McFarlane Manufacturing is working to create a talent pipeline in its communities through an apprenticeship program that gives high school students opportunities to gain real-world employment experience.
“They earn an honest wage, and they earn high school credits in the process,” said production manager Greg Schinker. “It allows them to understand what career opportunities are available to them… see what they like and what they don’t like at a relatively young age. And we’re providing an informed, competent, productive workforce for the future.”
The students are expected to work about 450 hours each year. Last year, five teens worked as apprentices at McFarlane.
Most apprentices have stayed with the program for two years. One has joined the company full time, and another completed the program and won a four-year partial scholarship from McFarlane.
“It’s pretty cool being able to participate with those young adults and to see the lights go on,” general manager Todd Lassanske said. “It’s been eye opening to see how much our team members embrace their presence as well. I look at some of what these young folks are experiencing as a junior or senior in high school. I didn’t get that experience as a junior or senior in college. For them to be able to do that is pretty amazing.”
The program does not designate special projects for the apprentices but rather places them in the work force as a team member.
“I think initially there was an assumption that these young kids couldn’t work in a manufacturing environment,” Lassanske said. “Really, they can do just about everything in our facility outside of operate a forklift and a crane. So it’s been really cool to watch. They really do come in and they’re part of the team.”
Schinker characterized the program as low-risk and high-reward.
“Whether they work at McFarlane for four months, four years or 40 years, they’re going to learn something, and they’re going to take something away from that experience,” he said.
Source: The Sauk Prairie Eagle | Member since 1976 | flexharrow.com