Brookings High School

Apprenticeship Program: Production Technologist

Brookings High School | Brookings

Apprenticeship Program: Production Technologist  

Brookings High School, in partnership with the Brookings Manufacturing Consortium (Daktronics, Falcon Plastics and Larson Manufacturing), developed the first registered apprenticeship program in South Dakota specifically for 16- and 17-year-olds. The Brookings Production Technologist Registered Apprenticeship launched in Fall 2018 with 10 juniors and seniors filling positions such as machine operation, machine programming, technical assembly and engineering. Since that time, four apprentices have obtained the milestone of 500 on-the-job training (OJT) hours and four apprenticeship have earned their national recognized apprenticeship certificate.  

Student interest is high. The program has only been marketed to students in Mr. Berg’s Robotics class. In just two application cycles, over 50 applications have been submitted. As seniors graduate out of the program, more students continue to be hired. There are currently four active apprentices registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.   

 When you step into Mr. Berg’s classroom, it is as if you are walking onto the production floor of any of the manufacturing partners. Students who do not earn a position at one of the business partners can still gain relevant experience from simulation. Grant funds and support from the Manufacturing Consortium made the Robotics Shop possible. Small workstations around the room depict these manufacturing processes: 3D printing, CNC programming and CAD. 

 Dual credits with Lake Area Technical College have been developed for EST 219 Computer Control Systems, RBTC 200 Mechanical Design and 3-D Modeling A, and RBTC 203 Mechanical Design and 3-D Modeling B for a total of five credits. Students also participate in OSHA 10 and Lean training as part of the related training instruction portion of the apprenticeship. These training opportunities are the same courses full-time employees receive.   

This program contributes to the development of the next generation workforce. Students apply what is being learned in the classroom to their job duties under the direct guidance of an experienced mentor. Mentors help apprentices learn soft skills – like the importance of showing up to work on time, displaying the right attitude and having respect for others.   

The apprenticeship program allows Brookings High School students the opportunity to explore manufacturing careers while earning a paycheck. Students complete an application, tour the businesses and participate in real interviews with HR representatives from each company. Not only do high school students learn soft skills, they are given the chance to explore a career, all while earning high school credit, post-secondary credit and apprenticeship credit.