EXPANDED GREAT LAKES COMMITMENT HELPS MEET NEED FOR MORE SKILLED WORKERS IN THE TRADES
Madison, Wis., January 20, 2015 —With 83% of construction firms having difficulty finding qualified professional workers, as reported to the Associated General Contractors of America in a fall 2014 survey, training workers to alleviate this shortage is a critical priority for our country.
To fill these in-demand positions, apprenticeship programs throughout the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) are preparing a new generation of workers for the construction and industrial trades. These programs provide on-the-job training for family-supporting careers and opportunities for upward mobility. But the road to program completion is long and often fraught with financial obstacles that can deter even the most motivated apprentices.
Apprenticeships combine several years of practical training with classroom instruction, and while apprentices earn modest wages on the job, they are not eligible for financial aid to help with program tuition. Additionally, the cost of specialized equipment, tools and clothing for their trades can present serious financial challenges. That's why Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation is supporting WTCS apprentices on their journey to professional certification.
"Great Lakes understands the apprentice's dilemma, and we don't want to see the cost of a welding helmet or steel-toe boots stand in the way of program completion," said President and Chief Executive Officer Richard D. George. "We created the Tools of the Trade $1,000 Apprentice Scholarship to help hardworking apprentices cover their program costs so they can help meet employer needs for skilled workers."
Great Lakes awarded $170,000 in scholarships this month to 170 construction and industrial trade apprentices attending 14 WTCS colleges. Recipients have a diverse array of life experiences, including military veterans, single parents, recent high school graduates and displaced workers. Each received $1,000 to help cover out-of-pocket expenses and keep them enrolled in their programs.
Terry Glasheen of Oshkosh worked in a mill for 31 years before it closed, and is now training in the Maintenance Mechanic/Millwright program at Fox Valley Technical College to improve his prospects in the job market. He said, "I'm not afraid of hard work, but in today's economy I need to have the knowledge and credentials that completing an apprenticeship will bring. This scholarship will help me deal with the loss of income and get me the tools I need to advance my career."
Great Lakes introduced this scholarship program in 2013 at Milwaukee Area Technical College, and expanded the opportunity to all 16 WTCS colleges in fall 2014. This year's Tools of the Trade $1,000 Apprentice Scholarship attracted nearly 450 applicants.
"We look forward to learning the impact of this scholarship, as measured by the number of apprentices who complete their training and build rewarding careers in the construction and industrial trades," George said.
2014-2015 Tools Of The Trade $1,000 Apprentice Scholarships
BLACKHAWK TECHNICAL COLLEGE
CHIPPEWA VALLEY TECHNICAL COLLEGE
FOX VALLEY TECHNICAL COLLEGE
GATEWAY TECHNICAL COLLEGE
LAKESHORE TECHNICAL COLLEGE
MID-STATE TECHNICAL COLLEGE
MILWAUKEE AREA TECHNICAL COLLEGE
MORAINE PARK TECHNICAL COLLEGE
NORTHCENTRAL TECHNICAL COLLEGE
NORTHEAST WISCONSIN TECHNICAL COLLEGE
SOUTHWEST WISCONSIN TECHNICAL COLLEGE
WAUKESHA COUNTY TECHNICAL COLLEGE
WESTERN TECHNICAL COLLEGE