From spooneradvocate.com: “Lawmakers look to lessen technical colleges’ reliance on property taxes” – by Shemane Mills, WPR -Concerns about property taxes have lawmakers looking at other ways to fund the state’s 16 technical schools. They’re also considering changes that could reduce local control of technical schools.

Historically, the property tax has been the largest source of revenue for the Wisconsin Technical College System, a sore point for some taxpayers and the Wisconsin Realtors Association. In the last budget, the state put $406 million towards technical schools in an effort to shift some of the system’s funding away from property taxes.

The WRA’s Joe Murray supports the state increasing its share of funding to 45 percent, but urged lawmakers to consider funding technical schools in the future without any property taxes.

“From our experience, after watching this debate over the last 30-35 years, the only way you ultimately start and keep property taxes going in a certain direction is to take stuff off the property tax,” said Murray.

That leaves the question of where money for technical schools would come from, according to Josh Dukelow from the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce.

“The same people who pay property taxes to support technical education pay municipal taxes to support law enforcement, pay school taxes to fund primary education, pay income taxes to fund state services, and pay sales tax when they shop or dine,” said Dukelow. “To maintain our premier educational resources in Wisconsin, we will have to pay one way or another.”

Dukelow also expressed concern about possible changes in governance of technical schools, saying a more centralized approach wouldn’t be as quick to meet the needs of local business. He said each area of the state has different workforce needs that may not be suited for state control.

From beloitdailynews.com: “Good investment at Blackhawk Tech” — IF YOU OR SOMEONE you know became a parent any time recently, chances are the job the child one day will hold hasn’t even been invented yet.

And don’t think that child will grow up, get that job and spend a lifetime performing the same work.

Most people will hold many different jobs — really different jobs — in the course of a life’s work.

Daunting.

About now parents will be wondering how the child is supposed to prepare for a career culture so thoroughly fluid and unknown.

THE KEY INGREDIENT is education. For many professional positions that means a four-year university degree, or even more. Graduate degrees will proliferate as young men and women try to gain an edge in the job market.

For many others a two-year technical and career education can be the ticket, either for direct entry into the workplace or in preparation for more specialized training.

Just as importantly, technical and career education will be the bridge for those non-traditional students who find themselves left behind as the culture of work becomes more complicated and demanding. It happens every week. Advances in technology coupled with the global realities described in author Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” lead to massive disruptions in traditional industries.

Staying current and staying relevant in the work environment requires flexibility and constant learning.

WHICH BRINGS US to our point: On Aug. 12 voters in Rock and Green counties will be asked to approve Blackhawk Technical College exceeding its levy limits by $4 million to pay for operational needs.

The answer should be a strong, positive yes.

First of all, it’s a bargain. BTC’s mill rate is lower than it used to be and will remain so if the referendum is approved. It sounds too good to be true, but your BTC property taxes will remain low.

Moreover, the referendum seeks just $4 million, a relative pittance in the overall scheme of governance. The federal government spends trillions — and squanders much of it. State government spends billions — and squanders a fair amount. Beloit city government and the School District of Beloit together spend hundreds of millions, better managed closer to home. The school district is spending $70 million alone on rebuilding district facilities.

In a sense, $4 million is lint in the pocket for government big spenders.

WHAT THAT $4 MILLION buys really counts. It pays for more direct course offerings for in-demand jobs. It pays for the flexibility to respond quickly to changing industry needs. It pays for adapting to the needs of non-traditional students, by increasing evening and weekend class sections. It pays for the people to teach those classes. It pays for support staff for faculty. It pays for people to pursue revenue-generating grants. And it’s intended to help pay for a long-term water system need to protect taxpayers’ investments at the college.

Most of all it pays for critical needs as the region moves forward into an uncertain and unknowable future. Change is occurring at a pace never seen before on this planet, and the future belongs to those most capable of adapting — repeatedly — to that cycle. The communities have been working hard to be ready in a changing world, with considerable success — most recently marked by the announcement that NorthStar Radioisotopes is beginning construction of its high-tech $150 million plant on Beloit’s East Side. These and other jobs to come will require high-level skills. There’s no alternative to staying state-of-the-art at the region’s career and technical college.

BTC’s $4 million ask is needed and it’s reasonable. The Beloit Daily News endorses a “yes” vote on Aug. 12. Help our workers stay at the forefront.

From chippewa.com: “Obstacles don’t stop CVTC grad” — Scott Steenerson still isn’t sure he should have graduated from high school. Struggles in reading and math due to learning disabilities resulted in poor grades. But that was back in 1997. On Thursday, July 24, he graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) as a top student in the Manufacturing Engineering Technologist program, a member of the College’s honor society, and the student speaker for the commencement ceremony.

Steenerson was one of 129 graduates to receive degrees and diplomas in 26 different programs in CVTC’s summer graduating class. Welding and Radiography programs had the most graduates, with 17 each, followed by Diagnostic Medical Sonography with 16.

Last spring, Steenerson received both the achievement and leadership awards among all Manufacturing Engineering Technologist students. He was the only one scheduled for summer graduation.

It’s not as if Steenerson’s learning disabilities magically disappeared since his days at Elk River, Minn. High School, but he learned to deal with them and got the help he needed at CVTC.

