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20 MATC Apprentices Awarded Jim Elliot Tools of the Trade $1,000 Scholarships
$20,000 Commitment from Great Lakes Helps More Workers Get Certified and Meet Employer Needs

January 22, 2015

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in the construction sector will grow 2.6 percent annually between 2012 and 2022, which equates to 1.6 million new jobs. Yet a lack of qualified employees is slowing the industry’s rebound after the recession, and Associated Builders and Contractors estimates a shortage of almost 2 million skilled workers nationwide by the end of the decade.

At a time when good-paying jobs are going unfilled, apprenticeship programs throughout the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) are preparing a new generation of workers for the construction and industrial trades. Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) is just one of Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges that are helping apprentices get certified to fill these in-demand positions.

Apprenticeship programs provide on-the-job training for family-supporting careers and opportunities for upward mobility. But the road to program completion is long and often fraught with financial obstacles that can deter even the most motivated apprentices. Apprenticeships combine several years of practical training with classroom instruction, and while apprentices earn modest wages on the job, they are not eligible for financial aid to help with program tuition.

Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation recently awarded $20,000 in Jim Elliot Tools of the Trade Apprentice Scholarships to keep more MATC apprentices enrolled in their programs. These $1,000 scholarships give construction and industrial trade apprentices the help they need—at any stage in their programs—to cover costs such as tuition and specialized equipment, clothes and tools.

MATC’s scholarships are part of a larger program that attracted nearly 450 applicants from across the state. This year, Great Lakes awarded $170,000 in scholarships to 170 apprentices who are attending 14 WTCS colleges.

“Great Lakes understands the apprentice’s dilemma, and we don’t want to see the cost of a welding helmet or steel-toe boots stand in the way of program completion,” said Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. “Our scholarships help Wisconsin’s hardworking apprentices cover their program costs so they can help meet employer needs for skilled workers.”

2014-2015 Jim Elliott Tools of the Trade $1,000 Apprentice Scholarship Recipients

Garett Berndt, Electricity (Construction)
Alec Brown, Electricity (Construction)
Rhubin Harris, Sprinkler Fitter
Stephen Hartung Jr., Sprinkler Fitter
Gregory Kempen, Sprinkler Fitter
Luke Klingbiel, Electricity (Construction)
Adam Lauersdorf, Sheet Metal Construction
Diana Lee, Steamfitting
Anton Levra, Steamfitting
Justin Lindberg, Steamfitting
Nicholas Makowski, Electricity (Construction)
Drew Medinger, Electricity (Construction)
Matthew Niebler, Electricity (Construction)
Jose Ojeda, Steamfitting Service/Refrigeration
Mitchell Penn, Electricity (Construction)
Ross Schuchardt, Steamfitting Service/Refrigeration
Jeremy Thrall, Electricity (Construction)
Jason Tracey, Electricity (Construction)
Val Williams, Painting & Decorating
Kenneth Woods, Painting & Decorating

MATC’s scholarship program is now in the second year of a 10-year commitment that honors Milwaukee’s Jim Elliott, a longstanding advocate for men and women in the construction trades. He has given years of service to the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates Board of Directors.

“We are grateful for the continued support from Great Lakes, which has now benefitted 40 MATC apprentices,” said Apprenticeship Coordinator Nick Triscari. “These $1,000 scholarships have already helped some of last year’s recipients complete their training and move to the next stage of their careers.”

About Great Lakes: Dedicated to making college education a reality since 1967.
Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates was established as a nonprofit group focused on a single objective: helping students nationwide prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education and student loan repayment. As a leading student loan guarantor and servicer, we have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to provide assistance and repayment planning to nearly 9 million borrowers – as well as assistance to colleges and lenders nationwide. Our group’s earnings support one of the largest and most respected education philanthropy programs in the country. Since 2006, we have committed nearly $130 million in grant funding to promote higher education access and completion for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students. For additional information, visit home.mygreatlakes.org.