From leadertelegram.com: “American Indians display history, beauty of culture in CVTC powwow event” – By Emily Miels Leader - The loud drumbeats, chanting and brightly colored costumes were hard to miss Monday at the Chippewa Valley Technical College commons.

Students and spectators got a firsthand look at the traditional dances and culture of American Indian tribes during the college’s annual American Indian Powwow Exhibition.

“You can’t help but be amazed at what you’re witnessing,” said Mike Ojibway, CVTC’s diversity and equal opportunity manager.

The Lac Courte Oreilles pipestone singers played drums and chanted along as dancers showed off traditional dances and costumes.

“A powwow is a social dance. It brings us together,” said emcee Dylan Prescott, who shared the significance and background of each song.

One of the first performances was the women’s traditional dance, which was light and graceful as the women “danced soft on Mother Earth,” Prescott said. However, women do not always dance soft. The traditional dance shifted into the “fancy” dance, a newer style in which women wear bright shawls and dance to upbeat, energetic music.

“(Men) used to throw rocks and sticks at them because they didn’t like how they were out there dancing around,” Prescott said.

The men’s traditional dance was meant to be a war dance, Prescott said. When the men returned from battle, the tribe would gather and celebrate with the warriors.

“They’d tell stories in their dance about what they’d done at war,” he said.

The costumes also play a significant role in telling about the dancer and the tribe itself, Prescott said. For example, the grass dancers wear long fringes on their costumes that sway as they dance, just as grass would in the breeze.

“I thought it was interesting that everything has a meaning — every color, ever piece of fabric on their clothing and the dances,” said CVTC student Stacy Rutsch, who attended Monday’s event.

Audience members watched as the dancers twirled, swayed and hopped, but they also got the chance to participate in the dances for themselves.

This was CVTC’s biggest powwow exhibition to date, with close to 40 dancers from Ho-Chunk, Ojibwe, Potowatami, Oneida, Menominee, Comanchi, Arikara, Sioux, and Omaha tribes.

“When they started out a couple of years ago there was only six (dancers), so it’s really growing, and hopefully it can continue to do that,” said Kodiak Cleveland, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and CVTC student who helped plan the event.

About 60 American Indian students are enrolled at CVTC, Ojibway said, but the campus continues to become more diverse.

“It’s important to show them that this is part of our culture, part of our life,” Cleveland said.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Teaching, class sharing rises at rural schools as budgets shrink” – As rural schools deal with the reality of reduced budgets and smaller enrollments, one of the inevitable trends is the reduction in the number of classes offered as schools focus on core subjects.

A number of Clark County schools are turning toward sharing teachers in a number of elective classes as a way of saving costs, while still providing students with learning opportunities.

Sue Rudesill, a family and consumer sciences teacher, begins each day in Neillsville, and then around lunch time makes the 20-minute commute to Greenwood to continue teaching in the afternoon.

It’s the first year she’s split time between two schools and said it took a little getting used to the first semester.

She would find herself trying to help students after class in Neillsville, but that potentially delayed her getting to Greenwood, causing the first part of her class in Greenwood to be missed.

After discussions with administrators in both districts, she said she now has a little more time to make the commute this semester.

Another change that districts are seeing is the increased reliance on distance learning courses. Students will be in a normal classroom, but the teacher often will be miles away in another school.

“We do have some rooms that are now available,” Neillsville School District Superintendent John Gaier said. “A lot of the rooms that used to have classes in them are now being used as distance learning classrooms. It’s possible for a high school class period to have four online classes going on.”

Students in Neillsville take distance learning classes through a number of different institutions, including the Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

But it’s not just courses being taught at institutions of higher education that students are taking. Sometimes schools share courses with each other through distance learning.

In Loyal, students take social studies through Granton, a required course for graduation.

“That’s a big step to go into that. Spanish is an elective, but to have a required class that’s important, the reason we did it was it seemed to be the least detrimental. The teacher would be the most able to appropriately communicate with students. You would not want to do chemistry (over distance learning),” Cale Jackson, Loyal School District administrator, said. “History seemed like something where the kids could still have a good experience even though it was over the distance learning.”

It takes a lot of work and coordination between schools to sync schedules, Jackson said, “but everybody is in the same boat, so everybody is willing to do it.”

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 edicatopm 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.

From lacrossetribune.com: “WTCS Board recognizes D&S as ‘Futuremakers Partner’ — The Wisconsin Technical College System Board recently awarded its Futuremakers Partner award to D&S Manufacturing of Black River Falls.

The award recognizes the unique and dynamic partnerships between Wisconsin’s technical colleges and their employer partners.

D&S Manufacturing, specializing in metal fabrication of large-scale components and assemblies, is a long-time partner with Western Technical College. While its main campus is in La Crosse, Western also serves communities throughout the region, including Black River Falls.

“It was an honor to receive this award, and particularly fitting that company president Mike Dougherty and the Dougherty family were specifically recognized for their outstanding support and long-term commitment to Western,” said John Barkley, D&S vice president and general manager.

