From wkow.com: “Waiting lists at tech colleges to shrink thanks to $35 million grant” – Waiting lists at technical colleges across Wisconsin are shrinking thanks to a $35 dollar boost.

Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch stopped by Madison College on Tuesday to announce the school be will receiving $5 million as part of the Wisconsin Fast Forward: Blueprint for Prosperity Initiative.

The money will be used to get more students into programs and courses in high-demand fields.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch says, “In Wisconsin today there are about 67,000 open jobs, yet we still have folks that are unemployed, there’s a skills mismatch. We need to make sure the folks that are seeking employment have the skills that job creators who are offering that employment will require in order to hire someone.”

Madison College says the $5 million grant will allow them to train an additional 934 students.

From wiscnews.com: “Portage High grad takes 4th in nation in precision machining” – By Jen McCoy – Nate Schmudlach broke the mold, which is a good thing considering he’s highly skilled at precision machining.

The 20-year-old has an easy-going personality yet an intense drive toward an apprenticeship this fall in plastic injection molding. He’s being courted by a couple of machine shops and with his credentials more are likely to show interest.

In April, the 2012 Portage High School graduate took gold at the state’s post-secondary SkillsUSA championship in precision machining. Last month, he placed fourth in the same category at the national SkillsUSA Competition in Kansas City. The previous year, he placed seventh.

“My goal was I wanted to be in the top three, but getting fourth will go on my resume,” Schmudlach said. It’s not bad for his ego either, he said with a laugh.

Three vans from Madison College took students and instructors to the five-day competition. Schmudlach was accompanied by J.R. Colvin, a metrology instructor who worked closely with him to prepare, but at competition it’s all about the student’s skills without guidance.

The skilled trades convention and competition take the top state qualifiers and have them pit their abilities against each other in a best of the best test. The skilled areas range from aviation maintenance technology and welding to technical drafting and cabinetmaking.

Earlier this year, Schmudlach graduated from Madison College-Truax for machine tool and is employed/mentored at Isthmus Engineering & Manufacturing in Madison.

“I’m a jack-of-all-trades there, that’s what I want to be (in this profession),” Schmudlach said. “I have a desire to learn machining like no other. Sure, I may not know the most at the beginning, but by the end I’ll be better than anybody that’s initially better than me.”

At nationals, precision machining had 23 contestants demonstrate manual machining skills and knowledge areas including operation of manual milling machines, lathes, drill presses, and surface grinders. Contestants needed to demonstrate knowledge in hands-on testing with a lathe and mill, take two written tests, be versed in technical math and the ability to communicate verbally using proper industry terminology during an interview.

This was Schmudlach’s last year at the competition since he graduated unless he returns to school for a different trade, like carpentry. His family lives in Endeavor and Schmudlach is eager to be employed this fall when he’s done with his apprenticeship at Isthmus.

“You always need the drive and strive to do more, which I’ve had my whole life,” he said.

From madison.com: “Q & A: Madison College providing ‘direct line’ to jobs, says president Jack Daniels” — Last summer Madison College (Madison Area Technical College or MATC) welcomed a new president, Jack Daniels, to lead the community of 40,000 students after the retirement of former president Bettsey Barhorst.

A psychologist by training, Daniels led community colleges in Los Angeles, Springfield, Ill., and Houston before landing his current job. In Madison, he is tasked with addressing sharp cuts in state aid to technical schools as well as new state mandates that tie technical college funding to a variety of measures, including the rate at which their graduates find employment.

Why might somebody seeking a bachelor’s degree go to MATC and then transfer to a four-year college? Why not just go directly to the four-year institution?

Sometimes the transition for high school students to a system that is very large is challenging. UW has large classes; they’re basically auditoriums. Students don’t get the one-on-one interaction that they would at MATC. It eases them into that transfer ability.

And then for returning adults — our average age is 29 — it’s an opportunity for them to ease back into that 4-year grind, to understand where their strengths are and their weaknesses. Especially for people who come from a low-income background, where the affordability goes hand in hand with accessibility.

It seems like a lot of that could just be criticism of our higher education system in general, the high price of four year colleges, the large class sizes.

I don’t want to call it a criticism because they have their own resource issues and challenges. Those are research institutions and their cost of running is much greater than ours. But it is no different from across the country. In fact, in California, there will be a 5-to-1 difference in a unit cost between a four year institution and a community college there. It is not as drastic here.

Do many Madison College students just seek a liberal arts Associate’s degree without intending to transfer for a Bachelor’s degree?

Normally students doing a liberal arts Associate’s are seeking to transfer. I haven’t seen cases where that would not be happening.

What are typical Associate’s degrees that you’d get if you’re not planning to transfer to get a Bachelor’s degree?

Well, I go back to my 60 percent of students in the trades. Automotive technician, diesel equipment technician… these are normally not transfers. It’s difficult, because many of these degrees can’t transfer to programs at four-year institutions.

But take an Associate’s degree in advanced manufacturing. Now I could very well transfer to the school of engineering, however, what (Madison College has) developed are career pathways, so as soon as I complete my (degree) in advanced manufacturing I can actually go to work in a manufacturing company. I think the same thing holds true for health. You can transfer to get your Bachelor’s degree in nursing, but you can also go to work with that Associate’s degree in nursing. Same thing for respiratory therapy, physical therapy and all the health areas.

Do you think that focus on careers is lacking at four-year institutions?

I’d probably be a little disadvantaged to speak about that. I haven’t been at a four-year institution in many years.

But an interesting thing here, with many liberal arts degrees, students can’t get jobs once they get their baccalaureate. They’re coming back to MATC after getting their baccalaureate. We have a high number of baccalaureate graduates who are coming to get further training to go to work. We have a high number of graduates from UW-Madison who are coming to get a paralegal degree. Same thing with biotechnology. And then we have those relationships with those (biotech) companies, like ProMega, so you have direct line to those areas.

Is there enough funding for technical colleges in this state?

(Laughs) There’s never enough funding for them. We’re experiencing a different type of funding now. Our funding will be more dependent on the state than property tax dollars. But you never have enough resources. It causes us to look at our priorities. Where do we shift dollars? We try to supplement that with grants and we also have substantial support from our foundation, especially with regards to scholarships for our students.

Does the foundation get most of its support from individuals, including alumni, or more from other nonprofit organizations?

The latter. We don’t have an alumni association. That’s one of the goals we have for the next year, to develop that. Because I’m quite sure that the number of students who have gone to MATC — and I’ve talked to a number of them in the past week — say, “Without MATC, we wouldn’t be here.” You hear these stories over and over again.

Talk to me about the new performance-based funding that has been mandated by the state.

In the first year, which starts July 1, there is a certain funding set aside and 10 percent of that is based on performance. There are nine (performance) categories and among them we will select seven of them on which we will be measured. In the next biennium it will go to 20 percent (based on performance) and then the following year it will go to 30 percent.

We’re confident in those categories. We do very well.

Do you think this performance-based funding is a good development?

I think there’s a necessity to have some level of accountability. If you think about it as a true developmental model, if you have a school that is not performing, what types of interventions do you make to make sure it is performing? But I think the 10, 20, 30 model is good. I wouldn’t want to see it go much higher than that.

But if a school is under-performing, how is cutting its funding going to improve it?

That’s a good question. I would think there would have to be some other guidelines set for how long do you get that funding. I don’t think you can cut it off immediately.

We are continually looking at what we do. But one of the things the formula doesn’t account for is transfers. It is purely based on technical trades and related outcomes from that.

So it’s not assessing 40 percent of your student body? Is that a flaw?

I think there are a few colleges in the state that believe there need to be some modifications to account for that.

