It’s time to recognize our industry’s greats. Educator of the Year: Dan Sperberg, Training Director of Wisconsin Operating Engineers Training Center.
The Daily Reporter will honor this year’s Newsmakers of the Year and at a dinner awards event on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee.
More about the accomplishments of this Newsmaker:
Wisconsin Operating Engineers take education very seriously. The 380-acre training center in Coloma, that includes an indoor equipment arena, is home to the oldest and most widely recognized apprenticeship program in the State for Operating Engineers. In 2017, the training center educated 95% of the 612 registered apprentices in the state on the operation and maintenance of heavy equipment.
The 8 full-time and 35 seasonal instructors and mechanics do much more than teach apprentices the necessary skills needed for their trade. In the 2016-2017 training season, the training center offered over 360 courses in various aspects of safety and in-seat operation of equipment to over 7200 students – the majority being seasoned operators seeking to learn new equipment and upgrade their knowledge. As technology changes, so does the industry and today’s curriculum contains fundamentals like directional drilling and basic grade, certifications such as Hazmat, OSHA and MSHA, as well as high-tech applications with lasers, GPS guidance and other cutting-edge technology.
The Wisconsin Operating Engineers hold such a strong belief in the value of training that the members fund a training trust that pay 100% of individual training costs plus a per diem for courses over 40 hours. In the last year, this was an investment of $8.3 million.
In addition to being the largest educator for heavy equipment operators in Wisconsin, the school is also committed to growing the future of the trade. The training center participated in more than 80 career fairs in the last year – providing an opportunity for youth and adults to learn more about the high-tech job opportunities as an operating engineer. If an individual is interested in considering apprenticeship as an operating engineer, monthly information session are also held by the training center. In just the first half of this year, 345 individuals have visited the training center to attend information sessions.
Understanding the critical importance of attracting a future workforce, the Wisconsin Operating Engineers Training Center has committed time and resources to work with Destinations Career Academy on the new Operating Engineer pre-apprenticeship program. The online charter school provides an incredible opportunity for high school students to take apprentice-required courses while still in high school, earning credit at both their high school and Fox Valley Technical College. This investment will be realized within just a few years as high school students graduate and enter apprenticeship armed with industry knowledge and classes already completed – accelerating the timeline for starting their career.