“Many of our employee owners have taken advantage of and benefited from the educational opportunities that Western offers. We look forward to continuing our support of Western and the opportunities it provides to our community and region.”

In presenting the award, WTCS Board president Drew Petersen noted that D&S was a driving force in establishing the Jackson County Welding Skills Institute, a unique partnership formed with Western and other partners to meet the growing need for trained welders in the Black River Falls area. Without that support, Petersen noted, the initiative would not have been possible. The company has also funded scholarships at Western over many years, and provided tuition assistance for its employee owners.

“D&S Manufacturing is a true partner,” said Lee Rasch, president of Western Technical College. “Members of both their management and production staff serve on our program advisory committees. We value their support and honest feedback, which helps to ensure that our educational programming is relevant and responsive to the communities we serve.”

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Health care delegation visits Fox Cities” — APPLETON — International health care delegates will be in the Fox Cities today and Friday to gain insight into health care management best practices and tour facilities.

The Fox Cities Regional Partnership will host nearly 20 delegates from the Special American Business Internship Training Hospital Administration program. The mid- to senior-level health care executives from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Ukraine began their U.S. tour March 28 in Washington, D.C.

“We’re excited to host this prestigious delegation and have teamed up with our region’s world-class health care organizations to share their knowledge and experiences with the group,” Larry Burkhardt, executive vice president at Fox Cities Regional Partnership, said in a statement. “Our local health systems have been able to provide a variety of the best health care options in the region, and to have others outside the Fox Valley learn and benefit from our leaders is an honor.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce is coordinating the group’s visit. A Commerce Department representative contacted the Fox Cities Regional Partnership and requested the visit after finding information about the region’s health care assets on the Partnership’s website. The representative said the Fox Cities was selected for its national reputation as a leader in high quality health care at low cost.

The delegates will visit with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Fox Valley, the Orthopedic & Sports Institute of the Fox Valley (OSI), Neuroscience Group, Affinity Health System at St. Elizabeth Hospital, ThedaCare at the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, Neurospine Center and Fox Valley Technical College’s new Health Simulation & Technology Lab.

Discussion topics will include financial management, new medical technologies and risk management, equipment manufacturers, relationships with insurance companies, medical ethics and conflict resolution, and doctor and patient rights.

From wxow.com: “Bridges2Healthcare” grant funds healthcare academy at WTC” – One of seven colleges to receive the “Bridges2Healthcare” Grant, Western Technical College hosts a Healthcare Academy which introduces career options in healthcare to those interested.

The four day Academy runs from April 8 through April 11, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Healthcare Academy provides introductions to various career options in healthcare, training, and employment requirements.

The participants are additionally mentored by a Success Coach in communication and study skills, financial literacy, safety, stress management, customer service, and how to stay healthy.

Not only is it a 30 hour introduction program, but the benefits stretch beyond the four days.

Tutors and Success Coaches will be available to participants if they choose to pursue a career in the health field.

“I have seen a huge increase in the need for employees, well trained and prepared employees in the health care field,” said “Bridges2Healthcare” facilitator, Ray Heidel. “The healthcare field is huge.”

The program is partially funded by the nearly $13 million “Bridges2Healthcare” Grant from the Department of Labor, making it free to all those interested.

The grant was awarded to seven colleges in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin recognized for a growing need in healthcare employees as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program.

Those interested must be at least 18 years old, out of high school, and be interested in the healthcare field.

The next Healthcare Academy session is set to take place in June; to preregister for the event, contact the “Bridges2Heathcare” Facilitator, Ray Heidel, at (608)789-6216.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Nienhaus donates Winagamie Golf Course to Appleton foundation” – Winagamie Golf Course has been a second home to Mary Beth Nienhaus for 43 years. Now, the legendary educator, coach, golfer and benefactor has donated the 27-hole facility to the Appleton Education Foundation.

“It’s humbling that Mary Beth would think of the Appleton Education Foundation as such a worthy recipient,” said Julie Krause, executive director of the foundation. The golf course, with an estimated value of more than $2.5 million, is the largest gift the foundation has ever received, she said.

An agreement for Nienhaus, 70, of Appleton to give the golf course to the AEF was finalized at the end of 2013, and was formally announced Tuesday during a news conference at the golf course. The Appleton School District and Fox Valley Technical College are collaborating with AEF to offer local students hands-on learning experiences at the facility — from small-engine repair to horticulture, agronomy, marketing and event planning.

The course will continue to be open to golfers.

Nienhaus, a longtime golf professional at Winagamie, became a partner in the business in 1972. She took over sole ownership in 1993.

She said she had a prospective buyer for the property, but by donating it to the foundation, she will preserve the legacy she’s worked to build. A board of directors will oversee the course’s operations, and it will continue as a for-profit business. Any profits will be set aside for capital improvements to the golf course, Krause said. AEF will eventually receive dividends from the course, and will use them to fund grants for educators in Appleton schools, but no AEF funds will be put toward the course.