 

From wiscnews.com: “RAHS seniors graduate college” — By Julie Belschner - Reedsburg Area High School seniors Maura Machovec, Terra Kauffman and Payton Legner have graduated from Middle College. A graduation ceremony was held May 13 at Madison Area Technical College-Reedsburg campus to honor their accomplishments in the healthcare track of the program.

Graduation ceremonies were held across the South Central Wisconsin region to honor 40 high school seniors from 12 school districts graduating from the healthcare and manufacturing program tracks. The graduates are now preparing for paid summer work-experience opportunities with local businesses as part of the Middle College program.

Founded in 2010, Middle College is a dual-credit career pathway program targeted toward high school juniors who are interested in advancing their education in targeted industry sectors. Students study concepts in healthcare or manufacturing during the regular school year at participating Madison Area Technical College or Moraine Park Technical College campuses. The program track allows for students to take college classes while they work to complete their high school graduation requirements. Students may earn up to 30 free college credits upon successful program completion and have the opportunity to participate in up to two paid work experiences with local companies as part of the program.

The program is administered by the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, which partners with technical colleges to provide technical college training and curriculum for the program. Upon enrollment into the Middle College, participating high school students achieve college status and enrollment with the technical college. The board collaborates with employers and employees in Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Jefferson, Marquette and Sauk counties to promote a healthy economy; it continually seeks innovative solutions to the economic challenges that face today’s workforce.

From wisopinion.com: “A vision for 21st century tech colleges” – By Rebecca Kleefisch – We should celebrate our sons and daughters who become nursing assistants and machinists just as much as those who become lawyers and doctors. That was my message this weekend at Waukesha County Technical College’s commencement ceremony, when hundreds of students walked across the stage and stepped into new careers and new opportunities.

Governor Walker said the same thing this past January in his State of the State address. He and I know that the twin drivers of our state’s economy are manufacturing and agriculture. Both of those industries rely heavily on technical colleges for expertise and employees. A strong Wisconsin economy needs strong tech colleges in every part of the state, staffed by top-notch teachers and filled with cutting-edge technology. Our tech colleges are a good investment for students, a good partner for employers, and a good value for taxpayers.

The students graduating from WCTC are entering into careers offering the promise of prosperity. An associate’s degree graduate in Aircraft Electronics can get jobs with a starting salary of $47,000. A one-year technical diploma in brick-laying and masonry leads to jobs with a median starting salary of almost $43,000. A dental hygiene grad starts with a salary just shy of $50,000. In fact, for the past 15 years, the tech colleges have placed at least 86 percent of their graduates into jobs within six months of graduation. In other words, tech colleges are equipping our workers with the skills they need to get the high-paying jobs they want and the economy offers.

One reason these jobs pay so well is because our Wisconsin employers are actively searching for employees with the skills and experience to fill jobs across our economy, especially in our agriculture, health care, and manufacturing sectors. It’s vitally important that technical colleges gear their services to the jobs available in their communities today and in the future. That’s why I was so impressed by the Fab Lab at Gateway Tech, for instance, which offers itself as a resource to students, faculty, and local manufacturers to try new ideas and products.

Tech colleges need to stay connected to both the community and to the state as a whole. The Governor’s Blueprint for Prosperity, which invested the state’s $911 million surplus, included $406 million in property tax relief through the tech colleges. At Madison Area Technical College, for instance, state funding jumped from 10 percent to nearly half of MATC’s budget. With the property tax caps in place, that will drop MATC’s local tax levy by almost half, saving the owner of an average Madison home about $200.

We need to continue investing in our technical colleges because of the crucial role they play in our communities and our economy. For instance, given all the technical advances discovered by our tech college staff and students, I’d like to see new programs that help commercialize these innovations as new products and processes for use in business.

My address at WCTC on Saturday was my 37th stop at a technical college since taking office. All those visits reflect the high priority that Governor Walker and I place on our tech colleges. Commencement provides each of us, as friends, family, and neighbors of the graduates, an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and to appreciate their new careers building a stronger Wisconsin.

From hngnews.com: “Candice Gordinier: She helps others stay healthy” — Candice Gordinier, a licensed massage therapist, adheres to a healthy lifestyle, and believes that massage therapy is an important component to achieving health and wellness. Even as a child, she remembers encouraging others around her to stay healthy and in particular, to eat their fruits and vegetables.

She is just starting out in her career, having graduated from Madison College late last fall, but is looking forward to helping others obtain their health and wellness goals. She began her own business, Wellness by Massage, when the salon she was working at in Middleton recently shut down.

As fate would have it, around the time she found out the salon was closing, she received an e-mail from one of the doctors at Hellenbrand Rabideaux Chiropractic in Waunakee, who was seeking a massage therapist to work as an independent contractor at the clinic. She jumped at the opportunity, and is currently focusing on Swedish and deep tissue massages. She is also looking forward to learning more about how massages affect the spine and nervous system.

She is passionate about both the physical and mental benefits of massage therapy, whether it helps with circulation and back pain, or with depression and anxiety. She feels that it is a natural approach to healing the body, and can be a great alternative to surgery, she said.

“That’s what I love about it,” she said. And it can do wonders for stress too, she added.

When she first began giving massages, she worried she wouldn’t know how to fill the entire hour session or what particular sequence she should follow. But she quickly learned to “read the body,” she said, and once she was able to do that, the sessions just flowed naturally, and now she really enjoys when 90-minute sessions are booked.

Gordinier was born in Alaska, living there for a few years before relocating with her family to Middleton for her father, Daniel Burkeland’s business. He is currently the owner of Madison Carpets. She graduated from Middleton High School in 2004, and knew she wanted to work in the health care field in some capacity, so she attended Madison College and became a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

However, she realized that nursing was not for her and contemplated what type of career she may want to pursue. She had experienced a few good massages herself, and believed that it would be a field she would enjoy working in every day. So she took her first class at Madison College in 2010, and never looked back.

“I really feel like I made a good decision. I have never second-guessed it,” she said.

She started out by taking courses such as anatomy, physiology, pathology and kinesiology, before moving on to the massage classes. Upon graduation, she had to pass a licensing exam before she could start her career. She passed on the first try, and was very relieved, saying, “I cried I was so happy.”

Normally the program could be completed within 11 months if one were to attend full-time. However, during this time, she and her husband, Jeff, decided to start a family.

She believes that her family has helped lead her to a career involving health and wellness, as they like to take on the role of helping others. Her two sisters are CNA’s, as was her step-mother, and there are many nurses on her husband’s side of the family.

Gordinier is looking forward to learning more about different aspects of massage therapy through continuing education courses, including a posturology class over the summer. And she hopes to include other courses in the future that focus on hot stone, pregnancy and oncology massages.

For her part, she tries to lead as healthy of a lifestyle as possible, practicing yoga when she has the time, and eating organic foods to avoid pesticides and added hormones.

As for massage therapy, she believes that it can be a wonderful avenue for preventative care, no matter one’s age. From her perspective, getting a massage is not a luxury, but a very important part of health and wellness, and she is eager to pursue her career in earnest.

 

 

From wkow.com: “Law enforcement agencies say Alzheimer’s is becoming a growing problem” – Of all the types of emergencies police officers, fire fighters and EMT’s respond to on a daily basis, Alzheimer’s Disease isn’t one that most people think about. The disease is typically associated with senior care centers and retirement communities, but law enforcement officers say the issue is becoming a bigger part of their daily lives.

“We’ve seen a startling increase in calls in recent years,” Alzheimer’s response trainer Hank Levenson says.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s once every 68 seconds. There’s a 60% chance that they will wander off or get lost at least once in their lifetime. That is where local law enforcement agencies come in. Officers say they’re being called out to an increasing amount Alzheimer’s related situations.

