Brookings industry leaders partner on new program

By: Emily DeWaard, for the Brookings Register

This week, organizations across the country celebrate National Apprenticeship Week. As the city with the second-most manufacturing jobs in South Dakota, Brookings will soon offer a Technical Production Apprenticeship program thanks to a partnership between industry leaders and educators in the community.

Daktronics, Counterpart Inc., Falcon Plastics, Bel Brands, Larson Storm Doors and the Brookings School District have formed a core team to develop an apprenticeship program in Brookings slated to launch in fall 2018.

“The purpose of this program is to expose students to different career pathways while gaining experience being employed by a Brookings manufacturer,” said Trisha Strohfus, Daktronics HR. “One of the goals is to show the skilled, technical knowledge which supports careers in the production industry.”

An apprenticeship will start with students in the Brookings High School. They will begin by taking career and technical education (CTE) courses and working through technical institutes for dual credit opportunities while gaining paid, hands-on work experience at one of the industry partners. Details are still being worked out.

“The Brookings School District is excited about the apprenticeship opportunity currently underway that is focused on technology and manufacturing,” said Klint Willert, Brookings superintendent of schools. “However, the broader vision is to create similar internship and apprenticeship opportunities for every student, regardless of the career pathway or interest they may have.”

“I believe the partnership with manufacturing and technology will be a great model for other sectors such as finance, health care, education and agriculture to follow as we seek to provide these unique and special educational opportunities for students attending the Brookings School District,” Willert said.

The Brookings Production Technology Apprenticeship is designed to accelerate students in career pathways related to fabrication operation, machine maintenance, manufacturing engineering and computer numerically controlled programming.

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