Bradley Corp., a 95-year-old manufacturer of commercial washroom fixtures and industrial safety showers, has opened its manufacturing plant to 25 high school juniors and seniors who seek to learn and work in its Menomonee Falls facility during the 2016-2017 school year.
By joining up with GPS Education Partners, an innovative youth apprenticeship and education model gearedtowards preparing Wisconsin-based students for careers in manufacturing, Bradley is hosting students to take academic classes in its onsite educational center during morning hours, and work within the company’s plant during afternoons. Bradley is one of eleven education centers in Wisconsin to provide onsite classroom centers and factory work as partners of the GPS program.
“GPS Partners pairs high school students with regional businesses to accelerate technical education while providing hands-on experience with prospective employers to ultimately drive students’ interest and success in pursuing careers in the skilled trades,” said Bernie McCarthy, lead teacher for the Bradley/GPS program. “This workplace-educational model is basically equivalent to having an all-access classroom in the middle of a fully operational, state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. Both students and businesses have much to gain from this immersive and personalized learning approach.”
For the 2016-2017 school year, Bradley is hosting male and female high school students, including 15 juniors and 10 seniors. The students are affiliated with Germantown School District, School District of Menomonee Falls and Hamilton School District in Sussex. As part of the selection process, school counselors identify students who may be a good fit for this type of hands-on technical learning experience. Following an application and interview process with school administration and GPS representatives, students are selected to participate.
McCarthy said the education center’s curriculum includes traditional courses such as reading and math, as well as more technical topics and courses, such as blueprint reading and advanced manufacturing, with a special concentration on specific topics that align with student needs and interests. Students’ daily work schedule on the production floor follows Bradley’s regular plant schedule, which includes working during off-days for schools such as spring breaks and summers. Students are paid an hourly apprentice wage.
This team approach to learning and working is providing students rich job experiences while building career pathways – and a financial cushion – for students early on, he explained. Since GPS Education Partners’ inception in 2000, nearly 500 students have graduated from the program, and 75 percent of GPS graduates pursue a career or continue their education in a technical field. 80 percent of graduates work for one of its business partners.
“Our students are very enthusiastic about studying and working at Bradley Corp.,” McCarthy said. “They immediately embraced being part of Bradley’s work environment and culture – which they view as fun and inclusive – and are thrilled to be gaining real-world job insight that will shape and bolster their careers.”
Bryan Mullett, Chief Executive Officer, Bradley Corp, said: “We are beyond excited to host this group of students as they gain exposure to technical education and immediately apply their knowledge in a real-world work manufacturing setting. As a long-time manufacturer and employer in Southeastern Wisconsin, I’m thrilled that our future skilled trade workforce has the opportunity to see and experience the clean, high-tech, and modern work environment that the manufacturing industry offers today.
“GPS Partners is making huge strides in providing local businesses a highly qualified base of potential employees that can hit the ground running,” Mullett said.
For more information, contact Bradley at 1-800-BRADLEY or www.bradleycorp.com.