Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program is part of the statewide School-to-Work initiative designed for high school students who want hands-on learning in key career areas at a worksite, along with classroom instruction. By being released from school during part of the day, YA students are using that time to work in the field, earn school credit, make money and get exposed to real-world work experiences.
Requirements include that the student be in his or her junior or senior year of high school. Participants complete 450 hours of work-based learning and two semesters of related classroom instruction.
Classroom instruction is part of an agreement between a college and a high school. In this agreement, the student earns college and high school credit simultaneously, and does not have to pay the college tuition fees.
Schools try to match students with companies that have careers in their fields of interest. Most students are paid between minimum wage and $16 an hour, depending on the company and job. Students are allowed to leave school for the last two hours of the day to get a jumpstart on their work day.
Students also learn resume writing, interviewing and other job skills they will use in their career. Many students who take advantage of youth apprenticeships are hired on by employers post-graduation.
Bryce Ghelfi is a student at Watertown High School who is completing a youth apprenticeship in manufacturing at Sussek Machine Co. He credits his mother for helping him choose an area of focus.
“She said it would be a good start to learn how to use inspection tools, helping me towards my ultimate goal to work in automotive and diesel,” Bryce said.
Every day, Bryce goes to school and leaves at 1:20 p.m. to work until 10 p.m. At work, he asks his supervisor what he’s doing for that day and follows the directions. He then comes home to do homework and go to bed.
Bryce said that in order to succeed, you have to always want to learn.
Sussek Machine Co. has partnered with several YA students and is currently aiding the Waterloo School District in obtaining equipment to upgrade its lab facility.
Hayden Askey is a Belleville High School senior completing his manufacturing youth apprenticeship. His goals after high school are to continue working at Cate Machine & Welding Inc. in Belleville and attend Madison Area Technical College to earn an associate’s degree in automated manufacturing systems.
“In year one, I learned to use the CNC mill, set up and run parts. Over the summer I was mentored in Coordinate Measuring Machine operations, and am now the main programmer and qualifier keeping machines accurate to within 20 millionths of an inch,” Hayden said.
“The Youth Apprenticeship program offers student a huge advantage in the industry you choose, because students will know if they really like a career pathway or not before they pursue it after high school,” he said.
Hayden’s mother, Rena Askey, wholeheartedly believes in the YA program. She shared that Hayden has a greater sense of self respect, of his importance in the job, and has learned to deal with adults on a work level. This has improved his ability to act professionally, take direction and implement that direction.
Hayden’s employer and mentor Steve Cate supports Youth Apprenticeship because it has allowed him to train someone from the ground up and have jobs completed to his specifications. He shared that Askey is doing a great job in his second year as an apprentice, helping run the Quality Control department. Steve plans to bring Hayden on full-time after graduation in June.