From greenbaypressgazette.com: “NWTC seals Miller Electric welding training deal” — Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and Miller Electric Manufacturing Co. have finalized an agreement that will see $1.3 million in new welding equipment going to the college and training credits going back to Miller employees.

The three-year agreement brings updated welding and plasma cutting equipment to NWTC campuses in Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay and Wausaukee High School.

Miller and NWTC have worked together for more than a decade, and Monday’s announcement comes at a time when welders are in demand, officials said.

“There is a projection there is going to be a shortage in North America of more than 250,000 welders … within the next couple of years, and that is vital to the manufacturing economy that is a mainstay of the overall gross domestic product,” said Mike Weller, president of Appleton-based Miller Electric. “There are many small employers out there that are the backbone of this economy that are hurting for those kinds of skilled employees.”

A few years ago NWTC was graduating about 75 welding students a year. That number has increased to about 200 a year, and the institution has increased its instruction staff from three or four staff members to 11, said NWTC President Jeffrey Rafn.

“Most of these jobs that are in these industries are highly skilled and need people that come out of our college with at least one or two years of education,” he said. “You used to be able to go into manufacturing with a high school diploma. That’s not really the case anymore; you need to have some high skills.”

Joseph Draves, associate dean of trades and technologies at the college, said they anticipate demand for welding instruction to remain strong.

“We’re running out of lab space, and we expect it to continue to grow,” he said. “We’re looking at a section yet this year in Sturgeon Bay.”

The college is also looking for other places it can add welding courses for high school students, similar to a program in Wausaukee. Green Bay Southwest High School is adding a welding lab, he said.

The college is removing its 3-year-old welding equipment and will start installing the new gear next week.

“Students are getting training on the latest technology available. That’s what they’re going to see when they get into the workforce,” Draves said. “We’re preparing them to go out into the work force and be ready to hit the ground running.”

From bizjournals.com: “Wisconsin technical colleges join multi-state career pathway study” — The Wisconsin Technical College System is teaming with nine states to create a framework of benchmarks and success measures for career pathway initiatives, a model of education that’s viewed as a method of filling the skills gap in the state.

The Alliance for Quality Career Pathways will also partner with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Law and Social Policy and the Joyce and James Irvine Foundations, according to a WTCS press release.

“The WTCS has developed a number of new educational models that are nimble in responding to the changing education and training needs of both businesses and students,” WTCS president Dan Clancy said in a written statement. “Our recent success with career pathways for both high school students and returning adults will only benefit from being part of the alliance.”

Career pathways are a coordinated sequence of education and training services that simplify for students advancement in education and employment in an industry or job sector. WTCS career pathway plans target lower-skilled adults and high school students to help them earn the postsecondary credentials needed to compete for higher-skilled jobs.

The model has been gaining traction, but until this alliance there has been little research of what results in a successful program and how best to measure that success, according to WTCS.

The other participants are Arkansas, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.

“Wisconsin should be proud of its involvement in this effort to increase the number of Americans with postsecondary credentials,” Gov. Scott Walker said in the release. “I look forward to the results of this multi-state collaboration and am hopeful it will yield yet another route for Wisconsin students to learn the knowledge needed to help solve our state’s skills gap.”

From BizTimes.com: “Manufacturing Partnership aims to close skills gap” — Herker specializes in precision machining, contract welding and mechanical assembly. The company’s sales have grown significantly over the last five years and customers have increasingly outsourced processes to Herker, which has contributed to an $8 million investment in equipment and capacity, according to the company.

“Manufacturing is vital to the economic success of our City and the region, and building a skilled workforce is key to these companies and their ability to compete,” Mayor Barrett said.   “We have growing companies that need skilled workers, and we have people who need jobs.  I am proud of this partnership and our ability to work with local manufacturers like Herker.”

Barrett introduced the Manufacturing Partnership during his State of the City address in February. The program is held in cooperation with the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB), Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP) and aims to close the skills gap in the manufacturing sector.

“We developed this partnership with the understanding that we have an opportunity to move Milwaukee residents into family-sustaining jobs.  This community has been devastated and as this sector of the economy grows we have a real strategy to get people back to work,” said Don Sykes, President/CEO of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board WRTP/BIG STEP has assisted the partnership in finding companies who would like to train workers for open positions. This is the third graduation from the program in the last few months, according to the city.

“We have manufacturers throughout Milwaukee and the region struggling to find the skilled workforce they need and our model demonstrates that strong leadership from the private and public sector can solve these challenges,” said Earl Buford, President and CEO of WRTP/BIG STEP.

From lacrossetribune.com: “Good jobs are out there, but manufacturers seeking skilled workers” — Last year, 47 hourly workers at Strohwig Industries took home more than $100,000 each.

With an average wage of $25 per hour, employees of this Richfield tooling and machining manufacturer raked in six figures partly because of monthly profit-sharing bonuses, but mostly because a shortage of skilled workers is forcing many of them to work overtime.

“We’re constantly looking for qualified employees,” says Mike Retzer, the controller for Strohwig, located about 25 miles northwest of Milwaukee.

Strohwig is not alone. In March, 250 employers, instructors and community members representing Wisconsin’s manufacturing industry met in Madison for a conference hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state business lobby.

The goal of the conference, titled “The Workforce Paradox,” was to address the skills gap that is preventing manufacturers from filling vacant positions and is stalling job creation in Wisconsin.

Vicki Markussen, executive director of the 7 Rivers Alliance, said the strong metal manufacturing sector in the Coulee Region has led to a strong demand for welders and machinists.

Now that the economy is beginning to recover, those companies are hiring again, but many of the workers have moved on to other jobs, and there aren’t enough new trainees to fill the need.

“These people aren’t there,” she said. “The workforce just isn’t there.”

But the jobs are, says  Jim Morgan, vice president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and president of the WMC Foundation.

“People don’t understand we are still employing (more than) 430,000 people in manufacturing in this state,” he said.“I don’t think Wisconsin survives without (manufacturing). This state was built on it.”

The number of manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin had fallen in recent years, from nearly 600,000 in 1998 to just over 450,000 today, though manufacturing still accounts for about 16 percent of all state jobs. And in the past year, it has begun to rebound.

In fact, the industry has room to grow even larger, but there aren’t enough workers for the available jobs. A recent WMC survey found that 43 percent of employers said they were having trouble hiring new employees, with more than half of those citing a lack of qualified employees as the reason.

To help close this skills gap, companies across the state are adopting strategies to get high school students interested in manufacturing-related jobs.

Take Sentry Equipment Corp., an Oconomowoc manufacturing firm that makes more than 50 products geared toward saving energy and increasing sustainability. The company has provided on-the-job training for local resident Lee Heinecke and even paid for some of his classes at a nearby technical college.

Rick Steinke, the company’s vice president of manufacturing, says Sentry is willing to spend a little extra time, money and effort to recruit younger workers. This is one way manufacturing companies can adapt to the current shortage in skilled workers: If you can’t find them, grow your own.

The Department of Workforce Development is also is working to close the gap, with a series of programs, some of which work with manufacturers to train potential employees.

“Manufacturing today is a high tech process involving highly sophisticated, computer-driven production equipment,” DWD spokesman John Dipko says, adding that just one-third of Wisconsin’s working adults have training that includes a two-year technical college degree or more.

Pilot program launched

Among the state programs is Wisconsin Workers Win or “W3,” which allows recently unemployed individuals to participate in six-week “boot camps” at manufacturers’ worksites to sharpen their skills and interact with potential employers. In addition to unemployment benefits, the 500 expected participants get a $75 a week stipend from the program, which is being tested in 10 southern Wisconsin counties, including Milwaukee, Rock, Racine and Kenosha.

