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From novice to pro in 2 years: New diesel technician apprenticeship at NTC

Diesel workspace
Diesel workspace(wsaw)
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 9:54 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Northcentral Technical College is teaming up with the Department of Workforce Development to offer a new diesel mechanic apprenticeship program that takes students from novice to professional in two years.

“What makes this apprenticeship unique is that it’s the first in the U.S. that embeds the technical diploma for the college within the apprenticeship,” said Director of Apprenticeship Standards for the Department of Workforce Development David Polk.

Employers like it because businesses that offer apprenticeships have an 80% retention rate.

“We can get these students at the high school level at the youth apprenticeship, as they get through the youth apprenticeship we can move them through the registered apprenticeship,” said General Manager of Wausau’s Kenworth branch Cory Heckendorf.

The knowledge they get in the course can also help them advance in the field.

“As they get more seasoned in their career, they can take that certification not only anywhere in the state, but anywhere in the world,” Polk said.

Worker shortages are hitting the diesel industry at least as much as others.

“I run one of the smallest stores in Wisconsin Kenworth and we’re still short close to 12 employees,” Heckendorf said.

Polk says that shortage has a domino effect on supply chain problems: everything from less food and other products getting on store shelves, to less infrastructure materials going to areas where improvements are needed. That causes more wear on the trucks that are out there, causing further backup for servicing.

“The trucks are running long on the road, which means more miles, more maintenance on them, and it’s flooding the dealerships and the individual repair shops, and we’re at capacity,” said Heckendorf.

The program is hoping to attract a wide range of students because of the future it can promise to the graduates.

“Because they’re so sought after right now, that drives the price up for an experienced diesel technician,” Polk said.

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