“In high school, they didn’t have a lot of programs that helped with it,” Steenerson said. “There were a handful of classes I did pretty well in, but I think that had a lot to do with good teachers.”

Steenerson ended up settling in Hammond and holding a well-paying job at Andersen Windows. “I had a couple of people at Andersen who took me under their wings, and I started to catch on to things better,” he said. “That gave me the opportunity to work with the manufacturing engineers.”

When he became a victim in large layoff, two weeks after his second child was born, Steenerson knew he’d have to do better in the future to support a family of four. Eligibility for a federal program for displaced workers allowed him to enroll at CVTC. He started off scared.

“Considering my grades in high school, I was really concerned about whether I could pull off college-level classes,” Steenerson said. He had two tough ones right away in chemistry and math. “I was extremely nervous. Looking at the other students, half of them seemed young enough to be my kids.”

But Steenerson says he had two great teachers, Ron Keyes in chemistry and Dave Vollmer in math, who knew about his learning disabilities and gave him the extra help he needed. Steenerson also got help from the CVTC’s Academic Services Center. Success followed.

“When I got my final grades, I shocked myself, particularly in my math class, where I got an A when I had struggled so much in high school.”

More success followed. On Vollmer’s recommendation, Steenerson became a math tutor. When he started his program courses in manufacturing, Instructor Tom Vanderloop drew him into the student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, where he rose to a leadership position. Twice he represented CVTC with other team members at international competitions and was the team leader in one.

His exposure to lean manufacturing at Andersen Windows made him a valuable student. Instructor Hans Mikelson would bring him in to help with workshops on the subject.

Steenerson explained that, knowing his limitations, he was never hesitant to ask for help. When he got it, he shared it. “I’d grab some of the other students and explain it to them and we’d work out problems together.” Steenerson helped in efforts to extend tutoring programs to CVTC’s Gateway campus.

In addressing his fellow graduates, Steenerson said he feels a sense of sadness leaving CVTC because it has made such a difference in his life. “I’ve loved every one of the instructors I’ve had at CVTC,” he said.

Steenerson is already getting some job offers, but he’s hoping to lands something close to his current home and at a company where he can work to improve manufacturing procedures.

Like Steenerson, faculty speaker Jon Leenhouts had high praise for the teachers he learned from in his life. “Over time, I’ve remained interested in my own career, and have actively kindled new opportunities and have been willing to try new things – because of the type of teachers I’ve been fortunate to have had,” said Leenhouts, an award-winning trainer and consultant with CVTC’s Business & Industry team.

Commencement speaker Kathy Otto, medical assembly operations manager at Phillips Medisize, spoke of the skills gap with a different perspective. She told of a recent meeting with CVTC and business community leaders to identify training needs in the community.

“But in the end, one man stood up and summed up the gap for the entire business group: ‘We just want people that care – care!’ Every business leader in the room immediately agreed,” Otto said.

From htrnews.com: “Kleefisch announces LTC prosperity grants” — Lakeshore Technical College will receive more than $1.3 million in grants through Gov. Scott Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity program.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch made the announcement Wednesday as part of a tour to announce the grants at each of the state’s 16 technical colleges.

Earlier this year, Walker signed legislation under Blueprint for Prosperity that added $35.4 million to the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training program. The expansion targeted three areas, including grants to reduce wait lists at Wisconsin technical colleges, grants for collaborative projects among high schools, technical colleges, and employers to train high school students in industry-recognized certifications, and grants that enhance employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

“These resources provide critical funding to train workers quickly for our local employer’s greatest needs, ” LTC President Michael Lanser said. “The Blueprint for Prosperity grants benefit our students, our employers and our communities by strengthening our workforce with more skilled workers.”

LTC’s portion of the grants will target eight different initiatives.

The Basic Food Production Boot Camp will provide four sections of the basic food production certificate to a total of 40 students. The boot camp will provide necessary skills to obtain an entry level food manufacturing position.

The grant will also provide two sections of the mid-level food production certificate to a total of 24 students consisting of incumbent workers and basic food production completers. Students gain skills in lean manufacturing and six sigma and are qualified to secure a job as a line leader or cell leader.

The grant will provide two sections of the nursing assistant course to a total of 20 students at partner health care facilities. Upon passing, students are eligible to sit for the Wisconsin Nurse Aid Registry and become certified nursing assistants.

Four sections of the Basic Emergency Medical Training (EMT) will become available to a total of 60 students at partnering fire stations in Lakeshore communities.

For general manufacturing, four sections of basic, entry level manufacturing courses will be available using the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council (MSSC) curriculum in a boot camp format to a total of 48 students. Students gain entry level skills for the start of a career in manufacturing as a part of this program.

For Industrial Technician Automation, the grants will provide two sections of integrated manufacturing systems instruction to a total of 24 students and targets incumbent workers.

The grant will also provide 10 information technology certification workshops to incumbent workers and IT students to serve a total of 100 students. Curriculum modifications will include faculty training to infuse or update program outcomes to include Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), Microsoft specialist, and A+ certifications.

Three industrial boot camps will target incumbent workers to include basic tools, measurement, math, print reading and maintenance to a total of 36 students. Students will obtain employment as entry level machine operators and basic maintenance and up to eight of the credits apply toward the Industrial Technician Technical Diploma.

