WEST POINT, Neb. – A new partnership between Northeast Community College, Pathways to Tomorrow (P2T) and Franciscan Healthcare is beginning to take shape.
George Fraher, a senior at Guardian Angels Central Catholic High School in West Point and a student who has taken computer science classes through the P2T program over the past two years, has been selected to be the first Information Technology (IT) Helpdesk Apprentice for Franciscan Healthcare in his hometown.
As part of the apprenticeship program, Fraher will continue to take a variety of computer science courses at Northeast while he is working and learning on the job at Franciscan Hospital.
“We are so excited to have George on board,” said Terri Ridder, human resources director for Franciscan Healthcare. “We have been working with Northeast and P2T on this program for the last couple of years and we are excited to finally see it come to fruition.”
The apprenticeship program has been designed to address a nationwide workforce shortage. Through such efforts, businesses can attract workers sooner while they are integrated into the learning process. While apprentices learn on the job, they are also paid creating opportunities for adult learners who are looking for a career change, college students and high school students.
Kim Andersen, apprenticeship coordinator at Northeast, said apprenticeship is a win-win for everyone.
“The model is unique in that it integrates classroom learning with on-the-job learning, creating an unbeatable learning experience for the apprentice,” Andersen said. “There are things that happen on the job and skills you learn working that can’t be replicated in the classroom.”
Northeast Community College, P2T and the Nebraska Department of Education received grant funding in 2019 to create apprenticeship pathways in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields for high school students. In that time, the partners have been working hard to create pathways for students.
“P2T has been instrumental in this process. With the P2T program, students can choose to study various career fields such as computer science, healthcare, welding, building construction and education,” Andersen said. “In the second semester of their senior year some of these students have the opportunity to go out and apply their learning via an internship or apprenticeship.”
Others in the region are also seeing the value of apprenticeships.
“Businesses partnering with our students are not only Franciscan Healthcare but also Reimers Welding &
Fabrication, Nebraska Veterinary Services and Pender Veterinary Clinic,” said Cheryl Kreikemeier, career placement specialist, at P2T. “The internships/apprenticeship programs extend the classroom by providing valuable hands-on, problem-solving experiences to our students. The business partnerships have been vital to success of the P2T program.”
The P2T consortium offers CTE classes that are facilitated through Educational Service Unit (ESU) #2 and includes seven-member schools: Bancroft-Rosalie, Emerson-Hubbard, Guardian Angels Central Catholic (West Point), Howells-Dodge, Lyons Decatur Northeast, Oakland-Craig, and West Point-Beemer. This is the fourth-year classes have been held at the Northeast Community College extended campus in West Point. P2T was selected as the Nebraska Career and Technical Education’s (CTE) Outstanding Secondary Program in 2021.
George Fraher, a senior at Guardian Angels Central Catholic High School in West Point, has signed as the first Information Technology (IT) Helpdesk Apprentice for Franciscan Healthcare through a partnership between Franciscan, Pathways to Tomorrow (P2T) and Northeast Community College. Pictured (front row from left) are Kim Andersen, apprenticeship coordinator at Northeast Community College, Fraher, and Cheryl Kreikemeier, career placement specialist at P2T. In the backrow are Dr. Terry Nelson, interim CIO at Franciscan Hospital (left) and John Kingsley, IT mentor at Franciscan Hospital.