This isn’t Nienhaus’ first contribution to AEF. In 1997, she gave the foundation one of its first major gifts — $200,000 for the renovations at Goodland Field. Nienhaus Sports Complex is now home to the Appleton West baseball, softball and soccer teams.

Her relationship with AEF didn’t end there. In 2011, she committed a matching gift of $100,000 to West for improved physical education and athletic facilities.

Appleton School District Administrator Lee Allinger said he isn’t surprised by Nienhaus’ generosity.

“Mary Beth is a person who has this incredible community vision and has really backed up her beliefs with the actions she’s taken over the years,” he said.

The possibilities

Nancy Johnshoy, Winagamie Inc. board president and AEF director, said the foundation thought long and hard about the golf course and how it would benefit local students.

“At first glance, owning a golf course operation may not seem like a natural fit for the Appleton Education Foundation, but as we thought about it and let our imaginations wander, we realized it has a natural tie-in for the school district and Fox Valley Technical College,” Johnshoy said.

Teachers from FVTC and the Appleton School District will collaborate to create learning opportunities for students at Winagamie.

Susan May, president of FVTC and a member of the Winagamie board of directors, said she’s thrilled to see students learning in a “realistic laboratory” at the golf course.

Nienhaus will continue to be involved in golf course operations as a member of the board of directors and through the junior golf academy. When she decides the time is right, Neinhaus will give AEF control of the junior golf academy. The foundation will continue the academy’s mission into the future.

With more spare time on the horizon, Nienhaus hopes to travel more during the summer, to continue volunteering and to play golf.

“I have this wonderful golf course here and I hardly play golf,” she said. “Years ago I used to play well, and then once I turned professional I gave lessons — tons of lessons, thousands of lessons over the years — and, of course, then I couldn’t do everything, so I didn’t play a lot of golf.”

When Nienhaus looks out over the expansive golf course, which opened in 1962, she is reminded of her parents.

“I see my dad (Sylvester) all the time, because he planted over 600 evergreens out here,” she said. “When he planted them they were probably three, four feet high. And now you take a look at them and they’re huge.”

The hard work ethic that drives Nienhaus came from her parents, she said. Her father spent more than 40 years at Kimberly-Clark Corp. and worked part time at Gelbe’s Nursery. Her mother, Mabel, worked a variety of jobs over the years and was employed in the pro shop at Winagamie for a time.

Enviable career

Nienhaus distinguished herself in teaching, golfing and coaching over the years.

She won the Wisconsin Women’s Public Links Golf Association Amateur Championship in 1963 and 1964. The victories helped her become Marquette University’s first female varsity student-athlete: She joined the men’s golf team in 1965.

Nienhaus was the first person to represent Marquette in intercollegiate postseason play. She won the Wisconsin State Golf Association Championship in 1968 and 1969, and was named the Wisconsin Female Golfer of the Year in 1969.

Teaching has been a passion for Nienhaus. She taught physical education at Appleton West High School for 28 years and coached the girls’ golf team for 25 years. During her tenure as a golf coach, West won four state championships. She was named the LPGA Coach of the Year in 1987 — the only high school coach ever to receive the award.

Her passions for teaching and golf led her to start the Winagamie Junior Golf Academy, which teaches the game to children. It’s funded through the Winagamie Golf Foundation and is one of the state’s largest junior golf programs. Even though she retired from the school district in 1999, Nienhaus still logs 80- to 90-hour work weeks during the golf season.

An independent person and trailblazer, Nienhaus is single and has no children. She said people at the golf course often ask where her husband is.

“They think I’m sort of a token owner or something. When I tell them I’m the sole owner I think that takes them back a little bit,” Nienhaus said.

“The cute thing I always say is because I’m so independent if I would have married and had children, then the husband clearly would have been the one to take care of the kids and make the meals and everything,” she said. “Of course, years ago that never would have happened. Nowadays it’s a more common occurrence.”

From fox11online.com: “NWTC international students visits with President Obama” — GREEN BAY – An international student, studying at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, has quite the story to tell his friends and family back in Tunisia.

Mohamed Dhib has been in the United States for about ten months.

“It’s so different, it’s not like the U.S. we watch in the movies,” said Dhib.

The movies might be where the story of Dhib’s trip to Washington D.C. belongs. Last week, Dhib went to the nation’s capitol thinking he was meeting with visiting Tunisian government officials.

“We just gave like advice to improve our Tunisian education system through the skills that we’ve learned here,” said Dhib.

After his meeting, Dhib was taken on an impromptu tour of the White House. He was told he’d be meeting the leader of Tunisia.

“They told us the Prime Minister and high level people from the White House, but honestly I didn’t expect it would be that high level,” said Dhib.

While in the Rose Garden, it was as high level as it comes.

