MPS students get a jump-start on career path with youth apprenticeship program

MILWAUKEE -- Every year, thousands of teenagers graduate from high school with no clear direction -- but what if that path were already laid out for them?

"As soon as I graduate, I get to move into a career -- and it's a good career," said Ethan Sanchez, Harley-Davidson youth apprentice.

That's the case for Sanchez, a senior at Bradley Tech High School and one of four Milwaukee Public School youth apprentices at Harley-Davidson who is earning college credits through Milwaukee Area Technical College.

"It's a way for employers to fast track their employees by taking a youth apprentice and training him or her and then bringing them on as registered apprentices, permanent employees upon graduation from high school," said Terri Salzer, MPS Youth Apprentice Coordinator.

Several youth apprentices at the an event at Harley-Davidson on Friday, Sept. 28, celebrated their transition into registered apprentices. Salzer said most young people have no idea of the different careers and the different companies out there-- and what jobs are available.


Last year, MPS had 80 youth apprentices. This year, they're trying for 150.

The program is in high schools across the state and Governor Scott Walker wants it to expand to 7th and 8th grades.

"We think the sooner students start thinking about their careers and start interacting with people in those careers, the more likely they are to graduate and graduate with a game plan for the career going forth," said Walker.

After a rigorous application process, Sanchez started his youth apprenticeship at Harley-Davidson in July -- and it sparked a sense of purpose.

"It's more determination to graduate," said Sanchez. "It gives you sort of a sense of drive."

MPS' Youth Apprenticeship Program offers 11 career pathways. The most popular being: manufacturing, health services and information technology.

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