From jsonline.com: “Dual enrollment isn’t new” — By Barbara Prindeville, president Waukesha Area Technical College — The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the University of Wisconsin System and its two-year campuses made headlines recently for a dual-enrollment program that allows high school students to simultaneously earn credits toward graduation while earning college credit.

It’s good to see DPI and UW Colleges take a concrete step toward making higher education more affordable and efficient, but their approach is certainly not new. Waukesha County Technical College has had a similar, very successful program in place for more than 20 years.

WCTC leads Wisconsin’s 16 Technical College System in dual enrollment – this past academic year, nearly 5,000 students earned combined WCTC/high school credit. Through these partnerships, high school students are exposed to higher-level education at an earlier age, moving them much more quickly down the path to a degree and a good-paying career.

For students, dual-enrollment means a top-quality education in less time and for less money. For area businesses, it means a steady supply of well-trained graduates entering the local workforce. Eighty-nine percent of our graduates find jobs – right here in Waukesha and surrounding counties – within six months of earning their degrees.

Dual enrollment is most certainly a positive, and DPI and UW Colleges should be commended – after all, better late than never. But at a time when in-state tuition is skyrocketing, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging the UW System to do more to serve its students and our state faces a severe shortage of skilled workers, I would encourage a far bolder, more up-to-date strategy than adopting a “new” policy that others have used for decades.

WCTC enjoys productive partnerships with a number of four-year institutions, including Carroll University in our own backyard, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Marquette University, Mount Mary University and Alverno College – all of which grant our graduates full credit toward a bachelor’s degree for coursework already completed at WCTC.

UW-Milwaukee has begun accepting our electrical engineering and mechanical engineering technology graduates as juniors, recognizing their solid educational base and putting those students two years closer to a four-year degree and productive career. Other state universities should adopt similar policies.

If UW officials look outside their walls – and beyond their turf – they’ll find great possibilities for themselves, students and Wisconsin.

Wisconsin currently lags behind other Midwestern states in average earnings because our workforce has a lower percentage of people with four-year degrees. WCTC has tried to address that, and it’s good to see the UW System start to consider different ideas.

We need to foster economic development and job creation in our state. If the UW System is truly interested in streamlining the degree process, making higher education more affordable and more quickly producing well-trained graduates ready to contribute to Wisconsin’s economy, it should take a cue from UW-Milwaukee and others.

A more cooperative relationship between the UW System, WCTC and all of the state’s technical colleges would allow students to more easily transfer credits, earn four-year degrees and enter the “real world” ready for steady, good-paying employment.

Students would benefit from a more complete education, more specialized training, lower tuition costs, better jobs and higher wages. Local businesses would benefit by having a bigger pool of locally grown, highly educated talent with four-year degrees prepared to be a contributing part of the workforce. And Wisconsin would benefit from a stronger state economy and an environment that truly encourages and fosters business growth.

This is a great opportunity to help our state, and we should work together to take advantage of it. Our state, our taxpayers and, most important, our students will be the real winners.


From oakcreek.patch.com: “Plan commission approves MATC wind turbine” — The Oak Creek Plan Commission on Tuesday gave Milwaukee Area Technical College the go-ahead to build a 47-foot wind turbine at its Oak Creek campus, 6665 S. Howell Ave.

The turbine will be used in the school’s Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing curriculum. It is much smaller than turbines typically seen at wind farms, where they can stretch more than 100 feet high. Officials said this turbine likely won’t be seen outside the campus.

Because of its proximity to the airport, the turbine could not be more than 50 feet high and needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Also on Tuesday, the commission delayed action on Aldi’s renovation plans, at the company’s request. It could come back to the commission as early as July 10.

From weau.com: “A shortage of truck drivers nationwide leads an area tech school to look at expanding programs” — EAU CLAIRE – A shortage of truck drivers is leaving jobs unfilled, delaying some deliveries, and pushing up freight rates.

According to the American Trucking Association, the annual turnover rate at large carriers rose to a four-year high of 90 percent. In the first quarter last year it was 75 percent. Turnover at small carriers jumped even higher to 71 percent – up from 50 percent

The shortage leading to Chippewa Valley Technical College looking at ways to help fill the gap. Mark Fredrickson has been driving truck and training new drivers most of his professional career.

“It’s more of a life style than a job because it does take you away from your family for longer than an eight hour day and you can be gone around a week,” says Fredrickson.

A long haul that has led to more people quitting the industry and an increasing demand for drivers.

“I was just drove for a guy yesterday that lost two drivers,” says Fredrickson.

CVTC is trying to meet the demands of the industry by expanding its training program and making it more flexible for students.

“We find a lot of people are interested in getting their CDL but a lot of people can’t afford to quit their current job to take the course so we are trying to find ways to work around that.”

CVTC currently offers a CDL certification course every 8 weeks.
“I have twelve students right now and I expect all of them to have jobs after graduation,” says Fredrickson.

And in this economy students say that’s rare and something that’s not lost on them.

“I love it, big trucks heavy loads being on the road and meeting all the people it’s just fun,” says Christian Fredrickson

From htrnews.com: “Plant closing leads to new career for TR woman” — GREEN BAY — On Nov. 18, 2009, Linda Eis drove home from her job at the Budweiser plant in Manitowoc – a place she’d worked for the last 28 years – knowing that the future she’d planned for herself and her family would be changed forever. The plant was scheduled to close and she was losing her job.

Nervous and uncertain of her prospects, she drove to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, poured over the health care program options, and decided on a new future.

Two and half years later, that decision would lead her to graduate from NWTC at the top of her class, becoming a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She would receive two prestigious national scholarships and emerge with bright prospects for a new career as a certified surgical technologist.

“Coming back to school after all these years, you’re scared,” said Eis, who lives in Two Rivers with her husband. “But the college is very ‘adult-learner-friendly.’ After a while, it started to give me back the confidence that I didn’t know I’d lost.”

Although Eis had been out of school for 32 years, she decided success in the classroom would lead to success in the workforce. She put in extra hours in the lab, studied extensively and focused on her clinical experience. School became her new job, and her instructors took notice.

“I don’t think I have ever worked with a student that had a better attitude and stronger work ethic,” said NWTC instructor Mary C. Wessing. “The operating room is often a stressful place to work, and Linda was able to deal with whatever came her way.”

Eis’s late-career journey mirrors that of many Americans since the start of the recession. In fact, an increasing number of Americans are returning for education later in life. Seventy-eight million baby boomers soon will be entering retirement, and four out of five plan to work past the age of 65. Many of those jobs require updated skills and training. At NWTC, 20 percent of the population served – through degree programs, certificates, basic skills courses or enrichment classes – are more than 50 years old.

When Eis graduated in May with a 4.0 grade point average, she found her hard work had paid off in other ways after being told she’d won two competitive national scholarships. The Foundation for Surgical Technology awarded her $750 for its annual scholarship, and shortly after, the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting chose her as the 2012 recipient of its $500 scholarship.

Eis is still looking toward the future. She’s interviewing for positions in the health care field and is confident that her education has prepared her for success.

“My goal from the start was to get a new job,” she said. “Losing my job [led] to much more, I earned a new profession.”

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Hundreds of jobs open in Marathon County, central Wisconsin” — People looking for work in central Wisconsin have heard the same refrain over and over: Well-paying jobs abound in the health care and advanced metalworking fields.

But for those who can’t enter one of those professions, the news isn’t great. The manufacturing, medical/education and trade/transportation/utility fields are the dominant employers, representing 66 percent of the total job force in Marathon County in 2011, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce.

The second tier of jobs, based on the number of people employed in central Wisconsin, includes the financial industry and the leisure and hospitality fields, which make up 16 percent of the jobs. The number of jobs in those two fields dropped from 2010 to 2011 in Marathon County, though hundreds of related jobs were open as of this month, according to the Department of Workforce.

The good news is that employers are hiring in those fields and training and education is available in central Wisconsin. Education and skill development can be obtained in as little as a few classes for a certificate, all the way up to a four-year degree.

And jobs are plentiful. Hundreds of jobs, including loan officers, credit counselors, wait staff, desk clerks and maintenance workers in the leisure and hospitality fields, were open for applications as of June 16 in Marathon County, and even more across all of central Wisconsin.

“You can infer from that data that there are opportunities for people to make a transition — dislocated workers or people looking for employment,” said John Westbury, an economist in the Office of Economic Advisors, a division of the DWD.

