May 6, 2024

UW Health is largest employer of youth apprentices in Dane County

Sports rehabilitation apprentice named a national Apprentice Trailblazer

MADISON, Wis. – With 32 high school juniors and seniors receiving hands-on experience as youth apprentices across UW Health, the health system is the largest employer of youth apprentices in Dane County and second in Wisconsin among health sciences employers.

To honor and promote this young workforce across the country, this year the U.S. Department of Labor designated May 5 to 11 as the inaugural Youth Apprenticeship Week. Students work in a variety of roles at UW Health, from assisting in medical imaging, nursing, laboratory, surgical services, sports rehabilitation, facilities and more.

Giving students hands-on experiences while they are still in high school inspires them as they plan their next steps after graduation, while supporting UW Health staff in providing patients with the highest quality care, according to Bridgett Willey, director, Allied Health Education and Career Pathways, UW Health.

“Our youth apprenticeship experience provides students with the opportunity to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and hands-on skills needed in the workplace, and their work supports UW Health in delivering remarkable care,” Willey said.

Jessica Ceballos de Santiago, a senior at Madison East High School, is in her second year as a youth apprentice at UW Health East Madison Hospital. This year she works in the sports rehabilitation department and was recently named as one of only 57 national Apprentice Trailblazers by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“I was honored to receive the recognition, but I am representing an outstanding group of apprentices at UW Health who put in hard work to support our on-the-job mentors,” Ceballos de Santiago said.

Ceballos de Santiago assists sports rehabilitation professionals in setting up equipment and observing techniques and patient interactions, while gaining valuable experience she wouldn’t get in a classroom.

Students are paid to work a minimum of 450 hours in a school year and have opportunities to earn industry recognized credentials. UW Health will employ 50 youth apprentices in this upcoming school year, including 10 high school seniors returning for a second year of youth apprenticeship.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, more than 1,300 students participated in youth apprenticeship health care pathways during the 2022-23 school year.

Similar to registered apprenticeship at UW Health, youth apprenticeship is designed to support racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse students to enter critical needs occupations and professions in health care.

UW Health has a strong track record with apprenticeship. In 2018, the first medical assistant registered apprenticeship in Wisconsin was established at UW Health. It has so far had more than 200 graduates, with 89% identifying as Black, Indigenous and people of color, and 99% passing credentialing exams on their first attempts. In 2019, UW Health also launched a successful nursing assistant apprenticeship. It has supported more than 180 graduates, 84% identifying as Black, Indigenous or people of color, and 89% passing credentialing exams on the first try.

Students interested in applying for a youth apprenticeship at UW Health should work with their career and technical education staff at school and can also contact UW Health Careers for information.