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Report: Salaries increase for apprenticeship workers


A new report shows construction apprentices are earning more money, with some earning wages that almost rival those with a bachelor's degree.

To educators at Mid-State Technical College, the benefits of an apprenticeship program are nothing new.

"Apprenticeship was one of Wisconsin's best-kept secrets. But it shouldn't be," said Ryan Kawski, Dean of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering and Transportation, Natural Resources and Construction at Mid-State.

Enrollment is up this year in Mid-State's apprenticeship programs. The "earn while you learn model is what's attracting most students."

"The apprenticeship program requires 90 percent of time to be on the job skilled, so it's on the job learning," Kawski said.

New data from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute shows that training is paying off.

In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree earned about $69k that year. But workers from apprenticeship programs weren't far off, earning about $67k that year.

"Construction is not low-skilled work," said Frank Manzo, policy director with MEPI.

Manzo said there's often a stigma surround the construction industry. He said one reason for the pay increases is that there's more demand than ever for skilled tradespeople in Wisconsin.

"Unfortunately our roads are crumbling, our bridges are in need of repair, and so there's a high demand for workers to fix the infrastructure that we already have," Manzo said.

He said these numbers suggest that in the long term, apprenticeship programs could help bolster the middle class in more ways than one.

"These apprenticeship programs in construction offer Wisconsin's workers pathways into middle class trades that are in high demand, again without any student debt, and will continue to do so."

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