Back to school

People looking for career changes have options when looking to improve their skills or learn new ones.

Students can take introductory courses at the University of Wisconsin branches in central Wisconsin toward degrees in business administration, finance, as well as hotel, restaurant and tourism management. While many majors require students to transfer to a four-year college, the University of Wisconsin Marathon County and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point allow students to complete the UWSP business administration program at the UWMC campus.

The UWSP partnership is an example of how some Wausau-area residents who work in the business field can continue their education without having to move, said Jim Rosenberg, an adult student recruiter at UWMC.

“Even if a person gets into a job with the minimum qualifications, they look at what can get them ahead in that career field,” Rosenberg said.

For some people, a four-year degree will take too long.

Students at Northcentral Technical College in Wisconsin can improve their skills by simply taking a few courses specializing in computer programs such as Microsoft Excel, bookkeeping, or food and beverage safety.

NTC offers an entrepreneurship program that teaches basic business concepts, such as obtaining financing, buying supplies and managing staff. Brad Gast, a continuing education adviser at NTC, said he recently had a man who wanted to open his own restaurant in northern Wisconsin take the entrepreneurship classes.

“Most of those people develop their skills and go out and start their own (business) and live their dreams,” Gast said of the entrepreneurship students.

From postcrescent.com: “Job demand remains rosy in some sectors” — With all the gloomy global and national economic news, it may seem like most, if not all, industries are either not hiring or even reducing their workforce.

But that’s not the case in northeast Wisconsin for high-demand professions such as nursing or metalworking and fabrication, where job opportunities remained strong throughout the recession and during the slow recovery that has followed it.

The reasons for the strength of the job market in those sectors is twofold.

In manufacturing, a historically strong manufacturing base has been buoyed in part by large government contracts to companies such as Oshkosh Corp. and Marinette Marine. Meanwhile, an aging population is driving the growing need for an array of skilled health care workers.

Companies in the 18-county northeast Wisconsin region are projected to need to fill 10,000 production and manufacturing jobs by 2016, according to a 2010 study by New North, a consortium of business, economic development, chambers of commerce, workforce development and civic and education leaders. The health care field’s numbers were expected to trend upward as well, expanding by almost 4,000 jobs by 2016.

Health care hiring steady

Aurora Health Care is maybe not in as much of a crunch for employees as Muza Metal and Marinette Marine are for fabricators, but there is still a steady need for new employees to fill open positions at locations from Milwaukee to Green Bay.

“There is always a need,” said Gwen Baumel, vice president of human resources for Aurora Health Care.

Aurora gets a lot of applicants for positions from those in the Fox Cities and Green Bay areas, and starts working with potential future health care workers while they are still in school.

“We have a very good relationship with the local schools, which really helps,” Baumel said. “We talk with them so the school stays in tune with employers and what sort of challenges there are.”

One of the good relationships is with Fox Valley Technical College, where nurses graduating from the program are finding a hot job market upon graduation.

FVTC graduates about 40 associated degree nurses and 25 licensed practical nurses per semester and roughly 800 nursing assistants per year.

Once graduated, the majority of those students find work quickly. According to Assistant Dean of Health Division Carrie Thompson, all of the college’s 2011 associated degree graduates were working within six months of graduation. Ninety-three percent of new LPNs were hired within six months of graduation, and nursing assistants placed at 69 percent.

“Most (graduates) stay in the area,” Thompson said. “They are everywhere and in lots of different companies, most of which are in the area.”

Welding in demand

The need for welders is expected to increase 26 percent by 2015, according to the 2009 New North Occupation Opportunity Projections Survey.

Even now, manufacturing companies are struggling to find skilled metal workers.

For instance, Muza Metal Products in Oshkosh, which last month completed a 47,000-square-foot plant addition is continuing a pattern of growth in a metals manufacturing industry that leans heavily on Oshkosh Corp. Muza employs 260 workers over four shifts, but still is short of workers.

“Skilled labor for fabrication is in high demand, especially in this area,” said Muza Metal Products President Dan Hietpas. “It’s a very competitive area and we are still looking for 10 to 15 workers.”

The tough part about filling those openings is that they are night and weekend shifts. Muza keeps its plant running 24 hours a day and needs enough workers to staff each shift. But even paying a premium over the company’s normal $14 to $22 dollar an hour salary hasn’t helped fill all of the positions.

“We pay a 75 cents to $1.50 premium, depending on the shift,” Hietpas said. “That can be quite the bump in salary, but it’s still a challenge.”

In Marinette, the shipbuilding company Marinette Marine is equally hard up for skilled welders, pipefitters and electricians.

The company has added 600 jobs in the past 12 months, and now has 1,400 employees, but is struggling to fill vacancies for skilled trades jobs, and is even having a hard time recruiting people to sign on to train and work for them. The company held open 40 spots for entry-level workers, reaching out to nine schools in the process, but landed only seven graduates.

A typical employee at the shipyard can earn $30,000 to $40,000 a year.

Right now, the future looks “pretty rosy for us,” Marinette Marine President and CEO Charles Goddard said. “We can easily handle 100 or more hires out of high schools in a year.”

The welding/metal fabrication program at Fox Valley Technical College, which works with Muza Metal and Marinette Marine, has a very high job placement after graduation. Ninety percent of last year’s graduates found jobs after graduation. Some of the students in the program were hired before they finished their degrees based on the high demand of the job, which is continuing to grow.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “For some workers, job outlook is bright” – Career outlooks are sunny for those with skills in nursing or metalworking and fabrication.

Unlike other industries still recuperating from the Great Recession, there remains a high demand for the skilled professions in Northeastern Wisconsin.

In manufacturing, a historically strong manufacturing base has been buoyed in part by large government contracts to companies such as Oshkosh Corp. and Marinette Marine. Companies in the 18 counties that make up Northeastern Wisconsin are projected to need to fill 10,000 production and manufacturing jobs by 2016, according to a 2010 survey of the region.

Meanwhile, an aging population is driving the growing need for an array of skilled health care workers. A New North survey found that numbers are expected to trend upward in health care, too, expanding by almost 4,000 jobs by 2016.

Welding

Even in a time of relatively high unemployment, manufacturing companies struggle to find enough skilled metal workers. And the need for welders is expected to increase 26 percent by 2015, according to the New North survey.

For instance, Muza Metal Products in Oshkosh, which last month completed a 47,000-square-foot plant addition, continues its growth in the metals manufacturing industry that leans heavily on Oshkosh Corp. Muza employs 260 workers over four shifts, but are still short workers.

“Skilled labor for fabrication is in high demand, especially in this area,” Muza Metal Products President Dan Hietpas said. “It’s a very competitive area, and we are still looking for 10 to 15 workers.”

The challenge is filling the night and weekend shifts at the plant that runs 24 hours a day, Hietpas said. Even paying a premium over Muza’s normal $14- to $22-per-hour wage hasn’t helped them fill the positions.

“We pay a 75 cents to $1.50 premium, depending on the shift,” Hietpas said. “That can be quite the bump in salary, but it’s still a challenge.”

In Marinette, the shipbuilding company Marinette Marine is equally hard up for skilled welders, pipefitters and electricians.

The company has added 600 jobs in the past 12 months, and now has 1,400 employees, but is struggling to fill vacancies for skilled trades jobs. It’s even having a hard time recruiting people to sign on to train and work for them. The company held open 40 spots for entry-level workers, reaching out to nine schools in the process; it landed seven graduates.

A typical employee at the shipyard can earn $30,000 to $40,000 a year.

Right now, the future looks “pretty rosy for us,” Marinette Marine President and CEO Charles Goddard said. “We can easily handle 100 or more hires out of high schools in a year.”

The welding/metal fabrication program at Fox Valley Technical College, which works with Muza Metal and Marinette Marine, has a very high job placement rate after graduation. Ninety percent of last year’s graduates found jobs. Some of the students in the program even were hired before they finished their degrees.

Health care

Though perhaps not as in demand as metal workers, Aurora Health Care can attest to the steady need to fill open positions from Milwaukee to Green Bay.

“There is always a need,” said Gwen Baumel, vice president of human resources at Aurora.

Aurora gets a lot of applicants for positions from those in the Fox Cities and Green Bay, and starts working with potential future health care workers while they are still in school.

“We have a very good relationship with the local schools, which really helps,” Baumel said. “We talk with them so the school stays in tune with employers and what sort of challenges there are.”

