Skip to Main Content

Search NewsCenter

Top Stories

Apprenticeship Training

Apprenticeship Training

Fall 2011

A Century of Success with Apprenticeship Training

Since 1912, Fox Valley Technical College hasn’t changed a bit in one key area: preparing the needs of the workforce no matter what the economy looks like. This year marks the 100th anniversary for FVTC as part of a statewide celebration with all 16 technical colleges within the Wisconsin Technical College System.

FVTC’s year-long celebration is as much about looking ahead as it is reflecting on the past. The college’s core mission of working with regional employers has grown significantly over the years through the development of several industry partnerships. 

Apprenticeships represent one form of training that has forged several partnerships for the college, and they have run in concert with FVTC for about a century. The first legislation in the United States to promote an organized system of apprenticeship was enacted in Wisconsin in 1912.

“In the beginning, the first apprenticeship programs were in the construction trades and machine shop industries,” says FVTC President Dr. Susan May. “Today, the apprenticeship programs at Fox Valley Technical College cover a broad range of fields.”

 

Jim Kitchen, lead Machine Tool instructor, summarizes the importance of the FVTC apprenticeship program. “Simply put, you can’t compete if you don’t have people who know how to perform high-tech skills,” Kitchen says. “Today, there are not enough new machinists to replace the ones who are retiring. We are working tirelessly to create enough machinists to keep up with demand. We have to train the next generation.”

“We provide relevant education for each and every trade,” states Mike Cattelino, associate dean of the Manufacturing, Transportation, Information, and Agriculture Technologies division. “Each apprentice program represents its unique trade, so it has its own instructors, classrooms, and facilities. For example, our Operating Engineer program is on a 400-acre site where students can practice running large equipment such as earth movers, bulldozers, cranes, and road graders.”

Although the education segment of each program is designed to meet specific needs, the basic operational structure for all programs remains the same as it was 100 years ago. “It begins with a contract between the apprentice, the company, the education provider, and the state,” says Steve Schneider, Millwright Apprentice instructor at FVTC. “Companies pay their apprentices an hourly wage while they come to class each week. They are also in an apprentice learning position during the rest of week. Ninety percent of their learning is actually on the job.”

“Our apprenticeship advisory committee sets up how we work with the manufacturers and helps us ensure that we’re covering the right topics,” Schneider continues. “We’re not just teaching what we think is good, we’re providing skills that we know they need.”

Traditionally, students did their book learning in school. “We realized that apprentices were not getting broad enough experience in hands-on training,” states Kitchen. “So now, we provide a high volume of hands-on work for our apprentices. For example, an individual may not only have to learn how to read a blueprint, but he or she then needs to know how to machine something to exactly match those specifications.”

“I believe the training our apprentices receive from Fox Valley Technical College is very beneficial to my company,” states Bob Strelka, maintenance planner at SCA Tissue in Menasha. “They gain a lot of useful knowledge that they can apply to our workforce. I did my pipefitter apprenticeship years ago at Fox Valley Tech. In fact, most of the people at SCA Tissue went through either an apprenticeship or engineering program with Fox Valley Technical College.”

The FVTC apprenticeship program staff keeps close track of each individual’s progress. Instructors maintain contact with employers and work to provide additional educational support, if needed. “It’s a big red flag if a Machinist apprentice is not cutting it in a math class, for example,” Cattelino says. “Is there more we can do to help them? Can we offer more classes? In the end, that’s up to the employer, but we try to give everyone the best opportunity to succeed.”

After a student completes his or her apprenticeship program, FVTC notifies the state. Once the employer verifies the apprentice has received the mandated amount of on-the-job training, the state issues a journeyworker certificate. This certificate is recognized throughout Wisconsin as well as in other states.

FVTC faculty members for apprenticeship programs understand the on-the-job demands of their apprentices because they all have professional experience in a specific industry. “All of our instructors possess exceptional on-the-job experience, plus they continue to work within our teaching certification system,” notes Dr. May.

The demand for apprentices varies throughout the year and depends on the current state of a company’s specific needs. Currently, for instance, FVTC has more than 500 students in its Electrician apprentice program. This level of adaptability reinforces FVTC’s high-level of responsiveness to industry demands.

“When we go out and talk about apprenticeships,” says Cattelino, “we try to introduce people to careers they may not have even considered and an educational option that they may not know even existed.”

