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Scott Walker, Governor
Raymond Allen, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Tuesday, June 7, 2016
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/news/
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Deputy Secretary Maxwell Highlights Youth Apprenticeship Program during Take your Legislator to Work Visit

Successful partnership highlighted at Yakfab Metals Incorporated in Oconto

OCONTO – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Deputy Secretary Georgia Maxwell and Representative John Nygren, Marinette, visited Yakfab Metals Incorporated in Oconto and highlighted DWD's Youth Apprenticeship (YA) program as a vital workforce development strategy that is helping meet the needs of Wisconsin employers.

"Thousands of students develop in-demand skills every year through Wisconsin's Youth Apprenticeship program, and employers like Yakfab are experiencing the benefits of the program first-hand as they effectively address their need for skilled talent," Governor Scott Walker said. "Employers in communities across Wisconsin are collaborating with state and local partners to advance this proven strategy to address the skills gap."

This is Yakfab's first year being involved in the YA program and it is already paying dividends for their business. A successful small business, Yakfab continues to have a need for skilled workers to keep up with the demand for their products and Wisconsin's YA program is helping meet that need. Yakfab Metals Incorporated is a custom metal fabrication and specialized CNC matching business that services the marine, agriculture, fire suppression, food service, aviation and defense industries. The business was founded in 2002 by cousins Paul and Jason Viestenz.

"It's encouraging to see employers like Yakfab take advantage of the many resources that are available to help them fill their labor market needs," Deputy Secretary Maxwell said. "These innovations are made possible through strong alignment of workforce, education and economic development resources. We urge other employers to learn more about the talent development solutions that are available to Wisconsin employers through the Department of Workforce Development and regional partners."

In April, Governor Walker signed legislation consolidating funding for YA and Registered Apprenticeship workforce training programs into a single appropriation, providing greater flexibility to meet the demand for skilled workers by allocating funding to talent development programs based on employer demands.

Yakfab executives say they are pleased with the Youth Apprenticeship program.

"We felt an obligation to provide on-the-job-training for machining and welding at the high school level because Oconto is a small town and there is not much opportunity to achieve experience in this line of work," said co-owner Paul Viestenz. "The Youth Apprenticeship program is a great way to help students gain those much needed experiences."

"YA also helps Yakfab’s long-term goal of training and retaining skilled employees for long-term employment for our hometown of Oconto," adds co-owner Jason Viestenz. "Students who participate in the YA program tend to be more dedicated employees even after graduation."

Established in 1991, Wisconsin's YA program is part of a statewide School-to-Work initiative. It is designed for high school juniors and seniors who want hands-on learning in an occupational area at a worksite along with classroom instruction. The YA placement at Yakfab Metals Inc. is a partnership between DWD and Oconto High School.

More information about the Youth Apprenticeship program