Students across the state get a first hand look at skilled trade jobs

Originally aired on WSAW-TV – April 3, 2019

Technical and manufacturing jobs are growing across the state but finding skilled workers to fill the positions is getting pretty difficult. To get more people interested in these types of jobs the Wisconsin Operating Engineers at Local 139 Training Center in Coloma gave students the chance to experience what it’s like to work in their industry.

On Wednesday, students and educators from more than 50 school districts in the state participated in an externship day at the training center. It’s part of an effort by the Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin to support technical education and trade skills.

The gap of find workers is a serious issue in the industry. “We face a big challenge to where there is not that many people coming into the industry and we have a lot of baby boomers like myself who are leaving it. We are trying to get the youth involved with it,” explained Brent Johnson. a retired Operating Engineer who teaches at Local 139.

The training center is a 400 acre facility that gives people the skills they need to safely operate heavy equipment and machinery. Students spent the day operating equipment, using simulators and speaking to students currently at the center.

“We appreciate being able to expose people to what we are and what we do and the good paying careers that the Operating Engineers have. This is good first step to be able to talk to the high school kids while they are still thinking about what they are going to do in their future,” said Dan Sperberg, Training Director and Vice President at Local 139.

It’s a way to show students their options after high school and get more people into this line of work at the same time.

“I came to see what this whole heavily equipment operation center was about and I am probably going to get into it more than likely,” said Tommy Diemel, Sophomore at Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

For more information on Wisconsin Virtual Academy, visit

KEYWORDS: School District Blogs

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