“These programs add a little bit of urgency to solving the problem of getting people back to work,” Morgan says. “Once you get people back to work, you can start the on-the-job training.“

Morgan also stresses the importance of more collaboration between manufacturers, high schools and technical colleges.

“Manufacturers need to do a better job of getting people into their facilities, but schools need to advertise better, too,” Morgan says. “It’s a matter of manufacturing survival to get these programs in place.“

Combating misconceptions

With the Baby Boomer generation on the brink of retirement, manufacturers such as Sentry are about to lose many employees with decades of experience. Unless these workers can be replaced with the same number of competent younger employees, the manufacturing industry will not be able to keep up with demand.

But many people, says Morgan of WMC, still think of manufacturing jobs as “dumb, dirty and dangerous.” He sees this as a threat to the state’s economic future: “Students’ perception of manufacturing jobs is outdated. Those are the jobs that are in demand.

“Unless we start to change people’s perceptions of manufacturing, we’re going to be in trouble for the long term.“

Tony Ptacek, chief financial officer of D&S Manufacturing in Black River Falls said his problem is finding young people interested in learning skills like welding because of the stigma attached to manufacturing jobs.

“We could grow faster if we thought there was a stronger availability of new talent,” Ptacek said.

When the company is hiring, Ptacek said they often host open houses to show prospective candidates what to expect at the plant, which makes steel parts for heavy equipment.

“We take pride in the quality of our facility, the cleanliness,” he said. “It’s not the stereotypical manufacturing facility that’s dirty … It’s a nice, clean safe place to work. That does a lot in convincing them.”

Jim Kitchen, the lead instructor for the Machine Tool Technology Program at Fox Valley Technical College, thinks there’s been a societal shift in what it means to be successful. He says students who might have been happy going to a two-year technical school have been persuaded to attend four-year institutions due to pressure from educators and parents.

“Everybody wants their kids to be the next president,” Kitchen says.

Steinke has also noticed this change in attitude toward manufacturing. He has worked at various Wisconsin manufacturing companies since 1982 and says that when he took a job in the industry after earning his degree at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, it was judged a good career move.

“There was pride in the workmanship,” Steinke recalls. “It wasn’t considered a bad thing to be in manufacturing.”

According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly salary for a manufacturing worker in Wisconsin was $1,035 in 2011, or about $54,000 a year.

And manufacturing promises to be a growth industry, assuming businesses can find enough qualified workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 14.3 percent national growth in the number of manufacturing jobs between 2010 and 2020.

Program launched career

Among the most innovative programs for getting young people interested in manufacturing careers is Bots IQ Wisconsin, a competition in which high school students design and build robots with the help of manufacturers. Retzer, head of the Milwaukee chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, said companies, including Strohwig, sponsor teams, make parts for their robots and mentor students along the way.

Retzer gives the teams he sponsors a tour of Strohwig so they can see what manufacturing is actually about. He says they’re often surprised.

“They’re not dirty smoke-stack industries that everybody thinks is manufacturing,” Retzer says. “And they’re not the mundane, routine jobs. They’re mentally challenging and they’re very fulfilling from the mental and from the career and earnings part.”

Alex Leonhardt, a former Bots IQ competitor and current employee at Mahuta Tool in Germantown, says the competition got him interested in manufacturing, which has turned out to be lucrative.

“I actually had my mother call me a ‘factory rat’ when I first started working in the trade,” says Leonhardt, 23. “Then, over the last few years when my pay started to increase — she always did my taxes — she finally started to realize that I was making $10,000 more a year than she was, and I am not even at my final wage yet.”

Leonhardt works as a computer numerical control programmer, which means he reads the blueprints for a specific machine part and writes computer programs to ensure that they get cut properly from a solid block of steel.

Leonhardt is in the final stages of completing a five-year apprenticeship with Mahuta, which will earn him his journeyman’s card and the title of tool-and-die maker, meaning he is qualified to work in any tool-and-die shop in the nation. As part of the apprenticeship, Mahuta paid for him to get his two-year associate’s degree from Moraine Park Technical College.

When Lee Heinecke graduated from Oconomowoc High School in 2007, he, like many 18 year olds, had no idea what kind of a career he wanted to go into. So when his cousin told him about an opening at Sentry, Heinecke thought, “Why not?”

While Heinecke, 23, had toured a factory before — his uncle was a machinist — he started work at the company not knowing what to expect. He enjoyed the work and began taking classes at Waukesha County Technical College. Sentry paid for the first two semesters.

“I feel like there’s a lot of room for growth for me here,” he says. “I’m excited for it.”

From newrichmond-news.com: “WITC awarded major workforce grant” — The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, Inc., recently announced that Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College is one of five Wisconsin technical colleges that will share $3.8 million as recipients of its Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grants.

These colleges will use the grants to provide the specific training necessary to help fill available jobs at partner businesses with advanced manufacturing needs. Through real-world training, students will earn a meaningful degree, diploma, or certificate, leading to job placement in family-sustaining occupations.

“We feel honored to be recognized by the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation as one of six projects being grant funded to address the skills gap for local employers,” said Charlie Glazman, WITC associate dean of continuing education. “The Associate Degree Program in Composite Technology Technician that WITC is proposing with this grant will be the first in the State of Wisconsin.”

WITC’s $602,400 grant will be used in a partnership with Kestrel Aircraft to create a first-of-its-kind training program in Wisconsin. The associate degree in composite technology program will address the need for qualified aircraft fabrication workers.

Each program represents a partnership between the technical college and one or more Wisconsin businesses for the joint development or expansion of an advanced manufacturing degree or certification program. Funds will be used to support the significant investment in equipment, supplies, and specialized instruction that colleges must make to provide training in this area. These grants allow the colleges to make those investments, informed by partner businesses that will take a hands-on role in the development of program design and curricula. Through these collaborations, students will benefit most — earning an education that they can not only use at a partner business, but take with them into their future.

The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, a private, non-profit organization, created this pilot grant to address the gap between Wisconsin’s workforce needs and its available workers.

“The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation is committed to ensuring that postsecondary education prepares students for immediate employment, while creating a stronger connection between that education and employers,” said Foundation Chair Richard D. George. “When capacity to provide the right skill set to workers is increased at the technical college level, the result is more well-trained workers prepared for on-the-job success. It’s a win-win for Wisconsin — our families and our workforce.”

The number of program completers and resulting job placements achieved during the three-year grant period will be used to determine the impact of fostering mutually-beneficial relationships between higher education and private industry, to better understand what makes a partnership successful.

Other Wisconsin technical colleges awarded grants includes Gateway Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College, Nicolet Area Technical College and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.

From whitefishbay.patch.com: “Local film grad directs movie on Silver Spring” — For as long as he can remember, Nate Schardin has wanted to be a filmmaker.

After taking a film production class at Nicolet High School, he went to Milwaukee Area Technical College, where he recently received his degree in television and video production.

Shoppers on Silver Spring Drive received a sneak peek of him filming his latest effort, “The Vampire Formerly Known as Dracula,” Friday morning in front of the former El Guapo’s building near Berkeley Boulevard.

Schardin directed the film, which was written byMilwaukee High School for the Arts freshman Ian Walls. Schardin decided to shoot some of the scenes outside the former El Guapo’s space because he works next door at Fox Bay Cinema Grill, which is one of three historic theaters in the Milwaukee area hosting this year’s film festival.

