August 22, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “FVTC sets fall E-seed training dates” – The Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College has scheduled sessions for its national E-seed entrepreneur training program, beginning Sept. 9.
E-seed is a 15-week training experience that focuses on start-up concepts and early stage entrepreneurial development strategies for aspiring business owners. The program is also offered in an accelerated format.
The fall E-seed training sessions are set for Mondaysthrough Dec. 9 with two options. There is an afternoon session from 1 to 4 p.m. and an evening class from 6 to 9 p.m., both at FVTC’s D.J. Bordini Center at 5 Systems Drive.
For fee and registration information, call 920-735-5709 or visit www.venturecenterwi.biz.
August 22, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “International students arrive at FVTC” – GRAND CHUTE — Fox Valley Technical College’s Global Education & Services department welcomed nearly 180 international learners from close to 60 countries Wednesday for its 2013-14 academic year.
This is the highest number of international students ever in the department’s 23-year history at FVTC and represents more foreign learners than any other technical college in the state.
Most of these students visit FVTC to study agriculture, natural resources, information technology, and business-related programs to address immediate needs when returning to their homelands. This year’s group comes from Bangladesh, South Africa, Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, El Salvador, Haiti, among others.
About 60 international students are participating on scholarship programs sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State.
For more information on offerings through FVTC’s Global Education and Services, visit www.fvtc.edu/global.
August 21, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “FVTC crime program earns honors” – Brad Russ, director of Fox Valley Technical College’s National Criminal Justice Training Center, accepted the Leadership Award from the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center at the national Crime Against Children Conference on behalf of FVTC.
The award recognizes Russ’s leadership at the NCJTC in providing training to more than 3,000 law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, child protection specialists and medical, mental health and victim service professionals. In addition, FVTC’s Phil Keith, program administrator of the AMBER Alert and Technical Assistance program, offered workshops at the conference on best practices in bringing home missing and abducted children.
August 19, 2013
From wisconsinagconnection.com: “Fox Valley Tech to offer Precision Ag Curriculum” – The board of trustees at Appleton’s Fox Valley Technical College has approved a new Precision Agriculture program which aims to train the next generation of agribusiness and agronomy professionals to be ready for the workforce. Teachers at the school’s agriculture center say it will be a one of a kind program in the state.
Precision agriculture takes data collected from industry equipment and generates prescribed maps for fields through the use of GPS technology and related software. This innovative method of farming results in better tilling, planting, and harvesting due to variable rate applications. Each soil and topographic makeup on any given parcel of land is unique, and precision agriculture pinpoints these distinctions to optimize the growing experience for stakeholders of production agriculture.
“Precision agriculture is the 21st Century management tool for production Ag,” says Mike Cattelino, associate dean of FVTC’s Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies division. “This technology enables agriculture professionals to become better micro-managers of their own soil.”
Service Motor Company, a nearby Case IH dealership, is helping to supply the school with the necessary equipment to teach the program.
The Agriculture Center is currently undergoing an expansion due to the passage of the April 2012 public referendum, which advanced several facility-related projects for the college. That project is expected to be finished in time for students this fall to experience the added learning labs.
August 12, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “Former FVTC student earns honor” – Ryan Huss, Appleton, journeyman electrician with Faith Technologies Inc., earned the 2013 Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin Apprentice of the Year award and was recognized for his exemplary performance in apprenticeship training during the organization’s annual recognition banquet in Wisconsin Dells. Huss, a military veteran with two tours of duty, completed his ABC of Wisconsin electrical construction apprenticeship training at Fox Valley Technical College this past May.
FVTC is the state’s largest provider of apprenticeship training. The award is one of three annual forms of recognition on behalf of ABC of Wisconsin made to individuals who demonstrate a high-level commitment to continuous education through apprenticeship.
From news.thomasnet.com: “Miller Electric Mfg. Co. President Mike Weller recognized for commitment to technical education” – APPLETON — Miller Electric Mfg. Co. President Mike Weller received the Technical Education Champion Award from the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association at its summer meeting, recently held in Rice Lake, Wis.
The annual award, granted for outstanding service to a member institution of the Wisconsin Technical College System, recognizes business leaders for their support of area technical schools and partnership in addressing key industry issues. Weller is being recognized for his work with local institution Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC), which has its main campus in Appleton, Wis.
“Mike Weller is more than deserving of this award,” said Dr. Susan May, president of Fox Valley Technical College. “His vision and leadership have contributed toward the economic vitality of our region. Miller represents a business model that is committed to building a world-class workforce, as well as providing quality products that allow other enterprises to thrive.
“More than ever, employers like Miller rely on us for talent development, and working in close partnership allows us to provide extremely relevant programs and services,” said May. “The Wisconsin Technical College System District Boards Association clearly recognizes Mike’s incredible contribution to career and technical education through this prestigious award.”
Among other initiatives, Weller recently served as treasurer and team leader for Friends of FVTC, an advocacy group spearheading support for FVTC’s successful $66.5 million public referendum in 2012. Weller recruited and chaired the 39-member steering committee for the referendum’s proposal to build more than 240,000 square feet of new facilities. The new facilities, located in Appleton, will help meet the school’s growing program enrollment needs.
Weller has led the 30-year Miller-FVTC partnership, including coordination of several million dollars’ worth of welding equipment since 2000. Recent equipment contributed as part of the partnership has been used to establish the school’s Advanced Manufacturing Technical Center, which opened in 2011. The Center enabled FVTC to expand its core welding training programs.
Weller has also served as an adjunct instructor at FVTC, is active in the school’s K-12 engagement programs and is an advocate for Wisconsin technical institutions with the governor’s office.
