend technical college to learn specific trade skills. Higgins said students are given the option to continue working as apprentices during their summer breaks from college.

Higgins said the program matches students with jobs involving agriculture, communications, marketing, information technology, manufacturing, engineering, architecture, construction, health care, hospitality, tourism, transportation, distribution and logistics.

Some of the employers in the county who are involved in the program are Standard Machine Co., Kapco Metal Stamping, Ram Tool Construction Supply Co., Pace Industries, Schmit Bros. Automotive, Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee and Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.

On Wednesday, May 15, prospective nursing students at Cedarburg High School interviewed with nine employers for job placements, Higgins said.

The students will receive certified-nursing assistant training that will be paid for by the program.

“Those students will probably be offered job placements even before they take the CNA class,” Higgins said. “It’s a great way to jump-start your career.”

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Ozaukee Press

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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