A new program is providing Winnebago Public School juniors and seniors with the unique opportunity to incorporate work experience into their regular class schedules.
Ten students took part in the pilot semester of the Apprenticeship Program this spring, which allowed them to spend a portion of their school day at worksites relevant to their interests.
The program, which was developed through a partnership between Ho-Chunk, Inc., the Winnebago Tribe, and Winnebago Public Schools, supports several Tribal priorities: youth, education, and jobs.
“I hear from students that they are learning a lot about a field that they are interested in, and they are getting hands-on work experience through the projects, assignments, and job-shadowing opportunities they receive from their site supervisors,” said Willy Bass, manager of Community Impact and Engagement at Ho-Chunk, Inc. “I’ve also heard from the site supervisors that their apprentices are learning and growing each week.”
The program is designed to provide students who are nearing graduation with meaningful real-world work opportunities as part of their regular class schedules so that they can build their capacity to enter the workforce career-ready, qualified, and confident.
Students were placed at a variety of worksites, including Flatwater Group, BluStone Architecture Studio, Winnebago Wildlife and Parks, Educare, and Twelve Clans Unity Hospital.
“The opportunity Ho-Chunk, Inc. offers to high school students to experience a professional environment in a short period of time is remarkable,” said Carlos Meraz, Senior Project Manager and site supervisor for the program at Blustone Architecture Studio. “The company’s mission states its goal is to provide tribal members with job opportunities, for which I believe this program is the cornerstone.”
Students who apply to the Apprenticeship Program complete an application, submit a resume with references, and undergo an interview. They also must be in good standing academically and with attendance.
The program will continue in the fall 2022 semester with a larger class and more worksite placements.
“Like any new program, we have identified areas that we already want to improve for next semester, so that is exciting,” said Willy. “This program is a demonstration of the brilliant things that can happen when community partners share common goals and collaborate to achieve them.”