“Our longstanding partnership with Fox Valley Technical College is a strategic one that I’m very proud of, and I’m honored to accept the Technical Education Champion award,” said Mike Weller, president of Miller. “We understand the labor challenges the industry is facing and we’ve always believed that this kind of direct partnership with a leading technical school can serve as a model for addressing the needs of regional and national manufacturers and other businesses.”
From agriview.com: “FVTC’s new precision ag program brings ‘cool factor’ back to the farm” – By Peggy Coffeen, Dairy Editor -
Soil sampling, crop scouting, yield estimating … there’s an app for that.
Technology is redefining careers in agriculture, appealing to savvy students intrigued by the integration of touch screens, tablets and templates. Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) is poised to be a leader in the field of precision agriculture with new course offerings and a major building addition and renovation project targeted toward training graduates for the growing demands of 21st century farming.
Associate Dean of Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies Mike Cattelino believes that the application of technology in agriculture has an appeal to young people. “This is an opportunity to bring a little more cool factor back to the farm,” he says.
But, technology in agriculture isn’t just for looks. Beyond the blinking lights and flashing screens, there is a real demand for graduates with knowledge and experience. The skill set for the agriculture workforce is much more than driving a tractor and whirling a wrench; computer skills – from data analysis to mapping – are right up there, too.
“The way you manage a farm is going to be different when you get into precision ag,” says Jason Fischer, agronomy instructor. “It’s all about redistributing resources to the areas that really need it.” He explains the difference as a focus on maximizing profits based on potential yield and input costs.
Precision technology takes the guess work out of farming and replaces it with real-time data which, in turn, can be used to make management decisions. For example, in the past, a 40-acre field was uniformly treated, despite differences in soil type and fertility. Now, grids and maps can be layered to identifying each section of a field so that seed, spray and fertilizer can be applied according to the best potential for productivity and profitability.
“We are able to adjust rates in real-time,” says Fischer. “Precision ag allows us to look at areas of the field and determine where we can get more production and the reasons why.”
According to Cattelino, the new program is a direct response to feedback from the dealerships, cooperatives, custom operators and farms that employ FVTC graduates in the five-county area of northeast Wisconsin. Former students also provided input based on their work experiences. From these conversations, it was clear that there is a demand for employees with a basic understanding of technology who could be further trained in the field.
This demand is driven by the production trends of farms, particularly in northeast Wisconsin, where there is a challenge to produce more crops without adding more acres.
“What I am hearing from farmers is that they cannot afford to add more land, so they have to make sure that they are getting more production out of every acre of land,” says Fischer. “Instead of saying 20 ton corn silage is enough, they say 25 ton because they need 30 percent more crop and can’t find any more acreage.” He adds that precision ag plays a critical part in this effort.
Beginning this fall, FVTC will offer a technical diploma in precision ag, the first of its kind in the state. Molded to fit industry needs, the goal of the precision ag program is to give students experience with technology in the form of a stand-alone degree or dual major with FVTC’s farm operations, ag business, ag power and agronomy programs. With the addition of new courses like precision equipment systems, GIS applications, advanced precision ag, precision ag field training and customer relations, Cattelino explains how the classes will provide a basic foundation for the many applications of precision ag.
“Precision ag is everything from installing technology on equipment, to selling it, to consulting on how to utilize and manage data, to operating equipment,” he says. “There are several paths you can go down.”
Once graduates take a position, on-the-job training may be required; however, their hands-on experience from FVTC will lay the ground work for further employer-specific training. “We hope to give our graduates a good start, not just in a job, but in a career,” he adds.
Unique in its student offerings, FVTC partners with local dealerships that provide around 30 pieces of equipment for student learning purposes – from combines to tractors to lawn mowers. The college also leases 100 acres of tillable land, giving students the opportunity to truly experience technology in use. A 5,000-square-foot expansion and 6,000-square-foot renovation project currently underway will provide more classroom, lab and office space for all of the agriculture programs.
The additional space means that more students will be able to experience hands-on learning in precision ag and related fields. “This is an opportunity to bring in more students,” says Fischer. “We are finding that the industry is saying they need 30 more graduates than we are putting out each year. More space, more seats … adding space gives us room for more students, graduates and growth.”
Cattelino agrees. “There is a thirst out there for technology, and if we find the right fit for each and every kid, that is pretty exciting.”
July 31, 2013
From nbc26.com: “Challenges ahead for victims of child sex trafficking bust” – After a nationwide sex trafficking sting rescues 10 teenagers in Wisconsin the questions is, what’s next? Today a local expert is talking about what needs to be done for the victims and how law enforcement is stepping up to combat the issue.
Human trafficking doesn’t always look so obvious, it’s actually most common in the most innocent of places.
“They go to Malls and when they go to malls nobody’s children are safe,” said Phil Keith. Keith is an expert on human trafficking at Fox Valley Technical College.
According to him child prostitution is growing to younger and younger age groups, with the most vulnerable being runaways.
“These pimps are negotiators, they’re masters at persuasion,” said Keith.
Once a pimp has a victim, it’s hard to get free.
“They steal their identity, they don’t allow them to work,” said Keith.
When teens are rescued, getting back to normal life is a challenge and police are trying to help.
“Our goal is to bring them in to talk to them about their experiences and then to offer them the services that are available,” said Chad Elgersma, who works in the Human Trafficking Division of the FBI.
Victim’s need multiple services for drug addictions, emotional and sexual abuse and much more.
“The questions is tolerance. How much will we tolerate these kinds of perpetrators, who take innocence away from children,” said Keith.
As those 10 children, rescued from Wisconsin are now trying to overcome a life of sexual slavery.