From gmtoday.com: “$1.7 million grant slashes wait lists for popular WCTC programs” — PEWAUKEE – Waukesha County Technical College will now be able to slash wait lists and offer more class sections, thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Fast Forward program.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was on hand at WCTC’s Industrial building Wednesday to present the technical college with a $1.7 million award, which will be used to help train students for high-demand positions.

“There is a skills gap in Wisconsin and WCTC seeks every day to build a bridge over that skills gap – today you have some construction money,” Kleefisch said. “It is through investments like these that Wisconsin will address the skills gap today and in the years to come.”

The Fast Forward program is part of the Blueprint for Prosperity initiative which Gov. Scott Walker signed into law last year. In total, $35.4 million will be allocated by Fast Forward into worker training programs focusing on reducing wait lists, collaborative projects between high schools and colleges, and enhancing employment opportunities for disabled workers.

These grant dollars will significantly impact the journey of our students pursuing high-demand programs … and in turn benefit our local economy,” WCTC Interim President Kaylen Betzig said. “We are pleased and honored that the governor recognizes WCTC’s work as an important and valuable investment.”

The grant will be administered by the Department of Workforce Development and will go toward training as many as 168 students in the fields of welding, computer numerical control (CNC), transportation and early childhood education.

Betzig said that the funds will not only permit more students to enter these high-demand programs, but will also go toward hiring more professors and purchasing more supplies and equipment for student use.

“It is huge,” she said. “We have lots of programs – yes we can shift money – but other programs have needs too. It takes resources in order to do this and it takes resources in order to expand and offer more sections so we can get more people into the funnel.”

From bizjournals.com: “Waukesha County Technical College seeking on-campus banking branch” – by Alison Bauter – A 2009 poll told the Waukesha County Technical College that 69 percent of students would use an on-campus bank. Now, the school is seeking proposals for a full-service branch on its Pewaukee campus.

The college is looking for a banking branch that provides personal banking services, including online banking, and also links to campus ID cards, which act like debit cards.

WCTC would locate the branch in a 14-by-7-foot space inside “The Hub,” its staff and student dining area at 800 Main Street in Pewaukee.

According to a request for proposals, WCTC currently has more than 27,000 students that come to the Pewaukee campus each year. It has approximately 1,250 employees.

From journaltimes.com: “State money expands popular Gateway programs” – By Mark Schaaf – STURTEVANT — Some of Gateway Technical College’s most in-demand programs will be expanded after the state allocated nearly $1.9 million in worker-training money to the college.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch on Wednesday visited the SC Johnson iMet Center, 2320 Renaissance Blvd., to announce the grant, which officials said will trim waiting lists and allow Gateway to serve an additional 756 students over the next two years.

Beginning in the fall semester, Gateway will expand 14 popular programs, such as its CNC bootcamps, welding and business management offerings.

Gateway also will offer additional law enforcement summer classes and expand its summer nursing classes to meet demand.

Gateway has waiting lists for several courses because it can’t create enough sections or hire enough teachers to meet the demand, Gateway President Bryan Albrecht said. The grant “allows people to have greater access to education and get them back into the workforce,” he said.

The money originated from a $911 million state surplus. Gov. Scott Walker and the state Legislature geared most of the surplus toward tax cuts, but about $35 million went into a worker-training program called Wisconsin Fast Forward.

Kleefisch said the state has added more than 100,000 jobs over the past four years, but many people are still looking for work at the same time employers face challenges finding skilled workers.

“We need to bridge that skills gap so the folks who are seeking jobs have the skills to take the (jobs) that are already open,” Kleefisch said.

State Sen. John Lehman, who along with other local legislators attended Wednesday’s announcement, said Democrats also favored money for worker training. The grants are a “move in the right direction” in terms of Walker’s job policies, he said.

“This kind of grant actually translates into helping individuals, translates into helping the Racine-Kenosha-Walworth county” region that Gateway serves, said Lehman, D-Racine, who is running for lieutenant governor.

Kleefisch has held similar events at technical colleges around the state this week after Walker announced $28 million in worker-training grants. The Department of Workforce Development, which will administer the grants, will add capacity to 100 programs at all 16 Wisconsin technical colleges and accommodate up to 4,908 additional students, according to a news release.

From wdio.com: “WITC-Superior receives $900K State Grant” — Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior is getting state dollars to fund their high-demand welding programs.

The Department of Workforce Development awarded the campus with a $884,362 grant under the Wisconsin Fast Forward Blueprint for Prosperity initiative.

The grant will fund two new sections of WITC’s high-demand welding program at both the New Richmond and Rice Lake campuses.

DWD’s Assistant Deputy Secretary David Anderson said the job market is looking up in Wisconsin, but not all workers have the right skills.

“One of the things we hear from employers though is that there is a little bit of a skills gap that is holding them back in finding skilled workers for a lot of the jobs that are available,” said Anderson.

Last week, Governor Scott Walker announced all 16 technical schools in Wisconsin will get more than $28 million in state dollars to fund programs in high demand.

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 biztimes.com: “DWD awards grants to Gateway and Waukesha County Technical Colleges” – Gateway Technical College has received nearly $1.9 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funding, while Waukesha County Technical College has been allocated close to $1.7 million, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development announced today.