Back at FVTC, students in the nursing program find a hot job market upon graduation. The college graduates about 40 associated degree nurses and 25 licensed practical nurses per semester and roughly 800 nursing assistants per year.

The majority of graduates find work quickly. According to Assistant Dean of Health Division Carrie Thompson, all of the college’s 2011 associated degree graduates were working within six months of graduation. Ninety-three percent of new LPNs were hired within six months of graduation, and nursing assistants placed at 69 percent.

“They are everywhere and in lots of different companies, most of which are in the area,” Thompson said of the graduates.

From leadertelegram.com: “Skilled workers sought after” — With more than 12.7 million Americans unemployed, companies have no trouble attracting applicants. What’s tougher for some firms is finding qualified workers.

More than 40 machinist jobs have been available recently in west-central Wisconsin, according to Mark Hendrickson, dean of manufacturing at Chippewa Valley Technical College. He said further growth is expected, and CVTC has arranged for more classroom space in its manufacturing program to meet that demand.

“Manufacturers we’ve talked to say they need welders and machinists, skilled workers, to help with their infrastructure to get their products out the door,” he said in a news release.

Steve Michaud, a CVTC machine tool instructor for 26 years, said filling manufacturing jobs will have a ripple effect on the economy. Michaud is a consultant for Plank Enterprises, a holding company for four businesses that manufacture and distribute industrial and commercial products globally.

“Statistics show every manufacturing job will create six to seven support jobs in that community, which creates wealth,” he said in the release. “If we could solve the problem in manufacturing, we would solve the problem in unemployment because of the multiplying factor.”

California Steel Industries needs experienced electrical and mechanical technicians to help it make metal pipes and flat-roll sheets used in construction projects. The pay is good. An industrial maintenance mechanic can make $64,000 a year plus health benefits. In good years, company profit-sharing can boost pay by $5,000.

Still, California Steel, which is based in Fontana, Calif., is struggling to fill 18 openings.

While these workers don’t need college degrees, they need at least two years of specialized training plus strong math, reading and writing skills. The plant is loud and filled with heavy machinery. And because the facility operates 24 hours a day, workers must rotate shifts, making it even harder to recruit, said Brett Guge, executive vice president of finance and administration.

“It’s been a chronic problem for many years,” Guge said. “You would think it’d be somewhat easier in this economy.”

There’s no doubt that the nation’s sluggish labor market continues to favor employers, many of whom are holding back on hiring amid global uncertainty. In May, the national unemployment rate increased to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent the previous month. Millions of U.S. workers have been jobless for so long that they’ve exhausted their unemployment benefits.

Still, companies in some industries or certain parts of the country are having difficulty finding workers. Tighter immigration enforcement has squeezed the nation’s agricultural sector as farmers from Washington state to Georgia scramble to find enough field hands. Thinly populated North Dakota is so desperate for bodies to keep its oil boom going that the state’s governor has pleaded publicly for out-of-state workers to relocate there.

In California, where the April unemployment rate was 10.9 percent, some renewable energy firms are searching hard for qualified engineers. So are technology companies in Silicon Valley, where the rush to produce next-generation mobile and tablet technologies has sparked bidding wars for top candidates, who can fetch starting salaries from $85,000 to $100,000.

“Everyone’s vying for the same talent,” said Shannon Callahan, a technical talent partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm. “They’re all trying to build … the next great product.”

Even firms that aren’t designing the next iPhone are struggling. In a recently released study by recruiting firm ManpowerGroup, nearly half of U.S. employers surveyed said they’re having trouble filling key jobs despite continued high unemployment.

Some economists are skeptical about all that griping. Adjusted for inflation, incomes for most Americans have been stagnant for years. The recent downturn has given workers even less leverage to demand better pay. Many companies complaining of a “shortage” of talent simply don’t want to pay more to get it, said Andy Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.

“There are some spot shortages,” he said. “But the norm for the country, though, is a massive (labor) surplus. I’ve never seen a surplus this large.”

Still, Sum agreed with Manpower’s findings that some high-skill positions in information technology and engineering are hard to fill. Ditto for skilled trades, which include jobs such as heavy-equipment operators, electricians, welders and sheet-metal workers.

Many of those blue-collar workers are starting to retire and won’t be easily replaced, said Stanley Stossel, senior assistant business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 47, in Diamond Bar, Calif.

“In some ways, the economic downturn staved off the tsunami,” Stossel said. “A lot of people were working a few years longer than they had planned on.”

Machinists and machine operators also are hard to find. Manufacturing has been a bright spot in a slow recovery, adding almost half a million jobs nationwide since January 2010.

The average hourly wage for a manufacturing job is $23.96, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And some positions pay upward of $31 an hour. Still, experts said a manufacturing career isn’t even on the radar of many U.S. workers. Years of layoffs and outsourcing of factory jobs to foreign countries have convinced some that there’s no future in it. Others are attracted to white-collar work and sexier industries such as technology.

To cope, some firms are beefing up the skills of current employees or partnering with nonprofits and community colleges to train students for blue-collar jobs.

California Steel Industries, for example, launched a paid internship program this summer with Chaffey College in nearby Rancho Cucamonga. Nine electrical technician interns have been hired so far, Guge said.

Oil refineries in the South Bay have taken similar steps. Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips are among the companies working with the nonprofit South Bay Center for Counseling to train process operators and instrument technicians to monitor refinery operations.

Graduate Joseph Morales, 24, recently started a job with Marchem Technologies, a Long Beach chemical plant. He’s making $17 and hour to start, with the prospect of more raises ahead. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chemical plant operators earn an average of $27.23 an hour.

“I wanted something more stable,” said Morales, whose last job was selling sporting goods on commission.

In Silicon Valley, the hunt for workers with skills in mobile software and user-focused applications has gotten so competitive that some companies have resorted to offbeat recruiting strategies.

Quixey, a Palo Alto company that has built a search engine for mobile apps, created a monthly contest to appeal to game-loving techies. Programmers are invited to solve a bug in a 10-line piece of computer code in 60 seconds. Winners get $100, a sweatshirt and a followup recruitment email.

“We search the entire nation,” said Liron Shapira, Quixey’s chief technology officer. “We’re able to find candidates who don’t browse job forums but would be considering opportunities.”

The 25-person firm has hired four full-time engineers and three interns through the challenge.

“Quixey Challenge is more effective than anything else in beginning the pipeline of engineers,” Shapira said. “It appeals to what engineers like to do.”

Michaud said manufacturing jobs in west-central Wisconsin start at $35,000 to $40,000, not including overtime.

“It’s not the hot, sweaty, dirty job that Grandpa had,” he said. “Today we have a great environment, high skill set and the pay is not low by any means.

“If you can machine, you’ve got a job today. It’s very professional. You have to have the math and problem-solving skills.”

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “N.E.W. Community Clinic aims to double number of patients” — The N.E.W. Community Clinic plans to use a new federal grant to provide additional medical and dental care to thousands of low-income residents, helping them avoid costly trips to local emergency rooms.

Federal health officials visited the clinic’s Northeast Wisconsin Technical College site on Thursday to announce a $903,333 expansion grant for the nonprofit facility, which serves individuals and families who are uninsured or underinsured. The funds will allow the clinic to double the number of patients it serves, officials said.

The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act, 2010’s federal health care reform. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected soon to rule on the law’s constitutionality. However, officials say funding already is earmarked for community clinics and does not depend on the court’s decision.

The N.E.W. Community Clinic’s NWTC site serves 3,500 to 4,000 medical patients a year and 14 dental patients each day five days a week, according to Bonnie Kuhr, CEO and administrator of the clinic. The clinic will use federal funding to help increase the number of those patients, as well as begin to provide behavioral services, she said.

Federal funding will be used to hire additional staff, including a nurse practitioner, and to expand dental services, Kuhr said. The clinic has a waiting list for dental services. For medical services, the clinic books appointments 24 hours in advance — it takes calls at 7:45 a.m. for the following day and usually is booked within half an hour, Kuhr said.

Clinics across the country have those needs, a federal official said.

Nearly 50 million Americans were uninsured in 2010, and someone dies about every 30 minutes in the U.S. because of lack of health insurance, said Kenneth Munson regional director for the federal Health and Human Services Department, who was on hand for the announcement.

“There is a critical need in this country for these kinds of clinics,” he said. “Clinics like this really go far in helping people and in helping communities.”

NWTC President Jeff Rafn said people who use the clinic may not fit public perception.

