The Green Bay Area School District wants to give a jump start to kids thinking of jobs in manufacturing. Beginning in the fall, one of Green Bay's high schools will start a welding program in partnership with private companies.
When school starts up again in September, juniors and seniors at Green Bay West High School can sign up to join Bay Link Manufacturing. It's a partnership between the public schools, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and private manufacturers.
It's a sort of accelerated shop class, where students like junior Paris Coleman will be able to get real life job experience while accumulating both high school and technical college credits. “I want to be a carpenter,” Colman said, “and I think it'll help me in the long run, working hands on.”
Bay Link Manufacturing will cost almost $400,000. The two schools will pay half the cost; the rest is being sought in donations from area businesses that need small parts made for them.
Lori Peacock coordinates the program for the Green Bay school district. She says Bay Link is unique among Wisconsin's urban school districts in Northeastern Wisconsin. Some smaller districts have similar projects. Besides making components for factories, Peacock says students will also have to figure out labor costs and marketing plans.
Peacock says Bay Link won't drain private sector jobs. “We did due diligence before we started this program and there are a lot of job opportunities for these small manufacturing job shops,” she said, “so we don't feel like it will take business away from anyone.”
Students in the program will be in the welding shop three hours every school day. They won't get paid a wage, but in their first year will earn 5 credits to transfer to a technical college after they graduate.