GREEN BAY – Students from Green Bay West High School learned about apprenticeship opportunities in the skilled construction trades and made their own toolboxes during a demonstration Friday at Ama Heating and Air Conditioning.
The event, held in conjunction with National Apprenticeship Week, was hosted by Ama and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin, a construction industry trade association representing 887 member companies across the state. National Apprenticeship Week, Nov. 11-17, is a nationwide celebration that gives businesses, communities and educators the opportunity to showcase their apprenticeship programs and apprentices while providing valuable information to career seekers.
Former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch spoke at the event to promote the earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship model, which provides careers with limitless opportunities for advancement and high earning potential. Kleefisch, who served as lieutenant governor from 2011-2019, is partnering with ABC as the organization’s “jobs ambassador.”
Kleefisch said the annual median salary is currently $77,000 for those who complete apprenticeships in the construction industry in Wisconsin, more than the salary of a first-year lieutenant governor.
“At the end of the day, you get to say you did something, you made something,” Kleefisch said. “Now I loved my job, and I tried to make a bunch of changes to make people’s lives better. But at the end of the day, I can’t point to a single building I built … But people who work in the construction trades can do that every single day, get paid to learn, come out with no debt and be making more than the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin.”
ABC of Wisconsin’s Apprenticeship Program is a 501(c)(3) educational organization that works closely with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and 11 state technical colleges. Currently, the program has nearly 1,600 apprentices in 12 skilled trades, including 450 new apprentices who began the program this fall in communities across Wisconsin.
“It’s a full-time training program where you’re actually going to school, going to work and you are getting paid,” said Elizabeth Roddy, recruitment and training director for ABC of Wisconsin. “Ninety percent of that education is on the job. Employers are investing in you, employers are believing in you, and they’re getting you trained in a variety of different aspects of the industry.”