“Not knowing how to recognize that it may be Alzheimer’s, you look at it as possibly someone who is just being uncooperative, somebody that might have been drinking,” Levenson says.

The issue has prompted the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to organize a nationwide training initiative. A team of trainers is currently traveling to several cities across the country to teach officers the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. On Monday they held a training session at Madison College for nearly a hundred police officers and first responders from across the state of Wisconsin.

“Wandering is a huge issue with Alzheimer’s patients. If someone is out in the weather, on the street, inappropriately dressed, officers and first responders need to understand that is not a deliberate act that they’re doing,” trainer Deborah Thompson says.

One of the most important lessons that instructors are teaching first responders and officers is that if they come across someone who might have Dementia or Alzheimer’s is to not run the sirens or the lights on their vehicles. They say the patient may become confused or violent in that situation. Trainers say violent behavior is already a major concern in Alzheimer’s situations. Law enforcement agencies receive numerous domestic violence calls every year. By knowing how to deal with these patients, officers are hoping to not only protect the patients and their families, but other people in their community as well.

“It’s a huge issue and it’s only going to increase in magnitude. It’s not going to reverse,” Thompson says. “It’s not just people who are 65 and older anymore. It’s people who are in their 30′s and 40′s. It’s really becoming a big issue.”

View video from wkow.com

From nbc15.com: “Protecting your data when selling a device” — As phones become more sophisticated, we store more and more data on them, use them for more and more tasks, and put personal information more and more at risk.

With smartphones, you’ve got probably photos, videos, your entire phone list, even credit card information stored on there. And if you don’t take the proper precautions, you become vulnerable to identity theft, fraud and blackmail.

These days folks are always trying to keep up on the latest technology; trading up for the newest and best on the market. And it’s so easy to ditch your old devices and make some green in the process. You can sell online, at places like gazelle.com, Amazon, EBay, and Craigslist. You can also sell devices in person, back to your phone carrier or at a pawn shop

But, before you fork over your phone, listen up! If you have an SD card, take it out. The same thing goes for any memory cards.

Most newer phones, like the iPhone, have a factory reset button under Settings. But, if you have an older model, you’ll want to double check your work.

“On some of the older phones, you can go in, go through and pull data it off” says Mike Massino, an Information Security instructor at Madison College.

If that leaves you a bit hesitant, you have to ask yourself: “is the value of my personal data worth more than the phone I’m trying to sell?”

Nick Koshollek, owner of Tech Heroes in Madison, says companies have taken great strides, in recent years, to help consumers protect personal information.

“We’re actually required by law to wipe all the devices and to remove all user data before we resell the devices again” says Koshollek.

Seeing personal information left on devices isn’t shocking for Koshollek. He says folks come in all the time with data still on their phone…a scammer’s dream come true

Does this mean you shouldn’t sell your old devices? No. But when in doubt, take your phone to an expert like Koshollek, before shipping it off to a new owner.

From madisoncollege.edu: “Madison College New Century Scholar recognized in D.C.” — Madison College student, Makiko Omori was recognized as a New Century Scholar representing Wisconsin at the 56th Annual President’s Breakfast at the AACC convention in Washington D.C. This scholarship was offered by Coca-Cola foundation through Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“It was an honor to attend the ceremony and it was inspiring meeting other mission minded scholars who succeeded academically and professionally despite the personal hardship and adversity they faced. It was overwhelming to see how many people, staff, and family came down to D.C. to support us,” Omori said. “I cannot thank Madison College enough for creating an environment for me to grow, succeed, and develop personally and professionally.”

Omori, who serves as vice president of scholarship of the Madison College chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, recognizes the importance of proactively seeking scholarships to ensure degree completion. She offered four scholarship workshops at Madison College campuses this semester alone to help her fellow students make schooling more affordable and degree completion more realizable.

Bryan Woodhouse, Dean of Madison College’s School of Business and Applied Arts also attended the Annual President’s Breakfast. “Makiko is very deserving of this honor as a New Century Scholar.  We are incredibly proud of her accomplishment and proud to have her represent Madison College among many accomplished scholars from around the nation.”

 

 

From wkow.com: “New Ingenuity Center hopes to connect unemployed workers with manufacturing jobs” – The Ingenuity Center at Madison Area Technical College is the 8th and final building renovation as part of the 2010 referendum. The center has been open since the beginning of Fall semester, but on Wednesday afternoon college officials held a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony.

The ceremony itself showcased the overall goal of the new center. Instead of simply cutting a ribbon with a pair of scissors, the ceremony ended with a student-programmed robot cutting a poly cord. College officials say the poly cord symbolized the more than 50 programs that use the Ingenuity Center to teach classes. Nearly every program uses the material in some shape or form.

“It is 62,000 square feet of lab and classroom space dedicated to advancing Wisconsin manufacturing,” Interim Dean of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology Denise Reimer says.

Business analysts say manufacturing is a growing sector in many parts of the country, one that is experiencing a major gap in employment. Openings are available, but managers are having a tough time finding skilled workers to fill them. They’re workers like single mother of four Rose Appleton.

“I’m excited about what I can learn and what I can do,” Appleton says. “The robotics program and the fact that I will be able to work with metal and program a machine. To do so is just pheonomenal.”

After working many years in retail, Appleton found herself unemployed about two years ago. Through a grant she was able to take manufacturing classes and found herself a new job at Evco Plastics.

“Initially they declined me because I didn’t have the manufacturing skills. Once they found out I had the manufacturing certificate I was eligible to start at Evco,” Appleton says.

Not only is the center giving students new opportunities, it’s also causing increases in enrollment. This Spring college officials saw a 6% increase over last year, with signs pointing to more growth ahead.

“This is the answer, is bringing individuals here to give them those job ready skills so that they can go into the manufacturing environment,” Reimer says.

College officials say more than 50 programs will use the center to teach their classes. The space is used for a variety of programs, from automotive to biotechnology.

From digitaljournal.com: “Okuma America Corporation and Madison Area Technical College partner to train the next generation of machinists and programmers” — Okuma America Corporation, a world-leader in CNC machine tool manufacturing, and Madison Area Technical College (MATC), a member of Partners in THINC, today announced their partnership to provide superior CNC education to students. The three-year partnership will deliver high quality hands-on training in service, repair, operation, programming, application and maintenance of Okuma machines as part of MATC’s machinist certificate and degree programs.

Madison Area Technical College will offer training led by NIMS certified, Level 1 instructors on Okuma CNC machines and simulators in the college’s new Ingenuity Center. In addition to providing equipment, Okuma will assist in developing content and programs that are aligned with Okuma’s workforce goals. “We’re pleased to join forces with MATC in CNC education. This partnership will provide a workforce pool to the local industry base that has the skills required to perform CNC related jobs,” said Lisa Rummel, chief financial officer at Okuma America.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies showcasing the Ingenuity Center will be held at MATC on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 3:30 p.m.

 

From wiscnews.com: “Former ag agent touts farm business education” — Randy Zogbaum was preaching to the choir.

It was a familiar choir — the Columbia County Board’s agriculture and land and water conservation committee. Zogbaum had been the agriculture agent for the University of Wisconsin-Extension Columbia County before leaving in late November 2008 to be education director for agriculture, natural resources and renewable energy with the Wisconsin Technical College System.

His message fell on receptive ears: Madison Area Technical College is here to help farmers manage the dollars and cents of agriculture.

“Whether you’re a fresh-market vegetable producer or have a 1,000-cow dairy herd, farming is still a business,” Zogbaum said.