The two technical colleges were awarded portions of a grant initiative totaling more than $28 million that Gov. Scott Walker announced last week.

According to Walker’s announcement, Wisconsin is distributing more than $28 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to the Wisconsin Technical College System to train more than 4,900 workers.

That system encompasses 16 schools, including Gateway Technical College in Kenosha and Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee.

At Gateway Technical College, grant dollars will support the training of a maximum 756 workers in several “high-demand areas,” the DWD said. Those areas touch disciplines in manufacturing, business management, apprenticeship, education, health care and more.

At Waukesha County Technical College, up to 168 workers will benefit from grant dollars. Workers will be trained for careers in manufacturing, education and human services, and applied science fields.

Transportation, distribution and logistics training will also be covered under the grants.

“These grant dollars will significantly impact the journey of our students pursuing high-demand programs such as welding, computer numerical control (CNC), early childhood education and transportation, and in turn benefit our local economy,” said Kaylen Betzig, interim president of Waukesha County Technical College. “We are pleased and honored that the governor recognizes WCTC’s work as an important and valuable investment.”

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 lacrossetribune.com: “Western nabs $1.6 million workforce grant” — by Patrick Anderson – Western Technical College will receive $1,564,229 in workforce development funding to bolster its welding and medical assistant programs, according to an announcement today from Wisconsin officials.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and the state’s top jobs official toured Western’s new South Side welding facility to mark the occasion, part of a two-week tour of Wisconsin by lawmakers as they publicize more than $28 million in tech college grants.

The Weaver Building at 2860 S. 21st Place was still under construction as Kleefisch toured the former Trane facility with Western President Lee Rasch and Reggie Newson, secretary of the state’s Department of Workforce Development. Weaver will temporarily house Western’s welding classes when it opens this fall, while workers begin construction on a $32.6 million addition to the campus technology building.

Funding from the Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant program should allow Western to take 192 students off wait lists and teach them skills they need to find jobs with state and regional employers, Kleefisch said.

”Technical colleges help us triage the skills gap issue we have in Wisconsin,” Kleefisch said. “Our skills gap issue is very, very pressing.”

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 insightonmfg.com: “Collaborating on success: Colleges, businesses team up on new engineering technology degree” – by MaryBeth Matzek – Input and feedback from regional manufacturers played an integral role in an innovative education program rolling out this fall at 13 educational institutions in the New North.

Northeast Wisconsin Educational Resource Alliance, a consortium of New North schools, announced plans last year to create a regional bachelor’s degree program in engineering technology. The program allows students to enter at any of the NEW ERA schools and then finish up the program at University of Wisconsin campuses in Green Bay and Oshkosh. The degree program is the first of its kind in Wisconsin and fills an important void for employers.

“These are important skills manufacturers need to fill. We have jobs for students coming out with these degrees,” says Scott Kettler, general manager of Plexus’ manufacturing facilities in Neenah. “It’s been a great collaboration between educational institutions and businesses how they came together to address the need.”

Collaboration also was a must between the participating schools. Led by UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells, who retires in August, Fox Valley Technical College President Susan May and other college leaders, NEW ERA members looked at the available offerings and worked together on creating the new program.

The three new bachelor’s degrees being offered are in electrical engineering technology, environmental engineering technology and mechanical engineering technology. The degrees were approved earlier this year by the UW Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission, opening the door to students to enroll in the program starting this fall. The degrees use programs and classes already in place at participating schools, which created new classes to fill in the gaps.

Employers helped craft the program by participating in listening sessions and advisory committees, says Greg Kleinheinz, associate dean of the College of Letters and Sciences and director of the Environmental Research and Innovation Center at UW-Oshkosh.

“We talked to them and listened to their needs. We worked with them on how to tailor the program and what it should include,” he says.

That kind of feedback is important, Kettler says. “Manufacturers were asked what kind of skills we were looking for and helped develop the curriculum,” he says. “That way, the students coming out will be right for what’s needed.”

The new program differs from current offerings in the New North, Kleinheinz adds. Engineering technicians are more hands-on than a traditional engineer who may be concerned with design, but have more in-depth studies, such as in management, than students who pursue an associate’s degree at a    local technical college.

Kleinheinz predicts there will be two types of students who enroll in the program: those already possessing an associate’s degree from a technical college who are out in the workforce and want to receive their bachelor’s degree; and a traditional student who may start the program at a local technical college or two-year UW school before finishing up in Oshkosh or Green Bay.

“In many cases, I’m guessing we’ll have students coming out of technical colleges with an associate’s degree, get a job and then the employer will help pay for this program so they can further their education and expand their skills,” he says. “It will be a win-win for employer and employee.”

While all program graduates will be in high demand, the ones with the environmental engineering technology degree will especially be sought after since that is a new and growing field, Kleinheinz says. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 14 percent increase in environmental engineering technology positions between 2010 and 2020. Students with that degree can find work in industries outside of manufacturing, including biotechnology, water and wastewater management and agribusiness.

In Wisconsin, only UW-Stout and the Milwaukee School of Engineering offer bachelor’s degrees in engineering technology.

