Dan Ortego presents to students

On Wednesday, representatives from the College of Lake County’s Apprenticeship Program visited classes in our Career and Technology Education department to teach Lakes students about the wide range of opportunities they offer. In this program, students get on-the-job training and guidance from a mentor while taking classes and earning credits toward an Associate’s Degree or Certificate at.

“We really want to increase the relationship between the high schools and the college,” says Dan Ortego, CLC’s Apprenticeship Manager. “We work with the CTE teachers to say here's what the opportunities are for apprenticeship programs.” CLC offers several different programs, including apprenticeships in automotive collision repair, business administration, early childhood education, landscape design, arboriculture, horticulture, production, construction & maintenance, precision machining technology, industrial technology, automation, HVAC, and network administration, cybersecurity.

Once students are prepared, they apply and interview for the apprenticeship as they would for any job, and companies select the best candidates. “We help the apprentice with resume development, interview preparation, and practice interviews so that they will go in prepared for their interview with the company,” Ortego said. In addition to earning a salary with benefits, one of the many benefits they offer is “Debt Free Graduation.” In most cases, employers will pay tuition, fees, and books. There is also the potential for continued employment after the program is completed. 

Since the program was started in 2020, Mr. Ortego and his team have built relationships with 30 companies in the area, including Abbot Labs, Siemens, and Fischer Paper. “Companies see it as a pipeline of new talent. It's meeting their needs because of the employment shortage that we have. Students get the academic foundation for their career at CLC, and the employers get connected with talent,” Ortego said. One of the measures of success for a program like this is its retention rate. "The year-to-year retention rate is in the 80s, and the graduation rate for apprentices is in the 90s," he added.

The post-secondary career paths offered in this program would be great for any high school graduate interested in exploring their future career options. For more information, contact Post-Secondary Counselor Nate Bargar (nate.bargar@chsd117.org) or CTE Department Chair Jennifer Harrington (jennifer.harrington@chsd117.org).