From thenorthwestern.com: “FVTC, UW-Oshkosh hope to make a dent in projected pilot gap” — By Noell Dickmann – A dark cloud is looming above the aviation industry: A predicted shortage of pilots by 2022 will affect everyone who travels by air.

Jared Huss, Fox Valley Technical College Aeronautics Pilot Training Lead Instructor, said a shortage of pilots will mean fewer planes in the air and fewer seats for passengers – pushing up the cost of air travel.

“Everything’s kind of pointing to that perfect storm of that happening,” Huss said.

In response to the shortage, colleges are making changes to get more pilots into the work force faster. In Oshkosh, FVTC and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh established a partnership to help meet the demand for pilots.

Huss said there are a number of reasons for the shortage, including mandatory retirements and duty time regulation changes in the wake of Continental Flight 3407s crash into a house near Buffalo, N.Y. in 2009 that killed 50.

Pilots must now have more uninterrupted rest between flights and are required to have an ATP license, or Airline Transport Pilot license, which mandates 1,500 flight hours as a pilot. Regional airlines could previously hire pilots with 250 hours, but now legally cannot, Huss said.

The 1,500-hour qualification poses a problem for pilot-training graduates, who in general come out of aeronautics programs with 250-300 flight hours.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) forecasts that 18,000 pilots from major airlines in the United States will reach mandatory retirement age by 2022. The GAO also forecasts that regional airlines will need about 4,500 pilots per year for the next decade to fill the void.

However, studies show the flight-training industry can only support between 2,500-3,000 pilots per year.

To help fill that void, graduates from two-year schools with programs that are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration can qualify for a restricted ATP at 1,250 hours instead.

FVTC is applying for that certification. Students will have the option to graduate with a technical diploma in two years, and can return for a third year to earn their associate’s degree and flight instructor certificate. The changes will give FVTC the ability to double its capacity, graduating an average of 16 pilots per year.

“I realize that when there’s a demand for 4,500 pilots a year that’s…a drop in the bucket, but we’re doing what we can to stretch that and grow our capacity,” Huss said. “And if all the other flight training programs out there can do something similar to scale, then hopefully we can ramp it up for the need.”

The typical path of graduates is to go on to be a flight instructor and build the hours they need, then move up to a regional airline, continuing to build hours and work their way up to a major airline.

“We send graduates all over, anywhere from those commercial type of jobs, like [pilots for] the skydiver, crop dusting, aerial photography, all the way up to corporate pilot and airline pilot as well,” Huss said.

In the long run, a new collaboration with UWO could be recognized for a restricted ATP at 1,000 hours as well.

The partnership between the schools allows FVTC graduates to earn a Bachelor of Applied Studies degree with an emphasis in aviation management from UWO online, and they can do it while they’re working. It allows them to get in the work force sooner and build more flight time.

Take Kodye Shier, who graduated from FVTC in 2011 and went on to be a paid flight instructor intern at FVTC for two years. He built up about 1,000 hours of flight experience, and is now a corporate pilot for Menards based in Eau Claire.

Originally from Rice Lake, the 24-year-old now has 1,600 flight hours under his wings and flies Menards staff all over the Midwest on a daily basis.

He said taking the route he did has put him ahead – on average he has about 250 more flight hours than other pilots he sees with the same level of experience.

Shier is working part-time toward his bachelor’s degree through the online program with UWO. He said the degree will help him when looking for jobs.

“I think with aviation timing is everything,” Shier said. “And I feel like where I’m at right now is a very comfortable spot as far as timing.”

Huss said not all FVTC graduates want to be airline pilots – actually, he sees many going the corporate route like Shier did for stability.

“We just want to have our program and partnership with UW-Oshkosh to be as best set up as possible so that if our graduates want to go that route, that they’re set up and ready to go as best as they can.”

From rivernewsonline.com: “IT job growth projected to rise; Nicolet College to hold career training info sessions” — With solid job growth projected for information technology in the Northwoods and across the state in coming years, Nicolet College is holding a series of information sessions for people interested in training for a career in this field.

In the Northwoods, computer user support specialist positions are expected to grow 6.5 percent over the next three years. Across the state, that position is ranked 27th in the Top 50 high demand jobs over the next five years.

Nicolet offers a variety of IT classes that provide flexible scheduling. These include more evening and online options and classes that require students to come to campus only twice a month. Student can also complete any one of several IT credentials in less than a year.

Information sessions are scheduled for:

• Monday, July 28, 3 to 6 p.m., just north of Tomahawk in the Bradley Town Hall, 1518 W. Mohawk Dr.

• Tuesday, July 29, 3 to 6 p.m., Tamarack Center 102, Nicolet College Campus, one mile south of Rhinelander just off of Hwy. G.

• Monday, Aug. 4, 3 to 6 p.m., Hwy. 70 Vilas County Business Park Incubator, 555 Enterprise Parkway.

• Wednesday, Aug. 6, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Minocqua Public Library, 415 Menominee St.

Interested individuals can stop by anytime during a session to learn about Nicolet’s many IT training options, what it’s like to work in the field, financial aid and scholarship opportunities, and the admissions process.

Michael Spafford graduated from Nicolet’s IT program in May and currently works in the IT department at Drs. Foster & Smith in Rhinelander.

“When I graduated I had many different employment opportunities,” Spafford said. “My instructors at Nicolet provided me with all of the help and resources I needed to be successful.”

In all, Nicolet offers seven college credentials in IT, ranging from short-term training certificates to two-year associate degrees. The college also has many credit transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities that create a pathway for students to earn a bachelor’s degree.

For more information, visit nicoletcollege.edu and click on the Careers in Information Technology graphic at the top of the page or call the Welcome Center at (715) 365-4493, 1-800-544-3039, ext. 4493: TDD 711 or 1-800-947-3529.

From postcrescent.com: “FVTC receives $3.6M state jobs grant to expand classes” — Fox Valley Technical College will use a $3.6 million grant from the Wisconsin Fast Forward program to train workers for high-demand fields including transportation, health care, manufacturing and logistics.

FVTC president Susan May said the money will allow the college to train up to 856 workers with the technical skills needed in today’s regional economy. FVTC will train additional truck drivers, personal care workers, production welders, automation technology workers, operations specialists and phlebotomists.

“Fox Valley Technical College and the Wisconsin Technical College System are incredibly passionate about building skills for careers that are in demand, both locally and around the state,” May said in a statement. “Economic development needs partnerships that are innovative and strategically aligned with the intricacies of a new economy. ”

Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who was at FVTC’s Grand Chute campus Wednesday to award the grant, said the money will help address the skills gap in Wisconsin.

“The investments we are making in Fox Valley Technical College under Gov. Walker’s leadership will enhance opportunities for working families in the Fox Valley region and help employers find the workers they need,” Kleefisch said in a statement.

The money comes from Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity initiative, which provided more than $35 million to expand the Department of Workforce Development-operated Wisconsin Fast Forward program. The initiative focuses on reducing the waiting lists at state technical colleges for high-demand fields, increasing opportunities for high school students to earn industry-recognized credentials and enhancing job opportunities for workers with disabilities.

Technical colleges submitted lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year.

From waow.com: “Rhinelander college gets $1.9 million state grant” – Nicolet Area Technical College was awarded $1.9 million in state grants Tuesday to train up to 303 students for in-demand jobs, such as welding and nursing assistants.

The money comes from about $35 million earmarked to help Wisconsin technical colleges train nearly 5,000 workers for jobs that employers need filled, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said during a stop announcing the grant.

Last week, Northcentral Technical College in Wausau received $2.3 million from the program Gov. Scott Walker calls his “Blueprint for Prosperity” to train another 160 in-demand workers, including for diesel transportation jobs.