“Suddenly somebody said like “oh, hi guys, how are you doing?”said Dhib. “For like ten seconds nobody said anything. We were all like this, and it was the President and our Prime Minister.”

The meeting lasted about fifteen minutes. Dhib told the President he was studying in Green Bay.

“He said, ‘How’s it going there? Do you like the winter?” said Dhib.

While Dhib says he can’t recall all the details, he remembers enough to make his fellow international students at NWTC wish they were there.

“I’m a little bit jealous, because when do you get the chance to meet the President of the United States?” said Felix Winkler, a German exchange student at NWTC.

“He was a practical person,” said Dhib of Obama. “He’s humble. I like him.”

Dhib couldn’t say whether he was more excited to meet President Obama or the Tunisian Prime Minister. He says meeting the Prime Minister is just as rare as an average U.S. citizen meeting the President.

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

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

Ribbon cutting ceremonies showcasing the Ingenuity Center will be held at MATC on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 3:30 p.m. Please visit madisoncollege.edu/aset-open-house for more information and to RSVP.

 

From chippewa.com: “Students learn business communications on fast track” — As a non-traditional student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Business Management program, Jim Voss of Boyd had something of an advantage going into the Speed Networking event held as part of a planning and decision making class. He’s been at ease talking to people for years.

“I just never thought of it as ‘networking,’ ” Voss said. But he’s long understood the value of making business connections through personal connections. It’s something business people do constantly in social settings, but for some, especially young people, it can be difficult.

“You don’t have people waiting to talk to you,” Voss said about those social situations. “You have to go up and meet people.”

Getting some practice doing that was what the Speed Networking event March 31 at CVTC was all about.

The event involved 40 business people, matching the number of students in the class. Students are told to dress for a business setting but are not allowed to bring a resume. Although skills developed may help in job interviews, it is not an interview practice session, but something more informal.

Students sit down with the volunteers and talk for five minutes, then switch tables and talk with a new volunteer, meeting as many of the business people they can in the allotted time. This networking practice prepares the students for the real thing when they attend the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business After Hours networking session April 14.

The Speed Networking event, now in its seventh year, was developed by now-retired CVTC Business Management instructor Grace Rich, along with Jeff Pepper, who is now associate dean of business.

“It’s for the students to experience networking in a controlled environment,” said Mary Felton-Kolstad, who teaches the class.

Rich recalls that the idea for the event actually came from a student, who noted that one skill he didn’t learn, but needed, was how to talk to people he didn’t know.

Voss was a pressman for Chippewa Valley Newspapers for many years and is now studying business at CVTC in search of a new career after industry changes left him without work. His maturity made it easier for him to converse with the business people, many of whom were much younger than him. Still, he had much to gain from the exercise through meeting a variety of business people.

“One of the things I noticed was the directness and the honesty of the business people,” Voss said. “They all had something to say and offered some pointers.”

A couple of the business people Voss met gave him the names of others he could contact in his upcoming job search. “People that know people – that’s what networking is all about. Where else can you get 40 business people willing to meet with students?”

Student Patrick Seipel of Menomonie shared his desire to own his own business someday with the networking contacts he met.

“I was pretty built up around introducing myself,” Seipel said. “I’d talk about what I want to do the next year or the next couple of years and what I want to build for myself.”

Then he would ask the business people about themselves and their companies, sometimes finding a special connection. His business idea involved production of homemade candies and he heard a couple of tips about certified kitchens where he could get started.

“I made some good connections and a possible job opportunity from one of them,” Seipel said.

The business professionals were happy to help, and also saw benefit in the event for themselves and their businesses.

“I made my calendar open so I could do it,” said Kathy Christiansen, director of Lakeland College’s center in Chippewa Falls. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to give back and try to help students feel comfortable. It can be uncomfortable for them to walk up to someone and start a conversation.”

Christiansen was not there on a recruitment mission, but she was aware that some of the students may be interested in going back to school for additional degrees after they graduate from CVTC. “At least they will know we are available. It gave me an opportunity to tell my story. I’m a CVTC graduate who went to Lakeland,” Christiansen said.

Matt Jentile of Fastenal in Chippewa Falls saw the events as a benefit to the students and his company.

“Part of my job as a district manager is recruiting,” Jentile said. We have to get involved with technical colleges and universities and keep our pipeline full. We are growing so fast we want to reach out to students while they’re still in school.”

The Speed Networking event was in a structured setting, but after it was over, a large group of students and business people continued to network, gathering at the Green Mill restaurant and lounge in Eau Claire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the topics are:

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

• Developing a farm business plan.

• Farm business analysis and decision making.

• Farm enterprise analysis and marketing.

• Long-term farm budgeting and management.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cost would be about $240 per course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From itjungle.com: “What Works for Women in IT” — Obstacles and solutions are a large part of the IT professional’s career choice. Organizations assemble IT staffs to solve business problems. Traditionally, it’s been a man’s world, with women in a decidedly minority role. The IBM midrange community is no different. But last month at the Wisconsin Midrange Computing Professionals Association Technical Conference, a session called Women in IT put the gender topic in a new light.

