High school education moves to the work place

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published July 1, 1994  | July 1994 issue

High school education will leap into the financial industry in western Wisconsin as the Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship Program expands into 13 additional school districts.

Beginning this fall students in the six-county western region, centered in La Crosse, can earn credits toward graduation and a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency recognized by Wisconsin financial institutions, according to La Crosse Lagoon High School teacher Agnate O'Hern. The certificate helps students secure jobs in banking and assists financial institutions in selecting experienced workers.

"The students will be educated in a number of positions," says Ellen Holt of the State Bank of La Crosse. By the end of the program, participants are expected to develop skills in teller functions, account services, consumer lending and operations. Students can apply their education to technical school, college or work following graduation, says O'Hern.

Financial institutions hope to find young, reliable employees. State Bank of La Crosse is investing a "tremendous amount" of work in the program, says Holt, who views the program as a valuable community service for students making career choices, not just a recruiting opportunity for the bank.

About 30 area financial institutions will provide mentors for students and instructors to help teach the classroom component. They will interview and hire one or more students who will work between 12 and 20 hours a week during the school year and full time during the summer.

The statewide Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship Program leads the nation in providing practical vocational training and bringing together secondary school educators and business associates.

Two preliminary apprenticeships in the printing industry began in 1992. This year the program continues to expand into additional regions and vocations, such as finance, auto technology, engineering and metalworking.

The regional program will expand into a variety of businesses in the future, according to regional coordinator Cheryl Hanson. She is organizing a preliminary curriculum on hospitality in response to western Wisconsin's thriving tourism industry. Programs in insurance and health care are also likely.

Rob Grunewald