Here’s a breakdown of the additional students the money will help at Nicolet Area Technical College: 16 in electromechanical technology, 92 in welding, 30 in computer support specialties, 50 in business management and marketing, 80 in nursing and 35 in early childhood education.

“The college has a long history of working in close partnership with area businesses to determine training needs,” Interim President Kenneth Urban said in a statement. “These grants will directly benefit our students by giving them the exact skills they need to be successful, while businesses in the region will gain a skilled workforce to drive economic development.”

From jsonline.com: “State technical colleges to share $28 million in grants to train workers for high-demand jobs” — The state’s 16 technical colleges will share $28 million in grants to train more than 4,900 workers for jobs in high-demand fields, Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday.

The Wisconsin Fast Forward grants, which were created by law in March with bipartisan support in the Legislature, will be administered by the Department of Workforce Development.

The grants are intended to add capacity to 100 programs at all 16 technical colleges and accommodate up to 4,908 additional students in training programs in key industry sectors such as manufacturing, health care, transportation, construction and architecture, and education.

Grant funds can be used for expenses such as course development, instructor wages, and purchase of consumable materials. They cannot be used for financial aid, tuition, or capital improvements.

Individual grant awards will be announced at each technical college over the next two weeks.

Technical colleges submitted initial lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year.

The Department of Workforce Development developed objective, data-driven measurement tools and processes to validate wait lists for grant eligibility purposes, evaluate each technical college’s funding request, make award decisions, and monitor taxpayers’ investment, according to the governor’s office.

“This substantial investment in the Wisconsin Technical College System will help our top-notch technical colleges build the capacity to train thousands of workers across the state with skills we know are in high demand by employers,” Walker said in a prepared statement.

Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said the technical college system is energized “not only by the investment in our strong partnership with DWD, but also by the confidence in our technical colleges to deliver on these grants.”

The legislation Walker signed into law in March as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative calls for allocating a total of $35.4 million to the Wisconsin Forward worker training program with a focus on three areas:

· Reduction of waits lists at Wisconsin technical colleges for high-demand fields;

· Collaborative projects between high schools, technical colleges, businesses, and other partners to increase opportunities for high school pupils to earn industry-recognized credentials; and

· Enhancing the employment opportunities of workers with disabilities.

The Department of Workforce Development already has awarded more than $2.1 million in grants to train high school students in school-to-work programs, and is currently seeking grant applications with up to $1 million available to train workers with disabilities.

From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC plugs Energy Education Center into budget” – By Andrew Dowd Leader-Telegram staff — After several years of fundraising and planning, Chippewa Valley Technical College plans to start building a $10.3 million Energy Education Center in August.

With funding included in the 2014-15 budget the CVTC Board approved at its Thursday meeting, the college plans an addition and renovation of a current building to create the new center at its West Campus in Eau Claire.

“This is the year — after four years of planning and raising money — we’ll get to build the Energy Education Center,” CVTC President Bruce Barker said.

The new center still needs approval from the Wisconsin Technical College System Board in July and a second CVTC Board vote following that. A groundbreaking ceremony has tentatively been scheduled for Aug. 19, and CVTC intends for the center to open in fall 2015.

“The project’s become much more tangible,” Tom Huffcutt, CVTC’s vice president of operations, said.

The Energy Education Center will be created through renovation of three areas in the current Transportation Education Center, plus a 21,300-square-foot addition and a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient overhaul of the building’s air conditioning, heating and ventilation system.

Most of those costs will come from borrowing, but about $3 million will be paid by the CVTC Foundation.

About $2 million in private donations have already been made specifically to the center, Barker said, and about $520,000 in foundation reserves would be used too.

Any remaining portion of the foundation’s share could be paid through borrowing, said Kirk Moist, director of finance and borrowing.

The energy center will serve several programs, including electrical power distribution, electric line worker apprentices, landscape, plant and turf management, agriscience and farm business production management. The center will help the students study emerging sustainable energy sources, clean energy generation and distribution, and efficient energy utilization.

“The continued economic recovery in west-central Wisconsin is tied to energy security and independence,” stated a CVTC letter to the state technical college board.

CVTC’s capital projects — money spent on buildings and equipment — is increasing by about 29 percent in the budget, which was approved in a 7-0 vote of CVTC Board members at Thursday’s meeting.

The college had budgeted about $11.9 million for that in the past year, but is expecting to spend $15.3 million in 2014-15.

Though overall spending at the college is rising, local property taxes for CVTC are dropping dramatically.

The CVTC portion of a property tax bill on a $150,000 home will drop from $260 this year to $137 in 2015, according to the budget.

CVTC’s property taxes dive by $16.5 million in the proposed budget, but state aid is rising by about $18.2 million.

The property tax relief comes from Republican legislators who directed $406 million in state funds to technical colleges from a projected $1 billion state budget surplus.

CVTC accounts for a relatively small portion of local property tax bills when compared to municipal, county and school taxes. In Eau Claire, CVTC accounted for 7 percent of this year’s property tax bill.

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 thenorthwestern.com: “University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh among partners for new engineering degrees” — The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will soon be one of two four-year UW institutions to offer a new collaborative degree program aimed at meeting the demands of local employers.

Members of the Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance announced Wednesday the creation of Bachelor of Science programs in electrical, mechanical and environmental engineering technology developed by faculty members at the alliance’s 13 institutions and colleges and regional manufacturers.

The program aims to make the training more accessible to students in northeast Wisconsin and to fulfill a growing need in the region for “well-prepared engineering graduates.”

UWO, along with UW-Green Bay, will serve as the four-year institutions where students can finish the program and earn their degrees, although students can begin their academic studies at any of the 13 NEW ERA institutions and colleges, said UWO Chancellor Richard Wells, who also serves as founding chairman of the alliance.

“That’s what makes it especially exciting and innovative and very accessible both for people who already have, say, an associate degree and extensive work experience as well students coming in right out of our high schools in the state of Wisconsin,” Wells said.

A consortium of executives from the region’s four technical colleges, five UW two-year colleges, two comprehensive universities, the College of the Menominee Nation and the UW Extension, NEW ERA serves as a vehicle for collaboration among higher learning institutions, economic and workforce development agencies and business.

The new degree programs will teach students the skills necessary to become engineering technologists in a variety of industries including manufacturing, construction, operational engineering, water and waste-water management, agribusiness, biotechnology and engineering service firms.

Through the use of existing laboratory facilities, such as UWO’s Environmental Research and Innovation Center, technical college instructors and university professors alike will be able to build on existing associate degree programs in hopes of supporting employees and employers in manufacturing and other industry sectors, said Mark Weber, dean of trades and engineering technologies at Green Bay-based Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Although many manufacturers in northeast Wisconsin already employ such graduates, they often lack a connection to the region and in some cases, the state, Weber said.

“Unfortunately, they were coming from universities outside of our region,” he said. “Additionally, several employers have indicated that they are encouraging many of their existing employees to return to school to complete these new programs.”

The effort serves as an example of the positive work higher education institutions can accomplish when they collaborate toward a common goal, said John Short, CEO and dean of UW-Fond du Lac.

“We were able to work together to meet the needs of our area,” Short said, noting leaders will continue to work with employers and others in the region to adapt to their changing needs. “This program is truly unique. It breaks down barriers, it brings together partners and it really meets the economic development needs of this area of the state.”

From lacrossetribune.com: “Job training law to help businesses compete globally, Doyle says” — ONALASKA — A law incubated in La Crosse will hatch jobs throughout Wisconsin and enhance Badger State employers’ ability to be global players, said author Rep. Steve Doyle.

The law, which Gov. Scott Walker signed in April and repeated at a ceremonial signing at Crescent Printing Co. in Onalaska Friday, expands Workforce Advancement Training grants to technical colleges.