Now an MATC agriculture instructor, Zogbaum came to Columbia County on Monday at the invitation of County Board Chairman Andy Ross to talk about a series of farm business classes — each lasting six weeks and offering 24 hours of instruction — that Zogbaum is helping to put together.

Zogbaum is based in Reedsburg, but he said many of MATC’s satellite campuses, including the one in Portage, are expected to offer the classes.

Some of the topics are:

• Understanding the farm business, mainly for people who are new to farming or who are contemplating launching a career in farming.

• Developing a farm business plan.

• Farm business analysis and decision making.

• Farm enterprise analysis and marketing.

• Long-term farm budgeting and management.

Kurt Calkins, Columbia County’s director of land and water conservation, said he thinks classes like these should include education on farmers’ compliance with state pollution control standards.

They will, Zogbaum said — the classes will show farmers the costs of non-compliance, the losses in profit that can result from using more fertilizer than is needed and the sources of financial assistance for farmers who want to (or have to) undertake a costly pollution-abatement project.

Committee member Mike Weyh, who is a farmer, said he was curious about whether the classes would address the sometimes-daunting process of navigating farm markets and determining when and where to sell farm commodities.

That will be addressed in the more advanced courses, Zogbaum said.

He said the classes can be taken sequentially, or experienced farmers can take only the more advanced classes.

Zogbaum said he would not teach all the classes; in fact, MATC is looking for adjunct instructors for the classes, most of which are expected to start this fall.

But some of the people sitting around the table for the committee’s meeting, he said, could play a role in the instruction. For example, Calkins could share information about cost-sharing programs offered by the state through county land and water conservation departments. And representatives from federal offices like the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency could show farmers how to tap into resources offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The cost would be about $240 per course.

Zogbaum said MATC will put out a brochure sometime in the late summer to announce the classes’ schedule and locations where they will be offered.

From inwisconsin.com: “State launches expanded, accelerated training program for trucking jobs” — Pewaukee – Governor Scott Walker made a stop at the Waukesha County Technical College today to announce the launch of a new program, designed to channel Wisconsin residents, including veterans, through accelerated training courses and into guaranteed placements at companies in the growing trucking industry.  Up to 300 Wisconsinites who pass eligibility screening will earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and advance to a placement at one of three Wisconsin trucking firms.

“Wisconsin’s transportation industry is experiencing a significant skills gap that will continue through at least 2020, and we need to act aggressively to address this issue,” Governor Walker said.  “Innovative approaches, like this accelerated training program, are the kinds of investments we need.  The incentive of a guaranteed placement at the conclusion of the program makes this initiative a win-win for employers and Wisconsin’s working families.”

The new CDL training program represents collaboration between the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Wisconsin Technical College System, transportation industry leaders, and three major Wisconsin employers: Schneider National of Green Bay, Roehl Transport of Marshfield, and WEL of De Pere.

The Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) currently offers the course, and Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) will begin offering it this summer.  The Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offer related instruction at their sites.

“As Wisconsin’s lead state agency for talent development, DWD supports innovative workforce solutions that prepare individuals for careers in growing industry sectors,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson.  “We were pleased to convene the workgroup that ultimately led to this new initiative.  Wisconsin workers benefit with skills training and guaranteed placements and participating employers benefit with a direct pipeline to fill their openings.  Both efforts benefit Wisconsin’s economy.”

“One of WEDC’s areas of emphasis is to work with our partners throughout Wisconsin to help expand workforce training systems, especially for the state’s key industries,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization.  “There is no question that Wisconsin trucking companies need more qualified drivers to ensure their continued success, and the continued success of our economy.  We believe this program will play a key role in helping to fill that need.”

Up to 300 eligible job seekers will complete a four-week training course that results in a Commercial Driver’s License and a guaranteed placement at one of the three participating companies.  Once placed, the successful graduates will complete the standard introductory stage at the company and become a permanent hire.  Experienced semi-truck drivers can earn more than $23 per hour, or approximately 15 percent above the average wage in Wisconsin.

In the program, potential participants register on JobCenterofWisconsin.com and complete a series of assessments to determine their eligibility.  Those deemed eligible will complete the four-week training course offered through FVTC or WCTC, and then be matched with a guaranteed placement at one of the three trucking employers.

Given a capacity of 300 placements, DWD is prioritizing veterans, dislocated workers, workers who receive federal Trade Adjustment Assistance, and certain individuals who are eligible for programs under the federal Workforce Investment Act.  The training and placements will be at no cost to the participant.  Other interested job seekers who are deemed eligible for the program will be asked to cover the $2,500 cost of the training.

The transportation companies’ hiring needs are in line with projections showing the need for semi-truck drivers will grow by 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, to more than 55,000 semi-truck drivers.

Governor Walker recently signed legislation as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative to increase funds in the nationally-recognized Wisconsin Fast Forward by $35.4 million to focus on three key areas, including:

  • Grants to Wisconsin technical colleges to reduce wait lists in high-demand fields;
  • Collaborative projects among businesses, school districts, technical colleges, and educational partners to equip high school pupils with industry-recognized certifications in high-demand fields; and
  • Programs that enhance the employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Additionally, the current round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grant program announcements includes $1 million in available funds for employer-driven worker training programs for transportations, logistics, and distribution occupations.  These funds can be used to train new workers for job openings or train existing workers that results in a wage increase.

Interested job seekers are encouraged to visit https://jobcenterofwisconsin.com/Trucking/ or contact their local Job Center, which can be located at http://www.wisconsinjobcenter.org/directory/.

From madison.com: “Local interior designers, projects earn ASID awards” — Local interior designers or projects were recently honored during the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers 38th-annual Celebration in Design Awards at Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee.

The highly coveted Platinum Award was given in the Historic Renovation category to Laura Vander Sanden of Kahler Slater (with state offices in Madison and Milwaukee) for the Global Water Center project in Milwaukee.

The Platinum Award goes to the project that enhances the “best in show” for overall design. Gold, Silver and Bronze awards were given to projects in a variety of categories.

Patricia McGinnis of Potter Lawson, Madison, earned a Gold Award in the Educational category for The Stream at Edgewood College, Madison. McGinnis also won a Silver Award in the Healthcare/Medical category for projects 35,000 to 99,999 square-feet for the UW Health Digestive Health Center.

Lindsay Slack of Madison Area Technical College (MATC) won a Gold Award in the Student — Contract category for Mixed*Bag Co-Working Space, Madison.

Linda Moses of Plunkett Raysich Architects, Milwaukee, took a Silver Award in the Education category for MATC’s Student Achievement Center, Truax Campus, Madison.

Alexandra Weber of UW-Madison took a Silver Award in the Student — Contract category for Xchange Bar, Restaurant and Lounge, Madison. Weber also took a Bronze Award in the Student — Contract category for WCAA Marketing Group, Madison.

Andrew Krueger of H. Krueger & Associates, Middleton, took a Bronze Award in the Office/Corporate category for projects larger than 100,000 square feet for the Deep Space Auditorium at Epic in Verona.

From madison.com: “Urban League’s Emerge Gala will honor young professionals and other local leaders” – By Mike Ivey – Young professionals in the Madison area, along with some of their mentors, will be recognized March 29 at the first Emerge Gala hosted by the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals chapter.

The event is billed as bringing together diverse young professionals for an evening of celebration at the Concourse Hotel.

The “Emerging Leader of the Year Award” will be announced at the event.

Nominees are Althea René Miller, GED instructor at Omega School, Corinn Ploessl, marketing coordinator at Wegner CPAs, and Lauren Rock, 2-1-1 volunteer coordinator for United Way of Dane County.