“You’re taking that technical skills base and adding more analytical thinking and problem-solving skills,” Kettler says. “Those are all important skills to have in addition to that applied, hands-on education. It’s great we are able to develop and nurture these skills in the region.”

NEW ERA Members
In the new engineering technology program, students may enter at any of the 13 NEW ERA colleges including: College of the Menominee Nation, Fox Valley Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, University of Wisconsin Extension, UW-Fond du Lac, UW-Fox Valley, UW-Green Bay, UW-Manitowoc, UW-Marinette, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Sheboygan.

 

From mtlcraft.com: “Moraine Park Technical College is again offering CNC & Welding Boot Camps” – Moraine Park Technical College is combating the skilled worker shortage by launching manufacturing skills academies in a series of 15-week boot camps.

The next information/testing sessions are scheduled in August 2014 for Fall CNC Boot Camp at the Fond du Lac Campus and Welding Boot Camp at the Jackson Campus. Registration is required. Each session will include: Information, Tours, TABE Testing, and Mechanical Aptitude Testing.

From biztimes.com: “MATC to get $2.6 million from state for worker training” — Milwaukee Area Technical College will get $2.6 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funds from the state to train up to 546 workers for in-demand fields, Gov. Scott Walker announced today.

The funds are part of a $28 million grant package, announced earlier this week, for the state’s technical colleges to train up to 4,908 workers for jobs that employers need to fill.

“The Wisconsin Fast Forward program makes targeted investments in worker training, which will strengthen the workforce and ensure we have workers to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Walker said.

MATC will receive: $687,960 to train 125 students in early childhood education, $652,113 to train 66 students in truck driving, $546,945 to train 307 students in health care to be certified nursing assistants, and $703,500 to train 48 students in CNC manufacturing.

“This grant will provide MATC the opportunity to prepare area residents for employment in high-demand fields in southeastern Wisconsin,” said MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin. “These programs are among our most popular and the funds will allow us to educate, train, and prepare more students for careers that are essential to Wisconsin’s economic vitality.”

From chippewa.com: “State funds to help CVTC cut waiting lists” — EAU CLAIRE – Cassie Blechinger’s future is arriving sooner than expected. She has dreams of becoming a nurse, but has been on the waiting list for the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Nursing-Associate Degree program since last year. Now she will be able to start in the fall term next month, thanks to a state grant designed to get people off waiting lists and into the workforce faster.

In a visit to CVTC’s Health Education Center Friday, July 18, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced the intent to award more than $28 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to all 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). The grants will train more than 4,900 workers for in-demand jobs.

CVTC’s share of the grants will be $1,223,540.

“It’s for about 200 more students,” Walker said. “It’s about the students getting the training, not only for a job, but for a career.”

Blechinger, a 2005 Boyceville High School graduate, has been biding her time working as an EMT and in the phlebotomy lab at Mayo Health Systems, but she’s been anxious to get started on a new career, perhaps in pediatric nursing.

“I was scheduled to start the Nursing program in January 2015, Blechinger said. “Now I’ll be able to graduate months early and join the workforce.”

“Our administration has made worker training a top priority, allocating more than $135 million in new resources to equip Wisconsin workers with the skills needed to fill jobs that employers have available,” Walker said. “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.”

“It is a vital part of CVTC’s mission to support the workforce needs of the region, and to do so we must constantly keep up with a changing economy,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker. “The additional funds will increase our ability to respond rapidly to the needs of both our graduates and the employers who want to hire them. Shorter waiting lists in high demand fields serve everyone’s interests.”

Most CVTC programs do not have waiting lists, and there are openings in the fall term for programs in some of the high demand fields. A complete list of the programs with waiting lists that will be positively affected by the grant will be determined by CVTC and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), which will administer the grants. Capacity will be added in 100 programs throughout the WTCS system. Training programs cover key industry sectors such as manufacturing, health care, transportation, construction and architecture, and education.

“I think it’s great the waiting lists are going to be shorter,” said Blechinger.

“With this announcement, the State of Wisconsin is giving workers the chance to increase their skills and move into a new job or a better job,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson, who also attended Friday’s announcement.

A better job is what Nai Nou Her is hoping for. Her has been expecting to be on the waiting list in the Dental Hygienist program for three years, but now has hopes that the grant will help her move up.

“I just graduated from the Dental Assistant program,” Her said. “I might go to school part time while I’m waiting.” She’s working as a dental assistant, but becoming a hygienist will result in higher pay.

Technical colleges submitted initial lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year. DWD developed processes to validate wait lists for grant eligibility purposes, evaluate each technical college’s funding request, make award decisions, and monitor taxpayers’ investment. Grant funds can be used for expenses such as course development, instructor wages and purchase of materials. Individual grant awards will be announced for each technical college over the next two weeks.

Funds for the grants were allocated in legislation Walker signed into law in March as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative. The legislation allocated an additional $35.4 million in funds to the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training program, with the funds for this grant being part of that.

From leadertelegram.com: “Walker visits Chippewa Valley Technical College” – by Joe Knight – Cassie Blechinger, 26, of Boyceville had planned to start a nursing associate degree program at Chippewa Valley Technical College in January.

Thanks to the timely infusion of more than $1.2 million at the school by the Legislature and governor, she will be able to start this fall.

“It was a nice surprise,” said Blechinger, who said her long-term goal is to become a nurse.