“Sometimes we think people who get these services are unemployed or made bad decisions,” he said. “But one of our first patients was a farmer who worked hard, but had a hard time making ends meet and didn’t have insurance.”

State clinics in Green Bay, Sheboygan and Marshfield will receive a total $2.2 million from the federal government with $128.6 million going to 219 health center programs nationwide. N.E.W. Community Clinic’s main facility is located on Bodart Street on Green Bay’s east side. A third site, Outreach Health Care, is located on Mather Street.

Kuhr said people who need dental or medical services may make an $800 to $900 trip to the emergency room if they don’t have insurance or are underinsured.

N.E.W. Community Clinic is a cost-effective alternative, she said, noting St. Vincent, St. Mary’s and Bellin hospitals provide ongoing financial support. Aurora BayCare Medical Center provides a pediatrician at a clinic at Nicolet Elementary School in Green Bay, she said.

Kuhr said she expects the clinic will remain busy as the U.S. economy continues to recover.

“We have so many uninsured people because of the economy,” she said. “We don’t have enough capacity to help everyone. The grant will be extremely useful.”

From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC board approves budget; notes enrollment decline” — After rising enrollment peaked in 2010-11 at Chippewa Valley Technical College, student numbers are declining even as area employers see growing need for trained workers.

Technical colleges in Wisconsin noticed rising numbers around 2008 during the recession as people lost their jobs, said Margaret Dickens, CVTC’s director of planning, research and grants.

This is what CVTC leaders referred to the “workforce paradox” — continued high unemployment, but not enough trained workers to fill high-demand jobs in skilled manufacturing.

“We have people out of work, but we have jobs waiting,” Barker said.

Training offered

In the 2012-13 CVTC budget approved 8-0 Thursday night by the college board, there are a couple of initiatives meant to address that demand.

The budget expands manufacturing programs to train high-tech workers in that sector, Barker said. The number of seats in a diesel trucking program also is going up because of one of the region’s other fast-growing industries.

“That’s a direct effect of the sand mining industry,” Barker said.

And as they’re seeing a decline in the number of high school graduates, the college wants to court people 35 and older who want to take classes.

“We have to reach out to the adult learners as well as we do the high school graduates,” Barker said.

CVTC’s strategy to boost older adult enrollment is to offer more classes at night and online, award credits for previous education and compress classes so they last eight weeks instead of the standard 16 weeks.

The new budget had no increase in total taxes CVTC collects from property owners in its 11-county district, but the impact to individual homeowners may vary.

The owner of a $100,000 home who paid $174.17 in taxes last year to CVTC will see a $2.65 tax increase under the new budget. But that’s assuming the property value of the hypothetical home did not decrease, and many did in the region.

The new budget also includes spending for a new Energy Education Center on CVTC’s West Campus, but that project still needs about $1 million in private donations and state approval.

“There was a bubble from the unemployment,” she said.

Enrollment reached an all-time record in 2010-11 at 4,720 full-time equivalent students. But it fell to 4,469 in the academic year that just ended, and the college expects it to stay level for 2012-13.

Reasons for drop

CVTC leaders said several factors could be contributing to the recent declining enrollment.

College President Bruce Barker said those eager to get retrained did so in the past few years.

“Those who were laid off and needed to go back to school did and are graduating,” he said.

Shifting demographics in CVTC’s 11-county area also can be playing a role.

Enrollment in western Wisconsin elementary and high schools are lower than they were in prior years, CVTC communications director Doug Olson noted.

Current third-graders are anticipated to create another “bubble” in higher education when they graduate high school, Olson said, but not as big as what CVTC saw the past couple of years.

Reduced financial aid from the government also could be preventing some students from attending, Dickens said.

As the college sees a slight drop in enrollment, it’s coming at a time when local industry demands more trained workers.

“They’re just desperate for employees,” Dickens said.

From bizjournals.com: “Milwaukee-area colleges, businesses partner to fill skills gap” — Over the next eight weeks, a group of 14 Milwaukee Area Technical College students will receive intensive training on CNC Swiss screw machines.

The students are spending two days a week at MATC working on the machines as well as two days a week at the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership learning advanced mathematics and blueprint reading, and one day a week job shadowing at Herker Industries Inc. in Menomonee Falls.

In return, Herker has guaranteed the students jobs when the class is completed.

The partnership between MATC at Herker is an example of how area technical colleges have reached out …

Read more from bizjournals.com

From prweb.com: “Local Weld Fixture Company Welcomes New Intern” – Rentapen Inc., the weld fixture specialists, located in Waukesha, hires intern from Waukesha County Technical College.

Rentapen is involved with WCTC’s Internship Program, which is an opportunity for companies to hire students for a period of time in order for the students to gain more workforce experience.

Rentapen welcomes Emily Young, a junior from WCTC as a summer intern. Young is studying Mechanical Design Technologies at WCTC. She first came to Rentapen to do a job-shadow. She shadowed one of the 3D CAD Designers to get a feeling of what Rentapen does on a daily basis.

Now she has been updating the Pro Engineer (Pro/E) library for Rentapen’s RAPid Tooling Components™ and frequent purchased parts, for instance RAPid Clamp Risers™. Young also has been learning to do production drawings and has been helping out with shipping and receiving.

“We are so pleased to have Emily join us this summer. She has a great attitude and is very intelligent. She quickly learned and used Rentapen’s Pro/E enhancements that make the 3D CAD software work faster and better for our weld fixture designers,” said Susan Straley, President and Queen of the Lean Machine Design at Rentapen Inc.

Last year Rentapen took on two interns. Peter Christiansen, who was Rentapen’s IT Programmer Intern, and Kory Maier, the CAD Drafter Intern. Both interns were hired as full time employees by the end of 2011.

Rentapen provides jobs, training and opportunities for people who work together to help manufacturers reduce costs of tooling to make their products.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Tech camp for girls targets stereotype” — Sarah Lelinski, who will be a fifth-grader at Holy Family School in the fall, said she could study math all day long.

“I love it. Something about adding and subtracting — it’s fun,” said Lelinski, who participated Wednesday in the Get Into Energy Summer Tech Camp at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Lelinski is one of about 50 area middle-school aged girls participating in the two-day camp, which continues today. It’s aimed at helping develop interest in the so-called STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. Organizers say these fields tend to be dominated by men.

Lelinski isn’t sure what she wants to do for a career, but said her aspiration is to “break stereotypes.”

“I want to break the idea that boys can only do certain things and girls can only do certain things,” she said. “Boys think they’re strong and more intelligent, but girls are intelligent, too.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 70.5 percent of third-grade girls in the Green Bay School District tested through the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts exams in November 2011 were proficient or advanced, compared with 69.8 percent of boys in the third grade. About 77 percent of both boys and girls in the sixth grade were proficient or advanced in math, but 43 percent of girls were advanced, compared with 36 percent of boys.

About 66 percent of all 10th-graders scored proficient or advanced in math, including 22.3 percent of girls and 26.5 percent of boys.

About 70 percent of fourth-grade girls who took the WKCE in November were advanced or proficient in science, compared with 67.7 percent of fourth-grade boys.

Meanwhile, 65 percent of female 10th-graders were proficient or advanced in science, compared with 68.7 percent of their male classmates. However, 29.2 percent of the girls were advanced, compared with nearly 41 percent of the boys.

Organizers said they hoped hands-on experience would encourage girls at the tech camp to continue with STEM studies.

The girls learned about the “life of a Wisconsin Public Service lineman” on Wednesday and studied the solar sunflowers at the Green Bay Botanical Garden, which are solar panels that move with the sun to gather more energy.

Activities scheduled for today include work with solar racecars and a solar oven and construction of a circuit from a lemon.

“We want to expose the girls to STEM occupations,” said Betsy Baier, nontraditional occupation coordinator for NWTC. “We realize that when they are in middle school is when they become interested in future careers, based on exposure. We want to expose them to occupations females may not see.”

Mary Frank-Arlt, community relations specialist with WPS, agreed.

“Utilities are seeing an aging work force,” she said. “And kids need exposure. You see firefighters and teachers, but how many of them see the engineer who’s keeping your lights on?”

Baier said women who become welders or engineers often were exposed to family members in those professions.

“So we hope this camp offers them another chance to see what those professionals do,” she said.

The program was funded through a $20,000 grant that is shared with Fox Valley, Moraine Park and Lakeshore technical colleges. The local camp is co-sponsored by NWTC, WPS and the Green Bay-De Pere YWCA, which hosts an after-school program called TechGYRLS aimed at keeping at-risk sixth-grade girls interested in STEM subjects.

