ABC Apprentices Among First to Use New Career Pathway

APPLETON — Four high school students signed adult registered apprenticeship contracts today that will give them a jump start on their careers. These registered apprentices will work on the first year of their electrical apprenticeships through Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin and Fox Valley Technical College while still in high school.

The four students are:

Luke Hanson, Suburban Electrical Engineers/Contractors, Inc., Little Chute Career Pathways Academy

Dakota Schuh, Suburban Electrical Engineers/Contractors, Inc., Freedom High School

Trevor Vogel, The Wasmer Company, LLC, New Holstein High School

Oskar Buttke, North Wind Renewable Energy Cooperative

Apprentice signing document with employees
Luke Hanson (left) signs his apprenticeship contract as a senior in high school as his mother, Erica (right), and Christina Jungwirth from employer sponsor, Suburban Electrical Engineers/Contractors, Inc. (center) watch.

Three signed their contracts with the State of Wisconsin and ABC of Wisconsin and attended orientation today at Fox Valley Technical College where they will receive their classroom instruction over the next four years. Another high school senior, Oskar Buttke, started his registered apprenticeship program with North Wind Renewable Energy Cooperative in Stevens Point.

Assembly Bill 745, signed by Governor Walker in May 2018, allows qualified high school seniors to start the adult apprenticeship program while still in school, enabling them to complete the program sooner. It’s similar to allowing high school students to take advanced placement (AP) courses for college (dual) credit.

“This provides high school seniors access to valuable professional qualifications and experience through registered apprenticeship programs during their final year of school,” said Leigh Emrick, ABC of Wisconsin apprenticeship director.

ABC wisconsin apprentice with employee
Dakota Schuh (left) is one of the first in the state to sign an adult registered apprenticeship contract as a senior in high school. He is accompanied by Christina Jungwirth from his employer sponsor, Suburban Electrical Engineers/Contractors, Inc. (right).

Adult apprentices in high school need to tweak their class schedules to attend paid-related apprenticeship instruction every other week. First-year apprentice classroom hours are at a set time, so students need to work around them, to not miss class.

Previously, high school students could join only the youth apprenticeship program, which gives a broad overview of careers in the trades without teaching the skills needed to join the trade after graduation. A full apprenticeship program, meanwhile, involves classroom instruction and in-depth, hands-on training in their chosen career.

The law defines high school seniors as students who are at least 16 years old and who are enrolled in 12th grade. The student is expected to graduate no later than the end of the school year and will receive high school credit for hours of related instruction provided by the apprenticeship sponsor. The senior must complete a minimum of 450 hours of on-the-job training during the first year of the apprenticeship.

apprentice signing paperwork
Trevor Vogel (left), sponsored by The Wasmer Company, signs his apprenticeship contract as a senior in high school as his mother (Deb) looks on.

Establishing a program like this doesn’t come without some effort by contractors and some accommodations by high schools. Both need to work around students’ schedules so each can acquire enough on-the-job training and complete any remaining high school requirements.

“Generally speaking, high schools have been very accommodating for this because they want to see their students succeed in a career path. Now, even before graduation, they’re gainfully employed and at their high school graduation, they will be second-year apprentices on their way to a great career,” said Emrick.

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