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Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary
Jill Underly, State Superintendent
Department of Workforce Development
201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
MADISON – As Wisconsin schools face an ongoing workforce challenge, Gov. Tony Evers' Administration and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly are collaborating on a new Teacher Apprenticeship pilot program set to launch in fall 2024. Gov. Evers announced the pilot last week in his 2024 State of the State Address.
"We must work to retain and recruit talented educators who work every day to do what’s best for our kids," Gov. Evers said. "Recent estimates show only 67% of new educators in Wisconsin make it past five years. Traditional educator preparation programs can be expensive, as they often require unpaid student teaching, which might not be feasible for low-income students, nontraditional students, or individuals looking to change careers. The new teacher apprenticeship pilot program will help address issues in turnover and retention, reduce barriers, and encourage young people to enter the field."
This earn-while-you-learn model provides a sustainable talent pipeline to help school districts fill open teacher positions in the future while filling their paraprofessional jobs now.
Wisconsin will have a projected 6,000 teacher position openings annually over the next 10 years in preschool, primary, secondary, and special education, state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) data shows. More than 2,600 teachers leave the profession annually. And, according to the Department of Public Instruction's (DPI) most recent Educator Preparation Program and Workforce Analysis Report, the state faces challenges in attracting students to programs to train teachers as well as a hiring and retaining these professionals once trained.
"Apprenticeship is a 112-year-old workforce solution to a current workforce need. This new pilot program adds to our current efforts to build a workforce prepared to meet the needs of the modern economy,” DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said. “Gov. Evers declared 2024 as the Year of the Worker, and DWD remains committed to working with partners to support and strengthen the pipeline of skilled educators. By investing in training for Wisconsin teachers today, we're investing in the educators, carpenters, doctors, engineers, welders, and counselors of tomorrow.”
The teacher apprenticeship pilot program incorporates an associate and bachelor's degree. Apprentices will complete education requirements, certifications, and license requirements while learning to be a teacher through both on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Through classroom instruction, apprentices will gain an associate degree through the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), then move to Lakeland University through existing transfer agreements to earn a bachelor's degree. Apprentices who meet all program requirements will gain a Provisional License through DPI.
"Every child in Wisconsin deserves high-quality, well-prepared, and dedicated teachers. Teachers who come up through teacher apprenticeship will receive the mentorship and preparation needed to lead effective classrooms, and by paying them for their work, apprentice teachers will be able to focus solely on their learning and not on supplemental jobs," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly.
The pilot program trains teachers for instruction in elementary and middle school classrooms. It follows other successful education pathways, including early childhood educator and pharmacy technician apprenticeships. Future teacher apprenticeship opportunities will follow the pilot in the 2025-2026 school year.
"We're excited to be part of this innovative partnership that will fill a need for classroom teachers," said Lakeland University President Dr. Beth Borgen. "Lakeland has a history of innovation, and this is just one more way that we use this innovative tenet to serve our communities, students and the state of Wisconsin."
“The Wisconsin Technical College System and our colleges worked closely with DWD to help develop this apprenticeship,” said Morna K. Foy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System. “The WTCS Foundations of Teacher Education program is the base education being used for the paid-related-instruction from the associate level as the student moves through to the bachelor degree level. The apprenticeship model has been helping solve employee shortages for over 100 years, and now it will help solve the shortage of teachers in Wisconsin, which is a win for everyone.”
Wisconsin was the first in the nation with a registered apprenticeship program and is unique among the 50 states in requiring employers to pay their apprentices for both time worked and time spent in required classroom instruction. This recognizes the importance of a dual training system that combines skills obtained on the job site with technical knowledge in the classroom.
Gov. Evers in November announced Wisconsin’s Registered Apprenticeship program reached a record 16,384 enrolled apprentices in 2023. Additionally, Gov. Evers and DWD celebrated record-breaking Youth Apprenticeships during the 2021-2022 school year with 8,357 participants and 5,719 employers. Youth Apprenticeship, which started in 1991 as the first program of its kind in the nation, is a strong connector to Registered Apprenticeship programs.
Visit WisconsinApprenticeship.com to learn more.
Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.