TechGYRLS teacher Jenna Tullberg said the lessons are important.

“With advancements in technology and globalization, if our youth don’t have the skills, their jobs are going to be limited,” she said. “We want to show girls fields that provide good-paying jobs that they may not be thinking of. If you get them early, there’s a better chance they’ll believe this is something they would like to do and can do.”

Natalie Ehren, who will be an eighth-grader at Green Bay’s Lombardi Middle School in fall, plans to be a chemist or work in the environmental sciences.

“I’ve always wanted to get into the science field,” she said. “I think sometimes there’s an idea that girls go into makeup and boys go into construction. I want to break that mold.”

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Leaders try to change manufacturing perceptions” — GRAND RAPIDS — Manufacturing is not a dirty word — nor is it an industry for the uneducated.

That is the message business leaders want to share with a new generation of Wisconsinites — a generation that increasingly chooses four-year degrees, said Jim Morgan, president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation, the state’s chamber of commerce.

“The high-paying, low-skilled jobs — those are the ones that have left, and, quite frankly, I don’t know that they’re coming back,” Morgan said Wednesday during a visit to Mid-State Technical College’s Wisconsin Rapids campus.

“At the end of the day, ground zero for this is right here in the technical colleges.”

The discussion came as part of a partnership between the state chamber and the Wisconsin Technical College System to address the shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing and highlighted some of the feedback the group got from a series of 54 listening sessions in Wisconsin with more than 300 manufacturers.

In order to boost interest in manufacturing jobs across the state, the manufacturing foundation is developing a strategy aimed at resolving the shortage of skilled workers, including compiling a list of best practices, launching a public awareness campaign and assisting local chambers of commerce in addressing the issue, Morgan said.

“This is going to get solved community by community,” he said. “What you do in Wisconsin Rapids is going to look different than what happens in Eau Claire or Green Bay.”

One example of such a local effort is the Workforce Central program, a grassroots initiative facilitated through Incourage Community Foundation that has developed a three-pronged approach to workforce development, said Rick Merdan, a facilitator for Workforce Central.

Among the initiative’s programs are those that help individuals overcome the barriers to getting a degree or even their high school diploma; provide training for people who have lost their jobs and need new skills to re-enter the manufacturing world; and incumbent workers who need to upgrade their skills to enhance their positions in their respective industry, Merdan said.

“The misconception of manufacturing being ‘dirty, dumb and dangerous’ comes from all the mill shutdowns that we’ve had here,” he said. “We need to displace that.”

One of only four rural sites in the country with such a program, south Wood County stands as an example for how other communities can follow, said Al Javoroski, dean of MSTC’s Technical and Industrial Division.

“It’s about pooling our resources to make a more focused push toward educating everyone about what careers are available and what education is needed to get there,” Javoroski said. That education should start as early as the elementary or middle school level, he said.

Officials need to make an effort to publicize the work manufacturers are doing because the stories people are telling are at least five decades old, Morgan said.

“Until we get kids and parents and counselors in there to see it, how are we going to change that paradigm?” he said.

Steve Berlyn, general manager at Mariani Packing Co., a member of both the Workforce Central Funders Collaborative and its CEO Peer Council, said the cranberry processing industry has evolved dramatically during the past several years to the point where the company had to expand its Wisconsin Rapids plant.

“I think manufacturing as a whole is changing,” Berlyn said. “It’s high-tech.”

Thirty percent of the jobs in the state require a bachelor’s degree or more, while 70 percent require something more than a high school diploma, Morgan said.

“If you’re not growing something making something or mining something, the rest of us are all kind of along for the ride,” he said.

From leadertelegram.com: “Funds sought for building on CVTC’s West Campus” — A $7.9 million Energy Education Center planned for Chippewa Valley Technical College’s West Campus in Eau Claire is included in the school’s budget for the upcoming academic year.

Scheduled for a hearing and vote Thursday evening, CVTC’s 2012-13 budget would increase spending for the building and associated renovations but would not raise property taxes.

“There’s zero dollar change in the levy when compared to last year,” said Kirk Moist, CVTC’s director of finance and budgeting.

The upcoming budget is the second year of a state-mandated freeze on technical colleges’ operating costs, and CVTC’s debt payments are staying level.

CVTC plans to pay for the Energy Education Center — consisting of a 24,000-square-foot renovation of the Transportation Center on the West Campus and a 30,000-square-foot addition — through a mix of its own funding and donations.

“The big ‘if’ is there still is private-sector money being raised to pay for a large portion of the project,” said Doug Olson, CVTC’s executive director of facilities.

About $1 million in business donations still is needed before the project can move forward, he said.

When all the money is secured, CVTC would need the approval of its own board and the state Technical College System Board before building the new center.

The center will teach applications of alternative energy sources, including biofuels, solar power, geothermal heating and wind energy. College programs including heating, ventilation and air conditioning; civil engineering; construction; and electrical power distribution would be based at the center because those fields are seeing increasing use of green technology.

In recent years the college renovated parts of the Business Education Center, but the last major project was the creation of the $10.25 million Health Education Center in 2004.

“Anytime we do a major project, there’s an upward blip,” Moist said of CVTC’s spending.

The proposed budget shows a minor bump up for what taxpayers will be billed for CVTC.

The owner of a $100,000 home that paid $174.17 in taxes last year to CVTC would see a $2.65 tax increase under the proposed budget. But that’s only assuming the property value of that hypothetical home did not fall.

While the tax rate paid by homeowners will appear larger on their bill in December, that’s because property values have fallen in the technical college district’s 11-county area and are expected to again decline.

“Our property values have gone down three years in a row,” Moist said.

Currently valued at about $20.3 billion, properties within the district are projected to fall in value by about $305 million in the next year, according to CVTC’s proposed budget.

From beloitdailynews.com: “BTC plans workshops” — The Business and Community Development Division of Blackhawk Technical College will debut a summer Business Professional Development Workshop series beginning in July.

The first is set for 1 – 5 p.m. July 10 at the BTC Central Campus located between Beloit and Janesville. The workshop will be titled “Social Media Marketing: Making the Most of Your Online Presence. Cindy Leverenz will be the instructor and the fee is $59.

The second workshop will be from 8 a.m. – noon at the BTC Central Campus between Beloit and Janesville. The workshop will be titled “Applying Leadership Skills: Techniques for Effective Leadership.” Helen Proeber will be the instructor and the fee will be $59.

For information, call Amy Berendes at 608-757-7728 or e-mail to aberendes@blackhawk.edu.

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Family surprised by MSTC fundraiser” — STEVENS POINT — The Morley family expressed shock, disbelief and gratitude at the sight of an oversized check for $9,000. The generous total, $9,800 in all, was raised May 11 in the Walk for Baby Morley, a Mid-State Technical College Criminal Justice-Corrections student fundraiser for the family of a 1-year-old girl recovering from extensive surgery. The five-mile walk started and finished at Pfiffner Pioneer Park in Stevens Point.

Students ventured guesses at the rising total as donations poured in. More than 100 people registered to collect pledges, and most participated in the walk on the day of the event. Many local businesses and organizations also made large donations.

Organizers presented the check at the walk but later informed the family they had raised an additional $800 on the day of the event. The Morley family hopes to pay it forward through participation in future community fundraisers.

As for MSTC Corrections students, they discovered that when they come together as a team and community, they are capable of great achievements that change lives.

“What the students experienced was an entire community willing to step up and help this family,” said program instructor Courtney Kostuchowski. “There were tears in the eyes of almost every walker as the amount was announced.”

Beau and Jill Morley are both active members in the community and known for their commitment to inspiring and guiding youths. Beau runs the Washington House Group Home in Plover, and Jill is an elementary teacher in the Stevens Point Area Catholic School System. Beau also aids MSTC’s Corrections Program by mentoring students, speaking to classes, participating in preview days and working with interns.

“Our students feel fortunate to be in a position where they can take action to give back to and make a real difference in our community,” Kostuchowski said.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Teens, Green Bay police get chance to connect” — Dylan Mancoske’s close friend died in a drunken-driving crash earlier this year.

While coping with the tragedy, the 16-year-old Denmark High School student decided he wanted to one day become a patrol officer.

“After that incident, it really got me to thinking how I could help somehow,” he said of the death of Luke Watzka, also 16, who registered a 0.249 percent blood-alcohol content after the minivan he was driving overturned March 24 on Rosecrans Road in New Denmark.