Schardin got involved with the film because of his long involvement in the Milwaukee Film Festival’s Collaborative Cinema program, where he has interned since his days at Nicolet. Schardin has done everything from staffing the craft services table to shooting a promotional documentary for the program.

“For as long as I can remember my life has been devoted to the love of and production of movies,” Schardin said. “I am so honored, excited, and humbled to have been chosen to direct this year’s Collaborative Cinema film. To stand amongst the talented and visionary directors of years past is incredibly validating.”

The film is a comedy about a traditional Dracula ending up in contemporary America only to find himself displaced by a new breed of fashionable vampires. The short film will be shot over the course of three days and will premiere in “The Milwaukee Show” at the 2012 Milwaukee Film Festival, which runs from Sept. 27 through Oct. 11.

This year, over 50 high school students, college students, and local writers enrolled Milwaukee Film’s Collaborative Cinema screenwriting workshops. Writers developed a short script idea from a one-page treatment into a 10-page script, and worked with screenwriters, educators and filmmakers over the course of several months.

The top five scripts were then pitched by five emerging local directors to a deciding panel of industry professionals, which included Carlo Besasie (Tempest Pictures), Mark Foote (Flexible Films, LLC), Jeff Kurz (Milwaukee Film Production Coordinator), and Kara Mulrooney (Gal Friday Films).

“Ian’s script immediately won over the Collaborative Cinema screenwriting mentors with its wit,” said Milwaukee Film Education Director Susan Kerns. “In Nathaniel’s pitch, he followed the script’s lead and sold us on an amusing, historically based tale of past meeting present and cultures colliding. Ian and Nathaniel will be a terrific fit for each other’s work. I couldn’t be more excited to be working on this production for the next few months with these talented young filmmakers.”

From superiortelegram.com: “WTC System honors Charter Films with ‘Futuremakers’ award” — A major manufacturer in Superior is the latest recipient of the “Futuremakers Partner Award” from the Wisconsin Technical College System board.

Charter Films Inc. was recognized with the award at this month’s board meeting at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College- Superior.

The award was presented to Chris Trapp, chief executive officer of Charter Films Inc.

“The Futuremakers Partner Award was created to celebrate the impact of college and employer collaboration in helping hundreds of thousands of students set a direction for their future,” said Dan Clancy, president of the system. “Through these partnerships, we are able to build a highly-skilled workforce and strong communities.”

Charter Films Inc. is the leader in engineering, extruding and manufacturing plastic films for a wide variety of industries. The company works with WITC to create and grow their own training program, Charter University. This computer-based education program allows employees to receive instruction, giving them new skills and increased income. WITC also has collaborated with Charter Films to get Workforce Advancement Training grants for the program.

“This award recognizes our partnership with WITC and exemplifies our commitment to training and education of our employees. It also recognizes the importance of cooperation between business and educational institutions,” said Trapp. “We have worked together for many years to help align our job skill needs with the education curriculum at the technical college.”

In addition, Charter Films has worked with WITC and the technical college system to promote manufacturing careers to high school students. The company is one of the major manufacturing employers in Superior and Douglas County. Charter Films also ships products using local trucking firms and rail, and purchases supplies from local companies in the region.

“This company has a significant impact on the local economy and is an asset to the community and the state of Wisconsin,” Clancy said. “The board is very pleased to recognize Charter Films as a WTCS Futuremaker partner and a key economic development driver in northwest Wisconsin.”

From fdlreporter.com: “Chick Geeks: Moraine Park program helps tear down stereotypes” — Chic Geeks ruled this week at Moraine Park Technical College.

Tech-minded high school girls who aren’t afraid of breaking things showed up on Wednesday to tear down computers and put them back together again.

Guided by women with IT skills, the teens attacked motherboards, circuitry, wires and disc drives as they systematically disassembled both a desktop and a laptop computer.

“Who wouldn’t want to learn how a computer works,” asked Sarah Bodden, 15, of Beaver Dam. “I mean, it’s something you use everyday.”

It usually doesn’t occur to girls to find work in technology fields, the teen said. The college is pushing the exploration of non-traditional careers — those that currently employ 25 percent or less of one gender.

“Maybe girls think there is less of a chance of getting jobs in fields that are dominated by men,” said 15-year old Victoria Sager, also of Beaver Dam. “I was going to be a chemical engineer, but after this I might want to do something in computers.”

MPTC student Stacey Babler, who served as one of the workshop instructors, said girls sometimes seem to be intimidated by machines and need to realize they can master technology if they are given hands-on opportunities.

“It’s the same old story,” Babler said, who is pursuing a degree in Information Technology Support Specialist and Technology Network Specialist programs. “We were brought up to nurture and weren’t encouraged to explore how things work.”

The girls worked together in groups to reassemble computers and load operating systems. They also got a sneak peak at the new touch screen Windows 8 operating systems on Beta and played with Google Chromebooks.

Instructor Johanna Voelker, a recent graduate of Moraine Park’s IT-Tech Support program, decided to make some life changes when she was laid off from a factory job three years ago.

“I like hands-on work and that’s what I’m showing these girls, not to be afraid to explore how things work,” she said.

While some girls may want purses, Alexis Neese, 16, of Kohler craves more electronics. She said a computer club at her school got her interested in engineering.

“I was in auto-CAD a lot, designing 3-D objects, even designing buildings, so I’m not intimidated. Most of the time I can figure things out,” she said.

MPTC IT-Tech Support Instructor Lisa Pollard said that it’s important the teens are learning with their peers and are being taught by females in the industry.

“So often in these types of classes boys tend to always take over,” she said. “This workshop is meant to build knowledge, confidence and skills in girls.”

Kyleigh Huebner, 14, of Fond du Lac said she will use the new knowledge to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Her friend, Anna Dudzinski, 14, was pleasantly surprised that the day turned out to be “not boring.”

“I can’t really handle science, but this is technology, which is generally a good thing,” she said.

Along with IT careers, other non-traditional opportunities for women include criminal justice and civil engineering.

More information is available by contacting Moraine Park NTO Specialist Renee Fischer at nto@morainepark.edu.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Leaders tackle ‘workforce paradox’ — Local business leaders and educators are on a quest to get more people into jobs in the manufacturing sector.

The “workforce paradox” they face is that more students are attending four-year universities, but only 30 percent of jobs require a four-year degree. This puts manufacturers in a bind as they are unable to find workers in the wake of the Great Recession.

“This paradox really hit a year ago,” said Jim Morgan, president of the Wisconsin Manufacturer’s Association. “Our members started saying, ‘What’s going on out there? We have 7 percent unemployment, but none of us can find anybody who’s got the skills that we need in order to do the work.'”

Morgan said the workforce paradox problem has gotten so bad, “If we can get people to show up five days in a row, that’s become a big deal for some of these companies.”

Morgan toured the state in December and January, holding 54 listening sessions with more than 300 manufacturers to hear firsthand about the lack of skilled workers and is trying to develop a solution. He returned to Marshfield on Monday to share his findings.

Workers have set the pace for most companies’ growth, Morgan said. Owners have told him, “‘We have the facilities, we have the equipment, we have the space. In some cases we even have the orders, but we don’t have the people, and that’s what’s keeping us from adding another shift, or doing another addition,'” Morgan said.

Students don’t know that a job in manufacturing is viable career choice, Morgan said.

“Right now, the problem isn’t they aren’t choosing to be a welder, or a CNC operator or a machinist, they don’t even know that it exists,” Morgan said.

Brenda Dillenburg, Mid-State Technical College Marshfield campus dean, said she thinks students graduating from high school don’t understand the career pathways available to them, she said.

