MADISON — Several ABC of Wisconsin members testified before the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development Wednesday. There are several bills before the committee, including expanding funding for youth apprenticeship curricula and grants to high schools for youth apprenticeship completion.

Wisconsin's Youth Apprenticeship program is designed for high school students who want hands on learning in an occupational area at a worksite. Similar to adult apprenticeship, it is a one- or two-year elective program that combines academic and technical instruction with mentored on-the-job learning.

"The war for talent is real," Nicole Frank, Dave Jones, Inc., Madison, told the committee. 
   
     
   

"We battle every day with parents, students, schools that believe that the definition of success is to go into a four-year college. That's very hard. But we need as employers, that connection with the schools. Schools -- with the youth apprenticeship program -- have allowed us to think outside the box to become competitive. It has brought so much to our course from the individuals who are mentors in the field," Frank said. "It has brought a new piece to our workforce," she added.

“I can tell you that it's been hard for us to keep our pipeline full, just from youth apprentices to apprentices to journey … We want to develop a better future for our place. We need to have employees and we need to keep growing and skilled trades," said Yvette Woerishofer of Suburban Electric in Appleton. 
 
  
 

"It's just very difficult to find those applicants. There's definitely a gap there ... I think it's going to be one of those things that as time goes on, it's how we are going to fill the gap that we have. It’s just it's one of those things that were super passionate about because we really feel like not only does it benefit the students, it's also benefiting us as an employer," Woerishofer said.

"I'm from Marshfield and we have a very pronounced AP [advanced placement] program and the YA program YA is the equal to the AP program and kids need to understand that," said Dan Neve, Staab Construction, Marshfield. "I've been in this industry a long time and to me, that's the biggest challenge for me in this industry is getting parents to understand that this is a great career." said Neve added. 
   
     
   
 
Several other organizations testified in favor of the measures, including the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the Wisconsin Technical College System. Here are the five measures the committee is considering:

LRB-1990 Youth Apprenticeships. 
AB-036 Apprenticeship Grants. 
AB-013 Workforce Training Grants
AB-012 Internship Grants. 
AB-023 Education Incentive Grants.