“I don’t want that to happen to other teenagers,” Mancoske said.

He was one of 26 teens who recently took part in a weeklong series of activities as part of the Green Bay Police Department’s 12th annual teen police academy, which gives participants an insider’s look at several law enforcement careers to dispel myths and builds relationships with young people.

Previously, the program only accepted teens from Green Bay high schools, but this year partnered with several agencies to recruit teens interested in policing across Brown County.

“For high school kids who are thinking about going into a career in law enforcement, we’re trying to give them a little taste of what that would be like,” Green Bay police crime prevention officer Dave Schmitz said. “We want to make that connection with teens so they feel comfortable connecting to law enforcement.”

School resource officers informed many students about the academy, which required all participants be in good academic standing.

Students were treated to presentations from Green Bay SWAT team and K-9 officers, probation agents and others. Participants also completed an obstacle course and went to a gun range. This year’s program was bolstered by a $1,825 grant from the Crime Prevention Foundation of Brown County, which supports initiatives focused on teens and other at-risk groups.

“The academy works to open doors for them,” Schmitz added.

Law enforcement jobs

Nationwide, police and detective jobs are projected to grow by 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is slower than average for all jobs, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Agencies are increasingly looking for bilingual applicants and those with a bachelor’s degree or military experience.

Following those projections, more people are graduating with law enforcement degrees at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

The number of graduates with two-year law enforcement degrees increased from 62 in 2009 to 100 in 2011, a 61 percent jump. During that span, more graduates also completed a two-year degree program to work at jails or prisons, and the college’s 13-week law enforcement academy.

Chris Madson, public safety training manager at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, said a growing number of officers retiring statewide has opened up opportunities in law enforcement. Graduates learn about firearms, defensive tactics, traffic accident investigations and the law.

“The need is out there. Every day there is new technology and new challenges and you have to step in and address those right away before you fall behind,” he said.

Students who pass the law enforcement academy become certified to become an officer in the state. About half of those students say that they have wanted to be officers since childhood, Madson said.

A good fit?

Teenagers considering policing careers should have no criminal record. Even too many traffic violations can hurt an applicant’s chances of being hired, he said.

“The little things that they don’t think of how it will affect them five years down the line does affect them.”

Andy Lundin, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation warden, spoke to the teen academy and said some people do not know wardens have arresting powers.

“People may not understand that conservation wardens get involved in a lot more than hunting and fishing,” he said, noting cases that involve weapons, drugs or alcohol. “The goal is to give these kids a clear understanding of law enforcement and all the different areas and fields.”

Teens who participate in the program also received a tour of the maximum-security Green Bay Correctional Institution in Allouez, which included a walk through the prison cafeteria.

Kaitlin Nimmer, 17, who is going to be a senior at Green Bay Preble High School, said she expected the prison would be more raucous.

“I thought people would be shouting,” she said, but found there wasn’t much noise. Kaitlin, one of five girls in the program, said she was impressed by the K-9 presentation, which revealed how a dog could be trained to detect drugs.

“It’s really interesting to see how smart a dog can be,” she said. “The program gives you an actual idea of what law enforcement is compared to TV shows.”

Mancoske, one of the participants in Green Bay’s teen police academy, said he plans to study law enforcement in college after graduating high school.

“The academy just made me want to be a cop even more,” he said.

From jsonline.com: “Marinette Marine struggles to attract young workers” — Marinette - Career opportunities in the skilled trades are strong, but one of northern Wisconsin’s largest employers hasn’t been able to recruit more than a handful of recent high school graduates for some of the best-paying jobs in the region.

Marinette Marine Corp. said it is holding open 40 positions in its training program for welders and other shipyard jobs, hoping to attract recent high school graduates from the Marinette and Menominee, Mich., area.

The company has reached out to nine schools to find job candidates, but so far only seven recent graduates have applied for the training, which begins in July.

That’s an area where about half of the graduates go on to college, although it’s about 60% in Menominee – which is across the Menominee River from Marinette.

A typical employee at the shipyard can earn $30,000 to $40,000 a year. With overtime pay, some earn more than $60,000, according to Marinette Marine.

Yet, like many companies, it is struggling to persuade young people to enter the skilled trades, including welding, pipe fitting and electrical work.

To fill jobs, companies recruit each other’s employees, said Mark Kaiser, president of Lindquist Machine Corp. in Green Bay.

“If we don’t find enough talent, the fact is we are not going to be able to grow our businesses,” Kaiser said.

With 1,400 employees, Marinette Marine is immersed in U.S. Navy shipbuilding work that should last for years. That has resulted in the addition of thousands of jobs at the shipyard and 700 suppliers in 43 states, including more than 120 Wisconsin companies.

Each littoral combat ship takes about 40 months to build. The 10 ships under contract will keep the work going for nine to 12 years – longer, if Marinette is awarded additional ships in a new round of bids in 2016.

The jobs aren’t going to fizzle out any time soon. Right now, the future looks “pretty rosy for us,” Marinette Marine President and CEO Charles Goddard said.

“We can easily handle 100 or more hires out of high schools in a year,” Goddard added.

But many parents won’t encourage their children to enter the skilled trades. They’ve seen manufacturers cut jobs and wreak havoc in the lives of people who depended on that work.

“It’s a tough row to hoe because the bigger issue is with the parents,” Kaiser said. “When they were young, they probably worked in high-volume, repetitive factory jobs.” Those jobs have disappeared.

Training at the gates

Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of Marinette Marine’s founding. The company has had layoffs in the past involving hundreds of employees, but it has been one of the area’s strongest employers.

The company contacted area high schools last fall, telling school officials about its training program through Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

The training center is a mere 300 feet from the shipyard gates in Marinette. It will offer paid instruction in welding, ship fitting, pipe fitting and electrical work, along with on-the-job training that pays about $12 an hour.

In addition to work experience, students may earn credits at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College that can apply toward a two-year degree.

It’s the first time Marinette Marine has offered this opportunity to students, although it has provided training for hundreds of its regular employees and offers tuition assistance for employees pursuing a college degree.

The company has added 600 jobs in the past 12 months, largely for the Navy work, but for other projects as well. It has hired people from across the United States but still worries about attrition as older employees retire.

The average age of shipyard employees is 45. That must come down, Goddard said, so the company doesn’t face workforce shortages as a wave of employees heads into retirement in the not-too-distant future.

It’s also why Marinette Marine has reached out to area high schools to recruit young talent, Goddard said.

Marinette school officials did not return calls asking about the training program that was offered to their graduating seniors.

Thinking of the future

Erik Bergh, superintendent of the Menominee School District, said Marinette Marine was very aggressive, “in a good way,” about trying to provide opportunities to this year’s graduates.

“They are really encouraging students to see that there are many roads in life, and that working for them would be a great experience,” Bergh said. “Manufacturing has been a big part of our area ever since the timber industry went away. We have companies that have rebounded nicely from the recession and are now concerned about the availability of talent in terms of expansions and the aging workforce.”

Still, persuading students to enter the skilled trades hasn’t been easy. They are attracted to other careers, and the area has a low unemployment rate.

“There is no doubt it’s a quandary. We have spent an awful lot of time with this,” Bergh said.

Too many high school students don’t have a career plan or interest in college, said Jim Golembeski, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board in Green Bay.

“The top kids are very motivated, and they’re going to college or tech school. But there’s a whole group of kids, and I would say it’s a pretty large group, who are not thinking about what happens after high school,” Golembeski said.

“I see it over and over again. Those are the kids who could really benefit from something like the Marinette training,” he added.

Justin Plansky of Menominee, Mich., is one of the seven applicants for the company’s training. He graduated from high school earlier this month and works as a dishwasher at Applejacks restaurant.

Plansky said he was the only one in his graduating class who took four years of mechanical shop classes. He preferred the hands-on instruction, with hot metal and sparks flying, over classroom lectures.

“Some people think shop classes are boring, but they’re really not,” Plansky said. He’s pursuing a career as a welder but said he might switch gears someday and become a high school metal-shop teacher.

Homegrown talent

Plansky is the type of student Marinette Marine wants. He has welding experience, is mechanically oriented and doesn’t want to leave the area.

The company may widen its search for recent graduates if it can’t fill training positions locally, but prefers homegrown talent.

“This is a very rural area, which is why we cast the net to approximately nine schools,” said Phillip Henslee, a Marinette Marine human resources manager and the company’s vocational outreach coordinator.

