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Manufacturing Month: A paid-training path to $44-an-hour

Posted at 6:09 PM, Oct 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-18 19:16:06-04

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WGBA) — Weekdays start as early as 6 a.m. for Nathan Wickesberg.

The senior at Shiocton High School is part of the Youth Apprentice program at Plumbers & Steamfitters UA Local 400, which is based in Kaukauna.

"Typically I'll start around 6 or 7 [a.m.], I go to work until 10:30, then it's time to go to school," Wickesberg said.

The Youth Apprentice program offers high school juniors and seniors approximately $16-an-hour for work with a local employer, and a chance to learn if a career in the trades is right for them, said Trevor Martin, business manager for Local 400.

More than 20 high schoolers are currently part of the program, Martin said.

After high school graduation, Wickesberg plans to take the next step toward a career in the trades by becoming an apprentice.

The five-year apprentice program offers pay beginning at $22-an-hour.

Apprentices in the pipe trades train for work that " in immense demand right now," Martin said.

"Our slogan is 'Earn while you learn,'" Martin said.

"There's absolutely no debt attached to this [apprenticeship] training program."

Edward Chavez is in his third year of the apprenticeship program.

"The career prospects [in the pipe trades], it's amazing, it's [a] life-changing opportunity," Chavez said.

Someone who successfully completes the apprenticeship becomes a journey worker, with starting pay of $44-an-hour.

"I feel like the pipe trades will give you that competitive wage... that you can actually live [comfortably] every day," Chavez said.

Pipefitters perform work for industries ranging from utilities, to paper, to food, Martin said.

"We build, service, and maintain the manufacturing industry," Martin said.


Throughout October, manufacturing month, NBC 26 is reporting on manufacturing in northeast Wisconsin.

Click here to read about the Ashwaubenon company that makes parts for submarines and aircraft carriers.

Click here to read about the former movie theater location that was transformed into a tent-manufacturing factory.