A training session is held once a year at Fox Valley Technical College on Amber Alerts and Missing Persons, it also touches on spotting the signs of human trafficking and how to stop it.
July 26, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “FVTC students learn tools of trade” — By Larry Avila - GRAND CHUTE — Mark Gedamke left his mark on Fox Valley Technical College.
When he was enrolled in the college’s apprenticeship program, he and some of his classmates assembled a working cascading timer circuit, which is used as a hands-on learning tool and resembles a device used for controlling industrial machinery.
“It was an opportunity to make something that other people could use and get some hands-on learning,” said Gedamke of Waupun, an industrial electrician at International Paper in Fond du Lac. He and his classmates were inspired to make the device when other students suggested it would be helpful to learn how to use and troubleshoot problems on real-world equipment if they had a functioning learning tool.
Apprenticeship programs in Wisconsin received $1.8 million in funds after the Gov. Scott Walker signed the 2013-15 budget into law. The programs have been used by people through the years to learn an assortment of skilled trades from construction to manufacturing, an effort the state wants to continue, said Reggie Newson, secretary of the state Department of Workforce Development, who visited FVTC on Thursday and toured the college’s apprenticeship training areas.
“When we looked at options and policies to train workers in Wisconsin, apprenticeships were one of those tools we wanted to focus on,” Newson said. “It’s a tried and true training program to get on-the-job practical experience and help employers get the workers with the skills they need.”
Newson said the state’s apprenticeship programs had received federal funding, but those dollars were dwindling, which is why the state devoted funds to it.
There are more than 7,000 active apprentices in the state now, including 3,545 in construction and 1,286 in manufacturing. Newson said partnerships between businesses and technical colleges make those programs effective.
“It’s a great way to earn while you learn,” he said. “Apprentices are learning in the classroom but getting real-world experience at the same time.”
Gedamke said his apprenticeship lasted four years but it was time well spent.
“The time was well worth it because I learned so many things through it that I use in my daily work,” he said.
Mike Cattelino, associate dean of FVTC’s manufacturing division, said apprentices spend about 10 percent of their time in the classroom and 90 percent in the field.
That relationship is helpful so the college can adjust training programs based on input from students and employers to ensure skills needed are taught.
“We just play a part in this cycle,” Cattelino said. “As apprentices spend time in the field, it helps us (shape) our education here.”
July 25, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “There’s more than one college plan” — By Dave Saucerman - When I started college, I was repeatedly lied to. Advisers said it was OK not to have a major, asserting that all their programs were created equal and would provide the same opportunities. There was nothing malicious about what they told me — just a friendly reassurance to an anxious freshman.
The truth is that many college degrees don’t carry the weight they used to for employers, a fact that’s too often ignored.
High school graduates continue to flock to four-year universities with the notion that it’s a formula for automatic success, a belief that the University of Wisconsin System is happy to perpetuate. However, since the revelation that UW raised tuition for years despite a huge surplus, it’s become clear that it doesn’t always have the best interest of students in mind.
It’s a growing trend that college programs are set up with the philosophy that students will need to obtain an advanced degree to have any shot at being marketable. This “come for the bachelor’s, stay for the master’s” approach to education only makes sense from the perspective of a university balance sheet. The reality is you end up with a 24-year-old with no real-world experience and crippling student loan debt.
When I finished high school and followed the masses off to college, my former classmate and Appleton resident Ryan Randerson continued working his job at Tom’s Drive-in. It was a questionable decision by traditional standards, but Ryan worked his way into management and, at 20, was able to buy his first home. He’s now enrolled in classes part-time, pursuing a business management degree at Fox Valley Technical College. His employer offers tuition reimbursement based on his academic performance, so Ryan will likely get his college education on the company’s dime.
I’m not suggesting high school grads in general are better off forgoing college for jobs in the food-service industry. College has always and will always have the intangible benefit of introducing students to new ideas, people and experiences. More than anything, college is a place for young adults to discover what it is they’re passionate about. But if your passion is to get a job that will allow you to buy a house and start a family, there are easier ways to do it than dropping $80,000 over four years.
July 24, 2013
From fvtcsusan.wordpress.com: “A Technical Education Champion in our midst” — By Susan May, president of Fox Valley Technical College -Last Friday evening I attended a very special awards program in Rice Lake, WI. It was the summer meeting of the trustees from all 16 technical colleges in the state, the District Boards Association. This association presented its annual TECh Award (technical education champion) to one of our outstanding local partners and good friend of FVTC, Mr. Mike Weller.
It was a pleasure to nominate Mike for this prestigious award. Mike serves as the President of Miller Electric Manufacturing Co. and ITW North America. I shared with the audience that evening that I’ve known Mike for 30 years, having first crossed paths with him when he was teaching an evening course for FVTC as an adjunct instructor and I was managing our evening school operations. So, 30 years ago he was already heavily involved with the College and giving back to his community by sharing his knowledge and experience with students.
Mike’s contributions to technical education and our college have only grown over the years and we greatly value the wonderful working relationship between our organizations. He is without question a champion for technical education, the career opportunities it offers young people, and the essential role that high-quality post-secondary education and training plays in growing our economy.
Let me share one other really wonderful glimpse into who Mike Weller is. Mike wasn’t able to attend this awards presentation as he had made a commitment to attend his 3-year old grandson’s birthday party. Now here’s a leader who has his priorities straight and I’m delighted that he kept his commitment to his grandson. We were pleased to have Mike’s colleague, Tim Swanson, attend and accept this award on Mike’s behalf. It was a great opportunity to share this occasion with Tim as he serves on the FVTC Foundation Board of Directors.