Henslee came to Marinette from the semiconductor industry.

Given the area’s shipbuilding heritage, he was surprised at how difficult it was to find skilled-trade recruits.

“I was very amazed at how much of a downturn the trades have taken over the last several decades,” he said.

This fall, the company will reach out to high school juniors, trying to get them interested in the training before their senior year, when many students already have made post-graduation plans.

Henslee remains optimistic, saying the program will build on its success over time.

“This is a challenge,” he said. “But it’s a winnable challenge.”

From htrnews.com: “Speaker: Wisconsin lags in workforce development” — CLEVELAND — When it comes to workforce development, “here in the state of Wisconsin we’re really in the Dark Ages,” consultant Tim Sullivan said during a presentation at Lakeshore Technical College.

In terms of economic development, “the only thing that’s really slowing us down is our workforce,” said Sullivan, a special consultant for business and workforce development for the state of Wisconsin. He heads the two-person Office of Business Development.

Sullivan, who was president and CEO of Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International before it was sold to Caterpillar last year, spoke to business representatives, educators and others Tuesday about the gap between the skills that job-seekers have and the skills employers need.

He will present a report to Gov. Scott Walker in mid-July regarding closing the skills gap in the state.

Plenty of jobs

“We always have had the jobs in the state of Wisconsin,” Sullivan said. “We’ve always had very good-paying jobs. The problem that we’ve got is you can’t bridge the gap between skills that we have available and skills that we need.”

When a business is planning to expand, “the first thing on your list is workforce,” according to Sullivan. When Bucyrus International was growing, “I couldn’t find workers,” he said, referring to welders, machinists and engineers. The company ended up opening a plant in Texas, which now employs 200 welders. Sullivan said those should have been Wisconsin jobs.

Texas has seen an increase of almost 900,000 people in its workforce in the last three years, while Wisconsin has lost 20,000, he said.

“We have to create a workforce in our state,” Sullivan said.

He said Wisconsin’s workforce development system is antiquated and inadequate.

“We put effectively no state money into workforce development,” he said.

The federal funding the state receives is earmarked to help only the most impoverished people, according to Sullivan. In addition, much is used for administration, and the amount used for administration needs to be reduced and more money put into training, he said.

The state also needs one set of employment data used by all agencies, according to Sullivan, and it needs a new software system to match employers and potential employees more effectively.

Education

“It cannot be just workforce development, it has to move into the education area as well,” he said.

Educational philosophy shifted in the 1980s toward preparing students for four-year colleges, he said.

However, “70 percent of the jobs in the state of Wisconsin require a two-year degree or no post-secondary degree,” according to Sullivan.

He spoke of 20-somethings who have a four-year-degree but go back to technical school because they can’t find a job — something he referred to as a “do-over.”

It’s important for high school counselors to provide students with effective career counseling, according to Sullivan.

“Let’s get them started down the right path as early as we can,” he said.

Reaction

John Lukas, vice president of LDI Industries in Manitowoc, agreed presentations like Sullivan’s are valuable.

“I felt that he was in some ways preaching to the choir, though,” he said. “It seemed there were a lot of the agencies and educational people here.”

Lukas said he was “a little disappointed” more manufacturers didn’t attend.

“We complain and point the finger a lot but yet we don’t seem to be at the table to be part of the solution as much as I’d like to see,” he said. They “really need to bring more of the manufacturers to the table to participate in the solutions.”

From gazettextra.com: “BTC expands off-hours offerings” — More night classes this fall at Blackhawk Technical College will boost local workers’ opportunities, officials said.

BTC has offered night classes for a long time, but the increase will allow students to complete associate degrees entirely during the evening, officials said.

Programs affected are accounting, business management, early childhood education and human resources.

 

From jsonline.com: “Training, dozens of positions available, but applicants are few” —  Marinette - Career opportunities in the skilled trades are strong, but one of northern Wisconsin’s largest employers hasn’t been able to recruit more than a handful of recent high school graduates for some of the best-paying jobs in the region.

Marinette Marine Corp. said it is holding open 40 positions in its training program for welders and other shipyard jobs, hoping to attract recent high school graduates from the Marinette and Menominee, Mich., area.

The company has reached out to nine schools to find job candidates, but so far only seven recent graduates have applied for the training, which begins in July.

That’s an area where about half of the graduates go on to college, although it’s about 60% in Menominee – which is across the Menominee River from Marinette.

A typical employee at the shipyard can earn $30,000 to $40,000 a year. With overtime pay, some earn more than $60,000, according to Marinette Marine.

Yet, like many companies, it is struggling to persuade young people to enter the skilled trades, including welding, pipe fitting and electrical work.

To fill jobs, companies recruit each other’s employees, said Mark Kaiser, president of Lindquist Machine Corp. in Green Bay.

“If we don’t find enough talent, the fact is we are not going to be able to grow our businesses,” Kaiser said.

With 1,400 employees, Marinette Marine is immersed in U.S. Navy shipbuilding work that should last for years. That has resulted in the addition of thousands of jobs at the shipyard and 700 suppliers in 43 states, including more than 120 Wisconsin companies.

Each littoral combat ship takes about 40 months to build. The 10 ships under contract will keep the work going for nine to 12 years – longer, if Marinette is awarded additional ships in a new round of bids in 2016.

The jobs aren’t going to fizzle out any time soon. Right now, the future looks “pretty rosy for us,” Marinette Marine President and CEO Charles Goddard said.

“We can easily handle 100 or more hires out of high schools in a year,” Goddard added.

But many parents won’t encourage their children to enter the skilled trades. They’ve seen manufacturers cut jobs and wreak havoc in the lives of people who depended on that work.

“It’s a tough row to hoe because the bigger issue is with the parents,” Kaiser said. “When they were young, they probably worked in high-volume, repetitive factory jobs.” Those jobs have disappeared.

Training at the gates

Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of Marinette Marine’s founding. The company has had layoffs in the past involving hundreds of employees, but it has been one of the area’s strongest employers.

The company contacted area high schools last fall, telling school officials about its training program through Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

The training center is a mere 300 feet from the shipyard gates in Marinette. It will offer paid instruction in welding, ship fitting, pipe fitting and electrical work, along with on-the-job training that pays about $12 an hour.

In addition to work experience, students may earn credits at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College that can apply toward a two-year degree.

It’s the first time Marinette Marine has offered this opportunity to students, although it has provided training for hundreds of its regular employees and offers tuition assistance for employees pursuing a college degree.

The company has added 600 jobs in the past 12 months, largely for the Navy work, but for other projects as well. It has hired people from across the United States but still worries about attrition as older employees retire.

The average age of shipyard employees is 45. That must come down, Goddard said, so the company doesn’t face workforce shortages as a wave of employees heads into retirement in the not-too-distant future.

It’s also why Marinette Marine has reached out to area high schools to recruit young talent, Goddard said.

Marinette school officials did not return calls asking about the training program that was offered to their graduating seniors.

Thinking of the future

Erik Bergh, superintendent of the Menominee School District, said Marinette Marine was very aggressive, “in a good way,” about trying to provide opportunities to this year’s graduates.

“They are really encouraging students to see that there are many roads in life, and that working for them would be a great experience,” Bergh said. “Manufacturing has been a big part of our area ever since the timber industry went away. We have companies that have rebounded nicely from the recession and are now concerned about the availability of talent in terms of expansions and the aging workforce.”

Still, persuading students to enter the skilled trades hasn’t been easy. They are attracted to other careers, and the area has a low unemployment rate.

“There is no doubt it’s a quandary. We have spent an awful lot of time with this,” Bergh said.

Too many high school students don’t have a career plan or interest in college, said Jim Golembeski, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board in Green Bay.

“The top kids are very motivated, and they’re going to college or tech school. But there’s a whole group of kids, and I would say it’s a pretty large group, who are not thinking about what happens after high school,” Golembeski said.

“I see it over and over again. Those are the kids who could really benefit from something like the Marinette training,” he added.

Justin Plansky of Menominee, Mich., is one of the seven applicants for the company’s training. He graduated from high school earlier this month and works as a dishwasher at Applejacks restaurant.

Plansky said he was the only one in his graduating class who took four years of mechanical shop classes. He preferred the hands-on instruction, with hot metal and sparks flying, over classroom lectures.

“Some people think shop classes are boring, but they’re really not,” Plansky said. He’s pursuing a career as a welder but said he might switch gears someday and become a high school metal-shop teacher.

