From left to right: Extrusion Production Manager Craig Harsch, Apprentices Evan Woodruff and Caitlyn Shackleford, HR Manager DeeAnna Deane, Extrusion Operations Supervisor Jesse Phillipi, and Maintenance Manager Dustin Steinhorst.
Teel Plastics understands that skilled labor in technical fields can be hard to find, and that this makes the support of technical education especially important in today’s economy. Participating in apprenticeship programs is one way for employers to help ensure the need for technical talent will continue to be met in their businesses and industries. Apprenticeships, beneficial to businesses and students alike, can help accelerate the entrance of trained, practically experienced technical workers into the labor force.
Teel is pleased to participate in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship (YA) program to continue to grow manufacturing’s talent pipeline. Teel has a “strong belief in apprenticeships,” said DeeAnna Deane, Teel’s training specialist. “Youth apprenticeships,” Deane added, are an “inexpensive way for students to grow into a good paying and rewarding career.”
Wisconsin’s YA program allows high school juniors and seniors to gain paid experience and academic credit for work in a chosen career pathway while they take related coursework. School districts may choose to opt in to the program with funding from Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development. Upon completion, apprentices receive a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency signed by Wisconsin’s secretary of state.
The program has successfully placed students into paying careers. David Anliker, technical education instructor at Reedsburg Area High School, oversees the apprentices from his school. “Most of our students are offered employment after graduation,” he said, adding many students “are three to five years out still working at the same employer where they apprenticed.”
Currently, Teel employs two Youth Apprentices, both students at Reedsburg High. One, Evan Woodruff, works in the Maintenance Department under Maintenance Manager Dustin Steinhorst. The other, Caitlyn Shackleford, works in the Production Department under Extrusion Operations Supervisor Jesse Phillipi. Evan and Caitlyn are not unfamiliar with the industry, as they each have a parent who works in manufacturing. Both apprentices have impressed Teel staff with their work ethic and eagerness to learn.
Evan Woodruff on Teel’s production floor
“Evan has been a valuable asset to our maintenance department. He has a great attitude and works great with all our team members….We look forward to Evan’s development as he works full time over the summer, and we hope to be a driving force for him to consider a career in manufacturing,” said Steinhorst. As for Caitlyn, she “has been a joy to work with,” said Phillipi. “She is always on time and comes into work with a positive attitude. While she is here at work she takes the initiative to learn new things and is always looking for ways to improve. You can really tell that Caitlyn is a go-getter. She is always wanting to do more and more every day and looks for the difficult tasks so she can master them.”
Evan and Caitlyn have enjoyed their time at Teel, and agree it’s been a helpful learning experience. Evan likes the wide range of work he has been assigned so far. “In my department,” he said, there are “so many varieties of projects to do.” It’s “different every day.”
Teel apprentice Caitlyn Shackleford and her Reedsburg Area High School instructor and mentor David Anliker
“I’m just more of a hands on person,” said Caitlyn, describing what drew her to manufacturing. She is enjoying her work on the production line, and especially enjoys the work of tearing down the machines at the end of the day.
Teel is glad to have Evan and Caitlyn onboard and encourages other students and businesses to get involved in the YA program.