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Letter to the editor: Apprenticeships are the solution

To the editor:

On July 30, The Daily Reporter wrote an article regarding training dollars shrinking in the state of Wisconsin. The article referenced a skills gap and shortage of workers trained in certain areas.

Perhaps more time should be focused on success. The state of Wisconsin implemented apprenticeships in 1911 as a direct result of a “shortage of skilled workers.” Programs and partnerships were put in place for the industry to develop its own labor force.

Partnerships were developed in the construction industry, in particular, and still remain in place between organized labor and signatory contractors to implement, oversee and pay for training of its own work force.

Individuals are employed with a contractor and learn their trade with the oversight of representatives from the union and employing contractors. That creates a Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee.

The JATC develops the training needed, monitors progression and pays for the cost of that training. The apprentice is paid to learn, all done with oversight of the Department of Workforce Development, at no cost to the community.

Additional programs such as WRTP/BIG STEP, a program that prepares individuals to enter into the construction industry, are also funded by a contribution by signatory employers as a result of a collective bargaining agreement.

I find it interesting that the current governor would remove the training requirement of Executive Order 108, the order that required apprenticeship training on state-funded projects, and then a few months later ask how the industry is to find a qualified work force.

Perhaps we should focus on apprenticeships and allow each industry to pay for its own work force development. It works well on the union side of the construction industry, at no burden to the taxpayers. It will work well throughout all industries.

Joe Weisling
training administrator,
Southeast Wisconsin Carpentry Training Center

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