The role of women in IT is changing. And it’s not changing because we’ve all sat around and waited for change to happen on its own accord. It’s changing because there are people who want it to change and because it’s time for change.

According to the 2013 statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor, 57 percent of professional occupations in the U.S. workforce are held by women, yet only 26 percent of professional computing occupations in the U.S. workforce are held by women. If the number of women in IT careers doubled, it would still fall short of current benchmark for professional women in all categories. Obviously, there is room for improvement.

One person who takes that as a challenge is Beth Akerlund. She was recruited as the keynote speaker for the Women in IT session by Sue Zimmermann, vice president of the WMCPA user group that hosts the annual tech conference for IBM i advocates who take their career development seriously.

Akerlund began her career in IT with a Milwaukee area software company after graduating from college. She moved on to work for Groupon when it was a start-up. There her career experiences expanded as she began working with engineering teams, process improvements, implementing a variety of technologies, and software development. Later she returned to her hometown of Milwaukee, where she is works in custom software development for Centare.

Through a variety of industry networking events, Akerlund became acquainted with women in IT. Their conversations included the need for a women’s network that would provide the platform for meeting, building peer relationships, improving career skills, and provide mentoring to a younger generation of women in computer science as well as other areas of high technology.

As a result of those connections, Akerlund and others launched a Milwaukee chapter of Girls in Tech, a global non-profit organization with 35 active chapters. The Milwaukee chapter’s launch event had 75 attendees. Ten months later, the local chapter membership is 325 and the organization has discovered local business support and support from tech leaders in the greater Milwaukee metro area.

Already in place are programs for conferences, mentoring young girls, mentoring college-aged women, mentoring for women already in technology, a boot camp that teaches entrepreneurial skills, and cultural exchange programs.

One example of a youth outreach program for the Girls in Tech Milwaukee branch is a partnership with Girl Scouts. Another partnership has been set up with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Businesses in the Milwaukee area supportive,” Akerlund said during a phone call with me last week, “and they encourage us (and men, too) to develop a greater interest in tech careers.”

At the WMCPA Tech Conference, the Women in IT session was peppered with stories about inspiration, enthusiasm, and empowerment.

“Sharing personal stories–triumphs and challenges–benefits everyone who hears them,” Akerlund said.

Alison Butterill, product offering manager for IBM i, was one of the speakers at the WMCPA conference. Women in IT and women in business are topics she enjoys talking to women about, she said in an email.

“It’s important for women to establish goals for themselves–pick something to aspire to and strive for that,” she said. “Business is a game and it’s crucial that women learn the rules and key players in that game quickly. Those who do can leverage their natural human characteristics–like being nurturing and collaborative–to advance quickly. It’s also important for women to find a mentor, male or female, who can be a sort of coach for them throughout their career. Women have come a long way in the IT business, but they are still coming into their own and face challenges.”

Karyl Ruiz, a student at Gateway Technical College (one of the most prominent IBM i-oriented schools in the U.S.), attended the WMCPA Conference and the Women in IT session. Ruiz will graduate in May with associate degrees in software development and Web development. She’ll also have two certifications–programmer/analyst and iSeries operator.

“The Women in IT event helped me to see that we don’t have to know everything come graduation,” she said via email. “With experience those gaps would be filled. It also showed that women do hold a strong place in IT and that the way I was feeling up until this event was common among other women just entering into the field. The speakers made me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

Jessica Wagner, a second Gateway student, looked around at the women who attended the session and took note of the variety of ages.

“A lot of these women came into a field when it was all men,” she said in an email. “It can be intimidating to join a field when it’s all men, especially at a time when women were deciding they didn’t want to be in the home anymore and find their own path. Alison gave a lot of really useful information about what to expect in the business world. One thing schools don’t teach is how to interact in business and the importance of acting professional in the way you dress, your hair style, and the way you interact with coworkers and the boss. I also was really impressed with Beth; her wanting to bring more information to the younger generation about this field is important. I think more women like her talking to the younger generation is important to know that this field is no longer for just men and that women can make a difference.”

Akerlund said her focus and the focus of Women in IT is to show women success stories and demonstrate there is an increase in women in computer science and engineering.

“Organizations that are taking the steps to empower girls and women,” she said. “They’re not just saying there is a problem; they’re taking action.”

Additional information on the Girls in Tech Milwaukee branch can be found at the organization’s Meetup page and also on the group’s Facebook page.

Other resources for women in technology provided by Akerlund include: Women in Technology, She ++, The Anita Borg Institute, and Lean In.

From leadertelegram.com: “Local high school students get college jump-start” — Ashley Carlson’s notebook page was neatly divided into two parts, with topics on the left side of the paper and details on the right.

Also on the left side of the page, Carlson wrote notes to herself, reminders such as “Double Check” and “New Stuff.”