On a final note, the TECh Award can be made to an individual or an organization. In 1997 Miller Electric Mfg. Co. was the recipient of this award. Now, its leader Mike Weller has been honored by our System’s district boards with this award in 2013. Both have clearly been technical education champions, our champions, for many years.
July 18, 2013
From nbc26.com: “GirlTech Empowers Girls at Fox Valley Tech” – GRAND CHUTE — Middle school girls from around Northeast Wisconsin are stepping out of the “norm” this week.
It’s all part of GirlTech camp at Fox Valley Technical College. They spent today learning important workplace skills like welding, electronics, robotics, and chemistry… fields that were once considered for men only.
“A lot of times when science camps are offered in the area, we see typically a large number of boys going into those types of camps and very few girls. So what’ really unique about this camp is that it’s open to all girls,” says Data Analyst Laura Waurio with FVTC.
The camp runs through the end of the week.
June 24, 2013
From fox11online.com: “FVTC unveils 1st of its kind ag program” – APPLETON – A new program at Fox Valley Technical College aims to make farming as precise as possible and the school says the program is the first of its kind in the state.
This field of soybeans was planted by Fox Valley Tech Students. It’s a jumping off point for the school’s new program: Precision Agriculture.
“Optimize yield and decrease what it takes to grow the crops,” said Instructor Jason Fischer.
Fischer said precision ag encompasses a whole host of 21st-century farming techniques. That includes self-driving planting equipment, tracking crop yield and the use of GPS and GIS systems in the fields.
“Completing maps that tell the farmer where were the high yields on the field and where were the low yields on the field and then make management decisions out of it,” explained Fischer.
What makes precision ag different is that instead of treating a field as one big piece of land it treats it section by section.
“So we’re gonna treat by the acre or even by the square foot differently across the field,” explained Fischer.
One example is fertilizer.
“Instead of putting the same rate of fertilizer across the field it puts more fertilizer where the plants need it and less fertilizer in areas of the field that do not need it,” said Fischer.
Mike Cattelino is associate dean of the manufacturing and agriculture technologies division. He told us the college was able to start this new program thanks, in part, to a structural expansion of the agriculture department.
“Expansion started here in March and we’re scheduled to be ready for business in mid to late August,” said Cattelino.
Cattelino told us it’s important that Fox Valley Tech is the first school in Wisconsin with this program.
“The demand for precision ag really came from our business partners looking for people to fill the demand for precision ag specialists,” explained Cattelino, which means there should be jobs for students after graduation.
The precision ag program will start this fall. It’s a year long program — covering planting to harvest, as well as the mechanic and business aspects of precision ag.
June 17, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “Meeting current, future workforce needs takes priority” – Educational and industry leaders are taking a proactive approach to ensure businesses have the skilled workers they need today and in the future.
From partnerships between technical colleges, K-12 education and business groups to efforts by private firms to groom employees for future leadership roles, numerous efforts are underway to keep workers’ skills current and ensure a steady stream of ready-to-employ people are available tomorrow.
Miller Electric Mfg. Co. in Appleton and its parent, Illinois Tool Works, have been internally discussing workforce needs for years but stepped up efforts the past two years, said Craig Treichel, group human resources manager for Miller.
“It wasn’t something that was just brought up in a memo one day and we started looking at it,” Treichel said.
It involved a cultural change within the company, which makes welding equipment, to get employees and leadership to begin thinking about the future, he said.
One area Miller has focused on is leadership development. Current employees, who are seen by management with leadership potential, are provided opportunities to work for different parts of the business and in different jobs at different locations.
The idea is to give those people exposure to as many aspects of the business as possible to give them an understanding of the entire operation, Treichel said.
“We’re trying to develop a well-thought-out plan to expose our people to different things,” he said. “Mobility also is an important quality as we become more global as a company.”
The nation is getting older and so are its workers.
The Census Bureau said in 2006 that 14.5 percent of the nation’s labor force consisted of people 65 and older. The bureau projected at that time the number could reach 19.7 percent by 2014.
The Government Accountability Office projects that by 2015, about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce would be made up of people 55 and older.
Higher costs for healthcare, longer life spans and lack of retirement savings are some of reasons cited by the government why people are working longer.
But eventually people do stop working and in some instances take decades of industry knowledge with them.
At Kiel-based Amerequip Corp., a maker of custom equipment for the lawn, landscape, agricultural and construction industries, the company has established partnerships with Fox Valley high schools and regional technical colleges to develop training programs to keep its workers up to date and to introduce teens to manufacturing.
Mike VanderZanden, CEO at Amerequip, said its boot camp, which partners with Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, is a 16-week program. It’s a combination of classroom work and on site training, which gives students real-world experience and provides opportunities for employees to share their knowledge.
“(The students) are getting paid and getting credits at the same time,” he said. “They’re also getting real experience in a profession they want to get into.”
Partnerships between business and educators are essential to ensure students are learning skills that meet employers’ needs, said David Eckmann, economic development director for the Marathon County Economic Development Corp.
He pointed to Northcentral Technical College in Wausau’s centers for excellence, which addresses workforce issues in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and wood technology.
“The centers do more to train the incumbent workforce to keep their skills current,” Eckmann said.
Another Marathon County initiative, “The Heavy Metal Bus Tour,” targets high school students who may be interested in manufacturing careers.
It’s not just a field trip for students to visit businesses, Eckmann said.
“For the companies who participate, they spend time with the students, explain to them the skills needed for specific jobs and what the potential salary could be,” he said. “It gives manufacturers the opportunity to show students what they are about.”
