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Apprentices Leading Wisconsin’s Workforce Future

Program has 15,000-plus registered apprentices and 6,412 youth apprentices – 64 of those youths in Door County

To give students a first-hand look at the top-growing career opportunities within the region, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) has partnered with educational consultant CESA 7 to host a series of hands-on youth apprenticeship workshops.

Kicking off the series during National Apprenticeship Week Nov. 14-18, the college hosted eighth-grade students from Gibraltar and Sturgeon Bay schools at its Sturgeon Bay campus. Nearly 70 students participated in hands-on demonstrations in fields such as masonry, carpentry, electrical and engineering.

“This is a great opportunity for students to get exposure to the many different careers available so they can make the best decision for their future,” said Lauren Baumann, the youth apprenticeship school-based coach with Northeast Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship. “Apprenticeships provide students with a work-based learning opportunity, related coursework and mentorship toward their career goals. We must continue to provide students with these opportunities for career exploration and the long list of benefits, such as employability skills, before sending them out into the workforce.” 

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) recently announced that the state has surpassed 15,000 participants in the Registered Apprenticeship Program. Those registered apprentices were all active during 2022, and the number was expected to grow as more registered this fall. In 2001, the state set a record, with 15,757 registered apprentices for the year. 

Wisconsin’s Registered Apprenticeship Program began in 1911 and has served as a national model for its innovation. The state’s 2,600 participating employers include leading manufacturers, construction businesses, and agricultural and food producers, and more recently, child care providers, health care systems and information technology services.

Middle-school students from the Gibraltar and Sturgeon Bay school districts participate in an apprenticeship program at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical School campus in Sturgeon Bay. Submitted.

In another positive trend, Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship Program recently reached a record 6,412 participants who are working at a record 4,478 employers. In August, Gov. Tony Evers announced 14 new Youth Apprenticeship pathways for high school juniors and seniors that included agriculture, natural resources, health science, manufacturing and aviation maintenance.

“The power of apprenticeship makes our economy, our communities and our families stronger – one skilled worker at a time,” said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. “Our focus on apprenticeship is part of our larger strategy to leverage our homegrown workforce, tap underutilized talent and connect employers with the skilled workforce they need to thrive.”

In Door County as of last month, about 64 students were enrolled in Youth Apprenticeship, according to Baumann, who added that they expected that number to increase before the end of 2022. 

NWTC’s apprenticeship program makes up nearly 10% of all registered apprentices throughout the entire state. As of this year, the college has 1,417 active apprentices, and participation has been growing nearly 20% over the last year.

NWTC currently has 19 apprenticeship programs in the fields of architecture, construction and industry. With the rising interest in and success of apprenticeship programs, the college is expanding two additional programs that should be available as early as spring 2023.

“The interest in apprenticeships is greater now more than ever as people are realizing this provides a pathway to high-wage careers,” said Christina Jungwirth, NWTC’s apprenticeship coordinator. “NWTC has been a leader in apprenticeship offerings and partnerships for Wisconsin, and we are constantly adjusting to the needs of industry. That’s why we are excited to start expanding into other career areas like early-childhood education – to help strengthen a wider network of skilled workers for years to come.”

NWTC will be hosting its next youth apprenticeship workshop in the spring of 2023.

Find out more about the NWTC apprenticeship and available programs at nwtc.edu/academics-and-training/apprenticeship, or email Christina Jungwirth at [email protected].

Learn about the state’s youth apprenticeship program in northeast Wisconsin by emailing Lauren Baumann at [email protected]

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