New Freeport senior elective could set up students for $40K-plus job at Oberg | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

New Freeport senior elective could set up students for $40K-plus job at Oberg

Mary Ann Thomas
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Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Freeport Area School District will soon have an Oberg senior apprentice program just like Deer Lakes and Highlands school districts. In this photo, Deer Lakes senior Luke Smith, 17, gets help making measurements on a piece of steel from Oberg Industries instructor Dick Edder during a class on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018.
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Matthew Sespico/ Highlands High School
Highlands High School student Dylan Signorella launches a rocket with fellow students Zachary Geiger and Trevor Uhric looking on. The three are part of a metorology class in conjunction with Oberg Industries.

Freeport Area High School students will have an opportunity to take an advanced manufacturing elective with Oberg Industries, where graduates could snag a job starting in the low $40,000 range after graduation, according to company officials.

The Freeport Area School Board approved an apprenticeship and career exploration program earlier this month with the Buffalo Township-based tool and die maker known for manufacturing precision components for a range of industries.

The program is similar to another program the school district already has with Penn United of Jefferson Township, where 11 students are enrolled.

Oberg has similar programs with Highlands, Knoch and Deer Lakes school districts as it tries to replenish its workforce as many long-time, highly skilled employees are retiring, according to Joe O’Brien, director of human resources for Oberg Industries.

The Freeport program, as well as the others, is not meant to compete with the training at area vo-tech schools. It is designed for the general student population to sample advanced manufacturing, where there is a high demand for employees, good pay and educational benefits for a higher education degree.

For the Freeport program, there will be some distance learning, guest instructors and the opportunity for seniors to visit Oberg twice a month.

Some of Oberg’s work and problem solving will be integrated into existing classes such as geometry, according to Larry Robb, Freeport Area’s program director of the Oberg program.

Once students reach 11th and 12th grades, the Oberg program will become part of the technology education curriculum.

“They’ve been very, very good partners (in past programs),” Robb said. “Once students get to 11th grade, they will get some hands-on experience instead of sitting in a classroom.”

For Oberg, they are casting a wider net for prospective employees, according to O’Brien.

The message Oberg want to get across, especially to parents of high school students, is to consider “forgoing college if the student has a natural ability to learn a trade,” he said. “We can put them through school — areas of study including aerospace and medical. They earn while they learn and we keep promoting them.”

Specifically, students will learn precision machining in a program that Oberg calls “ACE your life,” with the acronym standing for Apprentice and Career Exploration. The precision machining class would focus on making parts, which Oberg does for many industries, including airplane parts, artificial knees and hips, and specialty parts that help detect landmines.

Oberg is working with Freeport’s administration on the particulars of the program and will update parents and the junior class about course and other offerings. The senior elective class in precision machining should be available in the fall of 2019, according to O’Brien.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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