Effingham, IL – January 20, 2023, In September 2022, the Effingham County Chamber hosted an Apprenticeship Symposium where LWIA 23 Workforce Analyst and Apprenticeship Consultant Nate Carlson led a panel of industry leaders introducing Apprenticeships to local Effingham County businesses.

Apprenticeships are an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally recognized credential. Carlson is charged with outreach and technical assistance of registered apprenticeships and works on-on-one with businesses in developing and/or establishing opportunities within a business.

Carlson’s presentation and discussion with businesses with established apprentice programs registered with Montessori Kids Universe Effingham Owner Brad Jansen and Director of Operations Hannah Roberson. Jansen and Roberson felt compelled to reach out to Carlson and Lake Land College Director-Center for Business & Industry Bonnie Moore to see how an apprenticeship program could work within their own childcare facility.

MKU is one in a premier international family of early childhood pre-schools serving infants through kindergarten locally in Effingham.

Jansen and Roberson began the program process immediately following the symposium, in fact the next day, and commented how easy it was to get started.

“We reached out to Nate the next day and let him know we were interested in more information. We set up a meeting with him and Bonnie and they made it very simple letting us know what an apprenticeship program looks like. They researched different childcare centers in Illinois already doing this and we just followed their lead and filled out our information. We have programs we are already doing and wanted them to fit in line with the apprenticeship program. They put it together painlessly for us after listening to what we want in an employee here at MKU.” stated Roberson.

MKU’s program will begin in 2023 within their own employee base. They identified two staff members from the get-go who are excited to start the two-year process. MKU’s plan is for more staff members to participate and entice local high schoolers, Lake Land College students, and other Effingham County residents with the many benefits that coincide with the program. Their hope is to help build the MKU team with educated individuals and help the childcare crisis within our county.

“Our apprenticeship program will be available to those of the legal age of 19 and is based on their interest level in teaching certain ages. Our main goal is twofold: get our current assistant teachers the schooling to become a lead teacher, while offering a pre-apprenticeship program for high school students as young as 16 to get exposure into childcare as an assistant teacher.” stated Jansen.

Courtney Yockey, President & CEO of the Effingham Regional Growth Alliance and Chair of the Effingham County Childcare Research Committee noted that “the number of licensed childcare providers have dwindled throughout recent years, with the on-set of the pandemic accelerating that downward trajectory.  The new apprenticeship opportunities with MKU assist in combating that trend.”  Yockey went on to congratulate MKU on their foresight and for being trailblazers across the region for childcare apprenticeships.  “This is a very exciting opportunity for MKU employees and those interested in pursuing childcare as a career.”

“Lake Land College is pleased to expand its apprenticeship partnerships to the Effingham area in the non-traditional program area of childcare,” Carlson said. “We appreciate MKU’s commitment to working with our faculty and staff to quickly create this hands-on training option for its employees and future workforce. Apprenticeships like this provide the unique opportunity for both students and employers to invest in the future and create a thriving business enterprise.”

Other local companies who have shown interest or begun their apprenticeship programs are The Equity, Three Sisters Logistics, North American Lighting, Hydro-Gear, KC Summers Auto Group and Quad Graphics Marketing LLC.

Those interested in learning more about the MKU Apprenticeship Program can reach out to Hannah Roberson at hannah@mkueffingham.com.

More information on apprenticeship programs and how they can benefit your company can be found online at lakelandcollege.edu/cbi or by contacting Nate Carlson at (217) 238-8224 or ncarlson@lakelandcollege.edu.


About the Effingham County Chamber
Founded in 1917, the Effingham County Chamber is the county’s leading advocate and champion for business. The Chamber works to create a climate of growth and success in our community by providing leadership opportunities as well as volunteer programs and business-building initiatives that focus on the critical priorities of Effingham County businesses. By leveraging the support, talent, and resources of our members, the Effingham County Chamber is leading efforts to achieve business success and community growth.