“Trailblazer Awards” go to young professionals who have shown leadership within their company and industry. Recipients are Tawsif Anam, managed care policy analyst at Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Joe Maldonado, college continuation manager for the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, and Ald. Scott Resnick, downtown Madison city council member.

“Impact Awards” go to community leaders who have established a record of consistent outreach to young professionals in the greater Madison area. Recipients are Judge Paul Higginbotham, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, and Oscar Mireles, executive director of Omega School, Inc.

The “Workplace Excellence Award” is going to Madison College for its demonstrated record of commitment to the development of young professionals.

In honor of the event, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has designated March 29 as “Young Professionals Day in Greater Madison.”

Tickets for the semi-formal event, including dinner, are $40 with proceeds supporting the Young Professionals chapter of the Urban League along with its youth education programs including the Scholars Academy, Schools of Hope and Martin Luther King Day of Service.

 

From wiscnews.com: “Schrofer earns third in apprentice competition” — Dave Schrofer of Hill’s Wiring, Inc. took third place in the electrical category during the 2014 ABC of Wisconsin Skill Competition held Feb. 25 in Green Bay.

Schrofer, currently attending Madison College, was one of 25 ABC of Wisconsin apprentices from throughout the state who demonstrated their knowledge and craft skills in the competition, which included a four-hour practical and a two-hour written exam.

Apprentices worked on projects from specifications and blueprints; they focused on performing assigned tasks while employers, instructors, judges and others looked on. The competitors were scored on skill, workmanship, safety, and efficiency. The written, safety, and practical scores were then combined to determine the top three competitors in each trade.

From wisfarmer.com: “Elkhorn farmer outlines opportunities for new farmers” – For a German city boy who wanted to farm, the yearning was fed by internships in Germany, Canada and Wisconsin.

The dream of farming came true for Altfrid Krusenbaum, who now has his own grass-based dairy farm near Elkhorn. He’s been in Wisconsin for 28 years. Today, one of his passions is helping other people who have that same passion to farm.

His 300-acre farm includes a herd of 140 dairy cows that calve seasonally in the spring so they can go out on the grass. He also grass-finishes 35 dairy steers for beef.

Krusenbaum, who spoke at a recent Columbia/Dodge winter grazing conference in Randolph, has been active in supporting the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers at the University of Wisconsin and the state’s Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program.

But he’s begun his own approach to fostering the next generation of dairy farmers — share milking. It’s a way for young couples to get into farming if they are willing to learn and work on another’s dairy farm.

Krusenbaum stresses that these share milkers should be couples because he feels there’s just too much work for one person alone.

More and more entrants, in the many programs to help beginning farmers in the state, are from non-farm backgrounds and need to acquire hands-on skills, he said.

Many young people don’t have the capital to begin farming, they’re bound in a traditional outlook on farming or they lack a positive outlook. He sees the state’s programs, including his own share milking program, as a way to potentially cure some of those ills.

The UW’s School for Beginning Dairy Farmers (before the “Livestock” was added) was begun by grass-based dairy farmers who saw the need for a formalized program to get new farmers started in the state. They approached the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) to get it started.

The first students were from the UW Farm and Industry Short Course as well as students from the four-year farming programs at the university.

“This is really the only thing like it offered anywhere in the nation,” he said.

The course is expanding from its Madison location via the use of distance learning where students can follow seminars live on the internet and interact with the moderator.

Krusenbaum said that the students in Madison right now range in age from 19-55 years old. They study a winter curriculum, go on farm tours, attend conferences and can take advantage of internships. Their course of study includes business planning and all are encouraged to write a formal plan for their future farm so they can set and achieve goals into the future.

Speakers and mentors include successful farmers, UW specialists, ag lenders, veterinarians and successful business leaders.

The program has been going for 19 years and 440 students have gone through it. “More than three-quarters of them are farming and 50 percent of those have their own farms.”

The school has been supported by cooperatives and association who see the need to add new farmers to the agricultural economy in Wisconsin. Grass-based livestock production methods were chosen because the need for capital is less with these kinds of systems.

Apprenticeship needed

With the UW program up and running, many in the industry felt that there was a need for an accredited career path for the people who wanted to get their own farm started. Grassworks, a state grazing organization helped create the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program to help create a pathway to farm ownership for these future farmers.

The program includes 4,000 hours of paid training over two years — 3,712 hours of on-the-job training and instruction by the master grazer as well as 288 hours of related classroom instruction in collaboration with the state’s Technical College System.

Randy Zogbaum, the agriculture instructor with Madison Area Technical College noted that it is the first registered farm apprenticeship program in the United States. “It’s a huge accomplishment.”

The program allows the beginning farmer to develop skills and network with the dairy industry in the state.

For the master grazer, the program provides a “quality, ambitious, driven individual” who becomes a skilled worker by the end of two years, says Krusenbaum. The program also opens up the potential for a farm transfer from the mentor to the beginning farmer.

There are currently 28 approved Master Grazers who can take apprentices — but he says the program always needs more. The program has generated seven graduates. Three of them have their own farms, three are in equity-earning positions and one is a farm manager.

Over 60 candidates are waiting placement.

The program is helpful, says Krusenbaum, for traditional entrants who need management skills and for non-traditional entrants who need experience.

What students in so many of these programs have in common, he said, is the “dream to farm.”

New Zealand model

Krusenbaum has trained interns on his farm for 20 years but was really dissatisfied with how many ended up on working farms. They were lacking in business skills and had no equity.

In 1996 he learned of the share milking model in New Zealand, a country where milking cows is the number-one desired job among its citizens.

“With share milking they earn equity and hone their management skills. At the end they have a profitable tax record and equity. The risk is taken away from them.”

Krusenbaum has created a share milking program on his own farm because he feels it’s a great opportunity to pass on knowledge, assets and a legacy to a new generation.

For the mentor, it’s also a way to slow down a bit while still earning income from the farm. “There’s a great satisfaction to getting another farmer started.”

Like any social contract there has to be negotiation between the two parties. Share milkers provide most of the labor and management related to livestock and pastures.

The farm business owner provides all the forage that can be produced in an average year, an existing land base and all the necessary machinery and facilities.

At his farm Krusenbaum uses a three-year contract with the first six months being probationary.

The share milker gets 18 percent of the milk (they get their own Organic Valley producer number) and 18 percent of all the steers sold. In addition the share milker gets every fifth heifer calf born alive from March through May.

Income and animals

The beginning farmers also get the ability to raise their heifers on the farm and Krusenbaum provides them with the farm house to live in.

He said in general this provides about $45,000 in net farm income for the share milking couple and about 55 head of cattle after three years.

In New Zealand, he said, these kinds of arrangements have evolved into strictly cash models but he wanted to incorporate cattle ownership into the program because he felt it would give the beginning farmer more “buy-in” and get them involved on a higher level.

In addition to the income stream, share milkers are responsible for 18 percent of most variable expenses and the utilities at the house, he said.

Krusenbaum has been using this model since 2006 and admits it has had its ups and downs. “The biggest drawback is that very few people want to do it. It’s amazing how few applicants we get. I don’t know why it’s not more attractive to more people.”

For this kind of program to work, he said it is important to have on-farm housing for the share milking couple. “I really feel it’s important for the share milker to live on the farm.”

He recommends a trial period so both parties can feel comfortable with each other and the arrangement. “Anything can be fixed unless the personalities don’t work out.”

Krusenbaum feels that beginning farmers need a firm foundation under them, like the one they could gain from share milking or the apprenticeship program. He noted that of the dairy herds being sold through the Richland Center sale barn this year, one-third are those that started up in the last three years.