“Current use of WAT grants is too limited for many businesses to make use of them,” said Doyle, an Onalaska Democrat. “This proposal was designed to help companies compete in new markets by expanding the way these grants can be used.”

Established in 2005, the state-funded WAT grants are administered by the Wisconsin Technical College System, which awards them to the state’s 16 tech schools to train companies’ current employees.

That differentiates them from programs to train new employees and allows businesses to advance their workers’ skills, Walker said.

Roger Bjorge, president of the fourth-generation company Crescent Printing, said, “It’s an opportunity for our employees to take classes to get further training.”

The company, which Bjorge co-owns with Bill Lund, has 45 employees, Bjorge said.

Grants previously were allowed for businesses with no more than 100 employees or $10 million in gross annual income. The new law expands the programs to businesses with up to 250 employees and allows grants to tech schools to help business expand their markets or diversify.

“This diversification will ultimately result in job growth,” Doyle said.

The grants range from $2,500 to $200,000 a company for general businesses and $2,500 to $50,000 for small businesses.

The grants provided about $17.6 million to help hundreds of employers train more than 77,000 workers across the state by the end of fiscal year 2012.

La Crosse economic development professionals helped formulate the law at a roundtable that included representatives of Western Technical College, Workforce Connections, the La Cross Area Chamber of Commerce, the La Crosse Area Development Corp. and other members of the Seven Rivers Alliance, as well as Doyle and Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.

Doyle authored the measure in the Assembly and asked Shilling to sponsor it in the upper chamber, and she enlisted Republican Sen. Joseph Leibham of Sheboygan as primary author, while she became secondary author.

“I give her a lot of credit for getting something done without getting credit,” Doyle said.

The bill passed the Legislature with nearly unanimous bipartisan support. Out of 380 bills the Legislature passed this past session, only 31 had Democrats as primary authors.

“Jobs creation is not a partisan issue, and I was happy to work with both sides of the aisle to make sure this bill became law,” Doyle said.

From biztimes.com: “Fill the skills gap” – by Cary Silverstein – A question constantly asked by business people and the unemployed is: “What are we doing to close the skillset gap in Wisconsin?”

The answer lies in businesses and the community getting together to solve this “gap.” According to Competitive Wisconsin Inc.’s Be Bold 2 study by ManpowerGroup, the unmet demand for metal workers, including welders, is expected to reach 7,101 by 2016. Should these positions remain unfilled, it is estimated that state and local government lost revenues could amount to $265,410,915 over a 10-year job lifecycle.

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Wisconsin, a non-profit 501(c)(3) established more than 40 years ago, has developed a new generation training solution that addresses the growing skilled worker shortage in the greater Milwaukee, Wausau, Fox Valley and Green Bay regions. It is called the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

The HCCW has developed this partnership with Miller Electric Mfg. Co., Monarch Corp., Joy Global, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, technical colleges, government agencies and private foundations with the intent of solving the critical shortage of skilled welders in Wisconsin. Together, they have created a unique employer-approved education and training program, which addresses this shortage in a manner that benefits the underserved low to moderate income (LMI) workers who are often unemployed/underemployed and who are often constituents of the HCCW. This program is not exclusive to any ethnicity, and is open to any state resident.

This HCCW Training Initiative is an anti-poverty solution that connects unemployed and under employed workers with accredited welding skills development and training at no cost to trainees. This program offers a pathway to a higher paying career in welding at an accelerated pace. The median starting pay for skilled welding positions is $35,450 a year. This is a paid training program that takes up to 16 weeks to complete. The participants are immediately job eligible upon completion of the program. This is followed by ongoing on-the-job training to enhance their newly acquired skills.

This initiative differentiates itself by including essential life skills training for participants, including time management and punctuality, critical thinking and problem solving, financial education and communication skills. This program is designed to supply workforce-ready candidates who are able to step into entry-level welding positions. Participants will complete essential life skills training in a mentorship-based support group setting before advancing to the employer-approved welder training course provided by the tech colleges.

What makes this program different?

Solving the skilled welder shortage isn’t just providing technical training. A true solution involves addressing those issues (substance abuse and a lack of essential life skills) which ultimately disqualify someone from employment. This unique program has three primary components: a support system program with trainee mentorship, essential life skills training and technical skills training via technical college partners.

The HCCW provides employer-approved essential life skills training to each candidate including:

  • Time management and punctuality
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • First impressions/building relationships
  • Computer literacy
  • Maintaining a household budget
  • Communication skills (may include English language instruction)

Technical training is provided by area technical colleges via an employer-approved training curriculum. The 14 to 16 week curriculum includes basic welding, blueprint reading and weld symbols, math, and manufacturing techniques.

Projected results of the initiative

This initiative produces an individual that is responsible, punctual, accountable and reliable, with a strong work ethic and a drive to succeed. These candidates are ready to enter the job market with all the skills necessary for entry level welding positions. The technical college credentials earned in this program are transferable and can be used to attain further, more complex welding credentials. This initiative simplifies and eases the rigors of the traditional hiring process, which permits the employers to review a candidate’s metrics and a trainee’s video profile. Also, they can hire an employee with a proven track record, worthy of further training investment.

The HCCW Training Initiative is a real solution to the shortage of skilled welders. By providing essential life skills and technical training, candidates are able to obtain well-paying jobs. This initiative facilitates upward economic mobility for the LMI constituents served by the program. Once employed in an entry level position, these new employees have the opportunity for further employer training and tuition reimbursement programs. The result is they strengthen themselves and their employers through the adoption of life-long earning skills. The dual nature of this program will help the unemployed/underemployed while providing sorely needed skilled workers, keeping Wisconsin’s manufacturers strong. This training initiative recently received national recognition and substantial funding by the American Welding Society after their review of the program. The HCCW Training Initiative is now considered to be the top AWS skills development program in the nation.

The next step

If this pilot project proves successful, we as business communities should duplicate it across the board in our state. Closing the skillset gap in this and other vocational areas will strengthen our economy and bring new jobs to our communities, while reducing unemployment in areas where few opportunities exist. The resources, both educational and technical, exist in our community. We need to leverage these resources and provide the unemployed with new skills so they can rejoin the workforce and provide a better standard of living for themselves and their families.

The HCCW says its partners report that in the Racine-Kenosha manufacturing sector there are more than 1,000 skilled worker vacancies. Filling the local manufacturing sector’s jobs would contribute to the state and local economy year after year.

Companies interested in joining this program should contact the Hispanic Chamber at skillstraining@HCCW.org.

 

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 jsonline.com: “Program brings classes to Granville Business Improvement District workers” –Manufacturers and other companies in the Granville Business Improvement District on Milwaukee’s northwest side were discussing their workforce needs last fall when the conversation moved beyond the jobs they wanted to fill.

They started talking about the workers they already had, and the skills they needed to become better employees and have a chance to advance in their companies.

One need was identified very quickly: computer skills.

“That was huge. People lack computer skills,” said Mary Hoehne, executive director of the business district. “Then another one was customer service. And another was entry-level supervision for first-time supervisors. And then basic manufacturing things, like manufacturing math, manufacturing blueprint reading — the kind of things you don’t learn if you’re a history major and you land a job with a manufacturer.”

Rather than just encourage employees to develop skills on their own or send them off to technical school, the business improvement district decided to bring the training to the workers.

The business improvement district and Milwaukee Area Technical College worked together to obtain a $15,000 Workforce Advancement Training grant. That allowed MATC and the district to set up a program in which MATC instructors would come out to the area to offer training in 2- to 21/2-hour sessions near the end of the workday.

The Incumbent Workforce Training Program classes, which are free to participants and companies, began at the end of April. Among the courses in the initial program:

■ Computer skills, which includes training in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access.