The program has had participants from 10 school districts in the Marathon County area since it launched about two years ago, Eckmann said.
Across the board needs
Chris Matheny, vice president for instructional services at Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute, said industries including health care and advanced manufacturing, are in a constant cycle of shortages and hiring booms.
About five years ago more conversation emerged about need for skilled workers and challenges to fill available positions, Matheny said.
“Even during the recession, students from some of our programs still were seeing high rates of placement (after graduation) in the 80 to 90 percent range,” Matheny said.
On FVTC’s website, www.fvtc.edu/fall2013, the college details program openings for its upcoming fall and spring terms, which have strong employment outlook. In the college’s latest annual graduate employment research report, it shows 89 percent of its graduates find jobs within six months of graduating.
Some of FVTCs high placement programs include automotive and diesel technology, electrical technology, engineering electronics design and manufacturing, truck driving and emergency medical technician.
Matheny said programs offered at the college are based on input from advisory panels, which include business and community leaders. These relationships are important to keep curriculums current and ensure what students are learning meets employers needs, he said.
“Employers come to us say they need skilled workers and students come to us saying they want to know where the jobs are so they can get to work quickly after they graduate,” he said. “It’s been a good way for us to connect (our graduates) with high-demand careers.”
From jsonline.com: “Oshkosh Corp. cuts, linked to military spending decline” – About 535 employees at Oshkosh Corp.’s defense division are scheduled to lose their jobs June 14, fewer than an earlier estimate of 700, as some people have found other jobs or have taken early retirements, the company said Tuesday.
On Thursday, the 535 employees will get a chance to find other employment through a career fair exclusively for them at the Oshkosh Convention Center.
“This is for Oshkosh defense division production employees only,” said company spokesman John Daggett.
The all-day event, sponsored by the company, is expected to attract 14 area companies that have a total of 542 job openings — most of them in manufacturing.
The list includes Mercury Marine Inc., which is seeking to hire about 50 people in Fond du Lac.
Mercury has openings for maintenance mechanics and maintenance electricians. The company has a unique “sixth shift,” where employees work 36 hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday and get paid for 40 hours.
The long-weekend shift is sought by people who want to do other things during the week, such as attend school or pursue another career.
Other companies expected at Thursday’s career fair include defense contractor Oldenburg Group, Quad/Graphics, Schneider National, The Manitowoc Co., Bemis Co., Alliance Laundry and Pioneer Metal Finishing.
Oldenburg Group’s plant in Rhinelander has openings for welders, machinists, a weld-shop supervisor and a production manager. Among other things, the plant works on material-handling equipment for the U.S. Navy.
“If we spend the day in Oshkosh and hire a couple of people, it’s worth it,” said Gayle Rutlin, a human resources generalist for the company.
Tuesday, Fox Valley Technical College staff met with Oshkosh Corp. employees to offer career guidance and job training options.
A couple of employees said they wanted to get out of manufacturing and pursue careers such as physical therapy, said Denise Martinez, the college’s director of counseling services.
“Probably a bigger share of people stay in manufacturing of some type, but they want additional skills for greater job security,” Martinez said.
The Oshkosh Corp. job cuts were announced in April, ending a four-year hiring spree in the company’s defense division and slowing what former Defense Secretary Robert Gates once said was one of the most impressive military-vehicle production runs in decades.
Only two years ago, 2,500 people attended a two-day job fair for the company, with some waiting more than nine hours to be interviewed for roughly 750 job openings.
Including those who applied online and at other times, more than 5,000 people sought jobs as the specialty vehicle-maker added staff to fulfill a $3 billion defense contract.
Now, the people losing their jobs from a slowdown in defense spending are entering an improved job market in the Fox Valley and Northeast Wisconsin, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.
There are more than 1,000 job orders posted for production occupations in northeast Wisconsin, including orders with multiple positions, Workforce Development records show.
“The bottom line is the job market is pretty healthy right now. And the Oshkosh employees have been in the defense industry, so their certifications are top notch,” said Jim Golembeski, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board in Green Bay.
Replacing the defense contractor’s wages, including some of the highest pay in the area for manufacturing jobs, could be more difficult for many people.
“You may have to take two steps back before you start moving ahead again,” Golembeski said.
“I suspect we are going to see the same thing with the Kewaunee power plant employees, in that these men and women also are at the top of the pay scale, so they may not be able to maintain the wage level they’ve been at,” he added.
A dozen of the Oshkosh employees subject to the cutback took early retirements. About 150 other people won’t be included in the layoffs at the end of next week because they’ve already found other work or they were contract employees.
The employees losing their jobs, represented by United Auto Workers Local 578, will have hiring recall rights for up to three years. They will receive severance pay based on their unused or accrued vacation time, according to the company.
After the layoffs, the company will still have about 2,800 employees in its defense division in Oshkosh and 5,500 employees companywide in Wisconsin. But military vehicle production will drop 30%, and jobs tied to the lost work aren’t expected to come back anytime soon.
The pullback in military spending, largely from the war in Afghanistan winding down, is certain to ripple through the Fox Valley where the military-vehicle boom has supported dozens of businesses, including parts suppliers, metal fabricators, foundries and machine shops.
May 21, 2013
From fox11online.com: “Sargento cheese guitar made at FVTC” – GRAND CHUTE – Are you a cheese and music lover? Some area students mixed the two together for a special project.
Company officials from cheesemaker Sargento Foods made a visit to Fox Valley Technical College Monday.
They were collecting a customized cheese guitar.
The guitar will be put in Sargento’s lobby to help raise awareness on what initiatives around the region are going on to build skill sets.
Organizers say the students learned a variety of skills during the project.