“Only 10 (percent) to 20 percent of students go to tech colleges out of high school, but 40 (percent) to 50 percent come (to tech schools) three to four years later,” Dillenburg said.

On the flip side, some students who recently have earned bachelor’s degrees now are looking for jobs in plants.

“I’ve got people with four-year degrees applying for entry-level positions,” said John Nikolai of McMillan Electric. “I can’t tell you how important it is for educators to see what these businesses are doing and what goes on.”

Educators say they do try to tell students about the opportunities that are available in the manufacturing sector.

“We advise, we counsel and we give them all the career information, but they take that card home, and their parents tell them what classes they can and cannot take,” Marshfield School District Superintendent Peg Geegan said. “It’s a real struggle for us to get the parents to let the kids make those decisions.”
Marshfield School District offers youth apprenticeship programs, which place students in local businesses for part of their senior year, but only some local manufacturers were aware of the program.

Andy Martin, general manager of Innovative Machine Specialists, said he has been participating in the youth apprenticeship program, but he can’t rely solely on it to grow his workforce.

“I know I can grow two or three a year from the high schools in youth apprenticeship programs. That’s about what we can handle in the shop at a time,” Martin said. “We’re looking at a job that is probably 20 additional workers, and we are concerned about whether we can take the job on or not because (of) whether we can grow that fast.

“The workforce is going to determine how big we get,” Martin said.

From whattheythink.com: “WTCS honors Charter Films with “Futuremakers Partner Award” — A major manufacturer in the Superior area is the latest recipient of the “Futuremakers Partner Award” from the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board. Charter Films, Inc. accepted the award at this week’s WTCS Board Meeting at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) Superior campus.

Dan Clancy, president of the WTCS, presented the award to Chris Trapp, CEO of Charter Films, Inc. “The Futuremakers Partner award celebrates the impact of college and employer collaboration in helping hundreds of thousands of students set a direction for their future,” Clancy explained. “Through these partnerships, we are building a highly-skilled workforce and strong communities.”

Charter Films, Inc. is the leader in engineering, extruding and manufacturing plastic films for a wide variety of industries. The company has partnered with WITC to create and grow their own training program, Charter University. This computer-based education program allows employees to gain new skills and boost income potential. WITC and Charter Films also worked together to secure Workforce Advancement Training grants for the program.

“This award recognizes our partnership with WITC and exemplifies our commitment to training and education of our employees. It also recognizes the importance of cooperation between business and educational institutions,” said Trapp. “We have worked together for many years to help align our job skill needs with the education curriculum at the technical college,” Trapp added.

Charter Films is one of the major manufacturing employers in Superior and Douglas County. They ship products using local trucking firms and rail, and purchase supplies from local companies in the region. “This company has a significant impact on the local economy and is an asset to the community and the state of Wisconsin,” Clancy said. “The Board is very pleased to recognize Charter Films as a WTCS Futuremaker partner and a key economic development driver in northwest Wisconsin.” In addition, Charter Films has partnered with WITC and WTCS to promote manufacturing careers to high school students.

From afsinc.org: “The C.A. Lawton Co. receives education grant” — The C.A. Lawton Co. (Calco), De Pere, Wis., recently was awarded a Workforce Advancement Training (WAT) grant for skills training. The grant will be used for leadership development and team building and include welding and electro-mechanical coursework.

Calco, manufacturer of industrial components, worked with the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to complete the application process and tailor a specific training program. Companies are chosen to partner with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College when applications are approved by the Wisconsin Technical College System grant committee.

The grant will supplement Calco’s investment into a program that will involve casting, maintenance, and administrative staff.

“The attitude, skill, and ability of people is an essential part of our success – far more than most of our capital assets,” said Alex Lawton, president and CEO. “That’s why we’re constantly working to improve the work environment, improve people’s capabilities, and provide advancement opportunities. Training and education across all job types and levels captures a meaningful portion of our investments most years.”

WAT grants focus on improving the occupational skills of employees and are available to the technical college districts, as directed by statute. Colleges typically partner with companies to submit applications. Grants are available for small and large businesses and are designed to upgrade the skills and productivity of employees of established businesses with the objective of supporting regional workforce and economic development efforts. In addition to very specific job-related skills, such as welding, electrical maintenance, and customer relations, training can include a combination of occupational, academic, and employability topics or courses.

“During these times when funds can be scarce it’s always great to have your community and its institutions (government, education, etc.) recognize that you are trying to do good things and thus are valuable to them both now and in the future,” Lawton said.

Calco employs about 150 between two facilities in De Pere. Its integrated business includes patternmaking, casting, and machining capabilities. It provides large iron castings and machining for domestic manufacturers in the HVAC, municipal pump and valve, mining, and power generation industries. Its customer base includes Siemens, General Electric, Metso, and IR/Trane.

From wjfw.com: “Nicolet wins grant to start manufacturing program” — RhinelanderThanks to a $750,000 grant, Nicolet College will have a new manufacturing skills training program this fall.

Nicolet got the largest share of a $3.8 million grant awarded by The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation awarded $3.8 million to five colleges.

Area businesses worked with the college to win the grant, and they’ll continue to help with the development of the new program. “We bring in people who actually do the work every day that this program is designed to produce graduates for,” said Kenneth Urban, vice president of student and academic affairs. “We ask those people what they do every day during their day-to-day work. We then take that information and use it to design the courses and the outcomes that graduates will master.”

Those workers will come from the manufacturing companies that helped win the grant: Dr. Foster & Smith, Inc., HyPro, Inc., Packaging Corporation of America-Tomahawk Mill, Printpack, Inc., and Wausau Paper Corporation-Rhinelander Mill.

The companies are providing in-kind donations in the form of employee tuition reimbursement and equipment.

Their commitment shows how important the program is to the Northwoods.

“What’s critically important about this program and what it will bring is the graduates will be the people that actually repair, maintain troubleshoot the equipment that keeps the plants running,” Urban said.

The program starts this fall and has room for 20 students.

It’s a ladder system, which means students start with a certificate, then earn their one-year technical diploma and two-year associate’s degree.  

From madison.com: “CampHERO for girls aims to battle career stereotypes” — Hannah Lewis, 9, crept into a darkened room, squirt gun drawn, looking for her target, in this case, Madison Police Sgt. Jason Freedman.

She and her partner found him quickly, hiding beside a desk.

“It’s always the unknown we are worried about,” Columbus Police Chief Daniel Meister told a group of Girl Scouts playing cat-and-mouse in a unit on “police tactics” Tuesday during CampHERO.

The inaugural camp, being conducted in part this week at the Madison Area Technical College Fire Training Center, is intended to challenge the stereotypes inherent in male-dominated protective services professions and expose girls to firefighting, police work and other fields.

Freedman and Meister are two of 117 volunteers helping to put on the one-of-a-kind camp for local Girl Scouts from kindergarten through high school.

At one point, Meister tried to stifle a group of girls’ giggles as they entered an office area in the hunt for Freedman. “You’ve just lost your tactical advantage,” he told them.

By the end of the exercise, Hannah said she’d like to grow up to be a police officer. “I would get to help people and solve crimes,” she said.

Other camp activities included fingerprinting, CPR, first aid, ropes, extinguishers, dispatch, CSI, self-defense and learning how to handle fire hoses.

Lt. Jen Roman of the Madison Fire Department, the camp’s director, said that only 3.6 percent of fire professionals are female. It’s 13 percent for police and 35 percent for EMS.

“Culturally we have a gender bias — not just in protective services, but in all careers,” Roman said. “Research tells us by the time kids enter kindergarten they already have ideas about stereotypical gender roles.”

