WEST ALLIS, Wis. — On their first day at We Energies, Milwaukee Public School juniors started with a safety briefing before going on a tour of the training center.

What You Need To Know

  • The Milwaukee Public School District's Youth Apprenticeship Program is in full swing

  • In early February, juniors had their first day "orientation" at We Energies for the Gas Youth Apprenticeship

  • We Energies said it has more than 12 full-time employees who were once youth apprentices

  • MPS offers youth apprenticeships in many things, from agriculture, architecture, hospitality, manufacturing, finance, arts and more

“This is a really cool opportunity,” said student Cameron McCullum.

McCullum said he’s been dreaming about this day since he first heard about the Youth Apprenticeship Program with MPS.

“I was just like, ‘man I don’t really have much planned outside of high school. I should probably try to start doing something now,’ and I got in,” McCullum said.

To get accepted into the MPS Youth Apprentice Program, students must have at least a 2.0 grade point average and have a 90% attendance rate.

McCullum applied for the Gas Youth Apprenticeship Program with We Energies. It’s a new program that started just about a year ago.

It allows students who want to work out in the field the opportunity to learn side-by-side with We Energies crews. 

It’s why Mccullum’s classmate, A.J. Martinez, said he signed up.

“I always wanted to be outside,” Martinez said. “My mom had an office job and just like, on snow days of school, seeing her work, it wasn’t it for me. I wanted to be outside.”

They got a tour of the training center on their first day as youth apprentices. They also learned about what they’ll be working on, how training will work, and what kind of experience they’ll get out in the field working on gas lines. 

In the office, Seraiah Lyle and Jackie Nguyen — both pre-designers at We Energies — worked on the plans field crews would use for their work.

“This is a major project. We are doing a main replacement, because the main [polyethylene] gas main in the roadway is very old and corroding,” Nguyen explained as he showed Spectrum News 1 a map design.

Both Lyle and Nguyen are now college students at Milwaukee Area Technical College, but work at We Energies as employees after being youth apprentices while in high school.

Lyle said the program set her up for success, and she’s ready for her career. 

“Right now, I’m studying engineering at MATC. I plan on graduating MATC with an associate’s degree, and I also plan on going back for a bachelor’s degree,” Lyle said. “After I graduate MATC, I plan on working at We Energies as an actual designer full time.”

We Energies said they have more than 12 full-time employees who started as youth apprentices in high school.

McCullum said he can’t wait to fully get started, spend half of his school day “on the job” and get paid.

“It’s kind of like going to school again and I love school,” McCullum said. “I just keep learning new things, and I like to learn.”

MPS offers youth apprenticeships in many things, from agriculture, architecture, hospitality, manufacturing, finance, arts and more.