Gov. Scott Walker visited CVTC’s Health Education Center Friday afternoon to announce the funding increase, part of $28 million going to state technical colleges that are expected to train 4,900 people for in-demand jobs.

The grants are allocated through the Blueprint for Posterity program administered by the state Department of Workforce Development. Legislation creating the program passed in March with bipartisan support.

The funding for CVTC will help 196 students start programs in fields such as nursing, public safety and truck driving.

The jobs will help students “get off the sidelines and into the game,” Walker said, and the students are being trained in areas where local employers have said they are lacking qualified people.

“I call it economic development,” said Walker.

Once the students are out in the workforce, they will provide services that are good for their careers and good for the local economy.

“This means not only more jobs, but a better state and better communities overall,” Walker said.

Walker said the technical colleges were “nimble” in quickly starting programs to meet local demand.

Bruce Barker, CVTC president, said the additional funds will increase the school’s ability to respond rapidly to the needs of students and employers.

“Shorter waiting lists in high-demand fields serve everyone’s interests,” Barker said.

Another part of the Wisconsin Fast Forward program is increasing opportunities for high school students to earn credits at technical colleges or “recognized creditionals” with businesses while still in high school.

Walker praised Eleva-Strum High School’s Cardinal Manufacturing program, where students studying manufacturing run a business producing and selling parts for area businesses. The students earn high school credit and credits for CVTC.

Walker said a high school in Green Bay was following Eleva-Strum’s example.

A number of area high schools have dual-enrollment programs where students earn high school and CVTC credits, which gives them a head start when they move on to the technical college, said Barker.

“We want more dual enrollment,” Walker said.

According to CVTC officials, the grant will be put to the following uses:

- $591,150 to train 24 in nursing.

- $117,075 to train 12 students to be dental assistants.

- $155,400 to train 64 students to be certified nursing assistants.

- $110,854 to train 32 students in manufacturing to be certified production technicians.

- $88,852 to train 48 students in public safety, emphasizing jail work.

- $160,209 to train 16 students in truck driving.

Barker said with the growth in sand mining in the area there has been increased demand for truck drivers.

From wkow.com: “Madison College receives state grant” – Madison Area Technical College will receive more than $5 million to help train workers for in-demand fields.

The money is part of the $28 million in Wisconsin fast forward grants the Governor announced yesterday.

Officials say it’ll train more than 900 workers at Madison College in fields like nursing, construction and welding.

From kenoshanews.com: “Gateway approves funding for renovation projects” – By James Lawson – Gateway Technical College has approved spending for another phase of a $7 million, two-year renovation and remodeling project at its Kenosha and Elkhorn campuses.

The latest round of renovations are underway, with completion expected early next year.

“This is a continuation of projects that we started during the last fiscal year that just ended,” said Bill Whyte, Gateway vice president of human resources and facilities. “Considering work that we started and will be ongoing throughout this fiscal year, we have 48 projects.”

At the Kenosha campus, the main academic building is being renovated to accommodate the Learning Success Center, which includes a career testing center, a tutoring facility and a counseling facility for special-needs students. That portion is to be completed by mid-August.

Another phase will include renovations to accommodate a student services facility, a financial aid office and academic advising. This phase is to be completed early next year.

In Elkhorn, renovation of the oldest building on campus began earlier this year. It will be renovated to accommodate an upgraded student center, a cafeteria and conference center. It is a 41,000-square-foot building in need of some upgrading.

“It’s an older building that needs a little tender loving care,” Whyte said. “There will be a new kitchen, mail room and bookstore too.”

Another Elkhorn building has been leased to the Department of Workforce Development. That department will be moved to the older building when renovation is completed.

Meanwhile, the building that has housed the DWD will be converted to a veterinary sciences facility that will house a new academic program to begin in fall 2015.

Whyte said a veterinarian was recently hired and curriculum is being developed. The program is for veterinarian technicians and assistants.

Funding for the renovations will come through the sale of bonds, Whyte said.

Gateway’s board Monday approved another $1.5 million appropriation that will be used for construction at the Elkhorn campus. Under Wisconsin law, renovation spending must be approved in $1.5 million packages.

The board will meet again next month to approve another $1.5 million package to fund work at the Kenosha campus, according to Whyte.

From wausaudailyherald.com: “The future workforce is here, working” – By Donna Schulz-Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator for Northcentral Technical College – If you follow the news, you’ve heard about a shrinking workforce facing employers. As more baby boomers retire each year, employers need to find and develop individuals who will be able to support the growth of their businesses in the years ahead.

These news stories remind me of a public service announcement from television in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s; the question “Do you know where your children are?” was asked during the 10 p.m. news as a reminder to parents that it was important for them to know where their children were and what they were doing. It seems the question employers dealing with an aging workforce are trying to answer is, “Do you know where your future employees are?”

I can tell you part of the answer is that they’re right here in the community, going to high school (taking classes that might surprise you), and trying to find the answer to their own question, “Do you know where your future is?”

This past year, 309 juniors and seniors from 21 high schools within the Northcentral Technical College district were literally working to find the answer to that question for themselves by participating in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program.