Homegrown talent

Plansky is the type of student Marinette Marine wants. He has welding experience, is mechanically oriented and doesn’t want to leave the area.

The company may widen its search for recent graduates if it can’t fill training positions locally, but prefers homegrown talent.

“This is a very rural area, which is why we cast the net to approximately nine schools,” said Phillip Henslee, a Marinette Marine human resources manager and the company’s vocational outreach coordinator.

Henslee came to Marinette from the semiconductor industry.

Given the area’s shipbuilding heritage, he was surprised at how difficult it was to find skilled-trade recruits.

“I was very amazed at how much of a downturn the trades have taken over the last several decades,” he said.

This fall, the company will reach out to high school juniors, trying to get them interested in the training before their senior year, when many students already have made post-graduation plans.

Henslee remains optimistic, saying the program will build on its success over time.

“This is a challenge,” he said. “But it’s a winnable challenge.”

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Manufacturing leaders try to change perceptions” — GRAND RAPIDS — Manufacturing is not a dirty word — nor is it an industry for the uneducated.

That is the message business leaders want to share with a new generation of Wisconsinites — a generation that increasingly chooses four-year degrees, said Jim Morgan, president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation, the state’s chamber of commerce.

“The high-paying, low-skilled jobs — those are the ones that have left, and, quite frankly, I don’t know that they’re coming back,” Morgan said Wednesday during a visit to Mid-State Technical College’s Wisconsin Rapids campus.

“At the end of the day, ground zero for this is right here in the technical colleges.”

The discussion came as part of a partnership between the state chamber and the Wisconsin Technical College System to address the shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing and highlighted some of the feedback the group got from a series of 54 listening sessions in Wisconsin with more than 300 manufacturers.

In order to boost interest in manufacturing jobs across the state, the foundation is developing a strategy aimed at resolving the shortage of skilled workers, including compiling a list of best practices, launching a public awareness campaign and assisting local chambers of commerce in addressing the issue, Morgan said.

“This is going to get solved community by community,” he said. “What you do in Wisconsin Rapids is going to look different than what happens in Eau Claire or Green Bay.”

One example of such a local effort is the Workforce Central program, a grass-roots initiative facilitated through Incourage Community Foundation that has developed a three-pronged approach to workforce development, said Rick Merdan, a facilitator for Workforce Central.

Among the initiative’s programs are those that help individuals overcome the barriers to getting a degree or even their high school diploma; provide training for people who have lost their jobs and need new skills to re-enter the manufacturing world; and incumbent workers who need to upgrade their skills to enhance their position in their respective industry, Merdan said.

“The misconception of manufacturing being ‘dirty, dumb and dangerous’ comes from all the mill shutdowns that we’ve had here,” he said. “We need to displace that.”

One of only four rural sites in the country with such a program, south Wood County stands as an example for how other communities can follow, said Al Javoroski, dean of MSTC’s Technical and Industrial Division.

“It’s about pooling our resources to make a more focused push toward educating everyone about what careers are available and what education is needed to get there,” Javoroski said. That education should start as early as the elementary or middle school level, he said.

Officials need to make an effort to publicize the work manufacturers are doing because the stories people are telling are at least five decades old, Morgan said.

“Until we get kids and parents and counselors in there to see it, how are we going to change that paradigm?” he said.

Steve Berlyn, general manager at Mariani Packing Co., a member of both the Workforce Central Funders Collaborative and its CEO Peer Council, said the cranberry processing industry has evolved dramatically during the past several years to the point where the company had to expand its Wisconsin Rapids plant.

“I think manufacturing as a whole is changing,” Berlyn said. “It’s high-tech.”

Thirty percent of the jobs in the state require a bachelor’s degree or more, while 70 percent require something more than a high school diploma, Morgan said.

“If you’re not growing something, making something or mining something, the rest of us are all kind of along for the ride,” he said.

From wsaw.com: “Technical college helps more students find work following graduation” — In this tough economy, teachers there say skilled trade workers are more in-demand than ever.

Leaders at Mid- State Technical College say many employers have jobs ready, but need workers with special training. That puts pressure on the students to be prepared and ready for the real world as soon as they graduate, that’s why the college is there to help.

Vice President of Student Affairs, Connie Willfahrt says the do as much as they can to help students find jobs following graduation. “One of the key resources used to help both students and employers is called tech connect. It’s a service for employers to post jobs. It’s very widely used.”

The school graduates around 1,000 students each year. About 86 percent of them end up in a career path they had hoped to get into.

School leaders say that number is higher than in years back, and they continually see their students getting more jobs each year.

View video from wsaw.com

From gazettextra.com: “WMC working to end workforce skills gap” — JANESVILLE — “All the Walker photo ops are in factories, and it’s like he doesn’t get that manufacturing is the industry of the past. We need to be thinking about the future, about alternative energy, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

To some readers, that quote in a November edition of the Capital Times was a slap at Gov. Scott Walker.

To an industry, however, it was a painful reminder that perceptions of manufacturing often are wildly different than reality.

“If you put that quote up in front of manufacturers, their heads will explode,” said Jim Morgan, president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation. “That speaker couldn’t have been any more wrong in just two sentences.

“But it does show people’s understanding—or lack of understanding—of manufacturing in this state.”

That misunderstanding is the result of many things, said Morgan, who stopped at Blackhawk Technical College on Monday to outline what his organization has learned about a workforce paradox in Wisconsin, where unemployment stands at about 7 percent but manufacturers can’t find the employees they need.

The paradox also is referred to as a skills gap, and WMC isn’t alone in talking about it.

In Wisconsin alone, he said, there are seven regional economic development organizations, 11 workforce investment boards, 12 Cooperative Educational Services Agencies, 16 technical college districts and 426 K-12 school districts, and they’re all familiar with the issue.

“One thing about Wisconsin is that it’s very parochial,” Morgan said. “How they do something in Fond du Lac is not how they do it Appleton.

“Given that, the problem is that all these efforts to address the problem don’t line up.”

Morgan and other WMC staff members have visited 54 Wisconsin communities and more than 300 manufacturers to get input. Morgan is sharing the results of those visits at each of the state’s 16 technical schools.

Manufacturers are starting to question Wisconsin’s work ethic, a quality that has long been heralded around the nation, Morgan said.

Social skills are a problem, and many companies now celebrate employee attendance.

Morgan said the state’s technical college system would be a leader in tightening the skills gap.

But before that can happen, young students need to know that manufacturing today is all about innovation and entrepreneurship, he said.

“We do our students a disservice by not providing accurate data on the job market, current wages and the skills that are in demand,” he said.

Labor data is often not communicated, and when it is, it’s often wrong, he said, adding that too often students pursue costly four-year degrees only to discover they can’t get a job.

Perceptions need to change, too, and Morgan said manufacturers must take responsibility for engaging their communities and local school systems and telling the story of modern day manufacturing.

“We need to get rid of the stereotype that manufacturing is dirty, dark and dangerous that people have been carrying around for 40 or 50 years,” said BTC President Thomas Eckert.

BTC, he said, is working toward development of an advanced manufacturing training center that will consolidate its manufacturing-oriented program into one building and layer in the soft skills training that manufacturers say are too often lacking among graduates.

The school includes industry advisers for each of its programs and has held “skills summits” to gather employer feedback.

James Otterstein, Rock County’s economic development manager, said an upcoming report would indicate that the vast majority of high school students in Rock County decide upon a career track in junior high. Most often, it’s formed with the help of family and friends, followed by school personnel and Internet resources.

“Sixty percent indicate they intend to pursue a four-year degree, while only 20 percent say they will go after a two-year degree,” he said. “There’s a huge opportunity to hit these schools with accurate information about local labor markets.”

Otterstein noted that manufacturing could be a tough sell in Rock County, which was devastated in 2008 with more than 30 plant closings.

“Locally, there was a lot of pain associated with manufacturing,” he said.

Morgan said WMC will work with all stakeholders to ensure that every Wisconsin high school students has an open mind to available career choices and understands the opportunities they present.

In one year, WMC hopes to be part of a solution that includes unemployment of about 5 percent with manufacturers finding the employees they need. It envisions more employable workers, as well as a more positive attitude toward manufacturing and its role as an economic driver.

That’s best summed up, Morgan said, in WMC’s workforce vision: “Manufacturers have to tell it, parents have to allow it, educators have to know it and students have to choose it.”

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