A new collaboration between David City Public Schools and Timpte Inc. is giving students real-world experience and the company potential employees.
David City High School seniors Kyle Blum and Daulton Krause, as well as junior Tyler Graybill, are the first three students to go through the David City Public Schools/Timpte Youth Registered Apprenticeship that is being made possible through the Nebraska Department of Labor. Krause started in November, while the others began after the first of the year.
Participants earn an elective credit for working about four hours a day Monday-Friday. But, one can’t just apply on a whim. Participants must be either juniors or seniors, and have taken three required prerequisite courses: Introduction to Skilled Technical Sciences, Welding and Manufacturing 1 and Welding and Manufacturing 2.
“The apprenticeship program sees our students get high school credit for working out there, they get paid a little bit and learn skills. Timpte truly takes care of them,” David City High Skilled Technical Sciences Teacher Tahner Thiem said. “It’s really a win-win for everybody. There’s a labor shortage for labor workers, and our kids get hands-on experience that is not usually standard in a classroom. These kids aren’t here to push brooms.”
Timpte Director of Manufacturing Tim Gesell said his company was also very excited about the apprenticeship program, calling it a benefit for everyone involved.
“We saw an opportunity to help support the students and get them some good experience, especially those who have taken to the industrial technology side,” he said. “From the Timpte side, we’re hoping that by working with the school we can find a few kids who want to stay local and stay in the area, and get them full-time after the apprenticeship program is over.”
Gesell said there’s a lot of pressure on kids today to get a four-year degree, but noted it’s not always the way to go.
“Hopefully, we can open eyes to different avenues and careers,” Gesell said. “We really would love to help people stay local. There is a perception of manufacturing that it’s just hard labor and in a dirty environment. But I think when you get into newer factories, there is a lot that challenges your mind. Factories nowadays are not just those dingy environments. They’re clean. Factories take care of their people.”
As part of the program, students are moved around the plant. Gesell said they do work in the fabrication department, such as running presses, shears and other equipment. Timpte has been manufacturing bulk commodity trailers for more than 135 years.
“We want to give them a well-rounded view of all the operations,” he said. “We want them to know all of the different departments and the different things we do.”
For the students, the program has been a wonderful experience thus far. All three mentioned how they’ve learned quite a bit and that the apprenticeship has only further strengthened their desire to work in manufacturing when they’re older.
“I have learned how a manufacturing plant works. I didn’t really know before,” Graybill said. “I have also learned about all the different tools they use on a bigger scale. I was thinking I would probably end up in a manufacturing setting of some sort – I just got an earlier start.”
The hope is for the program to be an additional way for Timpte to gain employees. Gesell said the company offers some tuition reimbursement plans for those who want to work for the company while earning their college degree.
The idea for the collaborative apprenticeship program came about last summer when David City High Athletic Director/Business Teacher Ronda Gestring heard a presentation via a representative from the Nebraska Department of Labor about the Youth Registered Apprenticeship at a career education conference in Kearney. She brought the idea to Thiem, and later they decided to approach Timpte about it.
“Proficiencies were identified and it was determined who would provide the training for each one. DCHS students complete part of the requirements here at David City and the rest at Timpte,” she said. “This provides the student with a real-life, hands-on opportunity that may actually lead to a job at Timpte.”
Gestring said the program is a great opportunity for not only the school district but the community as a whole. She made a point to stress her appreciation for Timpte.
“Across the nation, we are seeing younger adults flocking to the bigger cities. Timpte is giving our students a chance to gain valuable skills that will hopefully lead to employment right here in David City. Keeping our young graduates in the community is a plus for everyone …,” she said. “The three students currently participating in the program have expressed to me that they are extremely happy with the program.
They have the chance to ‘gain experience they cannot get in the classroom and get paid for it.’
“Real life, hands-on experiences that they can build upon and use right away. Four-year colleges are not for everyone and the skills they are developing can be used on the job or in a two-year program of study. They are actually excited to come to school.”
Gestring and Thiem have already talked about the possibility of expanding the program into other career pathways and working with businesses beyond Timpte. Thiem said his personal goal is to create three more apprenticeship programs for the other three pathways offered at DCHS (basic automotive, construction and drafting/pre-engineering).
He also highlighted his appreciation to Timpte, as he noted the district has been able to buy materials through the company for significantly less than it would cost anywhere else.
“This is what it’s all about,” Thiem said, noting he believes they’ll have double the amount of kids participating next school year. “The apprenticeship is really nice because it slowly works kids into these jobs – they’re not just being thrown to the wolves, so to speak. They’re mentoring them and helping them feel comfortable. Timpte has been awesome.”
Gesell said Timpte is proud to be part of the Butler County family, which is why it has and will continue to invest in it.
“We love getting engaged in the community. We really just want to support the community and the kids. That’s what it’s about,” he said. “We want to be giving them an opportunity to better themselves. Wherever that leads after graduation, we hope we’ve helped them.”
Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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