Kish partners with ICATT for apprentice program


Kishwaukee College is partnering with the Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (ICATT) to offer a manufacturing maintenance technician apprenticeship program for local industry. Bernie Pupino, Coordinator of Career Technologies at Kish, stated, “This apprenticeship program has been very successful in Europe and has translated to other parts of the U.S. very successfully, too. We are excited to partner with ICATT and bring this opportunity to our local employers and workforce.”

ICATT works with and subscribes to the German-American Chambers of Commerce dual education apprenticeship program model. Students who become apprentices commit to a five-year program that combines employment with manufacturing education. Students work full-time for their employer three days of the work week and spend the other two days at Kishwaukee College in the Automated Engineering Tech (AET) program, taking classes in manufacturing processes, safety, fabrication practices, print reading, metrology, CNC, and CAD.

In the pilot program at Kishwaukee College this year, two manufacturers are participating: Greenlee Textron and Bourn & Koch. The students are a mixture of employees who were already working for their respective companies and new hires identified by the companies for participation.

Pupino stated,“This apprenticeship program generates a talent pipeline for the companies. We are beginning to put together the second year of the program which will begin in Fall 2018. We’re reaching out to local industries to create the second apprenticeship cohort. This is a great opportunity for local industry to get the highly-trained employees they have been searching for.”

The employer pays for their employee’s tuition and fees, as well as their salary. The students will earn an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in AET and agree to work full-time for the employers for a minimum of two years, post-graduation. The employer gains an employee who has the perfect combination of education and practical experience gained through work at their facility that positions the employee on a direct path for upward movement with the company. The employee gains a college degree and the guarantee of a well-paid position with room for growth with their employer.

The Governor’s office has a focus on increasing and supporting “learn-and- earn” apprentice programs with businesses across the state. There are currently 412 registered Apprenticeship programs throughout Illinois. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Illinois was home to 13,754 registered apprentices in 2016. There are also unregistered apprenticeship programs in the state to serve areas without DoL apprenticeship program, which are not included in that figure.

Kishwaukee College also offers unregistered apprentice programs. Under the governance of the Illinois Community College Board criteria, most of Kish’s unregistered apprentices are available in the Automated Industrial Tech or Precision Machining programs. The apprentices work in larger companies like Rochelle Foods, smaller companies like David Turner Electric in Shabbona, and everything in between. Kishwaukee College is interested in working with employers on developing new “learn-and-earn” opportunities in the district.

Pupino noted that to this point in the first semester of the program, the students are doing well and the employers are pleased with how the program is working. He added, “The students gain the credentials and skills necessary for a good-paying job that can become a long-term career. Both employers and employees gain from participating in this program!”

For more information on the ICATT Apprenticeship Program at Kishwaukee College, contact Bernie Pupino, Coordinator of Career Technologies, at 815-825- 2673 or at
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Photo Caption: Bernie Pupino, pictured in the Manufacturing Lab at Kishwaukee College, helps coordinate the ICATT Apprentice Program in manufacturing at the College. The College is running the pilot program this fall and will be accepting new participating local manufacturers for the Fall 2018 apprenticeship cohort. For more information contact Bernie Pupino at 815-825- 2673 or at

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