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New apprenticeship program benefits students and employers

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Jan 13, 2020

Looking to earn an education while working in the industry? College of Lake County (CLC) has new apprenticeship opportunities launching this fall for students seeking career-related work experience and area employers looking for qualified candidates.

CLC plans to have 60 apprentices in Photo of student apprentice and his supervisor at a manufacturing plantmanufacturing, healthcare, automotive technology, horticulture, information technology and business by August, said Dr. Sylvia Johnson Jones, executive director of CLC’s Career and Job Placement Center.

Unlike an internship which is typically part-time, lasts only one semester and involves no long-term commitment, an apprenticeship is full-time, paid employment while attending classes to earn a credential. The student’s tuition is free, as classes are paid by the employer.  In exchange, the student commits to work at least a year following graduation.

Photo:  Manufacturing is one of six career programs in which the college will offer 60 apprenticeships in the Fall Semester.

“We’re excited about the launch of apprenticeships to support our community and workforce partners,” said CLC President Dr. Lori Suddick. “Through apprenticeships, CLC is contributing to the economic vitality of Lake County’s diverse communities by ensuring a sufficient workforce talent pipeline.”

Johnson Jones added, “Our main goal is to offer apprenticeships as a workforce solution that is high-quality and relevant to the needs of the local labor market. We’re building up our career and technical programs to give students an opportunity that ends with a sustainable income.”

The benefits to students go far beyond the practical, hands-on education that supplements the technology and theory learned.  

“It’s a phenomenal opportunity for students because an employer is saying they believe in you and want to see you grow,” said Dan Ortego, CLC apprenticeship manager. “The apprenticeship program represents a demonstrated commitment to the Lake County community.”

The apprenticeship program was created as a direct response to requests from area employers. As baby boomers continue to retire, employers benefit by grooming skilled workers and sharing the knowledge base with the next generation. Each apprentice in the program is assigned a mentor, who learns on the job from a senior employee. CLC provides the technology and theory while the employer provides the hands-on, practical application.

CLC’s launch of apprenticeships is good news for Garry Whitten, educational coordinator for internships at JST Corp., a Waukegan-based manufacturer.

“Skilled tradespeople are hard to find because the average toolmaker today is in his or her late 50s and preparing to retire,” Whitten explained. “Companies need to bring in a younger generation to learn. Our apprenticeships work well because their position is a longer commitment than an internship. CLC’s apprenticeship program, plus the college’s equipment and proximity to employers, will benefit our company.”

CLC student and apprentice Jokym Pebenito said, “In an apprenticeship, you learn a lot more than in an internship because you’re learning an entire career.” He is a machine tool trades major with an apprenticeship at LMT Onsrud LP, a Waukegan-based manufacturer. The Round Lake Heights resident works as a computerized numerical control (CNC) operator, programming cutting and grinding machines while taking classes at CLC. As part of his apprenticeship agreement, his employer pays his salary, benefits and tuition. In exchange, Pebenito committed to working for the company for at least two years after he earns his A.A.S degree this summer.

“A lot of the concepts in CLC’s machine tool trades program are similar to what I encounter on the job,” Pebenito said. “And the idea that I have a job waiting for me is definitely comforting.”

If you are an employer interested in hiring an apprentice or a student who wants to start working at an apprenticeship, email


About College of Lake County:

College of Lake County is an innovative community college in Lake County, Ill. that transforms lives with its variety of accessible, quality education options. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, College of Lake County provides affordable options in a state-of-the-art setting close to home. A large student network, with small class sizes, provides advantages to our students on a career-related program or a path toward a transfer degree. We’re proud to serve the diverse needs of our community and student body. Connect to your future today at College of Lake County.