Typically the apprentices are a bit older than traditional FVTC students. “A lot of them have taken some type of tech classes and their employer wants them to take on more responsibilities,” reports Kitchen. “In machining, many students earn their degree from us, get a job, and then come back to our apprentice program. They can earn their journeyworker credentials after only taking a few classes.”

“I think it’s important to look at apprenticeship from a student’s perspective,” states Cattelino. “Apprenticeship is an excellent educational option for people who are hands-on learners and want their education related directly to what they’re doing to earn money. If you need to apply new knowledge immediately, then an apprenticeship works perfectly to fit your needs and goals. It’s about gaining the knowledge and motor skills needed to become a skilled person in your trade.”

“We have an amazing history in our apprenticeship program,” concludes Dr. May. “And we also have an amazing, almost unimaginable future thanks to many industry partners that have been with us along the way. If we stick to our original and still-core purpose of preparing people for careers in local industry, then we’ll still be making a difference for years to come.”

A Snapshot of Apprenticeship Training at FVTC

Currently, more than 700 apprentices participate in apprenticeship programs, representing 18 skilled trades, including:
  • Construction Electrician Apprentice (JAC)
  • Barber/Cosmetologist
  • Electrician Apprentice (ABC)
  • Electronic Systems Technician
  • Industrial Electrician Apprentice
  • Machinist Apprentice
  • Maintenance Mechanic/Millwright Apprentice
  • Maintenance Technician Apprentice
  • Millwright-Pipefitter
  • Operating Engineer Apprentice
  • Pipe Fabricator Apprentice
  • Pipefitting Apprentice
  • Plumbing Apprentice
  • Sheet Metal Apprentice (ABC)
  • Sheet Metal Construction
  • Sheet Metal - Industrial
  • Steamfitting Apprentice/Steamfitting Service Apprentice
  • Tool & Die Apprentice

 

FVTC President's Blog


New This Week

Student & Alumni Spotlight

Focus on Alumni: Culinary Grad Ashley Nero

Focus on Alumni: Culinary Grad Ashley Nero

Mar 10, 2017

Q&A with Culinary Grad Ashley Nero

Student Ambassador Named to Tech College System

Student Ambassador Named to Tech College System

Mar 8, 2017

Mr. Shannon Shultz, Neenah, was named 2017 Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Ambassador ...

Engineering Student Earns National Scholarship

Engineering Student Earns National Scholarship

Jan 31, 2017

Eric Kovacevich, a student in the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program, received a ...

Featured Photos

Featured Videos

Spring 2017 Focus Magazine

It's all about employability in the latest issue of Focus magazine, with features highlighting students, alumni & employers in Accounting, IT, Automation and much more.

Spring 2017 Focus Magazine

Upcoming Events

29 Apr 2017

Aviation Fly-In & Open House

8 a.m.-Noon | Oshkosh Spanbauer Center

Aviation Fly-In & Open House

Either fly in or drive in for a French toast breakfast and explore the aviation training hangar and labs, visit with faculty and try out our full-motion Redbird flight simulators.

1 May 2017

1 May 2017

On Campus: Bellevue University

11 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Appleton Campus Commons

On Campus: Bellevue University

Thinking of transferring to Bellevue University?

Calendar

«April 2017»
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
262728
3/28/2017 12:30 PM
56249

Troop Talk

Troop Talk is held every other Tuesday, and will help you transition from military service to college to employment.

Read more
293031
3/31/2017
68819

2017 FVTC FFA Career Development Event

41st annual Fox Valley Technical College FFA Career Development Event, Friday, March 31, Appleton Campus

Read more
1
2378
91011
1213
1415
161718
19
20
22
2324
4/24/2017 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
70959

On Campus: Silver Lake College

Thinking of transferring to Silver Lake College?

Read more
262829
4/29/2017 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
32912

Aviation Fly-In & Open House

Either fly in or drive in for a French toast breakfast and explore the aviation training hangar and labs, visit with faculty and try out our full-motion Redbird flight simulators.

Read more
3015
5/5/2017 - 5/6/2017
48947

Wisconsin Energy Efficient Vehicle Association Challenge

Middle and high school teams from across Wisconsin will bring their concept vehicles to the college to measure efficiency, based on design criteria.

Read more
6

FVTC Social Media

Connect With Us banner

FVTC eConnect Newsletter Sign-up








CAPTCHA image
Enter the code shown above: