DWD Announces a New Resource for Wisconsinites: Apprenticeship Navigators

MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has created five new Apprenticeship Navigator positions to help Wisconsinites find open apprenticeship opportunities.

Apprenticeship is an industry-driven training model that combines on-the-job learning with job-related classroom instruction. As an “earn and learn” model, apprentices are employed and earn wages from their first day on the job. Upon completion of their programs, apprentices earn an average of $80,000. Apprenticeship opportunities are available in the traditional construction, manufacturing, utility and service sectors, as well as emerging areas like healthcare, information technology, finance, transportation, biotech and agriculture.

DWD was awarded a U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Expansion grant in 2019. Using the grant funds, DWD created Apprenticeship Navigators to educate and assist people in every region of the state who are interested in becoming apprentices. It took a little more than a year to create and fill all five positions, with the last two navigators coming on board just a few weeks ago. The team will personally guide those interested in getting into a program through the Wisconsin Apprenticeship System and refer them to opportunities that meet their specific needs and professional goals.

Navigators will largely focus on underrepresented populations who have had historically low apprenticeship participation numbers. They will serve as mentors, providing details of each apprenticeship program and guiding their mentees to an apprenticeship path that fits their interests.

“Apprenticeship is for everyone,” said Joshua Johnson, director of Wisconsin Apprenticeship System. “It’s all about finding the right fit for each individual. Navigators will set individuals up for success by providing them accurate tools and resources.”

Navigators will:

  • Guide people through the various programs to determine which apprenticeship is right for them,
  • Help people develop their apprenticeship portfolio,
  • Educate people on the qualification requirements for apprenticeship programs they are interested in,
  • Connect and network with community members to help market, educate and promote apprenticeship programs, and
  • Help build a talent pool of apprentices for employers to select from.

Navigators will also assist organizations with the application process to build a certified pre-apprenticeship program.

Four out of the five navigators will work with the general public, while the fifth navigator will be dedicated to working with people who were incarcerated within the Department of Corrections (DOC). The DOC navigator will connect incarcerated men and women to certified pre-apprenticeship opportunities prior to their release. Upon reentering society, the navigator will support them in finding apprenticeship opportunities in their area.

“I’m really excited to be part of the solution to reduce recidivism and provide legit paths for folks when they leave the institution,” said DOC navigator Milton Rogers. “I feel like Wisconsin, of all places, could be a leader and develop a model that could be adopted nationwide.”

Navigators will be a valuable resources for many people, including those who are looking to change professional industries, veterans, dislocated workers, individuals with disabilities, and individuals who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.

“After woking in the private sector doing Human Resources for 30 years, I always felt that Registered Apprenticeship was the best kept secret to employment,” said Dawn Pratt, a navigator for southeast Wisconsin. “Registered Apprenticeship is an additional postsecondary opportunity that can provide a family sustaining income. This opportunity especially applies to our younger generation that do not want to be burdened with student debt.”

People interested in apprenticeship can now contact their area Apprenticeship Navigator:

Navigator Jessica Gitter (vog.nisnocsiw.dwdnull@rettig.acissej; 262-894-5624) will cover the following counties: Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Walworth, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Juneau, Vernon and Crawford.

Navigator Jessica Williams (vog.nisnocsiw.dwdnull@smailliw.eacissej; 920-404-6877) will cover the following counties: Florence, Marinette, Oconto, Menominee, Shawano, Waupaca, Outagamie, Calumet, Brown, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Door, Marinette, Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Wood, Adams, Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Burnette, Washburn, Sawyer, Rusk, Price and Taylor.

Navigator Dawn Pratt (dawn,vog.nisnocsiw.dwdnull@ttarp; 414-216-4926) will cover the following counties: Polk, Barron, St. Croix, Dunn, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Pierce, Pepin, Washington, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Winnebago, Green Lake and Waushara.

Navigator Jeff Kennedy (gro.wcsbdwnull@ydennekj; 608-249-9001 x 230) will cover the following counties: Marquette, Columbia, Dodge, Dane, Sauk, Jefferson, Richland, Iowa, Grant, Lafayette, Green and Rock.

Navigator Milton Rogers (vog.nisnocsiwnull@sregor.jnotlim; 608-266-3332) will cover Department of Corrections statewide.

View DWD’s press release here.