One hundred and sixty girls are taking part in the camp, offered this week and last, said Christine Posey of Girl Scouts of Wisconsin-Badgerland Council.

“Our job as Girl Scouts is to build young leaders, young women who have courage, confidence and character,” Posey said. “They are going to feel like they can go into these fields.”

If Hannah Lewis, who will be in fourth grade at Yahara Elementary in DeForest, was convinced, Sarah Blumer, 10, already had her mind made up. The soon-to-be fifth-grader from Monticello knew she wanted to be a firefighter like her dad.

“I don’t really have to think on that. It’s a definite yes,” she said.

Carolanne Trilling, 23, who has been a Madison firefighter almost two years, said she was about Sarah’s age when she made her decision.

“It runs in my family, too. The seed was definitely planted in my head,” Trilling said. “What they are doing here is probably the best thing you can do in your community for a group of girls.”

From fdlreporter.com: “Community leaders meet to discusswork force development initiatives” — Can the Fond du Lac region successfully meet the challenges of future workforce development?

More than 50 community, business and education leaders examined this question at a special workforce development breakfast briefing held at the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac on July 12.

The briefing was co-hosted by Moraine Park Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac in collaboration with Competitive Wisconsin, Inc. (CWI). Participants learned about a statewide research study that is underway and heard from community leaders about preparing the Fond du Lac region, according to an event press release. Similar briefing sessions will be held around the state.

Programs already in motion to address future workforce needs include initiatives like the Fond du Lac School District’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) charter school, Moraine Park’s School to Work program and UW-Fond du Lac’s collaboration with UW-Oshkosh, UW-Green Bay and Moraine Park, which will deliver a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology.

Steve Jenkins, president of Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corp., said that communities and regions that develop a globally competitive workforce, especially as manufacturing rebounds and re-establishes its presence, will be the economic winners.

“Talented people of all ages with globally competitive skills will be the cornerstone of prosperity moving forward,” he said.

He added that manufacturing in Fond du Lac County and in the region is critical to the economic base.

Several presenters concurred and said the definition of manufacturing needs to change and the awareness of opportunities needs to increase. A manufacturing workforce can include a wide range of career choices including positions requiring specialized training or technical skills, positions requiring an engineering degree or positions requiring a Ph.D. in fields like metallurgy, chemistry or mathematics.

The old methods of developing the workforce in both the public and the private sector must evolve quickly including the breaking down of silos, said Jenkins.

“It’s important to understand that it is everyone’s responsibility,” he said.

The good news for the Fond du Lac area in terms of the future is that educators, business leaders and government leaders “get it,” said Joe Reitemeier, president of the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce. “They understand the environment we are in and are more than willing to roll up their sleeves and start to develop new initiatives, new ideas and collaborative efforts that will get us to a very strong, meaningful economy once again.”

The Lumina Foundation said that between now and 2018 Wisconsin will have about 925,000 vacancies due to retirements, job creation and other factors. Of these, 558,000 will require post-secondary education. In Fond du Lac, educators on the panel said they meet regularly to talk about issues where they can work together to improve the ability of students to make choices.

“As partners in post-secondary education, we must be sure that students have choices, that they understand what different paths they can take and that they understand there is no one way to the future,” said John Short, UW-Fond du Lac dean and chief executive officer. “In the future as I see it, we will have students taking classes here, going over to Moraine Park Technical College, taking a course at Marian University and they will be involved in the community through service learning.”

Short added that students will change jobs many times in their lifetime.

“They need skills, they need a future orientation, they need a sense of problem solving, they need a sense of communication,” he said.

At the K-12 level, Jim Sebert, superintendent of the Fond du Lac School District, pointed to ongoing work with the Association of Commerce in the School to Work program and creation of a manufacturing task force as part of its efforts to produce the types of students needed for careers and jobs in the community.

“We are the keepers of the workforce of the future,” said Sebert. “We take that very seriously and we’re continuously trying to evolve and improve ourselves.”

Presenters said short-term, long-term and continuous education and training will be needed to keep pace with work place demands.

In addition to long-term goals for workforce development, Jim Eden, vice president of academic affairs at Moraine Park, said he hears from businesses with short-term needs.

“The businesses have orders to fill and need employees to run the machines to fill those orders to either stay in business or grow their business,” Eden said.

Moraine Park works with employers to advance skills or provide basic skill training to a current workforce, or to provide a different skill set needed by a current employee.

According to Jim Wood, president of Wood Communications Group and strategic counsel for Competitive Wisconsin, educators need to stop thinking about students in terms of two or four years at the higher education level.

“We’re talking now about a 30 to 40 to 50 year ‘customer’ who is going to come in and out of that system, primarily from their work place, because the skill set demands are changing. How we supply and meet these needs is going to be a very, very different process,” Wood said.

At the state level, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson said officials are looking at short term and tactical initiatives with a sense of urgency.

“This is probably the number one challenge, the number one issue that we are going to be confronting as a state, as well as nationally,” said Newson. “How do we get our work force trained and developed?”

To address current and future needs, an online job center through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development was created where job seekers can post resumes and employers can post openings. Newson says there are approximately 40,000 openings listed on the site.

As a follow up to these briefing sessions, economic summits on job and workforce development will be planned for various locations around the state beginning in September.

From cvtc.edu: “CVTC changes will benefit employers and organizations” — Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) recently made changes to its Business and Industry Services area to better assist area employers and organizations with their plans for success.

Judi Anibas, former dean of emergency services, transitioned to a faculty position to train employers and organizations on security and personal safety-related topics.

Suzanne Blau was recently hired as the business and industry business technology trainer/consultant to assist employers with software and social media training.

Anibas and Blau join three other CVTC faculty members who specialize in customized training programs for employers. The others include: Dan Burns, who provides leadership and supervisory training; Dave Otto, who provides electromechanical and industrial maintenance training; and Jon Leenhouts, who offers safety-related training.

CVTC’s Business and Industry Services team includes: Pam Owen, NanoRite manager; John Kleven, River Falls campus manager; Tim Shepardson, Chippewa Falls campus and Neillsville center manager; Roxann Vanderwyst, Menomonie campus manager; and Jessica Cather, seminar and continuing education specialist.

From morainepark.edu: “Dual enrollment provides Moraine Park students with learning advantage” — When Jasmyn Clough graduated from Beaver Dam High School in 2008, she had completed enough transcripted credit courses to count as two classes in Moraine Park Technical College’s Business Management program. While an accident kept Clough from enrolling at Moraine Park directly out of high school, in 2010, she was able to hit the ground running with two college classes under her belt.

Clough, who graduates this December, isn’t stopping with her Business Management associate of applied science degree. Instead, she is taking advantage of the transfer agreements set in place by Moraine Park and will be entering Cardinal Stritch University at junior status as a Business Management student in the spring of 2013. She’s on a track that will allow her to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in two years.

Clough is a perfect example of how transcripted credits, or dual enrollment, creates an economically savvy, time-saving path to success. “I’m a first-generation college student and am making my family proud by obtaining a Moraine Park associated of applied science degree then continuing my education,” Clough said. “I’m always looking one step ahead and the transfer agreement with Cardinal Stritch is helping me continue this pattern.”

Transcripted credit/dual enrollment has been offered at Moraine Park for almost 20 years. Transcripted credit courses are Moraine Park courses taught in the high school using technical college curriculum, grading policies and textbooks. In addition to Moraine Park, these credits are transferable to all colleges within the Wisconsin Technical College System.

