Tom Malesevich, Sure Fire, Inc., right, testifies in favor
of the three bills at Wednesday's hearing.
 Roger Thimm, Wondra Construction, left, testifies in favor
of the three bills.
 ABC President John Mielke (far left), testifies, along with
Ryan Gartman, Clifton Larson Allen (second from left), and
Anita Mahamed, Wipfli, (third from left).
MADISON -- ABC of Wisconsin members appeared before the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development Wednesday to support three apprenticeship-related bills, including AB 745, relating to high school seniors being allowed to participate in adult apprenticeship programs; AB 734, relating to creating individual or corporate tax deduction for apprenticeship tuition; and AB 124, relating to the marketing of employment and training opportunities to University of Wisconsin System students who do not complete degrees. 

Eleven ABC of Wisconsin members testified in support of the three measures. Nobody testified against any of the three bills. 

Some quotes from bill supporters:

"Schools should have the ability to allow students that are already going to graduate that the first year of an adult apprenticeship so that they can come out and make more money than anyone else in this room." 
- State Representative Romaine Quinn 

"We are at a point of critical mass in our employment status in the State of Wisconsin, where we need all hands on deck. This gives us an opportunity to tap into that workforce."
- State Representative Scott Krug

"As a tech-ed teacher, most of the students I had were looking or interested in a trade to end up in the workforce. Most of them would go out and start knocking on doors. I think having an established apprenticeship or youth apprenticeship program would help them a lot. It would facilitate this for them and give them a process to go through to get to this employment." 
- Collin Maas, Pioneer Roofing, LLC

"Technology is coming faster; quicker. The pace of construction is unbelievable. So, now what we have as a career path ... how do we get people on board as quickly as possible to bring them online so they can merge and bring them up to speed. We feel that is what apprenticeship is gonna do for them and that is why we are in support of all three of these measures."
- Roger Thimm, Wondra Construction

"On AB 124 ... I think that one is just such common sense. I think we've wasted more time talking about it than what that thing is gonna cost us." 
- Tom Malesevich, Sure Fire, Inc.

"One of the greatest things to come out is the Youth Apprenticeship ... One thing I've seen -- because I'm involved with all the hiring in the field -- I've had a lot of people I've interviewed and hired tell me, 'I wish I would have known about this before; I wish I had started this before.' I have people coming to me in their early 30s saying, 'I didn't know about it.' We've had a couple of youth apprentices that have hit the ground running and would have loved to actually get started on their adult apprenticeship. I think this is another piece to move apprenticeship forward."  
- Patrick Stockland, Capitol Mechanical

"I'm 100 percent in favor of these bills ... This is another dual credit opportunity. It's just an opportunity for kids to get a chance to explore and I think that's the biggest and most important thing that apprenticeship programs do ... Because the younger kids can find out and narrow down their career choices. The quicker we can get them to that, the better."
- Steve McNeal, Corporate Contractors, Inc. (former School District Superintendent)

My first year out of being a superintendent, we brought with me, five high school kids and put them into employment immediately. Four out of the five are still with us.  One went back to college, which is great. The other four out of five ... three of them are in the apprenticeship program starting next year. So, we do believe in this. We think it's an opportunity to help young people." 
- Steve McNeal, Corporate Contractors, Inc. (former School District Superintendent)

"We've had guys come to work for us in their senior year ... It's fun to watch them through the years ... To see where they've come in that time frame ... You see them grow. You see them buy houses. They don't have $50,000 to $75,000 debt ... Once they get that chance to do that (apprenticeship) ... It's huge when they're done ... We've had very good luck with it." 
- Jack Vogel, Hills Wiring (early apprenticeship graduate)

"I think it's huge for the apprenticeships to get into the high schools. I never even heard about it (apprenticeship). We were given these tests with 200 questions and told, 'Here. This is what you're going to do the rest of your life.' Apprenticeship only broadened my horizons. It helped me in the long run of learning all sorts of things from concrete to pipe fitting to electrical to everything. It really opened up a lot of doors for me ...  If I would have had an apprenticeship or the opportunity to do it in high school as a senior, I might not have coasted through. I might have said, 'Hey, I'm going to go for this instead and got my career started earlier." 
- Jeremy Severt, Staab Construction

"I wish everyone could watch this testimony from people in the field and people that know what the value is (apprenticeship) to our workforce."
- Representative Warren Petryk, Assembly Workforce Development Committee Chair 

"I'm hearing from my construction clients about how they've got construction projects that they are either turning away or they're delaying because they just can't find enough workers to get the job done. This bill (AB 734) would lessen the barrier for completing an apprenticeship by creating a tax deduction that would help defray the cost to an individual."
-Anita Mahamed, Wipfli CPA

"I know employers who are already reporting that payment to the apprenticeship program as compensation to the apprentices. This bill (AB 734)
allows for the apprentices to take it on their tax return and get that deduction and credit back there."  
- Ryan Gartmann, Clifton Larson Allen CPA