Gain Real-World Experience through Registered Youth Apprenticeship Programs

Brent Trankler
Brent Trankler, Sikeston Technology and Career Center Welding Instructor

Advanced manufacturing in Missouri has grown, creating high-demand, well-paying welding jobs that youth apprentices, ages 16 to 18, are actively filling. According to Dr. Oscar Carter, Missouri Skilled and Technical Sciences Director of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Schools (DESE), welding programs across the state are the largest and most sought-after training programs offered in schools.

Sikeston Technology and Career Center’s welding instructor, Brent Trankler, is the 2021-22 Missouri Association for Career and Technical Education “Secondary Teacher of the Year.” His expertise and industry-relevant classroom lab have allowed many students to have successful careers upon graduation. When Mr. Trankler was challenged to convert a hands-on welding simulation laboratory to a virtual experience during the pandemic, he reached out to Harbor Freight, which stepped up by providing at-home kits to the kids who were learning virtually. Harbor Freight supplied students with personalized lessons that included a multimeter, blueprint reading materials, and sheet metal fabrication kits. After initially mentoring his students in an internship format during this new “Leave and Learn” model, Mr. Trankler understood the importance of establishing a registered welding apprenticeship program.

Jake Winstead and Weston Henry, Mr. Trankler’s first welder apprentices, are on track to complete their U.S. Department of Labor National Completion Credential in summer 2022. These young men contributed to more than $25 million in production for their trailer manufacturer employer, Construction Trailer Specialists, located in Sikeston, Missouri. With current wages of $14 per hour, these apprentices will become full-time employees upon graduation. Because of their experience through the apprenticeship program, the employer will start their full-time pay at a significantly higher rate per hour.

Sikeston Technology and Career Center's Welding Simulation Laboratory
Sikeston Technology and Career Center's Welding Simulation Laboratory

Kelly Phillips, the apprentice supervisor at Construction Trailer Specialists,  stated, “Jake and Weston’s attitudes and willingness to learn and work comes from their class with Mr. Trankler. He teaches what the real world needs and demands from employment these days.” Mr. Trankler is a highly relational teacher who engages with his students on both personal and professional levels. His vision and execution of this new program attracted the attention of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation America and the Urban Institute, who are partnering with him for this school year as he works with his students and employer partners to expand the welding apprenticeship program. Recently, his efforts were rewarded with grants through the Missouri Apprenticeship Team of the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. This new and growing program begun under extraordinary circumstances during the height of the pandemic and is now flourishing because of school officials’ expertise and dedication, local employers’ buy-in, and apprentices’ own efforts and desires. 

Learn more about the Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program through Sikeston School District.

Publish Date: 06/07/2022

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