The state’s programs are a way for new dairy farmers to forge a career path.

Krusenbaum urged his grazing listeners to apply to become master grazers in the apprenticeship program and to consider share milking as an option.

For share milking, the farm needs to be a certain size and the farm needs to be a mature operation. “It needs to have low debt and the farm paid for. It can’t be something that started in the last few years.”

For more on Krusenbaum’s farm: http://www.KrusenGrassFarms.com

Other programs: http://www.Grassworks.org

Dairy grazing apprenticeship: http://www.Dairygrazingapprenticeship.org

From thedailypage.com: “Madison College and the Literacy Network team up to help a wide range of students with ESL” — They are Syrian immigrants and Bhutanese refugees. Spouses of visiting professors from Pakistan and au pairs from Ecuador. Studious mothers of 12 from Somalia whose turn it is, finally, to attend class.

Some, highly educated in their home country, arrive with advanced degrees. Others have never set foot inside a school and struggle to read and write in their native language.

Step into an English as a Second Language classroom at Madison College’s downtown campus, and you’ll find learners from 10 or 15 countries, and as many stations in life, practicing together.

“The clock is on the wall.” “Epiphane is Akugbe’s brother.” Or in higher levels, “Had I known you like reggae, I would have invited you.”

One of these students is Gilson Batista, who in just over a year has progressed from ESL level 1 to 5 (out of 6). Batista is here thanks to his wife, Sara, who found out about Madison College’s tuition-free, non-credit ESL courses and suggested he attend.

The two met in Batista’s hometown of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, four years ago. A longtime Madison resident, Sara was there studying Capoeira and improving her Portuguese. He had just begun studying philosophy at universidade and was working as a book binder and Capoeira teacher.

After marrying, the young couple settled in Madison. It was Batista’s first time in the U.S. He spoke a little English and Spanish, having taken several semesters of each in middle and high school, but not enough to resume life where he had left off.

Madison College’s School of Academic Advancement, where a third of the course offerings are ESL classes (others cater to GED/HSED students), is a major resource for new residents like Batista.

Another is the Literacy Network of Dane County, which provides small-group and one-on-one support to adult learners working toward their literacy goals.

For some, the goal is understanding their child’s teacher or pediatrician. Others want to find work to feed their families. Many just want to shake the paralyzing feeling of isolation and be a part of a community again. And then there are learners like Batista, who long to go back to school and earn a degree.

A partnership arose between the two agencies in 2011. In the pilot program, Literacy Network placed a tutor in the ESL classes of two Madison College instructors, Judy Emmrich and Ryan Roling.

The idea was for the classroom tutors, or CRTs as they are known, to play the role of teacher’s aide, giving learners the kind of individualized attention not usually available in most technical college settings. They might lead half the class in a speaking exercise, float the room to field questions, or give feedback to each student on completed homework.

Emmrich and Roling became strong advocates for the Classroom Tutor Program, and it quickly expanded. In its second year, 50 volunteers served 911 hours.

Emmrich, a teacher here for 12 years, praises the individual attention that students gain. “The tutoring has increased the retention in my classes and has helped to strengthen the strong sense of community.” Further, she notes, the CRTs “bring many rich and varied experiences into the room.”

Last year, 27 tutors from Literacy Network served 1,112 hours in Madison College’s ESL classes. Many are UW-Madison students, who find they get as much out of the experience by learning about other cultures and developing skills for their future.

Amy Krill, an AmeriCorps member and former classroom tutor who works with both agencies, manages the program. Literacy Network supports her in tutor recruitment, training and coordination. Both agencies provide office space, phones and supplies.

While Madison College would like to see more ESL students advance into credit courses, national statistics show the odds are against them. According to the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, only about 10% of non-credit ESL students make the transition to credit ESL and even fewer continue on to vocational or academic programs.

But to gauge the success of an ESL program by looking solely at college engagement would be a mistake, says Chris Vandall, dean of the School of Academic Advancement.

“You have to look at the goal of the student,” he says. It may not be to get into an occupational program or earn a degree. Even if it were, for many that’s impossible financially.

“We lose a lot of our students because they have to go and get a job just to pay the bills,” says Vandall.

But then there are more resource-rich students like Batista, who have a fighting chance of college success. Now that he is in ESL 5, Batista is eligible to take the COMPASS, the college entrance exam used by Madison College to test readiness.

Eventually, he’d like to take credit courses through Madison College, then transfer to a UW-Madison humanities program. He’s nothing if not motivated, taking summer courses, showing up before class for help and practicing conversation in the downtown campus’ Learning Center. Batista takes basic reading, writing and math classes here too, also offered tuition-free.

“You have to work hard,” he says, but if you do, “you get what you want to get.”

Or, as an adage often recited in language classes goes, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”

From wnflam.com: “Shortage of qualified manufacturing, construction workers” – As the economy improves, many parts of Wisconsin are in need of qualified builders and skilled manufacturing employees.  Those companies often look to the state’s apprenticeship program to fill their needs — but the apprenticeship pool has gotten smaller.  State officials said there were almost 9,800 apprenticeships in the various building trades last year — down from almost 16,000 in 2001.

The Wisconsin State Journal said it has become more of a challenge to get young people to consider apprenticeships, despite the need for skilled workers.  Madison electrical contractor Mike Pohlman said his company does a lot of outreach to schools — and some schools don’t seem to want to direct students to the building trades.  Madison College apprenticeship manager Jim Cook the situation has improved in Dane County because of a recent construction boom.  He says the demand for apprentice services has not been this strong since World War Two.

From madison.com: “As trades rebound, demand for apprentices grows” — By Dennis Punzel – If Donald Trump hosted “Apprentice Wisconsin,” he’d have to change his catchphrase from “You’re fired” to “You’re hired.”

As the economy slowly pulls out of its funk, the dormant construction industry is starting to experience a revival. And as construction cranes sprout up in the skyline, the demand for skilled workers across the spectrum of construction trades also is ascending.

“The problem the last several years has been a shortage of work for contractors in the construction industry,” said Wayne Belanger of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin. “Now, it’s a shortage of workers. It’s critical.”

And when construction companies need skilled workers, they turn to the state’s venerable apprenticeship program to fill the void.

Wisconsin’s apprenticeship program, founded in 1911, was the first of its kind in the nation and led to the creation of the state’s technical school system.

“Wisconsin apprenticeship is still considered the leading model in the country,” said Jim Cook, apprenticeship manager at Madison Area Technical College. “In Wisconsin, everybody is at the table — employers, colleges, state government, labor organizations, employer associations.

“Apprenticeship here has survived all the economic and social upheavals of the last century. And because it’s done that, it’s going to survive for a long time.”

The most recent economic downturn, however, did take a toll on the system. As construction projects dried up, many firms had trouble finding jobs for their established journeyman workers and had no need to take on apprentices.

ABC’s apprentice numbers around the state plummeted from around 1,200 in 2006 to just a few hundred. The group sponsors apprenticeships in 12 trades, including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).

“I don’t want to even think about how low it was,” Belanger said. “We’re back to 850 now. We’re on the rebound. It seems like there’s a pent-up demand, and people are putting projects together again.

“The trouble is that a lot of people in the trades have either retired or gone on to something else, and they’re not coming back. That leaves a huge void pretty much at all levels because they haven’t hired new people in the last five years.”

Statewide, the number of apprentices in all trades has dropped from 15,767 in 2001 to 9,793 in 2013, according to the state Department of Workforce Development Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (DWD-BAS). In the construction trades, the numbers have fallen from 8,890 in 2001 to 4,843 last year.

