Several local kids are getting to experience what it’s like to be in the workforce, and get paid, through a new Manufacturing Boot Camp in Chippewa County.
Leaders say the boot camp is giving kids who may not be going to tech school or a university, a hands-on experience of the possibilities available in their own backyard; attempting to attract and retain kids, in hopes of creating a strong local workforce.
“I think that’s a really important aspect of our program in showing that there’s opportunities here,” Exploring Executive for the Chippewa Valley Council Boy Scouts said at Thursday’s program. “There’s a large population of students who are nontraditional, so they need kind of that more hands-on piece, and they may not be as successful in a classroom, but if you get them on a workforce and get them on a job floor they’ll succeed more.”
Twenty-three local kids between 16-18 had the chance to work hands-on with local companies, while earning certifications, at no cost, they can put on their resumes.
“I’m actually going into mechanical engineering at UW-Stout,” program participant Louis Bischel said of Bloomer. “I wanted to have the view, the perspective of the people in the shop, so that when I’m designing stuff, I can see what people are doing.”
During the 6-week course, kids will work with a different local business each week.
This week, they spent time at Alliance Plastics in Chippewa Falls; learning everything from administrative to working in a tool room.
“I think one of the things that I’m finding with them is that college is really being pounded into the kids heads in the high schools, and college is a great thing for kids, but there are kids that are not going to be college bound and I don’t think they’re getting opportunities to understand that right in their back yard, people are looking for help,” said Rob Mooney, the Production Manager at Alliance Plastics.
And an incentive for the kids to complete this program, more than $1,000 in their pockets.
The funding for this program came through a prosperity grant from the state of Wisconsin.
Organizers say they would like to continue the program in the future, but will need to look to other resources to fund it.