Carlson, an Eau Claire Memorial High School senior, was learning valuable study skills along with algebra in her first-ever class on a college campus.

Area students have been taking college-level classes while still in high school through advanced placement and dual credit programs for some time. But twice a week Carlson sits in a classroom at Chippewa Valley Technical College with 23 other Memorial and Eau Claire North High School students, learning not only algebra skills but how to study effectively as well.

The goal of the program is to increase the odds of students completing college by giving them an early taste of it.

The experience was made possible through a College Success grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp. With the grant, CVTC and the Eau Claire school district implemented the class as part of the Collaboration for Postsecondary Success (CAPS) program.

“We want them to get the college experience within the institution,” said CVTC academic services instructor Molly Craker, the grant coordinator. “We want them on our campus so they are introduced to our resources such as academic services, diversity resources, academic advisors and counselors.”

College dropout rates are higher for students from minority groups, low-income families, and first-generation college students. The CAPS program targets students from such groups.

“We were looking for students with a high likelihood of post-secondary attendance who could benefit from the program,” said Dianna Zeegers, an Eau Claire school district instructor who teaches college success strategies in the CAPS program.

Students gain credit toward their high school graduation and credit at CVTC that can be transferred to other institutions. The content instructor for the class is CVTC math teacher Mike Davis.

“We teach intermediate algebra, but the bigger lessons being learned are the opportunities that college can present.” Davis said. “They get treated as adults and some of them are not used to that as high school students.”

Among the lessons students said they learn by participating in the program is that success in college takes work.

“One of the first things (Davis) said to us was if you are not going to use your time well in class, there’s no point being here,” said Carlson. “It helps me to take class time a lot more seriously.”

The college experience involves much more than not having to get a hall pass to go to the bathroom. Much of students’ work is done online through a program called MyMathLab, which allows students to learn and work at home.

“They use an electronic textbook, which may be new to many of them,” Craker said.

Students notice, too, that the college will work with them to help them succeed. Many students make use of the Academic Services Center.

“I go there every Wednesday,” Memorial senior Kayli Werk said of the Academic Services Center. “The lady down there is super-helpful. Instead of giving you the answer, she’ll give you worksheets to help you understand it.”

Werk said Davis encourages students to ask questions and shows concern that students understand the concepts.

“I’m not really good at math,” said Carlson. “It’s shocking to me that I’m doing so well.”

Davis said the students he teaches generally are ready for the college work.

“Some of the students have had math at the level we are teaching. For some it is very new to them,” Davis said. “But they are all learning personal responsibility.”

Zeegers helps students with that part of the class. On a recent day she taught them the divided-page method of taking good notes, called “Cornell Notes,” and modeled it on an easel in front of the class. “As they progress through the class, I give them feedback on their notes and assess them on that,” Zeegers said.

The hybrid college/high school class seems to be well-received by participating students.

“I signed up because I thought I would get a taste of what college math would be like,” North senior Dave Zook said. “It’s going all right. We’re getting into some new stuff, but people are good at helping us out.”

Carlson said the algebra class is a good warm-up for her future education plans, which include attending CVTC next school year.

“This was an awesome opportunity,” Carlson said.

Davis said he’s happy to see his students advance their math skills as they mature into young adults.

“There’s definitely a handful of them that we know we have changed their path,” Davis said. “And when they say ‘I don’t know what I want to do,’ we help them work through that.”

 

From jsonline.com: “State offers four-week driving course, guaranteed trucking job” — Up to 300 Wisconsin residents will be able to earn a commercial driver’s license in a four-week training course and be guaranteed a trucking job through a program announced Friday by Gov. Scott Walker.

Fox Valley Technical College currently offers the course, and Waukesha County Technical College will offer it this summer. Applicants must pass eligibility screening, and priority will be given to veterans, dislocated workers, workers receiving federal Trade Adjustment Assistance and some persons eligible for programs under the federal Workforce Investment Act.

The training is free for members of the priority groups. Others will pay $2,500. People completing the training will be placed with one of three trucking firms — Schneider, of Green Bay; Roehl Transport, Marshfield; or WEL, DePere.

 

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Demand jumps for NTC architechtural design graduates” — WAUSAU — Marina Reinke will have a job waiting for her when she graduates May 17 from Northcentral Technical College with a degree in architectural design.

She’ll be working as a designer for a home builder in Amherst. That’s good news for Reinke, 19, of Wausau, and it is indicative of positive developments in the housing and building industry and the local economy as a whole.

But it also represents a bit of a problem: Instructors for NTC’s architectural design, sustainable architecture and other construction-related programs say that employers in those fields are beginning to clamor for trained workers. Unfortunately, instructors said, there aren’t enough graduates to fill the need for those positions.

The change over the past five years has been dramatic, said Jeff Musson, an architectural design and technology instructor. In 2008 and 2009, at the height of the Great Recession and after the housing market collapsed, NTC received only 10 job postings from employers looking for those skills. In 2013, NTC received 176 postings, and already, the school has 82 postings in the first quarter of this year.