■ Technical skills, including separate courses in blueprint reading, machine trades math, technical communications and metallurgy.

■ Customer services skills, intended to help employees better communicate and serve customers.

■ Supervision skills, a course designed for the employee who is almost ready to be promoted to a supervisory or management position or who recently received a promotion.

Two of the courses are being held in a conference room at Busch Precision Inc. at 8200 Faulkner Road, while other locations are the Milwaukee Job Corps offices at 6665 N. 60th St. and the business improvement district offices at 7817 W. Brown Deer Road.

Mike Mallwitz, president of Busch Precision, said he believes “education is lifelong” and important to maintaining a strong local workforce.

“A lot of money goes into education to help people get jobs. But how do you keep them in those jobs? Well, you give them a little education — not years of it, but doses of skills they’re lacking so they can keep ascending,” Mallwitz said.

As better-trained employees are promoted, it opens up entry-level jobs.

“This is a great way to keep the workforce going,” Mallwitz said.

Doug Smith, the manager of a Walgreens store in the Granville area, said some of his employees are enrolled in the customer service and supervisor classes.

“When I saw these classes, I thought this was just perfect for my employees,” Smith said. “It gives them the step up, especially if they are trying to move into that supervisor role. It lets them know ahead of time exactly what they need.”

Susan Paprcka, the director of marketing for Busch Precision, was among those attending the class on blueprint reading.

“To me, this is so valuable in terms of growing manufacturing and the ‘skills gap’ everybody talks about,” she said. “People like myself, who haven’t been in this industry, this makes me want to stay in the industry when they offer professional development and learning kinds of opportunities.”

The classes are held in the late afternoon on a workday once a week, typically 3 or 3:30 p.m. About 80 Granville-area workers are enrolled in the program’s inaugural sessions. Participants come from manufacturers, insurers, retailers and other companies that are members of the Granville Business Improvement District.

“We are hoping this does open doors for people to get promoted,” Hoehne said. “That’s the hope of the grant — that people will get promoted and it will open doors.”

From wsau.com: “College graduation week features NTC, UWSP Saturday” – Several colleges are having their graduation ceremonies Saturday.

One of them is Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, where Sean Sullivan says the students have been doing more than classroom work to get ready for the job market.  “A lot of our graduates have really been active in taking advantage of the services that we offer to prepare to go out into the workforce, so it’s not only about the classes, but it’s about the extra things that we can offer them like leadership development, job skills training, those soft skills that employers are looking for.”

The NTC graduation is held at Wausau West High School starting at 10:00 a.m. Sullivan says just over half of the graduates will take part in the ceremony.  “NTC is going to be graduating almost 800 students this semester, and of those, I’d say about 475 will be at the graduation ceremony.”

Some of the NTC grads are the first virtual college Associate Degree graduates for the school, having taken most of their classes online.

The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point also has commencement Saturday, with both a morning session and an afternoon session to send 1,427 graduates on to their next step.

Mid-State Technical College had their graduation Thursday evening, but they have something else to celebrate. Their new Stevens Point facility is ready, and they’ve begun moving in. The college acquired the former Penney’s wing of the Centerpoint Marketplace mall, and they expect to be done moving in early next week.

UW Marathon County had their graduation Wednesday.

 

From kenoshanews.com: “Albrecht: Gateway a key player in area’s economic development” — This is the first part of a three-part series of in-depth interviews with the heads of Kenosha County’s three major institutions of higher education.

Bryan Albrecht has served as the president of Gateway Technical College since 2006. As the college’s chief executive, he oversees its academic programs, educational facilities, budget and college foundation.

Gateway represents Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties.

Albrecht recently was announced as a finalist for chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, which is expected to select a new leader later this month.

Q: Quite a few things happened in 2013. Quite a few new companies came into Kenosha County. What role has Gateway played in developing training programs for new employees?

A: I’m very encouraged by the changes in our local communities. New developments, especially in the Kenosha County area, not only foster great relationships with Gateway and existing businesses but also put us in the spotlight to help new businesses coming to our community to sustain and develop the workforce they need to be successful.

Gateway has positioned itself quite well not only in building a workforce for existing employers but also being a part of the economic catalyst of what it takes to succeed in developing new companies — working closely with Uline, Amazon and companies like that that have established a footprint in our community and we know will continue to grow.

So it’s our responsibility at Gateway to be involved in helping better understand what skill sets are necessary for those companies today and tomorrow as we develop new programs to support new technologies.

Business and education partnerships have been one of the cornerstones for success at the college. We have great anchor company partners like S.C. Johnson Corp., Snap-on, InSinkErator, Twin Disc, Ocean Spray. We’ve provided customized training to those companies for many years.

For the last five or six years, we’ve really elevated our relationship with those companies to help develop an infrastructure for sustaining their business models. One example in Kenosha would be Snap-on Inc., where we provided the diagnostic certification program for Snap-on nationally and even internationally. So we’ve been able to work with their development teams to look at what skills are necessary for the auto technician industry and elevate our program to be a national model, which really helps us build our brand and helps enure our graduates have the right skill sets to compete not only locally but also nationally and internationally.

I think it’s the fact that Gateway is really invested in understanding what is necessary for today’s worker. Our technology infrastructure, the classrooms and laboratories we’ve been able to put together with support of the community and the private sector are models around the country, and we’re looked at as one of the leading colleges in the country to help develop workforce training programs that are aligned with industry skill standards.

Q: Would you say that Gateway is an innovator?

A: Absolutely. We’ve been very fortunate. Gateway was listed on the Great Lakes (Manufacturing Council’s) Best Practices for Manufacturing. We’re an M school for the National Association for Manufacturing. This year we were identified as a lead school for sustainability in part of the Second Nature Initiative, nationally one of 13 colleges to be selected and the top two-year college in America for sustainability. Our business programs were accredited, the first time a two-year college was accredited. So we align now with UW-Parkside in our business school. Our freshwater technology program is aligned with the Water Council out of Milwaukee. We continue to look for ways to elevate our programs to ensure students are getting the skills necessary for the job market but also necessary for advanced education.

Q: It sounds as if Gateway should be a four-year college.

A: We have a lot of four-year options. We have a 30-credit general education transfer agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. We have many program agreements where you can transfer up to 70 credits to UW-Parkside. About 20 percent of our student population at Gateway already has a baccalaureate degree. We do offer some baccalaureate transfer programs with the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Parkside, Carthage and Whitewater. Whenever we can align our programs with four-year programs we try to do that. We think it makes for a seamless pathway for adult learners.

Q: There is a new funding formula in place that helps to reduce some of the tax burden on local taxpayers. Could you explain how that works?

A: Currently this year the governor made an investment of $400 million to help buy down the property tax that had supported the technical colleges. Which means there will be a drastic reduction in the homeowners’ property tax bills supporting technical colleges. That money is being made up by the state revenues. A third of the technical college’s revenue will be funded by the state, about a third by the local property tax and about a third will come from tuition, fees and some federal programs we are supported by.

Q: Is there some additional funding?

A: Along with that, the governor added another $35.4 million for advanced training to help reduce the wait list for those individuals who had been trying to get into a technical college but for some reasons the courses were full or the programs were full. So now we have an opportunity to expand some of those programs.

Q: How does the new performance-based funding affect Gateway?

A: Because of performance-based funding, Gateway will receive $450,000 more from the state than it did last year.

Q: What is Gateway’s standing in the community?

A: We have a strong relationship with our community highlighted by our business partnerships. We have a 90 percent job placement rate of our students and a 97 percent job satisfaction rate by employers who are hiring our students. So I think Gateway’s position in our community is highly valued.

