Mar 5, 2013

State taking notice of Edgerton school-manufacturer partnership

Excerpted from Janesville Gazette
By Neil Johnson

Edgerton High School’s Pipeline to Employment, the district’s new intern partnership with area manufacturers, might soon need a new name.

Instead of a pipeline, it’s becoming a multi-lane highway for students to learn trades and gain job skills.

Since it started last fall, the internship and training program has been turning heads locally as more industries in and around Edgerton jump on board. It’s also grabbed the attention of state officials.

Monday, Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch visited the tech ed department at Edgerton High School. Kleefisch also accompanied Edgerton school officials and a handful of students during tours of Edgerton Gear and Componex, two Edgerton industries that participate in Pipeline to Employment.

About a half-dozen companies have hired as paid interns a few Edgerton High School students who the companies say fit the mold of employees they’d put on the fast track. The students are well rounded in math, science and English; they communicate well; and most of all, the companies say, they’re interested in careers in manufacturing.

The program is designed to funnel students toward manufacturing careers and, for some employers, to create an employment farm system that includes training for specific skills and reimbursement for college coursework and technical training.

Kleefisch’s visit allowed the school district to put a spotlight on a style of partnership that Edgerton Gear owner Dave Hataj said reminds him of how industry worked decades ago, when his father, the late Dick Hataj, founded his company.

Hataj said the company is looking to the program to narrow the so-called skills gap—the lack of enough skilled laborers—that employers say has made it tough to expand in a tepid economic recovery.

But he said local employers also are trying to shatter high school students’ perception that manufacturing is dirty, unskilled work.

“Our role is to elevate the status of manufacturing,” he said.

Read the full article.