“They start with a solid block of wood and they start exploring different careers like mechanical design and they have to design and cut out their guitar, after that you’re looking at wood science, there’s soldering, all the science of intonation and tuning so they cover about a dozen different careers that they explore,” said Steve Gallagher, FAB Lab manager.
A guitar building class is offered through Fox Valley Tech.
From whattheythink.com: “Fox Valley Technical College welcomes the NPIRI Printing Ink Technology Course” – National Printing Ink Research Institute (NPIRI) will be hosting its annual Printing Ink Technology Course July 14-19 in Appleton, Wisconsin. NPIRI is offering this unique course at Fox Valley Technical College and it will provide comprehensive, in-depth yet flexible coverage of printing ink and printing technologies.
The course is carefully designed to bring new employees up to speed quickly; and provide more experienced employees the fundamental understanding necessary to improve, update and expand their skill sets.
“The NPIRI Summer Course is an exceptionally unique educational opportunity which appeals to both experienced ink technicians and those new to the field. The scope and depth of the course is unmatched by any other course or seminar. This is the course to learn about printing ink,” said George Fuchs, Director – Environmental Affairs and Technology for NAPIM.
Attendees can expect an ‘immersion’ type environment in which introductory and advanced concepts are reinforced with multiple practical/hands-on applications in an informal and interactive format. This course is also an exceptional value among training courses of its type.
The course is presented by industry experts from both ink companies and suppliers who know the language of the industry and the fundamental science.
This course has been conducted by NPIRI since the mid-1960s. Over time it has been modified to include newer technologies and instructional techniques but one thing hasn’t changed – the all but unanimous positive reviews from its attendees.
May 13, 2013
From thenorthwestern.com: “FVTC graduates follow their dreams” – Molly Willis tried the traditional four-year college route.
But after struggling to find the path she wanted to follow, the 25-year-old Oshkosh woman left the university behind, taking a job as a reception with the Bergstrom Automotive group.
Working closely with the administrative assistant, Willis realized that was what she wanted: a job that kept her busy every day, but never doing the same thing.
The Brookfield native began taking classes at Fox Valley Technical College in the administrative professional program, while she continued to work full-time.
“I knew what I didn’t want,” Willis said. “But (FVTC) had the administrative professional program and I thought that would be perfect for me and what I was looking for.”
Willis, along with nearly 1,000 others walked across the stage and collected their diplomas at Fox Valley Technical College’s spring commencement ceremonies at Kolf Sports Center Sunday.
Some of the graduates started at FVTC after graduating from high school, others waited before finding the path they wanted to go down and still others were switching career paths.
“Its never too late to follow your dream. You just have to have it. With the right amount of determination you can accomplish anything,” student commencement speaker Chandra Riley, a graduate of the culinary arts program, said. “All you have to do is set your mind to it. Visualize yourself achieving your goal and the steps to get there will fall into place on their own.”
For Abu Muhit, that dream involved a trip across the ocean and the realization of the vital role automobiles play in the United States.
The 25-year-old Oshkosh resident came to the United States from Bangladesh in 2008. Upon arriving, he realized that it was very common to have an automobile for everyday use and transportation.
“The place I’m from, we never had any cars,” said Muhit, who will be working at CarX in Fond du Lac as a technician. “I wanted to know about cars and how they work.”
Muhit originally enrolled at FVTC to improve his English. He eventually began taking classes in the automotive technology program, with hopes of owning his own auto shop in the future.
“You’re going to walk off this stage today and start a new life,” said Catherine Tierney, the president and chief executive officer at Community First Credit Union, who gave the commencement address.
For Willis, the new life will involve continuing her job at Bergstrom Automotive, where she will work as executive assistant to CEO John Bergstrom. It also means the possibility of continuing her education at a later date.
“Just having my associate’s degree, my options are much more open,” she said. “I’m seeing where the chips fall now.”
From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Retiring fire chief reflects on 31-year career” – Marshfield Fire Chief James Schmidt retires May 24 after more than 31 years of service to the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department. I had a chance to sit down with him recently to reflect on his career and more than three decades of service to the city of Marshfield.
A Wisconsin native, Chief Schmidt grew up in the Fox Valley area and attended school in Appleton. His father worked for a large fire apparatus manufacturer in Appleton, and his uncle worked for a fire department in the Milwaukee suburbs. The seeds of a career in the fire service had been cast. Upon graduation, he enrolled in the Fire Protection Program at Fox Valley Technical College, graduating in 1981. He completed the cadet program a Grand Chute and Oshkosh Fire departments. Shortly after graduation, he landed his first full-time career in the fire service with the Kaukauna Fire Department.
A strong work ethic and a desire to serve the public in concert with all the ideologies of a new recruit were met with the realities of recession and budget cuts. After only six months on the job, the new recruit’s position was eliminated.
Newly unemployed in a recession that was affecting most municipalities in Wisconsin, Schmidt began testing state-wide for positions. On April 5, 1982, he accepted a position with the Marshfield Fire Department.
Clayton Simonson was the fire chief at the time. The Marshfield Fire Department was in the process of addressing a referendum regarding the Optional Powers of the Fire and Police Commission, the reorganization of the two platoon shift schedule, and a paid-on-call firefighter program. Firefighters had many questions for Schmidt about his time at Kaukauna, Oshkosh and Grand Chute and the schedules and operations at those locations.
He served as an acting lieutenant/relief lieutenant before being promoted to deputy chief of the Red Shift on Aug. 7, 2001. In that capacity, he was responsible for the city and county hazmat team, the Fire Investigation Team and specialized rescue programs. He secured a grant for the purchase of rescue vehicles, equipment and training as part of a Central Wisconsin Collapse Rescue Team. He was a fire investigator for the city and served on the Wood County Fire Investigation Task Force as secretary/treasurer and president.
