Nercon Conveyor Systems Named to Wisconsin Association of School Boards Business Honor Roll
November 07, 2022
Nercon’s Youth Apprenticeship Program earned top marks from the Oconto Unified School District, which nominated us for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) Business Honor Roll this year. The Honor Roll recognizes outstanding local businesses that support their schools. Nine high school students have participated in our Youth Apprenticeship Program over the past six years.
“Nercon’s partnership with the Oconto High School Technology Department has significantly impacted our programming,” said Oconto Unified School District Superintendent Emily Miller. “They go above and beyond with donations and opportunities for our students to come onsite and tour. They also have employed many of our students over the years. It never ceases to amaze me - the generosity of this business and how they are so inclusive of our students. They help our students materialize a pathway to the future in the tech industry. Without Nercon and the passion of our instructor Shawn Porath our program would not be what it is today.”
Nercon’s Youth Apprenticeship Program offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to build skills and experience in the manufacturing trades during paid school-year and summer internships. Applicants go through our standard job interview process in order to be selected, and must keep their academic grades high while in the program. About a dozen Nercon team members serve as their mentors.
“Since we began the program, four young men and women have joined our team after completing the program, and two of those former apprentices are currently working with us while they’re going to the technical college,” said Jim Eckes, Nercon’s Fabrication Manager and Youth Apprenticeship Program leader. “The work ethic of these students is incredible. They’re focused, engaged, and have a vision for the future.”
The program grew out of presentations Jim does at local schools for career days. As he puts it, he was in the right place at the right time to expand the relationships he’d developed with three school districts into a formalized apprenticeship program. In addition to presentations and the apprenticeship program, Jim also offers job shadowing and tours for students interested in exploring a career in manufacturing.
“I always invite parents to take our tour with their students,” said Jim. “It’s our chance to talk about pathways into well-paying jobs and to change outdated perceptions about working in our industry. As a modern manufacturer, we offer a safe environment, challenging work, and plenty of opportunities to learn and advance.”
Nercon is also a major in-kind contributor to the Oconto High School Technology Department. We donate machines and occasional shop services. We also provide steel and plastic materials for class projects. For the last five years, students have not had to pay materials fees for their classes.
“It’s a fantastic program to be involved in, and I know our journey worker mentors take a lot of pride in passing on their knowledge to the students,” said Jim. “Seeing that a-ha moment, when a student learns something new or begins to see their future in manufacturing, that’s really exciting.”
Our thanks go to Oconto High School tech ed teacher Shawn Porath and the Oconto Unified School District for their outstanding partnership and for recognizing Nercon with this honor!