From wisn.com: “Employers claim they can’t find workers who are job-ready” – Manufacturing jobs that pay well, but there’s no one to fill them. Employers call it the skills gap.

WISN 12 News Kent Wainscott investigates the millions of dollars taxpayers are pouring into technical colleges to close the gap.

“The skills gap, does it still exist in Milwaukee?” WISN 12 News reporter Kent Wainscott asked.

“In a word, yes,” said Chris Layden of Manpower Group.

Layden said that’s what Milwaukee-based Manpower Group, a world leader in employment issues, is seeing across the Milwaukee area.

More than one-third of employers, he said, claim they can’t find enough workers who are job-ready.

“Do they really have the right skills to perform the jobs that employers are needing? And what we are consistently hearing from clients in the Milwaukee area is, no,” Layden said.

“For the last four to five years, we’ve kind of beat that horse to death about the skills gap, and now everybody said, ‘OK, how do we fix it?'” said Dorothy Walker, interim dean of MATC’s School of Technical and Applies Sciences.

Milwaukee Area Technical College is Wisconsin’s largest tech school.

Much of the more than $140 million taxpayer dollars it gets each year is spent trying to address the skills gap.

“What (we) needed to do as a tech college, as MATC, was to sit with the employers and say, ‘What skill sets to you need?’ Now that took some changing around of curriculum and some traditional stuff we were doing,” Walker said.

“And that wasn’t happening before?” Wainscott asked.

“That wasn’t happening before to that extent,” Walker said.

One way MATC has tried to address the skills gap is to expand and renovate and build new facilities, but that means an investment of taxpayer dollars.

“It costs money to build a place like this,” Wainscott said.

“It does,” Walker said.

“Is it money well spent?” Wainscott asked.

“I think the money is well spent, not only the money from the college, but again, we partner with industry,” Walker said.

The result? Enrollment is up. More courses are offered. In fact, MATC will offer 71 welding or machining courses next school year.

Still, WISN 12 News found nearly 1,000 open welder or machinist job postings on Milwaukeejobs.com.

What’s the explanation?

WISN 12 News asked the head of UW-Milwaukee’s Center for Economic Development and got a surprising answer.

“Everybody says it exists, but nobody can really find it in the data,” Marc Levine said.

Levine said if there was a shortage of skilled workers, demand for them would increase and so would wages.

“When we look at the basic economic indicators, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence about a skills gap,” Levine said.

Instead, he believes employers may find it hard to fill jobs because they’re paying low wages or expecting too much pre-job training.

Or a lack of transportation may keep workers from connecting with the jobs that aren’t nearby.

“There’s a disconnect between MATC creating these programs, MATC basically creating our supply of skilled workers, and the fact that manufacturers in Milwaukee are not hiring more workers than they have in the past,” Levine said.

Whatever the reason, Manpower’s Layden, said things have to improve.

“Is this skills gap going to close over the next few years?” Wainscott asked.

“I think it needs to. I think for Milwaukee it needs to. For our employers it needs to. It’s keeping people up at night,” Layden said.

Manufacturing is changing to a more computerized, IT-based workforce. So schools like MATC are adjusting to that. But critics said schools and manufacturers have to do a better job of spreading that message.

STEM programs are on the rise, and those are laying a foundation for the type of skills required for the next generation of manufacturing jobs.

View video from wisn.com

From weau.com: “Future looking bright for graduating CVTC students hoping to get a job” – CVTC graduate Joseph Kriese wears love for the Green Bay Packers on his hat and on his shirt — all together with his graduation gown. There is a reason behind it.

“I’m real excited to start,” Kriese said about a new job he was just hired for.

He is getting ready to move to Green Bay and is taking up a position with the Green Bay Packers.

“It was definitely a dream offer; I never thought a 2 year degree would bring me this far,” he said.

He will be working maintenance, HVAC, plumbing and fixing up all the odds and ends to help make sure you enjoy Packers games.

It is a job he found online and one he never thought he would get. Four interviews later he got an offer.

“I don’t think anything could stop me now, I feel good about it,” he said.

Career experts we talked with say the 432 students who graduated from CVTC on Friday night should feel very good about their future. Beth Mathison with Manpower says they will be in high demand.

“A lot of employers are actually standing in line to attract those new grads and they’re begging them to come and work for them at their office,” she said.

She says high-skilled jobs are in high demand.

“There are some companies that specifically do internships with those candidates a year before graduation so they can get them interested in coming to work for them,” she said.

Margo Keys, VP of Student Services at CVTC, says healthcare and manufacturing are hot fields right now. She says colleges like CVTC have built up their programs to meet the demand.

“What we see is more mobility with our students and certainly the classroom has changed significantly with the higher tech,” Keys said.

Whether it is the programs, the need for workers or a combination thereof, the bottom line is students getting two-year degrees are getting jobs.

Past surveys show 90% of CVTC’s graduating classes are employed by January. 89% work in Wisconsin.

In the end Joseph Kriese got out of his program what he wanted: a ticket to work for the Packers.

“It’s just as good as a four-year degree; I mean I landed my job with a two-year degree,” he said.

From journaltimes.com: “Labor shortage looming” – We’ve advocated in this space for greater support from the Legislature for Wisconsin’s technical college system. Technical colleges are uniquely positioned to address the persistently high unemployment in the state’s urban areas, including Racine; they can address the shortage of qualified workers for manufacturing jobs, aka the skills gap. They also provide opportunity for people who want a job, or a better job, and know that a four-year college isn’t the right choice for them.

A May 5 report by the Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team underlines this point: There is a looming labor shortage in the Badger State, meaning we need to get moving on increasing the number of young, skilled workers.

One of the biggest reasons is the retirement of the baby boomers, those born between 1945 and the mid-1960s. State demographers say the number of residents age 65 or older will more than double by 2040, rising from 14 percent of the state population to 24 percent.

In that time, the state’s population will increase 14 percent to about 6.5 million, but the working-age population (ages 20-64) will be essentially unchanged, dropping a quarter of a percent. This means that for every retiring worker, there is less than one young person entering the labor force. In other words, a labor shortage.

Job numbers have historically mirrored changes in the working-age population, so a stagnant pool of workers means Wisconsin is expected to see virtually no job growth through 2040, according to a report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

“Employers really haven’t experienced labor shortages to the degree that we’re expecting,” said Jeff Sachse, an economist with the state Department of Workforce Development. “The labor force is essentially going to be flat, and basically what we’re going to see is an employer base that’s going to struggle to find a sufficient amount of workers to remain in operation, much less to expand.”

This is unlike the Great Recession and its aftermath, during which employers weren’t hiring at all, or saw far more applicants than job openings. What Sachse is describing is lengthy periods of Help Wanted signs in windows because employers have openings but not qualified applicants.

The jobs are going to be out there. But they’re also going to require people willing to help themselves to a better life, people like Tykia Norris.

As detailed in an April 27 Journal Times report, Norris, 33, wanted to do better for herself than the $9.50 an hour she was making as a certified nursing assistant.

“They say money brings problems, but not having any brings more,” said Norris, who has a 14-year-old son.

She entered a construction training program through Racine’s Human Capital Development Corp., which runs First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship. The nonprofit trains people for construction jobs such as preparing them to work on the Interstate 94 project.

About 122 of the program’s 475 graduates have reported getting jobs in construction. Norris is one of them, and she’s now making more than $25 an hour.

Tykia Norris learned that it takes a desire to do better, to help yourself — individual initiative, in other words — to address your personal skills gap. But the combination of the skills gap and Wisconsin’s looming labor shortage is about to become everybody’s problem. Let’s get to work on that.

From wausaudailyherald.com: “NTC, SPASH receive Blueprint for Prosperity grants” — Northcentral Technical College in Wausau and Stevens Point Area Senior High School will be the recipients of two grants to develop or expand programs that prepare high school pupils for work or further education in high-demand fields.

