Apprentices work and train under a contract or written training agreement. This contract is between the apprentice, the employer, and the State of Wisconsin. While under contract, the employer agrees to teach the student the skills of the trade and the apprentice agrees to learn the skills involved. Other conditions of the contract, such as the length of training, amount of pay, the rate of periodic pay increases, and the related classroom hours are also covered.
Apprenticeships are not direct-enrollment programs. Each type of apprenticeship has different requirements. Apprenticeships are governed by standards set by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development - Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (DWD-BAS).
To become an apprentice, applicants must:
- Be employed by a company who will sponsor their apprenticeship.
- Be at least 16 years old and possess a high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma (HSED).
- Be physically and mentally fit for the requirements of the specific apprenticeship.
- Apply for an apprenticeship with a DWD-BAS approved trade committee or similar agency/organization or employer.
- Meet the application requirements and be approved for the apprenticeship.
- Enroll in an approved apprenticeship training program at a technical college or training center as stipulated in BAS standards.
- Maintain satisfactory progress in the course of study throughout the term of the apprenticeship.
The potential apprentice must have an employment opportunity as the most basic requirement for any apprenticeship. Apprentices are paid (on average) at least 60% of the wage of a skilled worker over the term of their contract. The employment opportunity is the first and foremost requirement for any apprenticeship.
Apprentices are paid an hourly wage to attend related instruction sponsored by employers, employer associations or labor/management groups with the ability to hire and train in a working environment.
The related instruction is theoretical and technical, and is usually provided by the Wisconsin Technical College System. Related instruction is a key part of each apprenticeship and is required by the Wisconsin apprenticeship law. If the apprenticeship is for two years or less, the related instruction is at least 144 hours per year. If the apprenticeship is for more than two years, then the school provision must be for no less than 400 hours during the term of the apprenticeship.