As 2022 graduates of the Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA) Apprenticeship Program, Matthew Koziolek and Ethan Weiskircher are Haskell’s newest journeyman carpenters. They’re also shining examples of how to make the most of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) system.
Both are graduates of Ridgeview High School in Orange Park, Florida. Both were high school athletes – Koziolek played football, Weiskircher basketball – and credit sports for instilling lessons they carried into their apprenticeships.
“What really helped me is sports when I was younger,” Koziolek said. “It really helped with listening to people, the heat, and the overall discipline aspect, so the transition wasn’t too bad.”
Both were also members of Clay County’s highly respected CTE Program, which teams more than 120 teachers with representatives from business, industry and trade associations to offer 40-plus different courses that provide the academic and technical skills students need to enter the workforce or higher education.
Haskell and NEFBA are heavily invested in the Clay CTE program, and those ties provided the pipeline to the apprenticeship program and their new employer.
Once they successfully apply, each apprentice receives full-time employment at an affiliated company and instruction through a structured, four-year training system registered with the Florida Department of Education's Workforce Development Division. They also get 2,000 hours of on-the-job training each year and a 10% annual raise during their time in the program. They graduate debt-free with four years of working experience.
Weiskircher credited Ridgeview teacher Edwin Smith as his primary source of support as he worked through the apprenticeship application process and said he chose Haskell as the company where he would learn and ply his skills.
“There were plenty of companies to go from, but Mr. Smith really emphasized going to Haskell,” he said. “He knew some of the guys that worked at Haskell, and he preached about how good it was and the longevity we could have here. He was a huge inspiration.”
And even though they played different sports in high school, Koziolek said he and Weiskircher were great teammates throughout the past four years.
“It was really easy having Ethan by my side through the program because we kind of kept each other in line with everything,” Koziolek said. “It didn’t matter if it was just a quiz or homework or if one of us was having a bad day, the other was always there to help.”
The NEFBA Apprenticeships dovetail perfectly with Haskell’s Permanent Craft Employee (PCE) program, which was established in the mid-1970s when the company extended full-time employment and benefits to skilled tradespeople. The program provides stability to these professionals while elevating project standards. Today, Haskell has a workforce of roughly 100 PCEs, who are masters in their trades and play a foundational role in the safety, quality, and efficiency of the projects on which they work.
The pair was a perfect fit in the PCE program, according to Tim Mosley, Senior Manager of Field Personnel, himself a product of Clay County schools and the NEFBA Apprenticeship.
“When my phone rings, it’s usually someone calling, needing something, wanting something or complaining,” Mosley said. “But I got calls from Skip Brazell and Rick Craven, two of our most veteran superintendents, and they were both like, ‘Man you wouldn’t believe what these guys are doing. They’re phenomenal.’”
The admiration is mutual.
“This is the fit for me, and everybody has been really supportive,” Weiskircher said. “Everybody wants to see you succeed. Everybody wants to see you move along, up in the ranks.”
Weiskircher currently works on the Baptist Health Clay Campus, where Haskell is building a 100-bed hospital. He enjoys combining his communication skills with his knowledge of robotics to help subcontractors correct any problems, system errors or potential hazards on the job site. The PCE program encouraged him to build upon his interest in robotics, giving him the opportunity to attend a three-day workshop for training on using the Trimble RTS Series Robotic Total Station, which increases the efficiency of jobsite layout tasks.
“Whether it’s foundations and anchor bolts or laying pipe in the ground or soffits on the inside, that is all stuff that I can do with robotics,” Weiskircher said. “That is my favorite part of it, honestly, running around and fixing any issues and helping the contractors along the way.”
The broad set of skills comprised by the PCE Program gives team members chances to explore numerous areas of construction. On the Cecil Field job site of the new 370,000-square-foot maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility Haskell is building for Boeing, Koziolek does layout work but also enjoys branching out to other construction disciplines.
Mosley appreciates both new grads’ willingness to dive into any task, and he revels in watching them grow as craftsmen and professionals.
“I remember the first car Matthew had; it was an old burner, like a CRX or something. He broke down, and I had to pick him up when we were going to the job site,” Mosley said. “He’s established now. He’s on a job, and the superintendent just keeps adding responsibility. He keeps taking it and running with it. It’s the same with Ethan. He is being utilized above what you would expect for a fourth-year apprentice or an entry-level journeyman. The roles and responsibilities they’ve given him are just … wow!
“It’s just exciting to see these two young men graduate the program and know it doesn’t stop there.”
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Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,000 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.
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