MERRILL - The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for heavy equipment operators to increase 10 percent in the next 10 years.
Industry professionals are always trying to find more qualified people to fill those positions.
They worked with Nicolet College to develop curriculum for the basic heavy equipment operator course.
"It really is kind of broad field, hard to define down to one niche, and across that spectrum they're looking for new people to come into the business," said Nicolet College Outreach Specialist Joe Hegge.
In three-weeks, students learn about safety procedures, site preparations, and simple repairs.
"Just being able to tell a technician what you need, or what parts you need, what's going to have to happen, is a really valuable thing for people in the industry," said Hegge.
All 12 students in the course are tribal members in northern Wisconsin. They were selected through the Tribal Labor Action Committee.
"It was an opportunity to learn a new trade," said Chris Cornelius. She came from Green Bay to take the course.
The students visited Nortrax in Merrill Tuesday to get some hands-on experience with heavy machinery.
"It not only allows us to expose them to our side of the industry, but it also exposes them to opportunities with us as well," said Nortrax General Manager Matt Hanson.
"We can sit in the classroom and look at the books and stuff, but when you actually get out here you have the opportunity to use the actual equipment. That's a [very] different experience," said Cornelius.
The course isn't meant to give students specialized skill development, but rather a basic skill set to make them more appealing to potential employees.