“It’s frustrating for me,” Musson said. “I mean, these are good jobs, paying $15 to $20 per hour. And I don’t have anybody to send them.”

Reinke is one of 12 architecture and sustainable architecture students who will graduate in May. The total number of students in those programs now is 22.

Part of the problem, Musson said, is that a lot of students steered away from architecture during the recession, when there were no jobs to be had in those fields. Some counselors and parents still advise students to look to other fields in the belief that the jobs still aren’t there. Musson said parents often are surprised when he tells them about the demand for building-related jobs when he speaks at open houses and other events.

Chris Pomerening, 22, of Athens plans to move on to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture after he graduates with his associate degree in sustainable architecture from NTC in a couple of months.

Prior to enrolling at NTC, Pomerening studied fine art at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County. The switch to architecture, even during a recession, was a move in a more secure direction, he said.

“People are always going to need houses,” Pomerening said.

Reinke was offered her job even before the spring semester started and looks forward to going to work.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “I’ve been excited ever since.”

 

From whby.com: “FVTC hosts ag competition” – About 1,000 high school students from 70 schools are participating in an annual competition, at Fox Valley Technical College today.

It’s the career development event for the Future Farmers of America.

Agriculture department chair Randy Tenpas says the number of jobs in the industry is growing, and so is technology. He says demand for skilled workers has never been higher.

Tenpas says students are competing in 13 different areas, including veterinary, dairy and horse sciences, and forestry and wildlife.

Qualifiers will move onto the state competition in Madison. Nationals are in Louisville, Kent. in October.

 

From wjfw.com: “New technology promotes teamwork at Nicolet College” – Nicolet College believes today’s workplace requires a lot of teamwork. That’s why the college introduced new technology that promotes working together.

Nicolet College has 4 of the Collaboration stations. They’re high tech projectors that show an image on a tabletop. Group members can interact with the image using a special pen. Students enjoy using the new technology.

“When we have discussions in class mainly it gives us something to work around and kind of moves our discussion towards,” says Jordan Slominski, Nicolet College IT Student. “If there’s a certain subject that we’re trying to comprehend that not every member of the group is seeing what we’re talking about these displays, these projections can kind of give us an image to kind of base our discussions off of really.”

Nicolet introduced the collaboration stations last fall. They help promote teamwork among students.

“It promotes teamwork and whole group dynamics of things because especially in information technology and in most professions today it’s not that individual working out there anymore,” says Scott Biscobing, Nicolet College IT Instructor. “You have to be able to work in a team and work with other people to solve problems and do other things and this is just one tool we can use to promote those topics.”

Each of the collaboration stations costs around $2,000.

 

From beloitdailynews.com: “YouthBuild program helps young people develop skills” – In honor of National YouthBuild Day, which is being observed today, those at Community Action Inc.’s Beloit Fresh Start program have been celebrating its impact in the community and opening its doors to the community.

On Wednesday, those at Community Action were providing tours of housing projects FreshStart students are working in the Merrill neighborhood. And to celebrate Janeville’s 12 administrative personnel from Community Action moving to the Beloit facility at the Eclipse Center there was a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. followed by an Business After Hours event at 5 p.m.

Since the program launched in 2006, there have been 88 graduates and an 80 percent success rate, according to Gary Wagner, program manager.

In the program, students age 18 to 21 who have dropped out of high school can get re-enrolled to attend classes at the Community Action Pathways Center to obtain their diploma and obtain job skills. Students have three career path certifications they can choose from — certified nursing assistant, business and customer service or construction, said FreshStart Academic Supervisor Linda Fair.

Fair said students can obtain their high school diplomas with the chance to walk across the stage in the graduation ceremony by taking online classes.

Next year the business and customer service certification will be replaced by a welding certificate. Efforts are also under way for the welding program to be held at Beloit Memorial High School’s newly remodeled career and technical education area.

In light of the successful programming, Candelaria Diaz and Ike Lee are visiting Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. today to speak about the need for funding for YouthBuild USA. The Fresh Start program of Community Action is funded partially by YouthBuild USA and is up to renew its grant nationally. Diaz and Lee graduated from the program and are now program assistants working through AmeriCorps.

In Beloit one of the most popular career paths for the Fresh Start program has been in construction. A few years ago Community Action purchased more than 17 properties in the Merrill neighborhood. Students in the FreshStart construction program worked on rehabbing the homes as they gained work skills. The homes are then resold to qualified low income families through the Merrill Housing Initiative.

FreshStart Construction instructor Deitra Green said students graduate from her classes with a pre-apprenticeship certificate from the nationally-recognized Home Building Institute. Green, an electrician with more than 20 years of experience in construction, said students completing her classes know how to use tools as well as the basics of building and fixing homes. On Wednesday, she was helping her students work on a home at 1346 Yates Ave. Many of them were learning the fine art of dry wall installation.