Belanger said the recovery has yet to hit many parts of the state, but that Madison is booming and the Fox Valley and Milwaukee are showing signs of life.

“In Dane County, there’s going to be a construction boom this year,” said Cook, noting that apprenticeships are up about 10 percent with 600 in the program at MATC. “The drive right now for economic development is fever pitch. The only other time we’ve seen this was around World War II, where you had this incredible need and a skilled worker shortage.”

One of the biggest challenges is convincing young people to look into apprenticeships after being pointed toward the four-year college route most of their lives.

“We do a lot of outreach to schools around the area and have more success at some than others,” said Mike Pohlman, president of Nickles Electric. “Some schools don’t seem to want to point kids to the trades.

“We certainly don’t dissuade kids from going to college. We always tell them the trades are another option after you graduate. We’re open to getting a kid into our program that has a four-year college degree.”

One who took that route is Pohlman’s son, Kaleb. After graduating from Marshall High School, he studied electrical engineering at UW-Milwaukee for two years before transferring to UW-Madison, where he earned a degree in civil engineering in 2009.

But with the job market dried up, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue an electrical apprenticeship. He’s finishing up the fifth year of the program and just took the state exam with the hope of gaining journeyman status.

“They’re both gratifying,” Kaleb Pohlman, 28, said of his dual accomplishments. “When I got done with college I was like, ‘Wow, I did it.’ It was a long time and a lot of hard work and when I got done I felt great. Learning this and getting through this apprenticeship is just as much, if not more gratifying.

“I feel like I can do almost anything in the electrical trade. I can bend that conduit, I can run that wire, I can put that piece of switch gear up. You start feeling like you can do anything.”

Kaleb Pohlman’s goal is to use both parts of his education by working about five years in the field and then moving into project management.

“I went to school for a reason, and I did this for a reason,” he said. “I’ve put myself in a pretty unique situation that I think makes me a little more valuable.

“There’s a need for people who can do this stuff. In the next couple years as the baby boomers start retiring, the workforce is going to drop like crazy. There’s not as many people who do trades. That should bode well for people of my generation. If people want to do this, there should be a future in it.”

Apprenticeships, of course, are nothing new, as they date back to the middle ages. Ben Franklin was a printing apprentice; Henry Ford a machinist apprentice.

The state program offers apprenticeships in three broadly defined areas — construction trades, industrial/manufacturing trades and service trades.

Unlike their college-bound brethren, who frequently build up huge debts going to school, apprentices earn while they learn. Employer sponsors are required to pay their apprentices, starting at half the journeyman worker rate for that trade, with scheduled raises as they continue through the program.

Apprenticeships last three to five years with apprentices spending about 90 percent of the time on the job and 10 percent in the classroom. In addition to paying apprentices, many sponsors will also pick up all or part of the costs of tuition and books for the classroom part of the deal.

Upon completion of the apprenticeship and any licensing requirements, the apprentice receives a state certificate and a journeyman license and goes to work for the sponsoring firm. The construction trades tend to pay the highest, with the base pay for a construction worker at just under $33 per hour.

“It’s a great program,” said Greg Jones, CEO of Dave Jones Inc. “As a plumber, after a five-year program you can be making $70,000 a year with no student debt.”

Jones, 32, completed his apprenticeship in 2004. His father, Dave Jones, also went through the apprenticeship program and founded the company in 1977. The company now has 220 employees and 34 apprentices.

Phil Klahn, 23, got a head start on the five-year apprenticeship he is now finishing up when he started working at Dave Jones Plumbing part-time through a school-work program at Oregon High School.

“The trades were something I was always looking into,” Klahn said. “I wanted to work with my hands. I didn’t really think I could sit behind a desk my entire life.”

Klahn said that, like most high school graduates, he felt the pressure to go to college, but the work-study program opened his eyes to other options. And unlike many of his former classmates, he’s finishing his education with no student loans.

“I was lucky because I knew right away this was what I wanted to do,” said Klahn, who hopes to someday become a project manager or field superintendent. “Everybody thinks that plumbing is backed-up sewers and leaky faucets and leaky pipes. There is a service end to it, but right now I’m working on a 12-story apartment building in downtown Madison. There’s a lot more to it than people understand.”

Klahn’s advice to young people pondering their future?

“I just say keep your mind open to the apprenticeship program,” he said. “It might not be for everybody, but I tell people to at least look into it.”

Mike Pohlman of Nickles Electric thinks that message is spreading, and he emphasizes that the trades are actively recruiting a diverse workforce.

“This whole industry is changing,” said Pohlman, who began his apprenticeship in 1979 and rose through the ranks to become company president. “People are understanding that the trades are a pretty good option these days.

“Our city’s going to keep growing, and we’re going to need people to build it.”

From dailyunion.com: “Sen. Tammy Baldwin tours MATC-Fort, touts GREEN Act” – By Ryan Whisner – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin visited Madison Area Technical College campuses in both Fort Atkinson and Madison Friday to discuss her new legislation aimed at job training and workforce readiness for high-skilled jobs in clean energy.

The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act allocates competitive grant funding for clean energy career- and technical-training programs so that students are better trained for post-secondary education and better equipped for the high-skilled “green collar” jobs of the future.

“I’m excited about it because we know this is an area where there is job growth that is outperforming job growth throughout the United States,” Baldwin said.

She said more than 3 million Americans are employed in the growing green collar workforce, including in clean energy and sustainability. That is more than the number of people working in the fossil fuel industry, and twice as many as those employed in the biotech industry.

Additionally, Baldwin noted that the jobs created in the clean energy economy pay better than the average American job, with compensation rates 13-percent higher than the national average.

“What the GREEN act focuses on is partnerships between secondary schools and post-secondary schools to actually plant the seed of the potential of these careers earlier,” the senator said.

Both through her campaign for U.S. Senate and as a senator, Baldwin said, she has traveled the state visiting manufacturing and other sites where inspiring things are happening.

Specifically, she recalled visiting manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines and other green energy sources.

“I talk at these sites about the employment future,” Baldwin said. “One of the things I hear frequently are that the local high school students are looking elsewhere and are not necessarily planning to have careers in the industries that have supported their communities for generations.”

The senator noted that a lot of people are saying that the conversation has to start earlier, even in middle school.

“We’re seeing some really promising outcomes when the conversation does start earlier,” she said, citing examples of schools that have added curriculum through which students can earn technical college or university credit and others that have started energy efficiency and renewable energy class work.

“Part of the bill I’ve introduced focuses on that type of continuing curriculum,” Baldwin said. “It would begin earlier and provide opportunities to expose people at a younger age to the advanced industry around them and the green energy job possibilities and really to establish partnerships between the high schools and technical colleges of our state.”

The bill also provides opportunities for technical schools or high schools to upgrade their own energy systems to serve as model training facilities.

Baldwin said the intention is for students to be able to be actively involved in the installation and maintenance and analysis of how effective the systems are as part of their green collar career tracks.

“It becomes a teaching and learning opportunity,” she said, noting that in some cases, the students write the grants. “We think it is an exciting way to get young people interested at an earlier age.”

Baldwin said her purpose in introducing the bill was to help address the ongoing economic issues.

“There is no greater challenge for our nation or for our state than to get our economy back to full strength,” the senator said. “We know the hits we’ve taken in recent years, whether it’s recession-based or because of other policies.”

She noted that manufacturing, in particular, has taken a huge hit.

“We’ve always made things in Wisconsin and we want to see a clear path back to the forefront, with an emphasis on clean, renewable energy,” Baldwin said. “You are in the front line and I’m really excited to hear more about what you are doing here.”