Schmidt was instrumental in developing the regional training center in partnership with Mid-State Technical College. The training center is one of his proudest accomplishments. As a fire service instructor, he recognizes the complexities of emergency service response and making sure our rescue workers are prepared.
Schmidt is on the board of directors for the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association, co-chairman of the Wisconsin Technical College System Fire Service Advisory Committee on Education and Training and chairman of the MSTC Fire Service Advisory Committee.
People always are curious about rescue workers’ most memorable calls.
“You remember a lot of calls for various reasons,” Schmidt said. “The calls that seem to stick with me are the untimely deaths of the young, whether it is by traumatic accident or illness.
“If pressed, I would say the Central State Supply fire on Depot Street early in my career was one of the more memorable because I was treated and released from the hospital for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion,” Schmidt said.
“I also responded to a fatal fire that same year where a young child perished. I can still see vividly the image of the lifeless child being carried in the arms of another firefighter from a second-story closet.”
The downtown Magic Moments fire on April 1, 2005, was the largest multi-agency fire response Schmidt commanded.
In three decades of service, the biggest changes in the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department from Schmidt’s perspective are the development of the paramedic ambulance service, the advancements in personal protective equipment, firefighter safety and the cost of vehicles.
When Schmidt started in 1982, the annual fire department budget was $800,000; this year it was just under $4 million.
Other notable changes are in training and education. We have a more educated workforce, and advancements in state and national standards have increased the need for more training to meet the many varied emergencies to which today’s fire departments respond.
“I am happy to say the fire service has become more proactive versus reactive,” Schmidt said. “The fire department culture has become more professional and less traditional.
“We have become the risk managers of our community,” he said. “We spend more time identifying potential threats, analyzing the risk, and assessing our vulnerabilities.”
“Through our fire prevention and training efforts, responsive fire codes, improved building design, and cooperation from the general public, the number of significant fires has been reduced,” Schmidt said.
“We still have far too many fires that could have been prevented by adherence to simple fire safety practices,” he said.
Two accomplishments he is proud of are the part he played in the development of the regional training center and the construction of the new fire station. However, he is most proud of his role in changing the organizational culture of the department.
“The high level of cooperation that currently exists within the organization has helped us overcome most any operational challenges we have faced over the past six years,” he said. “The fire service truly becomes your second family, and when the alarm sounds, regardless of any interpersonal conflicts, all members work as a team for the common goal of saving the life or property of someone they typically have never met.”
Schmidt said, “I’ll miss the camaraderie, and I am confident the department will continue to adhere to the basic philosophies: treat people the way you want to be treated, make decisions that are best for the community and department and do what you can to leave the department in a better position than we you got there.”
From fox11online.com: “Preparation key in search for missing” – FOND DU LAC – Investigators say having a plan in place to deal with an abduction before it happens is key.
“If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen in the first 24 hours and the quicker we can get on it, the quicker we can get the information out to the general public, the better chance we have of resolving it,” said Lt. Cameron McGee with the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Dept.
McGee says having that plan in place helps allocate resources to the search effort quickly and effectively.
“These things have a tendency to explode very quickly and if we have a plan in place up front, it’s easier to manage, easier to do that because these things they get very big, very fast.”
It’s the kind of training Fox Valley Technical College’s Criminal Justice Training Center provides. Center director Brad Russ trains law enforcement officers on search techniques in missing persons cases.
“Time is of the essence. When we do our training, we talk about the need to mobilize everyone immediately,” said Russ.
McGee say technology helps spread the word of possible abductions quicker than ever before.
“We have Amber Alerts now, we have the resources of the National Center for the Missing and Exploited, other agencies out there today that we didn’t have back then, 10, 20 years ago.”
And Lt. McGee has a warning for those who would even think about harming children…don’t do it in Fond du Lac County.
“If that means calling in state resources or federal resources or whatever it takes, at least around here these cases are dealt with in the absolute highest priority. We have to tolerate a lot of things around here, but when it comes to messing with our children, we don’t have any tolerance for that whatsoever.”
Each February, Fox Valley Tech hosts a national missing persons conference.
The FBI’s most recent report indicates 87,000 active missing persons cases; more than one third of them are children.
May 9, 2013
From nbc26.com: “Upcycling project at Fox Valley Tech” – Interior design students at Fox Valley Technical College are re-using what’s already been recycled.
Some of this semester’s final designs included “upcycled” art as part of a textile drive for Goodwill Industries. The students use of the art is also aimed at improving understanding of where those textiles come from.
FVTC Interior Design Instructor Kris Figy says, “We learned that there’s a lot of textile waste and we want to bring that to the attention of people, so we wanted a public awareness campaign. So we’ve created a display in our hallway talking about some of the facts.”
The group decided to partner with Goodwill because they have a large amount of resources available to help recycle clothing and textiles.
May 6, 2013
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Outlook bright for trucking industry careers” – The improving economy means manufacturers are busy and need to get their products out to customers.
That means shipping goods out by truck, which translates to steady demand for both regional delivery as well as cross-country drivers. The state projects between 2,000 and 3,000 positions will be available annually in Wisconsin through 2020.
“The outlook suggests that (trucking companies) are looking aggressively to fill the needs they have,” said Jeff Sachse, a labor market analyst for the state Department of Workforce Development.
He said for the next several years, truck driving will be among the fastest growing job sectors in the state.