NTC will receive just under $150,000, the second largest of all the grants. SPASH will receive just over $33,000.

The two grants are part of a total of $2.1 million to be awarded by the state Department of Workforce Development, Secretary Reggie Newson announced Tuesday in a DWD news release.

The grants are part of Gov. Scott Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity, a program designed to provide tax relief and invest in worker training. The plan includes $35.4 million to expand the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training program into three key areas, including:

• Increasing industry-recognized certifications in high-demand fields for high school students.

• Reducing wait lists in high-demand fields at Wisconsin technical colleges.

• Enhancing employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

From thenorthwestern.com: “Life after Oshkosh Corp” — Evaristo Mondragon Jr. got used to the lines.

He had lined up for interviews and skill tests at job fairs across the Fox Valley, welding gear usually in tow, since February. An assembler at Oshkosh Corp. for four years, until he was laid off last July, Mondragon’s unemployment benefits had run out and graduation from Fox Valley Technical College’s welding program in May approached fast.

The cold-calls to companies throughout the valley, like the job fairs, produced only glimmers of hope. Mondragon, 30, was told he wasn’t quite qualified yet, even for the part-time jobs, so often he can still recite the standard response from memory.

“‘We like everything about you, but we really need someone with three to five years of welding experience,’” he said.

So earlier this month, when officials at Ariens Co. directed him to another line, after the lines for his interview and another for the skills test, he wasn’t sure what this line was for.

“Eventually one guy walking by told us ‘They’re offering you a job,’” Mondragon said. “A couple of days later, I got offered a job on second shift. They either liked something in my skills test or they liked everything.”

This summer more than 700 Oshkosh Corp. employees will face those same lines as they look for new work in the wake of another layoff driven by declining orders for the company’s military transport trucks.

But examples like those of Mondragon and others who were let go in previous layoffs offer hope, for both the former employees and for the broader economy, that there is life after Oshkosh Corp. for the company’s former employees.

Life after layoffs

Mass layoffs are never easy affairs.

They can depress a regional economy, push longtime employees into a crowded job market, strain families and require government assistance to support and retrain people in the name of recovery.

And then there’s Oshkosh Corp.’s 2013 layoffs.

As defense revenues declined by more than 30 percent, the size of the company’s workforce had to shrink. After 8,700 Mine-Resistant All-Terrain Vehicles and 26,000 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles trucks and trailers rolled off the line, layoffs had to come once the orders were filled.

But an odd thing happened: The region’s economy absorbed a significant portion of the 1,150 production and office employees Oshkosh Corp. laid off last year.

After the layoffs in April and July of 2013, local unemployment rates in Winnebago, Outagamie and Fond du Lac counties continued to decline for the rest of the year. At a job fair Oshkosh Corp. held last year to help more than 500 laid off workers find new jobs, it boasted that participating companies had more jobs to fill than there were employees being laid off.

And that hasn’t changed. Even today, 19 companies have 121 welding and metal fabrication jobs available in the region according to Wisconsin TechConnect, a job service offered through Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

“It shows the brilliance of the economy up there,” said Reed Hall , CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. They’ve been through these issues before,” Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. CEO Reed Hall said. “The good news is there are not a lot of mass layoffs going on. Mass layoffs at a 10-year low which is a good sign for our economy.”

Support systems

When Oshkosh Corp. completes the layoff this summer of another 700 production and 60 office employees itwill have laid off more people than the combined workforces of both hospitals in Oshkosh.

Affected employees aren’t the only ones taking notice, though, as local, state and federal agencies continue to look for ways to help soften the blow.

Just last week, the WEDC unveiled a special loan program to help manufacturers, fabrication shops, machine shops, parts suppliers and other parts of the supply chain months ahead of time specifically to help Oshkosh Corp. suppliers.

Hall, WEDC’s CEO, said the agency would provide a loan or loan guarantee of $50,000 to $250,000, provided the company matches 50 percent of the loan amount, to help businesses fund equipment purchases, add staff and take other steps to pursue other business opportunities.

“We certainly understand the impact the Defense Department cuts have and how that ripples through our economy,” Hall said. “We’re doing what we can to retain these jobs here in Wisconsin. And Oshkosh Corp. will make it through. We have a lot of confidence in Oshkosh Corp., that they will … grow again.”

The WEDC program is just the most recent of a series of federal, state and local efforts to mitigate the impact of the layoffs.

The Department of Defense took notice last fall and awarded the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission an $837,000 grant to find ways to soften the blow of defense cutbacks on the company’s supply chain. The grant includes funds to explore diversifying the economy and specifically allocated funds for a marketing and cluster study for the aviation business park under development at the southeast corner of Wittman Regional Airport.

Chamco CEO Elizabeth Hartman said the study will identify a focus, or market, for the aviation business park that would identify 20 to 30 companies economic development officials could target to fill the park.

“When they reach out to contacts, they really try to identify potential folks that would want to be a part of a cluster centered around a business issue or cluster,” Hartman told the Council in March. “You already have built-in prospects as a result. There’s also a marketing aspect to it, but there might be some additional work we want to do locally.”

Moving forward

Some former Oshkosh Corp. employees, like Mondragon, went back to school for new training. He said the state offered him $1,000-per-semester to help with tuition and that FVTC staff “was a pleasure to work with” and helped make sure he started school in the fall.

Fox Valley Technical College Welding Instructor Ben Cebery said the college’s Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center welcomes 64 new students to its one-year welding certificate training program each school year. In addition, students are able to take individual courses to upgrade their skills.

“All of our classes have filled up to the max for a long time now,” Cebery said. “There’s definitely a mix between laid off workers and young people here for their first series of training. The night classes are definitely a big mix.”

Others found new jobs, like machinist Pat Wallace, who said he was offered three jobs within a month after he was laid off last summer.

“It was a good time to be laid off,” Wallace said.

Wallace opted to take a job as an inspector at Eagle Supply and Plastics over ones at F. Ziegler Enterprises and Mercury Marine because it paid better and he could work first shift. An added bonus: He’d be working with his friend and former Oshkosh Corp. coworker John Schmitz.

Wallace, 55, was prepared for the worst, though, because he had already been there five years ago. He had worked at Marvel Manufacturing for 22 years when the recession struck. Sales plummeted and so did the hours.

In 2009, Wallace landed at Oshkosh Corp. at a time when production was ramping up so fast then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the company on Nov. 12, 2009. Gates called what he saw the most impressive military vehicle production run since World War II.

Workers hired at that time largely knew going in that they were being hired for the duration of the order, and that peacetime would bring reduced orders and a scaled back work force.

Wallace said his job search experiences, in good times and bad, have taught him that staffing companies can be useful, but workers should avoid signing contracts with them; that age isn’t the issue older workers may think it is, and that building up savings is key.

“It worked out that my training and experience were right for Eagle,” Wallace said. “The only thing I was worried about was health insurance. I’m older. But I had money in savings to hold me over.”

From jsonline.com: “Building a ‘ladder of opportunity’ ” – By Tom Barrett – Too many Milwaukee workers are either unemployed or underemployed, and too many local businesses assert they cannot find the skilled workers they need. City government is committed to doing what it can to connect workers with jobs. The federal government is stepping up, too.

The Obama administration with its American Job Training Investments: Skills and Jobs to Build a Stronger Middle Class announcement earlier this month is making a priority of job training, apprenticeships and partnerships between community colleges and businesses.

Several years ago, I attended a community meeting and listened to frustrated residents say they could not find jobs. On the same day across town, at an event at an employer, I listened as company executives said they had a shortage of qualified workers. This experience led to the development of Milwaukee’s proactive, employer-driven training initiative, the Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership. Since the launch of the initiative, more than 100 area employers have hired or advanced the skills of more than 800 individuals in the manufacturing industry.