The numbers line up and high school students are saving money through this seamless dual enrollment transition. In 2010-11, high school students in Moraine Park’s district earned over $1.2 million worth of college credits – 4,183 took transcripted credits with a total of 9,871 credits completed. There are 216 transcripted credit agreements with public schools in Moraine Park’s district.

“I encourage high school students to inquire about dual enrolled options with their counselors,” said Moraine Park president Sheila Ruhland. “If you are seeking avenues for cost savings and time shortened programs as you enter college, enrolling in these classes as a high school student is an excellent first choice!”

Taking it to the next step of transferring from a two-year to four-year degree, Moraine Park has a full-time Academic Support and Transfer Specialist who works to secure agreements and support students as they transition from Moraine Park to a bachelor’s degree path. In 2011-12, more than 150 Moraine Park students were guided through the transfer process.

“The college currently has agreements with 36 four-year institutions, said Karla Donahue, Moraine Park academic support and transfer specialist” From those 36 colleges and universities, students can choose from 111 different specific program pathways.

At Cardinal Stritch, for example, 15 different degree options exist for Moraine Park students to choose from when they decide on the transferring option.  Every spring, Moraine Park holds a Transfer Fair when representatives from the 36 colleges with transfer agreements in place come to offer information and chat with Moraine Park students interested in transferring. Attending the Transfer Fair is how Clough became interested in attending Cardinal Stritch.

Diane Sexton had the idea of lifelong learning in mind when she enrolled in the accounting program at Moraine Park.  A solid associate of applied science foundation at Moraine Park, combined with an easy transition to Ottawa University, based out of Milwaukee, allowed Sexton to continue learning. She eventually obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration, and a master’s degree in business administration, also from Ottawa.

Students who complete their associate of applied science degree through Moraine Park can apply up to 80 credits toward an Ottawa University bachelor’s degree. Online and face-to-face programs are available to students in areas including business administration, health care management and accounting.

“The transition from Moraine Park to Ottawa University was extremely easy,” said Sexton. “My instructors at Moraine Park provided me with a very strong education in accounting which set me up for success at Ottawa.  Moraine Park got me back into the swing of going to school, and Ottawa allowed me to continue learning by accepting all of my credits from Moraine Park, allowing me to achieve my bachelor’s degree quickly.”

Dual Enrollment/transcripted credits, and transfer agreements continue to play a role in Moraine Park’s offering of flexible and convenient degree options. For more information on dual enrollment at Moraine Park, visit morainepark.edu/transfer.

From starjournalnow.com: “Nicolet gets $750,000 to develop manufacturing maintenance program” — Manufacturing skills training will get a huge boost in the Northwoods thanks to a $750,000 grant awarded to Nicolet College. The grant will allow the college to further develop the specific training necessary to help fill available jobs at partner businesses with advanced manufacturing needs.

“A healthy manufacturing sector is key to a strong Northwoods economy,” said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster. “Nicolet will use these funds to develop training programs that will give residents the skills necessary to secure manufacturing maintenance jobs. In doing so, manufacturers will get the trained workforce they need to be successful and area residents will have the skills they need for family-sustaining employment.”

Nicolet has already developed classes for a short-term training Industrial Maintenance Fundamentals certificate. The grant funds will allow the college to build on this certificate and develop more advanced training that will result in a one-year technical diploma and ultimately a two-year manufacturing maintenance associate degree.

Burmaster encouraged anyone interested in starting down this academic track to begin taking the certificate-level classes this fall. “The sequence will be structured so that certificate classes ladder right into the diploma program and the diploma-level classes then laddering directly into the two-year associate degree program,” she explained.

Nicolet applied for these grant funds and did so in partnership with five large area manufacturers. They are Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc., HyPro, Inc., Packaging Corporation of America-Tomahawk Mill, Printpack, Inc., and the Wausau Paper Corporation-Rhinelander Mill.

“Every one of these manufacturers worked with the college on this because they need skilled employees,” Burmaster added. “The jobs are out there.”

Under the partnership, the manufacturers will work closely with Nicolet to ensure the skills taught in the college’s labs and classrooms are an exact match to what are needed in the workplace.

A recent wage survey by the Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation found that manufacturing maintenance jobs in the Northwoods today pay an average of about $35,000 a year.

Nicolet was one of the five technical colleges in the state to share in the $3.8 million awarded by the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, a private, non-profit organization. The foundation created this pilot grant to address the gap between Wisconsin’s workforce needs and its available workers. Currently, “middle-skill” occupations, or those positions that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree, represent 50 percent of Wisconsin’s workforce needs, with advanced manufacturing occupations among the fastest growing. Meanwhile, only 39 percent of Wisconsin residents between the ages of 25 and 64 meet these education criteria.

“The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation is committed to ensuring that postsecondary education prepares students for immediate employment, while creating a stronger connection between that education and employers,” said Foundation Chair Richard D. George. “When capacity to provide the right skillset to workers is increased at the technical college level, the result is more well-trained workers prepared for on-the-job success. It’s a win-win for Wisconsin—our families and our workforce.”

For more information about Nicolet’s Industrial Maintenance Fundamentals certificate, call the Nicolet Welcome Center at (715) 365-4493 or (800) 544-3039, ext. 4493, or visit nicoletcollege.edu.

From todaystmj4.com: “Area police train for mass shooting situation” — PEWAUKEE – Dozens of local law enforcement trained for a mass shooting catastrophe Sunday, and what happened in Colorado, was fresh on their minds.

A mass casualty drill was held at Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee Sunday.  Student police officers, firefighters, paramedics, nurses and EMT’s were preparing for major emergencies.

“It’s to prepare for situations similar to what happened in Colorado,” said Mike Kranz of the Mequon police.  “So that we can get patient care to the scene quicker and hopefully handle some injuries, save lives out in the field and pre-hospital.”

The exercise’s plot was familiar.

“This was an active shooter,” said Chad Stiles of the Waukesha County Technical College.  “A lone gunman, with a fully automatic rifle taking out persons, much like what happened in the theater.”

It’s the best practice many of these first responders will get short of a real emergency.

Sunday’s drill was actually  planned before Friday’s mass shooting in Colorado.

From jsonline.com: “Mixed reviews for tech schools’ request to boost student aid” — While lawmakers in Madison acknowledge the need to invest in Wisconsin’s technical colleges, it remains to be seen if they are willing to nearly double the amount of money available for state-financed student financial aid grants in the next state budget.

Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), vice chair of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, said in a statement there is a very real need to get people the type of training technical colleges provide. Hansen also said the request will require closer examination.

“What we can afford and whether it makes more sense to invest it in more financial aid or providing more instructional opportunities is something we will need to take a close look at,” Hansen said.

It is reasonable for the board to request the additional funding, said Mike Mikalsen, speaking for Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater). But Mikalsen said he was not sure if the governor would have the money available to meet the request. He added that if money were available for education, it may be directed toward the K-12 system instead.

Last week the technical college system board requested an additional $34.1 million for Wisconsin Higher Education Grants. The request would be in addition to the nearly $37.6 million the system received in the current budget. Technical college spokeswoman Morna Foy said the money is necessary because of a growing need to help students find a way to pay for school. For the coming school year, the system was not able to give grants to 49,000 eligible students.

Cullen Werwie, speaking for Gov. Scott Walker, said in an email the specific request will be evaluated in the context of the entire state budget.

Sen. Jessica King (D-Oshkosh), chair of the Committee on Job Training, Technical Colleges and Workforce Development, said the technical colleges need to be made a priority.

Citizens are beginning to understand there is a gap between the demand employers have for skilled workers and the number of available employees, King said. She said the skills gap presents an opportunity for lawmakers to come together.

