New Earn and Learn Program at Blackhawk Addresses Workforce Shortages

January 28, 2020
student Leonardo Saenz at Royle Printing

Blackhawk Technical College has implemented a new earn and learn program in partnership with business and industry, to recruit, educate and graduate students in fields where workforce shortages exist.

IT-Web Development student Leonardo Saenz has learned first-hand the benefits of being a Blackhawk Scholar. “You can start the Blackhawk Scholar program after your first semester and it’s amazing! I’ve found a lot of success through the program in finding a great internship within my field, making professional connections and improving my skills.”

Through this program, students can expect to:
  • gain the skills necessary to excel in today’s business world, including communication, analytical, critical-thinking and people skills
  • receive valuable, on-the-job work experience related to their field of study
  • advance their education within their chosen field (attending full- or part-time) and earn their degree
  • attend classes through a variety of flexible delivery options
  • potentially secure a rewarding, well-paying career with an area employer after graduation

Leonardo began his journey at Blackhawk for the flexible classes that provide hands-on experience in the latest technologies. The flexible delivery allowed him to continue working a full-time job. And now he has added Blackhawk Scholar at Royle Printing in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin to his resume. Royle Printing was the first company to sign on as a participant in the program.

“The Blackhawk Scholars program allows you to continue your education at Blackhawk Technical College while gaining valuable work experience with local employers,” said Kerry Osmond Internship Specialist at Blackhawk. “Students will be paid a minimum of $12 per hour and may be eligible for tuition reimbursement or a stipend, at the employer’s discretion.”

This non-traditional approach to pursuing a degree and employment has been a positive experience for Leonardo. “The flexible classes provided by Blackhawk have been a wonderful experience. I’ve been able to make time for my family, work, and myself while still being able to complete assignments and course work.”

Blackhawk has provided support to help Leonardo succeed. As a veteran with previous military credits, the College was able to transfer in credit to help him complete his degree faster. “I was able to rework my semester plans to allow me to best use my time. This has greatly helped me in completing courses.”

Leonardo plans to transfer after completing his degree at Blackhawk with intentions to eventually start his own company for IT solutions.

He offered this for other adults considering Blackhawk, “Do not be afraid to go out and ask for assistance from the Blackhawk faculty. They will work with you in every possible way to make sure you succeed.”

“The IT department teachers are amazing and have been very supportive of me and my goals. I could not have asked for better teachers in guiding me in my journey through BTC.”

About the Blackhawk Scholars Program

Blackhawk Scholars must be enrolled at Blackhawk Technical College as a part- or full-time student (must be at least 18 years old) in one of the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center (AMTC) degree programs, have successfully completed a minimum of six credits within their program, and maintain a 2.5 GPA or better throughout the program.

Eligible programs include:
  • Computer Numeric Control Technician
  • Computer Service Technician
  • Electromechanical Technology
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Technology
  • Individualized Technical Studies
  • Industrial Maintenance Mechanic
  • IT-Network Specialist
  • IT-Web Software Developer
  • Manufacturing IT Specialist 
  • Welding

Blackhawk Scholars must also remain in good standing as an employee of the sponsoring employer. Blackhawk Scholars must also permit the College to release academic progress reports and semester grade reports to your sponsoring employer.

The College is currently seeking additional companies to participate in the Blackhawk Scholars Program to meet the student demand. Interested companies should contact Kerry Osmond at (608) 757-7728 or For more information about the Blackhawk Scholars Program, visit

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