President Barack Obama has highlighted the Milwaukee area’s innovative workforce partnerships in his visits here, and he has engaged in discussions about replenishing the workforce as baby boomers retire. We have a real need to expose more young people to skilled labor trades. The federal investments outlined in the American Job Training Investments announcement will be responsive to these issues and support the current efforts.

In Milwaukee, we are ahead of the curve. Milwaukee’s workforce system, coordinated by the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, fosters strong relationships among industry, businesses, the technical college system and training organizations to train workers for current job openings. Milwaukee area manufacturers work closely with the technical college system and workforce partners such as the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership to develop employer-driven customized training. As a result, technical college graduates, from schools such as the Milwaukee Area Technical College, are being hired by local manufacturers, many of them with industry certifications, such as Manufacturing Skills Standards Council certification.

Our regional economy is growing and needs skilled workers, from entry-level workers to higher-level workers with specific skills. The commitment outlined in the announcement supports workers who face challenges in upgrading and certifying their skills, as well as middle- and lower-income city residents who have been particularly hard hit by the economy. The investment the White House is making in technical college education and apprenticeships will deliver newly skilled workers and build the pipeline needed for the growing economy, enhancing the efforts of Milwaukee’s forward-thinking business community.

And the timing couldn’t be better.

The City of Milwaukee has developed plans for an advanced manufacturing center at Century City, at the site of the old A.O. Smith industrial site. The center will be operated by a coalition including our technical college, workforce investment board and businesses to train and connect workers with real jobs in modern manufacturing. The Century City location puts this innovative center close to new and existing manufacturers in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor. It will be close to potential workers who are unemployed or underemployed.

Another added benefit is the investment to be made in modern equipment to train advanced manufacturing workers also will be available to companies for prototyping and testing operational improvements. Manufacturing provides a large number of well-paying jobs, with wages 31% higher than the regional average for all workers. Manufacturing is the very heart of our region’s “ladder of opportunity.”

Our goals are aligned. The City of Milwaukee and the business community are working collaboratively with workforce partners to close the mismatch between jobs and workers and to connect the public and private sectors to research and innovation.

 

From wxow.com: “Mary Burke visits college students, pushes jobs plan” – Governor Scott Walker visited on Tuesday, and democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke followed by bringing her “Invest for Success” tour to La Crosse on Wednesday.

Burke toured the Health Science Center on the UW-La Crosse campus on Wednesday, and spoke with health and science students.

Burke said she is committed to making Wisconsin a top ten thriving economy, creating more “good-paying” jobs, and making sure workers have the necessary skills to fill those jobs.

Burke also met with students at the Lunda Center on the Western Technical College campus, as she believes technical colleges plays a critical role in worker training—which would fuel job creation and strengthen Wisconsin’s middle class.

“We are constantly looking at how to produce more at a lower cost, and we have to approach education in the same way. We still want to keep quality really high, but we need to have more people to get skills and education after high school,” Burke said.

Burke said to help send the future workforce to college, she plans to increase tuition and fee deductions to help make higher education more affordable and available for middle class families.

“In terms of job creation, we are 9th our of ten Midwestern states. (Governor) Walker has cut funding for the technical colleges just at the point where we need to make sure we are investing in our students and investing in their skills,” Burke said.

Burke said 70 percent of new jobs created will require more education, and she said she believes the earlier they speak to high school students on what the next steps are ahead of them, the better Wisconsin will be able to create jobs.

From chippewa.com: “Workers in demand” — EAU CLAIRE — As a student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC) Machine Tooling Technics program, Eric Weining of Menomonie has a valuable set of skills for potential employers. Unfortunately, it was probably too late for the employers at the CVTC Spring Career Fair Wednesday, April 9, to entice him.

Weining will not graduate from the program until December, but that didn’t stop him from getting a job at Phillips Plastics in Menomonie. He started about four weeks ago.

“I work in the tool room as a mold machine technician,” Weining said. He heard about a job opening there and had some contacts in the company, but his plans to finish his degree at CVTC was key. “That was motivation for them. They had been looking to hire a student from CVTC for their program.”

Starting early

In a sign of improving economic times, participation in the CVTC Spring Career Fair was up once again, and the message to employers was clear: Start your recruitment efforts early, as skilled workers are in high demand.

Overall, 81 private and public employers set up tables at three CVTC facilities at this year’s Spring Career Fair, up from 69 last spring and from 58 in spring 2012. The 37 employers at the Manufacturing Education Center represented an increase from 30 at the Spring 2013 Career Fair. In spring 2011, only 22 manufacturing businesses participated.

Kuss Filtration in Bloomer had never participated in the Spring Career Fair before, but it was time for the company that was spun off from Cummins Filtration to get proactive.

“Now that we’re spun off, there’s no outside support for troubleshooting equipment,” said Ben Rubenzer, manufacturing engineering manager for the company. He’s looking to expand a maintenance team of 14 at the plant that employs up to 170 workers.

“We’re looking at exploding our capabilities and our skill set internally,” Rubenzer said. “We’re looking at Electromechanical (Technology) students.”

Kuss Filtration was not the only company looking for people with the training to design, program and maintain the often automated equipment found in today’s manufacturing plants, nor was Kuss the first new employer to take part in the fair. Universal Services, a power line installation company out of Hastings, Minn.; Crown Trucks, a lift truck manufacturer from St. Paul; and Koch Pipeline were among several new Career Fair participants looking for people with such skills.

Some employers are anxious to find applicants.

Increased demand

Brad Moran at the TTM Technologies table said he has 31 maintenance workers at the Chippewa Falls plant, but he could use 40. “We’re constantly adding equipment. We’ve been on the increase the past two and half years,” Moran said.

A crowd of Machine Tooling Technics students gathered around the Riverside Machine and Engineering table, examining some of the small metal parts the company manufactures. The plant, which will be moving from Chippewa Falls into part of the Hutchinson Technology building on Eau Claire’s north side, has needs for machinists, inspectors on all shifts and calibration technicians. A sign at the table requested applicants for those jobs.

“About 90 percent of our crew is CVTC graduates. We recruit very heavily here,” said Elisia Gonsowski of the Riverside team.

Giles Nielsen of Five Star Plastics in Eau Claire was looking for Electromechanical Technology students, but also had his eyes open for people with other skills as well. On his table were two plastic prototype parts made through use of two different kinds of three-dimensional printers. CVTC recently added one of those types of printers.

“We have a rapid prototyping department,” said Nielsen. “If they know about this process and how to run these machines, it’s all the better.”

Plenty of openings

Companies tended to be quite familiar with CVTC graduates.

“We hired a CVTC student last year who is a multi-craft technician. He does a little bit of electrical and instrumentation and mechanical. He’s doing a great job for us. We’re looking to see who else is available,” said Natalie Caldarera of Koch Pipeline.

Denise Nelson of Universal Services had openings for as many as eight Electromechanical Technology technicians, four aerial linemen and a diesel mechanic – all skills taught in specific CVTC programs.

Students in the sought-after programs found a lot of interest from potential employers, but, as in Weining’s case, it was often too late – for the employers.

Electromechanical Technology student Charlie Yohnk of Bloomer has been working at Catalytic Combustion in Bloomer since September. “I plan to stay there, but I’m going around seeing what everyone else is up to,” he said.

It’s not too late for companies to spark an interest with Sam Reider, who can bring a diversity of skills. The 2007 Chippewa Falls High School graduate attended CVTC in the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology program, then served his country in Afghanistan as a diesel mechanic in the service. He’s now a CVTC Industrial Mechanics program student.

