With the current state of the ongoing pandemic, many areas are struggling to fill in-demand positions, and one of the industries that have been hit the hardest is education. In Milwaukee, early childhood education provider Next Door is looking to change this with the introduction of their apprenticeship program that is dedicated to building an education worker pool in the area.
Potential participants who are interested in a career in early childhood education can apply and simultaneously work to complete their associate's degree in early childhood education from Milwaukee Area Technical College while also completing paid work hours inside Next Door's classrooms.
The children that these apprenticeships serve are often from under-resourced neighborhoods who really need the extra support when it comes to workers. Many of the participants are people who have grown up in the area and believe they can make a lasting impact on these kids because they know exactly what they are going through.
"There’s just a huge shortage of teachers but it's really worse in early childhood. A lot of people think they have to have experience and training and we’re saying yes, in the past you did, but we’re going to train you and we’re going to give you the classes you need so you can start here as an assistant teacher."
Tracey Sparrow, President of Next Door
This apprenticeship program is funded through grants received from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development as well as partners like the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact which invested more than $175,000 in the program. American Family’s main goal is to transform communities by improving the current systems in place while also investing in their community's future.
The program also hopes to continue its expansion and break into high school education. Next Door believes that they will be able to recruit high school students through their collaboration with Milwaukee Area Technical College where they would offer courses where participants can earn college credit as well as its pre-apprenticeship program. Next Door hopes that these new programs will build a solid foundation for a long-term plan when it comes to training educators in the state while also growing their talent pool in the city.