NWTC’s record 1,100 apprentices are poised to meet employer needs

Tuesday May 12, 2020
As construction and manufacturing employers look for more skilled workers and students look for ways to fund college, NWTC’s apprenticeship programs are meeting both needs.
NWTC currently has 1,100 apprentices, its highest number in at least 15 years. They work for 300 employers throughout Wisconsin, learning on job sites most of the time, and attending related classes from NWTC (online during social distancing). As a result, apprentices are earning money while they attend NWTC rather than taking on student debt.
Registered apprenticeships are only one way the College is helping students get meaningful work experience in college and helping employers connect with interested prospective workers.
“We have a more robust group of programs now—we have people doing internships, the co-op program, and apprenticeship,” said Todd Kiel, NWTC’s Manager of Apprenticeships and K-12 Partnerships. “We have more ways for employers to meet the workforce demand and for students to meet employers and try out careers, so everyone gets a good fit.”
One new opportunity for high school students is Earn and Learn, led by Allyson Baue, Earn and Learn Coordinator. Baue connects students interested in manufacturing with employers willing to help fund their education. She said students benefit by taking jobs related to their career goals rather than whatever part-time job is available. Employers benefit by being able to preview potential employees and shape their skill development.
“Earn to Learn is new for the College,” said Baue. “It’s being more intentional with conversations, talking to students about manufacturers in our area that make really cool things that students don’t even know about. They can stay local. They can have a productive career here.”
Baue said when she talks to seniors, “if they want to get into electromechanical, robotics, no one is talking to them necessarily about viable career options.”
The Earn and Learn grant is focused on manufacturing careers, but Kiel and Baue said they can foresee expanding into other career areas.
Kiel said, “At a time when you talk about the high price of education, we’re talking to employers about helping kids finish their education, which I think is huge from a parent’s perspective—from anyone’s perspective.”