“I like fixing stuff. I want to see what’s out there after I graduate,” Reider said. He drew some early interest from Five Star Plastics, even though he’s not graduating until May 2015.

For Career Fair employers, recruitment is a long-term project.

From htrnews.com: “Tech Education one key to future workforce” — Hundreds of job seekers attended a recent job fair hosted by Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland. Just as telling, about 50 employers were registered.

Companies are recruiting for a mix of permanent and seasonal jobs, including full- and part-time. Many of the major employers in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties were represented. Opportunities are there for the taking for those with the right skills.

Jobs are certain to be a key issue in this year’s gubernatorial election. The presumed Democratic nominee, Mary Burke, has criticized Gov. Scott Walker’s jobs plan as ineffective and scant on details. The state GOP, in turn, has criticized Burke’s record as state commerce secretary, and says her jobs plan lacks substance.

Democrats often point to Walker’s inability to meet a campaign goal of creating 250,000 new private sector jobs as evidence that his plan is not working.

Those seeking and creating jobs are more concerned about results than political rhetoric, however. Job seekers want good, well paying jobs, and employers want workers with skills to do the job. Key to meeting the needs of both job seekers and employers is identifying and developing those skills.

On today’s front page, our series on how technology is dramatically changing education continues with a focus on instruction after high school. Higher education is key to many competitive jobs in our high-tech world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a four-year degree.

A 2012 report on Wisconsin workforce development quoted research by Georgetown University, which determined that up to 925,000 jobs would become available in Wisconsin in the decade ending in 2018, due to retirements and growth. An estimated 70 percent of those jobs will require less than a four-year degree, according to the study.

That makes schools like Lakeshore Technical College, which offers a variety of one- and two-year degree options, a major player in the jobs training scenario. In fact, many local manufacturers have open positions requiring the very skills that schools like LTC can teach in a one- or two-year period. There is a shortage of workers to fill these positions, that according to one LTC official can pay up to $60,000 annually.

Such training is beginning sooner with high schools in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties having the opportunity to offer introductory manufacturing classes beginning next school year thanks to an Advanced Manufacturing Mobile Lab unveiled at Lakeshore Technical College recently.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch called the facility “opportunity on wheels” during a dedication ceremony.

The lab is one of many ways the school is seeking to prepare the workforce of the future. Experts predict future workers will be more tech savvy, highly trained in specific skills and better able to adapt to employer needs.

All of that requires the proper education, be it at the university or technical school level, but our education system faces other challenges.

Wisconsin is among the leaders in the country with its 90 percent high school graduation rates but that still leaves roughly 14,000 dropouts each year.

The problem does not end there, however. The state’s graduation rate at four-year higher education institutions is just 36 percent, and only 29 percent of those seeking associate degrees at two-year schools do so within three years. Many factors play into these numbers, but the bottom line is that a majority of post-secondary students don’t complete the course of study they embark upon.

That trend needs to reverse if employers are going to find the skilled help they need and if job seekers are available to fill those jobs.

Many students, before going the route of a four-year university education, would benefit from at least exploring two-year institutions like LTC, UW-Manitowoc or UW-Sheboygan. Cost (and resulting student debt) is a major factor in such decisions. Two-year schools are proven to be less expensive, particularly if housing costs are not a factor.

Education is key to a developed workforce and technology is key to education. Take the time to learn more about each, and use that knowledge to choose wisely the path most productive — for you and society as a whole.

From haywardwi.com: “WITC-Hayward plans hospitality seminar Apr. 26″ -- In a joint effort, WITC-Hayward and Sawyer County UW-Extension will host a customer service seminar designed specifically for tourism employees from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at WITC Hayward.

Andrew Nussbaum of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism will present a full-day of informative tips on how employees in the tourism industry can help employers generate customer loyalty. This seminar, Northern Hospitality, will be held at WITC-Hayward. Materials, lunch and snacks are included in the fee of $35 per person or $16.67 for individuals 62 or better.

Employees will hear and be involved in the discussion of the importance of personal job success, customer relations and selling. Some of the specific topics will include: honesty; teamwork; loyalty and job performance; punctuality and attendance; work ethic, selling products, personal image, social media interaction and the job, dealing with customer complaints, and the top 10 customer relations strategies. This seminar will be appropriate for all ages, including high school students.

Seating is limited so register early. For more information or to register, call WITC at (715) 634-5167. You may also view course information at www.witc.edu/classfinder.

From bizopinion.com: “Demand for IT skills signals next advance in modern manufacturing” – By Jennifer Sereno — Wisconsin has been staking its claim as a center of skilled manufacturing since the 1860s. And Blackhawk Technical College intends to help the state build on that legacy for generations to come with a groundbreaking program to develop the new workforce skills Wisconsin manufacturers need to remain competitive in the global economy.

While some of the state’s earliest skilled manufacturing businesses emerged in Milwaukee — steam engine producer Allis Co. (later Allis Chalmers) was founded in 1861 — manufacturers in Rock County were not far behind.

Thanks to the arrival of rail lines in the 1850s as well as the proximity to Chicago, Rock County’s  starting with an iron works, a paper mill and agricultural equipment producers. Parker Pen Co. which ultimately became a global pen manufacturer, was founded in Janesville in 1888.

More recently, Rock County has weathered a number of manufacturing-related challenges, including closure of General Motors assembly plant. However, manufacturing remains the county’s third-largest source of employment, accounting for some 14 percent of jobs, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.

Blackhawk Technical College plays an important role in maintaining the region’s skilled manufacturing leadership. With locations in Janesville, Beloit and Monroe, the technical college offers more than 75 programs that can lead to associate degrees, technical diplomas, certificates and apprenticeships in fields such as business, manufacturing, health sciences, computers and more.

Those offerings will expand in an important way this fall when Blackhawk launches a two-year program that trains students as information technology specialists for advanced manufacturing jobs. The program will complement the technical college’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center, the first phase of which is scheduled to open in Milton this fall.

“The face of manufacturing is changing nationally, regionally and locally,” says Gary Kohn, Blackhawk’s marketing and communications manager. “Modernization is critical for survival. And what’s happening with respect to modernization is improved techniques in the plants – new quality management systems, robotics, other intelligent systems.”

In the modern manufacturing environment, skilled workers are needed for more than just operating the increasingly complex machines, Kohn says. They need to be able to integrate, program and fix the machines, as well.

Today’s manufacturing equipment is being linked together through sophisticated computer networks and operated from remote workstations. Kohn says the shift to this new, lean environment puts a premium on workers skilled in information technology with knowledge of both hardware and software.

College officials are quick to credit regional business and community leaders who serve on various advisory groups for identifying the need for such cutting-edge training. Among them is SSI Technologies of Janesville, a privately held company that designs and manufactures sensors, sensor-based monitoring systems, digital gauges and powdered-metal components for automotive and industrial applications.

“Our instructors are constantly getting feedback and seeking input” from industry, workers and community members, Kohn says. “We’ve heard about the need from our community advisory groups … This is going to be a program that should really gain a lot of traction because these jobs are applicable in so many areas.”

In developing new educational offerings that align with the emerging needs of the manufacturing sector, Blackhawk Technical College is bettering opportunities for its students while building workforce capacity for the future. If history shows anything, Kohn says, it’s that manufacturers and workers need to be adaptable.

“We use that word ‘adaptability’ with a lot of our programs,” he says. “We want our welders to be familiar with precision machining and we want our industrial mechanics to be able to weld. Our HVAC students don’t just fix air conditioning units; sometimes they have to build things requiring machining.”

If Wisconsin is to maintain its heritage as a global center of skilled manufacturing in the New Economy, advanced training such as the manufacturing information technology program offered by Blackhawk Technical College will be key.

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