Numbers from Fox Valley Technical College’s truck driving program in Grand Chute suggests graduates have little trouble finding work. In 2012, about 94 percent of FVTC’s 173 trucking program graduates found a job within six months of graduation.
Rob Behnke, chair of FVTC’s truck driving program, said the college annually graduates between 200 and 215 drivers, who will have a commercial driver’s license after completing the program, which can take up to 18 weeks. FVTC, Waukesha County Technical College and Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire are the only three schools in the Wisconsin Technical College System that offer a truck driving program.
Today’s long-haul truck drivers on average are in their mid-50s to early 60s, Behnke said. Retirements during the next five years means demand for drivers only will increase.
“Opportunity is out there, especially for the entry-level driver,” he said.
Sachse said truck drivers only are one facet of a complex national logistics network. Demand also exists for warehousing and inventory specialists who can track cargo and ensure it arrives at its destination.
“Logistics in general is an area of strong demand because of the variety of jobs in that sector,” he said.
Dispatchers and people skilled in supply chain management are among the assorted jobs showing steady long-term growth, Sachse said.
Because Wisconsin is not a main distribution hub, but is home to many goods producers, those companies depend on the trucking industry to ship products, he said.
This has benefited Ashwaubenon-based Schneider National, one of the nation’s largest trucking companies.
“Manufacturing growth has a two to one impact on the trucking industry,” said Mike Hinz, vice president of driver recruiting at Schneider. “When the country is going through a manufacturing recovery, it means demand increases for raw materials and getting those finished products from the plants to distribution centers.”
Hinz said drivers in general should have little trouble finding work today. However, finding people to consider jobs in the industry can prove challenging.
The National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools reported people seeking training has dropped. The association said its members in 2005 were training about 18,000 students annually but by 2012 that number fell 22 percent to 14,000.
Behnke, who is president of the association, which represents about 130 schools nationally, said some prospective students find the working hours and the possibility of being away from home for extended periods a deterrent.
Hinz said Schneider partners with FVTC to recruit and train drivers. It also has relations with the military who works with service men and women seeking employment after completing a tour.
“We have to take multiple angles to find drivers but we want to make sure we’re out there telling people trucking is a viable career option,” Hinz said.
The Department of Labor said the average national annual salary for a truck driver in 2011 was $54,154. In Wisconsin, the average annual wage was $41,276.
Behnke said FVTC trucking program graduates, who get entry-level work, may earn close to $40,000 annually. Hinz said entry-level drivers at Schneider may earn between $39,000 and $42,000 annually.
Many students in FVTC’s truck driving program are people seeking second careers, those in their early to mid-40s. Behnke said.
Hinz said someone new to the industry but with a good work history is an attractive employee to Schneider.
“We do see a lot of second career folks but these people do bring other skills like problem solving and have been in many situations that can help them,” Hinz said.
From wearegreenbay.com: “Dual credit helps students enter the workforce sooner” – A dual credit program that’s been around for twenty years has allowed students to finish college and enter the workforce faster than their peers.
Technical colleges are promoting these programs, that are offered a some local high schools.
Local Five’s Donald Robinson takes us to Fox Valley Technical College and interviews a student from Appleton West High School to show us why the programs are growing more popular with students.
From wbay.com: “Fox Valley Tech introduces dual credit program for high school students” – Fox Valley Technical College begins a new initiative to connect students to available jobs in less time.
Calling it a “Do the Dual” event, officials highlighted an effort to connect high school classes to technical college credits.
Fox Valley Tech says the emphasis is to fill open machinist positions in the area.
“That’ll give you about a semester-and-a-half, two semester head start, which is very helpful because the faster you get in here, the faster you can leave, and the faster you can get back into the workforce, and showing the skills you just learned is very beneficial to your employer and yourself,” Brillion High School graduate Ryan Gieger said.
High school officials we talked with say programs like this help get students to viable careers in less time and in sectors where jobs are available.
May 1, 2013
From fox11online.com: “Dual-credit program benefits students” – Tuesday was a dual-credit day at technical colleges across the state as they promote the kind of program four-year universities have long used.
Schools like Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute highlighted programs to help high school students earn college credits.
The initiative is meant to foster better partnerships between tech schools and high schools.
“I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how I’m only 19 years old but yet things are really starting to come together,” said Fox Valley Technical College student Ryan Geiger.
Geiger graduated from Brillion High School and was hired as a machinist by the Ariens Company. He says thanks to dual-credit courses, he’s working on two different degrees.
“I was really surprised how you can be a machinist and have the mindset you do and love what you do and being paid what you are. It’s just awesome.”
FVTC officials say Geiger is just one example of what educators hope becomes a trend of successful students taking dual-credit courses and filling in-demand jobs.
“It’s going to give them an opportunity to get an understanding of whether or not they would like to pursue this as their main field,” said Fox Valley Technical College Dean of Technologies Steve Straub.
The dual-credit classes are also free to high school students, meaning they are getting more specialized training and paying less for it.
“I really feel like we needed to be more aggressive in helping our students get one foot into post-secondary education,” said Appleton West High School Principal Greg Hartjes.
To do that, Appleton West hopes to start a machine technology charter school in the fall of 2014. Students could earn 24 credits toward a degree at Fox Valley Tech.
“These are high need areas that the community has said we don’t have enough employees, we don’t have enough people going into these areas and that is what we are trying to fill,” said Hartjes.
“I just love doing technology stuff, I just knew that’s what I always wanted to be,” said Geiger.
Providing students an open door to a bright future.
The number of high school students throughout the state taking college credits in high school has doubled in the last five years.
Fox Valley Tech says 21,000 Wisconsin students have an average of at least six college credits before graduating high school.