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Earn As You Learn

Apprenticeship is a state-certified training program that provides an opportunity for you to enter a skilled occupation and achieve journey-level status. It is a formalized training program in which you "earn while you learn" offering on-the-job training (OJT) combined with classroom related instruction. As an apprentice you are registered with the state through a legal agreement called an indenture, if the employer agrees to teach you a trade. Apprentices are paid a percentage of the skilled journeyperson rate.

Facts and Questions about Apprenticeship

  • About apprenticeship in Wisconsin
    • Wisconsin’s Apprenticeship System began in 1911, the same year the current Wisconsin Technical College System was founded.
    • Today the apprenticeship process is a formal arrangement involving employers, unions, state government, technical colleges, and individuals who want to learn a skilled craft. Apprenticeship combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Many women and minorities have discovered the opportunity for good paying, non-traditional careers through apprenticeship.
  • What is an apprenticeable occupation?
    • Federal Regulations define an apprenticeable occupation as one that:
      • Is customarily learned in a practical way through a structured, systematic program of supervised on-the-job training.
      • Is clearly identified and commonly recognized throughout an industry.
      • Involves manual, mechanical or technical skills and knowledge and requires a minimum of 2,000 hours of on-the-job work experience.
      • Requires related instruction to supplement the on-the-job training. Such instruction may be given in a classroom, through correspondence courses, self-study, or other means of approved instruction.
  • What are some of the benefits of apprenticeship?
    • A well-planned, properly administered apprenticeship program will:
      • Attract adequate numbers of highly qualified applicants
      • Reduce absenteeism
      • Reduce turnover
      • Increase productivity
      • Reduce cost of training
      • Facilitate compliance with Federal and State Equal Employment Opportunity requirements
      • Improve community relations
      • Improve employee relations
      • Ensure availability of related technical instruction
      • Enhance problem-solving ability of craftworkers
      • Ensure versatility of craftworkers
  • The meaning of apprenticeship:
    • An Apprenticeship is training strategy that:
      • combines supervised, structured on-the-job training with related theoretical instruction and is sponsored by employers or labor/management groups with the ability to hire and train in an employment setting.
      • has the training content, both on-the-job and in the classroom, defined and directed by the needs of the employing industry, with the length of training determined by the specific occupation within the industry.
      • has laws and regulations clearly establishing minimum requirements for protecting the welfare of the apprentice, e.g. length of training, type and amount of related instruction, supervision, appropriate ratio of apprentices to journeyperson, selection and recruitment, wage progression, safety, etc.
      • leads to Certificate of Completion and official journeyperson status which has explicit meaning, recognition, and respect in the eyes of federal and state government and relevant industries.
      • represents a sizeable investment on the part of the employer or labor/management program sponsor.
      • pays wages to its participants, and these wages increase throughout the training in accordance with a predefined wage progression scale.
      • has participants learn by working directly under the supervision and instruction of a master in the craft, trade, or relevant occupational area.
      • involves a detailed written agreement with roles and obligations defined and signed by the apprentice, the employer, and ratified by the government.
  • The meaning of apprenticeship is not:
    • Any educational training program that does not include the components listed above--particularly:
      • curriculum content defined exclusively by the workplace
      • a written agreement between the participant, sponsor, and state
      • wage requirements
      • the social contact that exists between participants and their sponsors
      • is not apprenticeship training.
      • Programs such as cooperative education, School-to-Work programs such as tech prep, youth apprenticeship, and two plus two (or three or four), or summer or part-time work are promoted as different ways to achieve an adequately prepared workforce--today's badly needed bottom line. While each of these programs can help achieve this bottom line, they should not be confused with apprenticeship, which prepares individuals to go to work fully trained with skills that enable them to perform effectively in the workplace.
  • Who is eligible?
    • Qualifications:
      • Must be at least 18 years of age (or 17 with parental/guardian consent)
      • High school diploma or equivalent
      • Meet required norms on aptitude test (if required)
  • How do I prepare for apprenticeship?
    • High school courses important for a successful apprenticeship include reading, writing, mathematics, and science. Shop courses can also be helpful. Work experience also helps show prospective employers the applicant’s capabilities and interest in the apprenticeship.
  • How long will it take to complete?
    • Apprenticeships can be as short as two years for some occupations. But in most apprentice occupations, both the classroom instruction and on-the-job training will be successfully completed in three to five years.
  • What are the costs?
    • Successful employers realize that a sound apprenticeship program is not merely a cost but also an investment in the future of their industries.
    • Experience indicates that apprentices are motivated, learn their jobs faster, attain craftworker status sooner and are more likely to become supervisors than workers trained in other ways.
    • In Wisconsin the apprentice is paid a salary while learning. The employer may also pay all required schooling costs. The rate of pay during the apprenticeship averages 60 percent of the salary a skilled worker would earn in that occupation.
  • Are there specific requirements?
    • In the service and manufacturing industries, the applicant must apply directly to an employer. Most employers require applicants to have a minimum of a high school equivalency and a general aptitude for the trade.
    • Construction apprenticeship is usually coordinated through an Area Apprenticeship Committee, which has the authority to select and place apprentice applicants. They recruit, screen, and refer qualified applicants to area employers. Some committees require qualifying tests; these tests vary a great deal in both scope and duration.
  • What's the first step?
    • To become an apprentice in the state of Wisconsin, you must first be indentured by the State Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards. Becoming indentured requires that the applicant decide which apprenticeable trades are of interest and find out the qualifications of that area.
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