YA is a rigorous one- or two-year program that combines mentored, paid, on-the-job learning with academic and technical instruction related to a specific program area. That means students working at a local bank through a finance apprenticeship are studying business, math and financial management; students completing an apprenticeship in manufacturing are perhaps taking welding, machining and manufacturing classes; students working at a healthcare facility may have taken a nursing assistant course at NTC along with medical terminology, biology, anatomy and physiology at their high school.

These students are seeing a real-world connection between their classrooms and the workplace. An exit survey taken by high school seniors who finished their apprenticeships this year provides some thought-provoking data. Of 173 graduating seniors, 151 have plans to attend some type of post-secondary school. While 26 of these students hope to focus only on school, the rest have plans to work while in school. And here’s where it gets really interesting: 85 percent of those 125 students are continuing to work for their YA employer, and 71 percent will be majoring in a field related to their apprenticeship.

Based on these numbers, you can see that some employees of the future are here now, developing relationships with employers who are helping them find their futures. If you would like to learn more about opportunities to hire a youth apprentice, contact the youth apprenticeship coordinator at your local high school or Donna Schulz at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau at schulz@ntc.edu.

From pbn.com: “Mobile lab considered for marketing, training” — Gerald J. Bronkhorst, 45, of Suamico, Wis., trains students from six high schools in northeast Wisconsin in an advanced-manufacturing mobile lab – a model Rhode Island educators are considering emulating.

The Iraq War veteran decided to attend Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wis., to earn certificates in advanced manufacturing when he got back to the United States in 2006, and five years ago was hired by the college as a lab technician, he told Providence Business News in a phone interview.

For the past three years, he has worked as the mobile-lab technician with a few teachers and as many as 12 high school students at a time in the mobile lab, which travels about 50 miles within the school district and cost about $300,000, Bronkhorst said. The high schools pay about $5,000 for every two semesters of use, he said. Precise costs for the lab itself, a trailer hitched to a commercial grade pickup truck, and its operating costs were unavailable.

“If I can convince some of these kids to go out and learn a trade and get a job, that’s a huge win,” said Bronkhorst, the lab technician.

Rhode Island educators found out about a Michigan mobile lab just being implemented this summer and fall that is based on the Wisconsin model, and are actively exploring how such a vehicle might be used in connection with programs at the University of Rhode Island, the Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.

Chris Semonelli, one of several co-directors in the Newport County Mentor Co-Op, met on June 27 with URI President David M. Dooley to further the conversation. Semonelli said he focused on the collaboration between North Central Michigan College, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, and a local manufacturer, Precision Edge Surgical Products Inc. of Boyne City, Mich.

From expressmilwaukee.com: “Milwaukee supporting new food business concepts” – Greater Milwaukee is a sturdy hub for emerging food artists and continues to gain acclaim for the impressive amount of locally owned and operated businesses and restaurants within the foodie scene. Our city has many unique gourmet restaurants and businesses, mobile food trucks and distinctive product lines that continue to enter the market, but starting a business is not an easy feat. Giving local entrepreneurs a springboard to help begin realizing or further expand their food dreams is Milwaukee’s annual Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge.

Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), which has a great culinary program and entrepreneurial center; Reliable Water Services, a local provider of commercial water heaters, boilers and softeners for restaurants; and FaB Wisconsin, a food and beverage industry cluster helping to encourage other entrepreneurs to grow their business, are now in their third year of sponsoring the challenge, which seeks to find Wisconsin’s next great food entrepreneurs. Different from a recipe contest, this competition seeks to support inspired culinary concepts, so participants are not only judged on taste, but also creativity, possibility, marketability, packaging and other important factors that help lead to business success.

This year, participants entered in one of two categories: the Start Up category for those who are ready to take the next step and get their product on the market, and the Early Stage category for those who have already gone to market in small ways, but have been in the business three years or less and are looking to take their product to the next level.

This year, dozens of entrepreneurs entered the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge. Three have been chosen as finalists in each category to compete for the two grand prizes of $2,000 seed money from Reliable Water Services, a comprehensive entrepreneur consultation package from MATC, a private meeting with FaB Wisconsin’s food industry executives and a funding and growth consultation with financial specialists at MW Growth Partners. Finalists are Mary Pellettieri’s (Milwaukee) Top Note Tonics sodas, Jennifer Goldbeck’s (Cedarburg) Packaged European Buttercream icings, and Nicole Meredith’s (Milwaukee) Wilhemena’s Pies pecan pies in the Start Up category; and Jackie Valent Lucca’s (Brookfield) Love Dust spices, Austin Ashley, Hallie Ashley and Zac Mathes’ (Viroqua) Wisco Pop! sodas, and Robyn Wright’s (Dousman) PoSaNa Organics gluten-free baking mixes in the Early Stage category.

Christel Henke, the Challenge’s project coordinator, says, “Milwaukee has such a great food culture and is so supportive of new food ideas, judging by the great number of restaurants and products that come into the market. It’s really fun to be able to help move forward some of these new concepts in a market that’s really receptive for it. And from a new business standpoint, from the aspect of supporting the local economy, we’re really helping move forward some of these new entrepreneurs.”