The students in Fresh Start’s construction program work on rehabbing a home to sell each spring.

Tailor Laidig, 18, is one of the students who will graduate with a certified nursing assistant certification. Laidig, who had her son in tenth grade, said she couldn’t continue her education because of childcare. At the time she only had 6.25 credits and needed 24 credits to graduate.

However, now her son is enrolled nearby in Head Start and she is able to attend classes at FreshStart. The program has also helped her get assistance with an apartment and transportation. Once Laidig graduates, she hopes to continue on to college to become a pediatric nurse while using her CNA certification to get a job as she gets through school. Laidig is currently attending some of her classes nearby at the Blackhawk Technical College site in the Eclipse Center and doing clinical work in Brodhead before she will take her state board exam.

Wagner said there were more than 70 applications for the program which can only accept 21 students. He noted that applicants must pass a thorough interview process and a 2-week “mental toughness” component to demonstrate if they are ready to fully commit themselves to the program.

Community Action is an 100 percent local, not-for-profit organization, offering a broad spectrum of community programs aimed at preventing and reducing poverty in Rock and Walworth counties. It operates the Fresh Start program, offers child care, at-risk youth programming, teen parent support, women’s health care, senior benefits counseling, home ownership programs, affordable housing units, home weatherization and rehab, assistance in dealing with a housing crisis, food for area pantries and shelter for the homeless.

 

From jrn.com: “Dual degree offered at NWTC with new fire medic program” — A new  type of training is being offered at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is exactly what fire departments say they’re looking for.  The program will offer training and real life experience in both fire safety and paramedic fields.

The enrollment window for this program just opened on Friday and the classes are already nearly 60 percent full.  They will feature state of the art technology and dual training that will prepare students for real world scenarios.

“This is going to look like an emergency room department,” says NWTC EMS education coordinator Cal Lintz.  He’s describing what will be the new addition to the tech college.  These changes will be ready for the start of the 2014 fall semester.  Among the changes, new manikins that will be programmed to be more life-like.

“They’ll have all bodily functions that will get the paramedic accustomed to the real out of hospital experience or at least as closely real as possible,” said Lintz.

The program doesn’t end there either.  It will also include fire training.  NWTC will partner will local fire departments to give students a feel for what life’s like on the job.

“Ride on board fire apparatus at the Green Bay Fire Department and experience that live fire ground operation,” said Lintz.

Dual Fire Medic training is extremely important for those looking to become a fire fighter according to Green Bay Metro Fire Chief Brent Elliott.

“Having the ability to provide that aid to people when they’re at their time of need as rapidly as possible is one of the most important missions that we do,” said Chief Elliott.

This dual education will make students more employable since they will be ready to work right after school.

NWTC says they are working to create other partnerships with surrounding fire departments before the start of the new school year.

 

From wjjq.com: “Nicolet College offering accelerated welding program” –In response to a high demand, Nicolet College is offering an accelerated program for welding students.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, they forecast ten percent job growth between 2010 and 2020 for skilled welders.

Students at Nicolet will be able to earn an accelerated welding technical diploma over the summer and fall semesters, 7 months.

Dean of Trade and Industry Brigitte Kumbier says “The accelerated format is a great way for students to quickly get the skills they need to start careers in this high-demand field.”

In addition to regular skills, the students also learn new technology such as robotic welding and computerized cutting.

You can contact Nicolet College for more information on the accelerated welding program. Classes begin June 2.

 

From insurancenewsnet.com: “MATC Hosted 11th Annual Sustainability Summit” — MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Area Technical College hosted the 11th annual “Sustainability Summit and Exposition” March 26-28. The theme of the summit was “Conserving the Future Together.” The summit was coordinated by business, education and government representatives. Previously called the Green Energy Summit, the name of the event was changed in 2013 to reflect the broadened scope of the conference, which encompasses systems and practices that sustain the economy and planet for future generations.

Plenary and breakout sessions with local, regional, national and international experts were held March 26-27 at the Wisconsin Center. In conjunction with the summit, a career fair featuring approximately 40 employers with openings in a variety of fields from green jobs to manufacturing also was held March 26 at the Wisconsin Center. Workshops were held March 28 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education Conference Center.

Dr. Michael L. Burke, MATC president; George Stone, chair of the summit and MATC instructor of natural science; and Paul W. Jones, executive chairman of the board of A.O. Smith Corporation; formally opened the summit on March 26.

Stone chaired plenary sessions during the summit. Other prominent speakers included Ed Begley, Jr., author, actor and environmental advocate; Michael E. Mann, distinguished professor of meteorology and director, Earth System Science Center, Penn State; Charles A. Schrock, chairman, Integrys Energy Group; and Will Allen, CEO of Green Power.

Major sponsors of the summit included MATC, Concordia University Wisconsin, Madison College, Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin System, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, A.O. Smith Corporation, Godfrey & Kahn S.C., Growing Power, Kohler Co., Kohl’s, American Family Insurance and S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

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