Nov 18, 2012

Edgerton students learn local trades, get paid doing it

Excerpted from Janesville Gazette
By Neil Johnson

It was 7:45 a.m. on a Thursday, and high school junior Dylan Counter already had been at work nearly two hours at Componex in Edgerton.

Across the plant floor, sophomore Kaleb Kruckenberg eyed a computer monitor as he tapped a metal balancing rod into the end of a finished aluminum shaft.

This was work but also school for Counter and Kruckenberg. They are guinea pigs—picks of the guinea pig litter, actually—for “Pipeline to Employment,” a new public-private work-study program between the Edgerton School District and several area businesses. Componex, a small Edgerton company that manufactures precision aluminum rollers for printing, laminating and product packaging, chose Counter and Kruckenberg from a pool of five Edgerton High School students who applied eight weeks ago for a new, paid internship and apprenticeship program at the plant.

The program is the first of a host of potential planned partnerships, and it’s being trumpeted as a big win for the school district and local manufacturers.

District officials say it gives students a jump on learning real-life job skills. Business owners say the program grooms students for potential future careers in the local workforce at a time when industries nationally are battling the “skills gap”—a critical shortage of workers with the talents needed for precision work in manufacturing and technology fields.

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