The final judging will take place at a Food Network-style event on Thursday, July 17, at noon at MATC’s new student-operated 6th Street Café (1015 N. Sixth St.). The event will feature eight renowned food expert judges who will listen to each finalist’s three-minute presentation about their concept, taste-test the product and then decide the grand prize winner of each category. A few judges include Kurt Fogle, executive pastry chef of SURG Restaurant Group, Lynn Sbonik, co-owner of Beans & Barley, Jen Ede, publisher of Edible Milwaukee magazine and Rakesh (Ryan) Rehan, owner of Café India. And the best part about the event? The final judging is open to the public and samples of each participant’s product will be available to try.

For more information about this year’s finalists, judges or event details, visit Reliable Water Services’ website at www.hotwater247.com. Perspective food entrepreneurs are encouraged to check back often for future information about the challenge.

From htrnews.com: “LTC’s Rogers wins awards at horticulture event” — Lakeshore Technical College’s Horticulture Instructor Ray Rogers recently received several awards at the Show of Summer Horticulture event in Chicago. Rogers won three top horticulture awards, along with 12 blue ribbons for his plants, according to a press release.

Six Chicago-area garden clubs affiliated with the Garden Club of America presented the competitive flower show, Show of Summer, with the theme “Our Kind of Town” on June 21 and 22 at the Chicago Botanic Garden. One of the main purposes of the show was to educate visitors about horticulture, flower arranging and conservation. This year, participants were asked to interpret the theme “Our Kind of Town” throughout the displays. More than 100 members from dozens of GCA clubs around the country participated in the event.

All of Rogers’ plants were grown in the greenhouse on the Environmental Campus at LTC and were often incorporated into classroom instruction. Some also have been propagated as offerings at the LTC Horticulture Club’s plant sales held in late April and early May.

Rogers’ 10-year-old Deuterocohnia brevifolia, a relative of Spanish moss and pineapple, won both Best in Show and the Certificate of Excellence in Horticulture.

Rogers also produced and sowed the seeds for a hybrid Aloe. It won the Louise Agee Wrinkle Award for Propagation at the event.

From gmtoday.com: “A Delicious experience: Cedarburg baker to take part in entrepreneur challenge” — CEDARBURG – Baking has been a part of Jennifer Goldbeck’s professional life for more than seven years. This month, she is entering a new chapter in her foray into the kitchen as she takes part in a local entrepreneurial competition.

Goldbeck, who owns Delicately Delicious in Cedarburg, is one of six finalists in a competition known as the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge. The event will be held at noon July 17, at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s downtown campus.

The entrepreneur challenge, modeled after some of the competitions that have been prevalent on such cable channels as the Food Network, is split into two categories – one for start-up innovations and another for people who are in the early stages of their products.

Goldbeck is one of three finalists in the start-up category. She is going to be showcasing a European vanilla buttercream frosting mix that she recently began selling at her Cedarburg store.

The grand-prize winner within the two category competitions will receive $2,000 in seed money toward his or her business, in addition to a service through MATC that is being described as a comprehensive entrepreneurial consultation package.

While Goldbeck is quick to admit she has her eyes on the prize, she said she is eagerly looking forward to meeting the judges and gathering any insight the various professionals might have. Eight food service veterans across the Milwaukee area will be judging the assorted entries.

“I’m excited to meet all of the people because everyone has such different experiences,” she said. “The time and expertise they will offer is very valuable.”

Goldbeck’s buttercream frosting mix has been a work in progress for about six months. In addition to refining the recipe, she fine-tuned the packing and the directions. Customer response, she said, has been positive.

“People are so much more food savvy today than they ever have been before,” she said. “There’s so much information out there, and people want something that’s quality and gourmet. There’s a craving for it.”

The upcoming challenge is one in a series of growth spurts for Delicately Delicious, which Goldbeck acquired in 2007 from a previous owner. For many years, the business sold only made-to-order cakes.

But Goldbeck decided to evolve the business three years ago, relocating from a commercial kitchen on Center Street to a retail storefront operation along Cedarburg’s bustling Washington Avenue corridor.

“It was good to perfect things,” Goldbeck said, in retrospect. All along, she said she aspired to morph Delicately Delicious into a retail bakery, but she believed the business could have failed if she made such a drastic change before making a series of tweaks.

In its retail iteration, Delicately Delicious features a variety of items that are sure to satisfy just about any person’s sweet tooth. She sells frosted single-layer cakes by the slice, but also showcases a range of cupcakes, cookies and other baked goods.

Early in 2013, Goldbeck expanded Delicately Delicious’ presence into the Bayshore Town Center. She operated a so-called pop-up kiosk shop for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. The response was so strong that she decided a year ago to have a presence at the mall full-time.

Goldbeck said she has a number of other projects on the horizon. In fact, one of them – selling a mix of her popular kitchen sink cookies – has just come to fruition. In late June, she began selling the product at the Piggly Wiggly store in Cedarburg.

Retail is a sector Goldbeck has been eyeing, both in a brick-and-mortar and online sense. She aspires to have her products featured through such companies as Williams-Sonoma, since they reach the same target consumer.

For Goldbeck, baking and growing Delicately Delicious has been a labor of love. When asked why she chose to concoct sweet creations, she offered a ready response.

“I enjoy meeting people in the community,” she said. “What’s been great about this is I help people with their celebrations. I get to see the progression in people’s lives for things like weddings, babies and graduations.”

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