She noted that it was great to be at the Fort Atkinson campus of Madison College, where so much is happening in terms of preparing students for these types of such green-collar jobs.

“Sometimes I think we talk about this too narrowly,” she said.

During her visit at the Fort Atkinson campus, she spoke with instructors and students involved in renewable energy, transportation and manufacturing. Specific areas highlighted included hybrid vehicle automotive technical training, compressed natural gas technology and renewable energy (wind and solar energy).

Also, Jefferson City Administrator Tim Freitag and Mayor Dale Oppermann were on hand to discuss the recent installation of a solar farm by Half Moon Ventures of Chicago in the city’s North Business Park.

The senator also visited the campus’ state-of-the-art welding labs, where students are involved in learning greener manufacturing processes into the future.

“It is very exciting speaking to both the instructors and the students who are very optimistic about this future of this sector of economy,” Baldwin said after the campus tour.

The senator said she is proud of Wisconsin’s technical colleges for being the “unsung heroes” across the state.

“Madison College is no exception to that rule; in fact, it is a leader among them,” Baldwin said. “In our changing economy and as we have been struggling to recover from a deep recession, they have played such a critical role in helping returning students retool their skills for advanced manufacturing jobs in the future, but they also really are being focused on having the students career-ready on the day they graduate.”

She said it is filling an important need.

“There also are tremendous partnerships with the private sector making sure they are relevant to the needs of employers all around,” Baldwin said.

Following her stop in Fort Atkinson, the senator also visited the Commercial Avenue campus in Madison to tour the solar instructional labs and learn about the net-zero energy home project that the college and the City of Madison Community Development Authority have teamed up with to support the development of net-zero energy performing homes in the Allied Drive neighborhood of Madison.

Baldwin also has visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay and Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids to discuss the GREEN Act.

From wrn.com: “Capitol ceremony honors MLK” – Wisconsin’s official Martin Luther King Day celebration took place in the Capitol rotunda Monday, and there was a call to action from the event’s keynote speaker, Madison College President Jack E. Daniels. “The achievement gap within our Madison schools in unacceptable,” Daniels said, noting that fifty percent of black students in Madison do not graduate high school on time, and that many African-American adults fail to achieve degrees and marketable skills.

“Dr. King had organized the Poor Peoples Campaign in 1968, in an effort to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States,” Daniels said. “Forty-six years ago, that was the vision. Economic justice must become the reality today.”

This was the 34th annual official state tribute and economy honoring the slain civil rights leader, on the 85th anniversary of King’s birth. The event included recipients of the state’s annual MLK Heritage Awards, Anita Herrera, Ronald C. Dunlap, Dr. Luiz “Tony” Baez and, posthumously, Dr. Eugene Farley.

From channel3000.com: “Madison College works to close job training gap” — A survey of 341 Wisconsin CEOs reveals a growing concern about finding enough skilled employees to fill job vacancies and facilitate growth.

View video from channel3000.com

From host.madison.com: “First tiny home to be occupied thanks to a village effort” – Last spring, Betty Ybarra occupied a tent in a county park and with her tentmates dug moats to discourage oncoming floodwaters.

Starting Christmas Eve, she and a tentmate will upgrade to a brand new “tiny home” they helped build with aid from a variety of helpers including local colleges. It has a roof, insulated walls, a toilet and a sink. Christmas lights hang outside it.

It’s a twist of fate more fortunate than they could imagine possible.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, right,’ ” Ybarra, who’s been homeless since April, said of her reaction when originally presented the idea. “I’m too skeptical.”

Their house is the first of what organizers hope will be a village of similar houses that provide basic shelter against the elements and a home to be proud of for the homeless, who earn the residences through sweat equity at an East Side workshop set up to build and decorate the units.

Its construction came about thanks to a massive volunteer effort that included more than 50 people and started early in the summer with fundraising and technical support from Occupy Madison Inc., a nonprofit.

Steve Burns, an MATC math instructor, trained volunteers and oversaw much of the construction and design of the first two houses, which follow a basic blueprint but can include whatever touches and innovations their creators want.

One of those innovations — a pole-mounted solar panel — comes with heavy fingerprints from MATC and UW-Madison and origins in rural Costa Rica, where villagers use the solar-powered lights to guard against snake bites while heading to outdoor latrines. It can charge the battery that provides light to the house.

UW-Madison donated the panel for this house. The idea came from Ken Walz, an instructor of chemistry, engineering and renewable energy at MATC and an adjunct professor at UW-Madison. For seven years, Walz has led students on study abroad trips to a national park in Mastatal, Costa Rica.

The village, rebuilding its economy after its cocoa industry cratered, had unmet energy needs because of its rural location. Walz had won a federal Department of Education grant to lead study abroad trips framed around renewable energy for international development.

Walz and his students helped with the village’s most pressing problem — a lack of reliable light — with solar panels of 40 to 60 watts. They’re designed for simplicity and ease of use. They matter especially because villagers have outdoor toilets and used to fall prey to vipers, nocturnal snakes that used darkness to their advantage. The nearest hospital is 30 miles away.

Calvin Cherry, a UW-Madison graduate student who’s been on Walz’s trip to Mastatal, saw an opportunity for the solar panels on Madison’s new tiny homes, which are based on models in Portland, Ore., and Olympia, Wash.

The 80-watt solar panel he developed will charge a sealed lead acid battery. It can power the 98-square-foot home’s four LED lights and cellphone charger base. Burns, the MATC math instructor, engineered a metal pole to mount the panels outside the house.

The first homes are heated with a vented propane heater mounted on the wall. They also can use a space heater if parked near a plug-in electricity source.

However, the plan needs a bit more refining. A recent attempt to mount the metal pole exposed a problem: it’s too tall to fit under bridges, said Bruce Wallbaum, project organizer for Occupy Madison.

The houses currently must be trailered around the neighborhood a couple of times a week. City ordinance allows them to be parked on the street as long as they’re moved every 48 hours.

The transient life will eventually end for the houses as it does for their occupants, Wallbaum said. He and other organizers of Occupy Madison are working with area churches to allow the houses to park up to three in each lot. Eventually the organization hopes to buy land and create a village of up to 30 of the houses.

 

 

From wkow.com: “Experts offer advice following massive Target security breach” – As many as 40 million people who shopped at Target in the three weeks after Thanksgiving may have had their credit or debit card data hacked. Experts are calling it a massive security breach and are reminding people to take some precautions so they don’t become victims of fraud.

Some Target shoppers in Madison Thursday were shocked to hear the news. “That’s horrible. I feel a little bit betrayed that they would let that sort of information get out, actually,” Corey Stoelb tells 27 News.

The hackers reportedly stole data from magnetic strips on the back of debit and credit cards.That includes your name, credit card number, security code and expiration date. Target says anyone who shopped at the store between November 27 and December 15 could have compromised data.

“They have a small window between when they get this going and when it gets found out, that’s why they target mass sales times of the year, because they can fit it in that window,” Madison College Information Security Instructor Mike Masino says about the hackers. Masino says users can take some steps to prevent money from being stolen like monitoring activity on a credit card or debit card daily or weekly online. “Just makes it a lot easier to get out in front of it if someone’s breaking into the accounts,” he says. “Another good thing to do is to use credit cards when you’re doing this kind of stuff and not use the bank cards that are directly connected to those accounts.”

The Better Business Bureau says debit cards also give you less time to dispute a fraudulent charge so if you see one, call the credit card company or bank immediately. Target is also advising customers to change pin numbers. The BBB also warns this situation may cause more scams, from people posing to be your bank or the store, and looking for personal information.

Thursday, Target says it has identified and resolved the security issue. The secret service is investigating the crime.
 

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