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Apache helps state land $2 million grant for career pathways
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Apache helps state land $2 million grant for career pathways

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Apache Stainless provided the background on Wednesday for the announcement of a $2 million New Skills for Youth grant for the state of Wisconsin.

Ed Paradowski, president of Apache Stainless, said the grant was from JP Morgan Chase and is a three-year grant that will allow the state to build on existing efforts to provide career readiness.

Paradowski served on the planning committee for Wisconsin and has been actively engaged in helping to advocate for the grant.

The New Skills for Youth grant is part of the Council of Chief State School Officers career readiness initiative.

The grant funding will support the new regional career pathways project, which will draw on CEOs within four pilot regions to connect workforce-relevant education and training to meet local industry needs.

The goal of the Wisconsin Regional Career Pathways Project is to increase the number of students who successfully complete career pathways that begin in high school and end with degrees that will link the students to jobs.

“It connects educational opportunity to workplaces,” Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said.

Apache is a good example of a business that provides a partnership between private business and public partnership, Evers said.

“Beaver Dam did a good job with the referendum this last semester that is all about the kids, college, technical education and career readiness,” Evers said. “It’s going to make a difference in kids’ lives.”

Evers said it is more than a career-to-work and technical college issue. There are opportunities for students going to four year colleges.

“It makes sure the kids are career and college ready,” Evers said.

Middle schools and high schools will look different because of the grant.

Michelle Williams, executive director at JP Morgan Chase, said her company knows there is on ongoing need with youths to help them prepare for careers after graduation.

The $75 million, five-year global initiative by JP Morgan Chase made Wisconsin one of the 10 recipients, Williams said.

“Wisconsin proved to be shovel ready,” Williams said. “They said, ‘This is what we can do, and we can do it immediately.’”

Paradowski said one of the challenges with traditional education was people saw good students as going onto college while plan B was working in local factories. However the factories are not plan B, offering great opportunities for the future of the students, he said.

Nick Buchda, a regional sales manager Apache, began with the company through the youth apprentice program when he was a 16-year-old student at Beaver Dam High School.

“I thought I wanted to be a machinist,” Buchda said.

Buchda said he learned he liked to weld and did that job for 10 years before he realized he’d like to work closer with the customers of the company. He has been in that role for the last five years.

“Youth apprenticeship provided me with the path and manufacturing provided me with the landscape for me to get where I am today,” Buchda said.

“Our agency is committed to advancing training opportunities that help Wisconsin youths enter the workforce with in-demand careers,” Department of Workforce Development Secretary Ray Allen said.

It is important to remember that four-year colleges play an important role in this, Allen said. Even when people go to work directly after high school they often times go back to school and spend at least some time on college campuses, with many getting four-year degrees.

“We’ve had a lot of success with grant applications, but this one is truly exciting,” Wisconsin Technical College System president Morna Foy said. “JP Morgan Chase recognized a thriving public-private partnership and the strategic value to Wisconsin of its work to support student success and advance the state’s economy.”

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