Apprenticeship Milestone Portends Promising Future

This shop has been training new toolmakers for decades, but its newest apprentice took a different track than most: he started hands-on work on the floor while still in high school.

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 Seated (left to right): Joshua Johnson, Apprenticeship Training Representative; Michael Nareski; Craig Lau, Vice President of Dynamic Tool & Design. Standing (left to right): Erin Cherney, WCTC Youth Apprenticeship, Youth Options, & Course Options Coordinator; Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson; WCTC DEA Coordinator Sandra Maylen; David Miller, President of Dynamic Tool & Design; WCTC Dean of Applied Technologies Mike Shiels. (Photo courtesy of Dynamic Tool & Design).

Becoming a registered toolmaking apprentice was certainly a big moment for Michael Nareski, shown above signing the contract on July 29. Yet, it was also significant for the shop where he’ll pursue that apprenticeship, Dynamic Tool & Design, and the reasons for that go beyond having another hand on the floor. Although Dynamic has decades of experience in grooming new toolmakers, Nareski was the first to begin while he was still in high school. This has not only accelerated his personal development as a toolmaker, but saved time and money for the shop as well.

Nareski, who graduated from high school this past June, was able to pursue hands-on instruction three days a week during his senior year. That was possible through Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship (YA) Program, which helps prepare young people for post-secondary education or registered apprenticeships like the one Nareksi is now pursuing. Notably, much of his classroom instruction involved not high school courses, but college-level material. That’s because Nareski is among the first-ever graduates of the Dual Enrollment Academy (DEA), a program developed by the Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), eight local companies and thirteen local high schools that allows high school seniors to earn technical college credits while they develop skills required to enter the workforce.

When Nareski signed the aforementioned contract, he became the first DEA graduate to apply the academy’s curriculum and YA hours to his registered apprenticeship (RA). Although he still has plenty of classroom time ahead of him at WCTC, the six courses he’s already taken amount to 250 hours of the 576 required by the RA program, says Mike Shiels, WCTC Dean of Applied Technologies. That saves Dynamic Tool the cost of his wages for 250 hours and the cost of the apprenticeship class tuition. Nareski also has more time to work toward the 9,824 hours of on-the-job learning required for RA.   

Dave Miller, president of Dynamic Tool & Design, says he and the rest of the shop’s leadership hope to pull as many of the shop’s future apprentices as possible from the YA and DEA programs. Previous trainees typically started with RA programs, he explains, often approaching the shop only after completing their coursework. Some tried their hands at other industries prior to becoming toolmakers. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, he emphasizes, pointing out that many of these folks have grown to become some of the shop’s most capable personnel. However, there are advantages to starting early that go beyond getting a head start. “It really comes down to the enthusiasm that I see in Michael and the other young people in this program,” he said during an interview for a recent article on the factors that led the shop to take home this year’s Leadtime Leader: Honorable Mention award. “At a pretty young age, they’ve really determined that this is what they want to do, and they’re going beyond what someone would normally do in high school. We like that enthusiasm and that drive.”

For more information on this development, peruse Dynamic Tool & Design’s blog, where you’ll find more details on Nareski’s graduation, the schools and programs he was involved in, and the shop’s other workforce development efforts.  

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