Skills Boost: WTCS Apprentices Receive $1.6M in Scholarships from Ascendium | WTCS Skip to content

Skills Boost: WTCS Apprentices Receive $1.6M in Scholarships from Ascendium

Ascendium is pleased to announce 801 construction and industrial apprentices in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) have been selected to receive a $2,000 Tools of the Trade scholarship this year. In its eleventh year, Ascendium’s Tools of the Trade Scholarship Program provides funding to apprentices for expenses related to their training, including the purchase of tools, equipment and clothing, tuition, and more. To date, the program has provided over $5 million in scholarships to just over 3,500 apprentices statewide.

Apprenticeships pair on-the-job training with classroom instruction, allowing individuals to “earn while they learn.” They are an alternative pathway to a family-sustaining career in an in-demand field. According to WTCS’s most recent apprenticeship completion report, registered apprentices who complete their related instruction through a Wisconsin technical college earn an annual median salary of $85,000.

Participation in apprenticeship programs at WTCS colleges has increased about 19% over the past five years, indicating a growth in popularity as a pathway to a good job. In fact, Wisconsin’s Registered Apprenticeship Program reached a record-high number of participants last year. Additionally, 97% of surveyed employed apprentices from WTCS have continued working in Wisconsin, creating a steady talent pipeline for local employers.

“The apprenticeship model is an integral part of educating Wisconsin’s workforce and meeting the needs of employers. Apprentices begin earning immediately, are paid wages during classroom instruction, avoid college debt, and have an on-ramp to lifelong learning,” said Morna Foy, president of WTCS. “I am grateful to Ascendium for their Tools of the Trade Scholarship Program which helps so many students with necessary expenses as they go through their apprenticeship.”

Wisconsin has a long tradition of apprenticeship training. The state passed the nation’s first apprenticeship law in 1911, regulating apprenticeship programs and establishing the state’s vocational school system, now WTCS. Wisconsin’s apprenticeship law remains one of the most robust in the U.S.

Momentum around workforce training programs like apprenticeships continues to grow as well, with Governor Tony Evers declaring 2024 the “Year of the Worker” in his January State of the State address, bolstering the state’s commitment to addressing generational workforce challenges and meeting the needs of a 21st-century economy.

“Like Governor Evers, we understand the value of apprenticeships to both learners and employers. Apprentices get to ‘earn while they learn,’ building a skill set that is required for an in-demand job, and employers get the benefit of recruiting, developing, and training their future workforce,” said Ascendium Chairman, President, & Chief Executive Officer Richard D. George. “We’re pleased to provide a scholarship that helps apprentices reach their education and career goals while also helping employers fill a workforce need.” 

2023-2024 Tools of the Trade Scholarship Recipients

Blackhawk Technical College
39 recipients

Chippewa Valley Technical College
41 recipients

Fox Valley Technical College
109 recipients

Gateway Technical College
8 recipients

Lakeshore Technical College
41 recipients

Madison College
135 recipients

Mid-State Technical College
97 recipients

Milwaukee Area Technical College
29 recipients

Moraine Park Technical College
50 recipients

Nicolet College
5 recipients

Northcentral Technical College
24 recipients

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
75 recipients

Northwood Technical College
8 recipients

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
2 recipients

Waukesha County Technical College
95 recipients

Western Technical College
43 recipients


About Wisconsin Technical College System 

The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) offers more than 500 programs awarding two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas, short-term technical diplomas and certificates, and classroom-related education for many Wisconsin apprenticeships. WTCS is the major provider of customized instruction and technical assistance for Wisconsin employers. With nearly 280,000 people enrolling in a technical college each year, it is the largest higher education system in the state. 

About Ascendium 

Ascendium Education Group is committed to making education and training beyond high school a reality for more people. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we fund initiatives across the U.S. that help learners from low-income backgrounds achieve upward mobility; provide student and employee success solutions to colleges and businesses; invest in education-focused innovations to improve learner outcomes; and provide information, tools, and counseling to help millions of borrowers successfully repay their federal student loans. While we have many roles, we have one goal — elevating opportunity by creating a world where everyone can rise to their highest potential. To learn more, visit