PR Campaign Aims To Boost An Apprenticeship Program In Decline


The state’s apprenticeship program is getting a boost from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) – a response to years of declining participation among job seekers and employers.

Wisconsin was the first to establish a statewide apprenticeship program, which dates back to 1911. But in recent years, participation has declined drastically both at the state and national levels. Last year, there were just more than 9,000 apprenticeships through the program, down from more than 15,000 in 2002. In an effort to bolster the program, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newsom says they’re spending $200,000 on a public relations campaign.

“We’re going to have billboards, we’re going to have postcard displays, we’re going to have all kinds of information and public service announcements to key audiences to really get the word out about apprenticeships.”

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Newsome says the apprenticeship program hits the skills gap head-on. He says the information campaign is about changing the perceptions that skilled trades are dumb, dirty and dangerous.

“We’re here to say that apprenticeships and people that go into the skilled trades have higher wages, higher opportunities; they also come out, in terms of going to an apprenticeship or going to a technical college, with less student debt.

Newsome says DWD will also work to educate employers about how apprenticeships may benefit them. In his biennial budget, Governor Scott Walker included $2 million for the state’s apprenticeship program, which comes from a federal grant.