Foy said she is glad to hear lawmakers are open to the request and wouldn’t expect them to consider it outside of the context of the full budget.

“It is up to us to make the case,” she said.

Foy added, “Students’ financial need is so great right now.”

She said students are often likely to enroll and also less likely to stay at technical colleges because of their economic situation. That works against the system’s efforts to attract more students to fields where employers have a demand for skilled workers, Foy said.

Before the last state budget, the technical college board requested an additional $23.4 million over two years, but the request did not make it into the governor’s proposed budget.

Werwie noted the budget that did pass included no cuts in student financial aid. He said it was important that training at technical colleges leads directly to available jobs.

He also said the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation is developing partnerships between private businesses and local technical colleges, providing grant money paired with available jobs.

Earlier this week, the foundation announced nearly $3.8 million in grants to five of the state’s technical colleges.

“It’s a good thing that businesses are chipping in to provide assistance for training,” Werwie said.

Foy said the foundation’s grant program is important, but added that because the program is targeted at jobs with certain employers, it will not be able to replace the higher education grant.

Mikalsen said Nass, chair of the Committee on Colleges and Universities, would like to see local technical college boards take steps to save money.

“It’s not just a simple equation of raising tuition,” Mikalsen said.

He said the technical college system must focus on the demand for certain jobs within local areas, rather than just getting more students through the door.

From WisBusiness.com: “Clancy interview: Outgoing WTCS president reflects on state tech school needs” — Dan Clancy, the retiring head of Wisconsin’s technical colleges, says his successor will need to advocate for greater funding as the system’s 16 campuses push to close the so-called skills gap between what graduates know and what employers are demanding.

Still, Clancy, whose last day is Sept. 14, said he thinks his colleges are doing a good job of adapting to changing needs and preparing some students to go on to four-year colleges, including those in the University of Wisconsin system.

Right now Clancy said he’s busy drafting a budget proposal for the 2013-2015 biennium.

“Our board will definitely be requesting additional funds,” he said. “I’ll have it to the point of being approved by the board, but my successor will have to shepherd it through the Legislature and governor.”

The 2011-13 budget cut state aid to the tech schools by 30 percent, or $71.6 million, over two years.

Clancy is optimistic funding will increase, but he said legislators need to understand that for every dollar invested in tech schools, there is a return of $6.

“I think this coming budget will be better than the last, now that the state is in better fiscal shape,” he said. “My guess is there will be funds for some priority areas, including workforce development … and solving the skills gap.”

Clancy said he also hopes to get increased support for scholarships from the state Higher Education Aids Board.

“We’ve made that a high priority, too,” he said. “That’s been a significant issue for our students, the ability to afford a technical college education.”

Clancy, 57, became president of the tech schools in 2004. Before that, he was the system’s vice president for finance and policy, directing budget development, legislative relations and policy analysis, among other things. A native of Detroit, he worked for the state of Wisconsin for more than three decades, including 17 years with the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Clancy said the “workforce paradox” — where companies have jobs available but can’t find the workers to fill them — is a national issue. He said the guv and other state leaders have made solving this problem a top priority.

“All states are facing a similar dilemma,” he said. “There are jobs to be filled, but employers say there is a mismatch between what they need and what people are bringing to the table.”

He said this is most common at Wisconsin’s advanced manufacturing companies. For example, they are demanding workers with high-tech skills to run numeric-controlled machines and do sophisticated welding.

“They are finding they have to do extra training,” he said. “They would like to have candidates go through a tech college program, either one or two years. But we are having difficulty attracting people to those fields.”

He said many prospective employees do not understand how modern manufacturing has changed and have an image of an industry that may not have a strong economic future.

“It’s not the old industrial work setting that it was 30 years ago,” Clancy said. “It’s cleaner, more comfortable and it’s high-tech. But parents and students may not understand that.”

He said tech schools and employers need to explain today’s manufacturing environment and the salaries those jobs have. In addition, he said today’s students need to have a stronger background in math and science in high school and a better understanding of how to use technology, as well as so-called “soft skills” needed for employment in the modern workplace.

To meet employers’ demands, he said tech colleges have changed curricula, breaking down courses into shorter components so students can, for example, attend a “boot camp” in which they get a certificate in the basics of modern welding.

This gets workers on the “first rung” of the employment ladder without needing to be in school for a long time, he said.

“Then they’ll need to come back and get additional training so they can advance on the job,” Clancy said. “We call that career pathways. It really helps people who have lost their jobs, especially older workers who want get employed again fast. It helps on the employers’ side, too, because they need workers quickly, too.”

In many cases, he said manufacturers are willing to pay to train those workers.

“So we are very flexible on when we offer that kind of training, at night and on weekends and online,” he said, noting that some companies are doing their own advanced training after tech schools have taught them the basics.

Looking back, Clancy said he is proud of the work he’s done to foster increased cooperation between tech school and the UW System, with greater opportunities for students to transfer credits into upper division programs.

He said Wisconsin’s vocational colleges have handled significant growth well, with the population now at more than 400,000 – an increase of roughly 40 percent in full-time-equivalent students.

“Based on who we have been serving the last four or five years, we have helped thousands and thousands of people who lost their jobs get retrained. They want to have a family-sustaining job and career.

“And for students, especially in rural areas, tech school training can be life changing,” he said. “That’s pretty amazing.”

Audio of Clancy interview

From finance.yahoo.com: “Wisconsin Covenant Foundation Awards Workforce Partnership Grants” — The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, Inc. announced today that five Wisconsin technical colleges will share $3.8 million as recipients of its Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grants. These colleges will use the grants to provide the specific training necessary to help fill available jobs at partner businesses with advanced manufacturing needs. Through real-world training, students will earn a meaningful degree, diploma, or certificate, leading to job placement in family-sustaining occupations.

Six programs will receive funding through this grant opportunity. Each program represents a partnership between the technical college and one or more Wisconsin businesses for the joint development or expansion of an advanced manufacturing degree or certification program. Funds will be used to support the significant investment in equipment, supplies, and specialized instruction that colleges must make to provide training in this area. These grants allow the colleges to make those investments, informed by partner businesses that will take a hands-on role in the development of program design and curricula. Through these collaborations, students will benefit most — earning an education that they can not only use at a partner business, but take with them into their future.

The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, a private, non-profit organization, created this pilot grant to address the gap between Wisconsin’s workforce needs and its available workers. Currently, “middle-skill” occupations, or those positions that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree, represent 50 percent of Wisconsin’s workforce needs, with advanced manufacturing occupations among the fastest growing. Meanwhile, only 39 percent of Wisconsin residents between the ages of 25 and 64 meet these education criteria.

“The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation is committed to ensuring that postsecondary education prepares students for immediate employment, while creating a stronger connection between that education and employers,” said Foundation Chair Richard D. George. “When capacity to provide the right skillset to workers is increased at the technical college level, the result is more well-trained workers prepared for on-the-job success. It’s a win-win for Wisconsin — our families and our workforce.”

The number of program completers and resulting job placements achieved during the three-year grant period will be used to determine the impact of fostering mutually-beneficial relationships between higher education and private industry, to better understand what makes a partnership successful. “Our expectation is that a program like this, because of the public-private collaboration involved, will pay dividends to the state long after the pilot ends,” added George.

Following is a list of technical colleges that will receive grants, along with businesses that will partner with them for program development.

Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grant Recipients

Gateway Technical College
DeltaHawk Engines, Inc.
DeltaHawk, a designer and manufacturer of engines for the aviation market, is planning to hire over 100 new assemblers and technicians with skills related to aviation, over the next three to five years. They will be partnering with Gateway to create a new 30-week Diesel Aviation Manufacturing Certificate to help meet these employment needs, using this $644,592 grant.

Moraine Park Technical College
Amerequip Corporation, Brenner Tank LLC, John Crane Orion, Mid-States Aluminum Corporation
Grant funds of $705,647 will establish Manufacturing Skills Academies for both machine operation and welding training in a 15-week bootcamp format, training 15 students in each cohort. This training will result in either an Entry Level Welding Certificate or Computer Numerical Control Machine Operator Certificate, with options for the student to connect to additional diplomas and certificates.

Nicolet Area Technical College
Foster & Smith, Inc., HyPro Inc., Packaging Corporation of America-Tomahawk Mill, Printpack, Inc., Wausau Paper Corporation-Rhinelander Mill
This $750,000 grant will allow Nicolet to offer an Industrial Maintenance Certificate that connects to additional one-semester, one-year, and two-year training programs to fill partner business needs for maintenance mechanics and technicians in their advanced manufacturing operations.

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
3M, Cabela’s Wholesale Inc., Design Homes, Inc., Dillman Equipment, Miniature Precision Components, Inc.
With this $415,775 grant, Southwest Tech will offer a 160-hour “Gold Collar Certification” program, including national Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Certification, to increase training of entry level production workers at partner businesses.

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
Building Automation Products, Inc., Lactalis American Group, Meister Dairy, Miniature Precision Components, Inc., Rockwell Automation, Spectrum Brands
This $642,661 grant will allow Southwest Tech to purchase equipment and fund instructors to train students as electromechanical technicians, expanding the capacity of their Applied Associate Degree program by 50 percent.

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
Kestrel Aircraft Company
Kestrel Aircraft is partnering with Wisconsin Indianhead to create the first-of-its-kind training program in Wisconsin, an Associate Degree in Composite Technology, to address the need for qualified aircraft fabrication workers. This program has been awarded a $602,400 grant.

To learn more about the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation’s commitment to forging private and public partnerships in support of postsecondary education, please contact Amy Kerwin at 608-246-1785.

From witc.edu: “Solar energy now helps WITC-New Richmond” — 

Though not uncommon, the sight of solar panels soaking up the sun still seems out of the ordinary – especially on a college campus. But thanks to the participation of New Richmond Utilities and WPPI Energy, a 16-panel PV (photovoltaic) solar system was recently installed on the east lawn at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond.

“With the generous financial support through a grant from New Richmond Utilities and WPPI Energy, we were able to have this PV system installed at our New Richmond campus – a fine model of collaboration with our local utility,” says Ted May, Ph.D., Academic Dean – General Studies, Renewable Energy and Sustainability.

“This project demonstrates how using energy from a renewable resource like the sun can benefit our community and our environment,” says Mike Darrow, New Richmond City Administrator / Utility Manager. “New Richmond Utilities recognizes our shared responsibility to help protect the environment for future generations. Supporting local efforts such as the WITC solar project is one way we’re working to do our part.”

“This 4 kilowatt system is significantly larger than those at our other campuses. It allows us to continue our ongoing efforts to reduce energy costs for college operations, while providing educational opportunities for our students,” May explains.

This New Richmond PV system also increases education potential since the students in the Industrial Automation and Controls Networking program will work with and learn from its monitoring software. WITC-Ashland also offers a solar or wind electricity certificate, which electricians may pursue to enhance their knowledge and skills for installing renewable electricity systems.

In theory, the process is basic: The panels capture solar power and convert it to direct current (DC). The power is channeled into WITC’s existing electrical system or power grid. It’s estimated the solar PV system-produced electricity will save approximately $650 per year.

The PV system is mounted on a pole for clear access to the sun and is tilted as the seasons change. The system will produce power on cloudy days and can handle up to one-inch hailstones and winds of 90 mph.

Installation of this PV system on the New Richmond campus is a very visible sign of WITC’s ongoing dedication to sustainability. Across the 11-county district, WITC has worked to reduce energy consumption and invest moderately in renewable energy projects.

The Ashland and Superior campuses have PV systems installed, and the Ashland campus also installed a small (3 kilowatt) wind turbine. Among the many investments in sustainability in operations, the Ashland and Rice Lake campuses have installed rain gardens; and the Rice Lake campus has an electric car for its conference center.

New Richmond Utilities is a local, municipally owned and operated electric utility. WPPI Energy is the nonprofit power supplier for New Richmond Utilities and 50 other consumer-owned electric utilities. Through WPPI Energy, these public power utilities share resources and own generation facilities to provide reliable, affordable electricity to more than 195,000 homes and businesses in Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa.

For more information about WITC’s Renewable Energy and Sustainability efforts, visit www.witc.edu/sustainability/index.htm. The PV-produced electricity will be monitored and a link provided on this site to see results.

From wbay.com: “NWTC program helps foster youth continue education” — It’s called Fostering Futuremakers, a five day camp, only in its second year at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, designed for high school juniors and seniors in the foster system.

“Our goal is to reach out to them, to provide them opportunities to in respect to academic preparation and development and offering them exploration opportunities in regards to careers and post secondary education,” explained Brooke Holbrook, a career preps specialist at NWTC.

The camp includes 18 hours of class time and tours of other campuses like UWGB and Saint Norbert College.

The students start the week taking the Accuplacer test– which is NWTC’s admission test.

“If they choose to attend NWTC, great, if not it still allows them preparation for any admissions test,” said Holbrook.

Some of those in the program we spoke with say it has helped them develop a plan for reaching their career goals.

“I’m thinking about doing the two year dental hygienist program here and then while I’m working as a dental hygienist I can save up money to go to college to become a dentist,” said Serena Shelton, a camper who will be a junior this school year.

“I want to do a criminal justice and I’m thinking about coming to NWTC and doing the two year program,” said camper Laura Hintz.

NWTC says it’s important to get more foster youth the resources they need to continue their education.

“We know statistics show one in eight foster youth within Wisconsin attend post secondary education as compared to their counterparts, one in two,” explained Holbrook.

Something Fostering Futuremakers hopes to change.

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC awarded Workforce Partnership Grant” — Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College will be one of five technical colleges in the state that will share almost $4 million as recipients of its Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grants.

The colleges will use the grants to provide training to help fill available jobs at partner businesses with manufacturing needs.

The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, Inc. announced that the college will receive $602,400 to be used in partnership with Kestrel Aircraft to create a training program.

The associate degree in the composite technology program will address the need for qualified aircraft fabrication workers.

Students can earn a degree, diploma, or certificate, leading to job placement in family-sustaining occupations.

“We feel honored to be recognized by the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation as one of six projects being grant funded to address the skills gap for local employers,” said Charlie Glazman, WITC associate dean of continuing education. “The Associate Degree Program in Composite Technology Technician that WITC is proposing with this grant will be the first in the state of Wisconsin.”

Each program represents a partnership between the technical college and one or more Wisconsin businesses for the combined development of a manufacturing degree.

Funds will be used to support the investment in equipment, supplies, and specialized instruction that colleges must make to provide training in this area.

The grants allow the colleges to make those investments.

Other Wisconsin technical colleges awarded grants includes Gateway Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College, Nicolet Area Technical College and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.

From thenorthwestern.com: “Governor Scott Walker visits Moraine Park Technical College” — Photos of Governor Walker visiting Moraine Park Technical College in connection with the announcement of a grant to expand CNC and welding programs.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 169 other followers

%d bloggers like this: