November 20, 2013
From antigodailyjournal.com: “Dr. Lori Weyers, who heads NTC, complimentary in board address” – The Langlade County Board of Supervisors couldn’t have asked for a more complimentary guest at its November meeting today.
Dr. Lori Weyers, who heads the sprawling Northcentral Technical College, paid a visit and with her staff, explained what is happening at the college, improvements, advances being made and across the system, all with student success in mind.
Targeting the Antigo campus, she explained there are currently 1,700 students enrolled, which is one in every nine people living here. Last year there were 87 graduates, with many students going on to employment but more are continuing their education at campuses across Wisconsin and Michigan to start their university careers as juniors.
“We have partnered,” she said, telling the board that the NTC program has worked with universities to meet requirements for the students from the eight campuses accepted as juniors.
Larry Kind, dean of the campus in Antigo, outlined the gains being made at the local site and the advances that the wood technology facility has brought to the education program. Those changes also include a nursing program.
The NTC representatives who accompanied her explained there are jobs for the graduates of the two-year program, noting the information technology and welding programs as attractive fields for employment.
Weyers said the partnership with NTC and the Langlade County Board on the wood technology center is working well, and established a guideline for programs that have continued.
“You were the first,” she said, noting that the supervisors here worked with the college on construction of the wood technology facilities.
“You were the leader,” she added, “without you we may have not had these other things happen.”
The presentation by Weyers and her staff brought applause from the board.
October 15, 2013
From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC receives grant to expand welding program” – Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College recently acquired a grant to bulk up its welding program.
The money is being used to buy new equipment and get students to work more quickly.
WITC in Superior was one college of 16 to receive part of a 14.9 million dollar grant that was recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant. The grant is intended to assist students entering into the welding field. WITC has already put some of the money to good use.
The grant was also used to purchase welding equipment, including a robotic welder and to expand the college’s capacity to provide short–term training to meet immediate needs of employers.
The expansion will grow the adult manufacturing career pathways program.
“What it allows us to do is block our classes, which was really actually a pretty smooth transition for the welding program because we already teach that way, where one class builds on the class before it,” said Welding Instructor Aleasha Hladilek.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has funded 55 percent of the career pathways project which totals just over 600–thousand dollars. The program supports dislocated workers.
“Going back to school, it’s given me a future for me and my kids, where I can go out and get a decent paying job.” said Student Jacob Hochstetler.
WITC hopes to train more than 25–hundred students during the next two years and connect them to manufacturing business.
October 4, 2013
From wbay.com: “Middle School Girls Take on “Man’s Work” – Green Bay - Middle school girls got the chance Tuesday to learn about welding and robotics at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
It’s called “Women at Work,” and it’s an effort to get more young women interested in typically male-dominated fields.
More than 100 girls from middle schools in the area spent the morning learning about trades like welding with a simulator.
“It gives feedback electronically to the instructor and to the student. It’s actually mechanical movement, so they get that effect,” NWTC welding instructor Jon Russell explained.
In another session, the students use robots to learn about animation.
“We took a robot and we were picking up garbage and deciding if it was trash or recyclable,” Bayview Middle School student Madelyn Jorgensen described.
The goal is to give young women the opportunity to explore careers in these types of trades which typically attract men.
The girls also had the chance to meet with employers to learn about the different trades.
“There are lots of job opportunities for these women in these different trades areas. They’re able to get paid pretty well at some really hands-on type jobs that are really kind of fun,” Angie Arneson, a technology and engineering teacher in Denmark Middle School said.
According to NWTC, only three to five percent of students in the welding program are women.
But these students say they’re inspired by Tuesday’s workshop.
“Girls can definitely do these jobs. Girls have better hand-eye coordination I’ve heard. So things like welding where you have to be very specific would probably be better for girls,” Denmark Middle School student Ellie Babiash said.
October 1, 2013
From fox6now.com: “Gateway Technical College program helping dislocated, underemployed” — Welding bootcamp developed with employer cooperation and based on employer expectations. View video from Fox6now.com
September 25, 2013
From thenorthwestern.com: “Robotic welding program brings Walker to FVTC” – Learning to weld is normally a hands-on experience, but 14 Fox Valley Technical College students are taking a very hands-off approach to a new course.
Fox Valley Tech has introduced a course in robotic welding at its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center on Oshkosh’s south side this semester as it responds to changing demands of area manufacturers.
The new program, and the eight robots mounted with MIG welding guns, caught the attention of Gov. Scott Walker, who toured the manufacturing campus Tuesday afternoon.
“We can compete with anybody in the world, anywhere around the world, but we’re not going to compete the way we used to,” Walker said. “Advanced manufacturing means people who have multiple skills that can be applied using not only crafts they’ve learned here, but also all the technology that goes with it.”
FVTC Metal Fabrication and Welding Instructor Ben Cebery said the college was able to use a portion of a three-year, $3 million Advanced Manufacturing Pathways Plus grant the U.S. Department of Labor awarded FVTC earlier this year to develop the robotic welding course’s curriculum.
“We’re seeing more automation in manufacturing,” Cebery said. “Surveys with local companies suggested it was a good idea for students to be exposed to automation. This program prepares students for what we’re seeing and the demands of industry.”
Jay Manufacturing CEO Matt Jameson said the company has six robotic welding stations and a lot more manual welding stations at its west side fabrication shop. He said the company has hired several welders recently, and needs to hire as many as 20 more. He said the company views robotic welding training as a definite plus.
“The more versatile a person is, the more we can do with them,” Jameson said. “If they know manual and robotic welding, that’s just a bonus. In addition, the people we have interviewed who tested well almost all had some form of technical college training.”
Joe Serio, of Menominee Falls, and Austin Kopplin, of Oshkosh, both said they’re excited to learn how to program the robots and get them to execute precision welds. Serio said he knows welders are in high demand, but learning more advanced skills like computer programming is vital to finding a good job.
“Usually, we don’t get to deal with computers much while welding, but there’s always someone who needs to run the robot in case something happens,” Serio said. “This comes easy and it’s a pretty nice skill to learn.”
Kopplin said he’s been impressed by the amount of programming required to get the robots to work and the precision with which they execute commands.
“It’s consistent and perfect every time,” Kopplin said. “You get jittery welding for six hours at a time, but these things can run all night.”
Cebery said the college reached out to companies who said students need to be familiar with robotic welding and asked them to provide one or two robots they use. He said Ariens Co., in Brillion, and Muza Metal Products, in Oshkosh, are just two of the companies that stepped up to help out.
“Getting eight robots on the floor would have cost an astounding amount of money,” Cebery said. “Finding another way was vital. Fortunately, we were able to find a way via donations and gifted equipment that exposes students to the different types of robotic welders. They get to learn on each of them.”
August 20, 2013
From antigodailyjournal.com: “NTC to offer manufacturing tech degree” – Northcentral Technical College will begin offering a new manufacturing technician technical diploma in the fall, and the Antigo campus will be one of two locations to host the program.
Instructor Mike Parizek works with student Dylan Zimmerman in Northcentral Technical College’s machine tool lab.
This one-year (29-31 credits) technical diploma is designed to prepare students for a variety of entry-level careers within the manufacturing sector. The new program incorporates portions of NTC’s machine tool operation technical diploma and welding technical diploma in order to give students a well-rounded education and make them more marketable to potential employers.
According to a survey conducted by the technical college, area manufacturers are placing an increased focus on hiring employees who have cross training in both the machine tool and welding areas.
“After conducting the survey and meeting with business leaders in our area, it became clear that many local companies are in need of employees with diverse skill sets,” Larry Kind, dean of NTC’s Antigo campus, said. “The manufacturing technician technical diploma is an ideal fit in that sense, as students gain valuable training in two high-demand areas.”
Throughout the course of the program, students will learn to use a drill press, power saw, elementary lathe, mills and pedestal grinders in the machine tool courses. The welding courses will provide a solid foundation for a single manual process.
For more information or to register, call the NTC Antigo campus at 715 623-7601 or visit http://www.ntc.edu.
From prweb.com: “Apache partners with Moraine College to develop skilled trades” – Moraine Park Technical College in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is helping to develop skilled worker assets in the area by offering Welding Boot Camps. These Boot Camps are entry-level welding courses with on-site welding practice and supervision at Apache. The Boot Camps are part of the manufacturing skills academies funded by the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation and the Department of Labor TAA CCCT Grant. The program helps build a skilled welder pool for area manufacturers, including Apache.
During the program, students are required to complete eight hours per week of welding practice which is conducted at Apache under supervision of Apache’s welding mentors and floor supervisor as well as the instructor. Apache was proud to host several students last month in the Boot Camp Welding Program.
The on-site hands-on welding at Apache helps the students experience a real manufacturing environment with access to different types of equipment, different shapes and thicknesses of stainless steel and TIG welding processes.
A large part of the tuition is funded by the grant, with a small investment from the student. The student investment is refunded if they are selected for an internship.
With an ASME rated welding team, Apache continually promotes training and education in welding, fabrication and over-all manufacturing.
Founded in 1975, Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation consists of five groups: Large Tanks, Portable Vessels, Contract Manufacturing, Carbon Steel and Mepaco. The Mepaco group manufactures food processing equipment. Apache is an employee-owned company and a subsidiary of Dexter Apache Holdings, Inc.
July 12, 2013
From wjjq.com: “Nicolet teams with Oldenburg to improve welding” – Nicolet College is teaming with an area heavy equipment manufacturer to improve both student and worker skills training.
The technical college has recently expanded its welding program and has hired some of the top welders from Oldenburg Group in Rhinelander to teach additional class sections on a part-time basis.
Meanwhile, to advance the skills of workers at Oldenburg, a Nicolet instructor travels there to teach advanced blueprint reading.
Brigitte Parsons, dean of Trade and Industry at Nicolet noted the benefits of hiring instructors with private industry experience saying, “Each one brings their own unique set of skills to the classroom…(exposing students) to a wide range of talents which will make them that much more well-rounded when they enter the workforce.”
Oldenburg Lake Shore plant manager Scott Sedlacek says the arrangement advances the skill set of their current workers and potential future employees.
Milwaukee-based Oldenburg recently was awarded a $40 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build a variety of major components for Navy ships. They have 11 facilities in North America and other countries.
Nicolet has started an accelerated Welding program that gives students the opportunity to complete the traditional one-year diploma program in as little as seven months.
July 3, 2013
From wjfw.com: “Prepare for an increased demand in welding and fabricating jobs” – Looking for a new career? There’s one job in huge demand in Northern Wisconsin: Welding. To help fill those jobs Nicolet college is working with the Oldenburg Group and expanding their welding program.
Nicolet College’s Dean of Trade and Industry Brigitte Parsons says Wisconsin manufacturers are highly competitive in the world market. They’re getting more contracts, and need more workers.
“We’re seeing continued growth in this industry sector and an increased number of jobs in welding and fabricating and machine tooling,” said Parsons. Oldenburg Group, specifically, will be looking for more welders and fabricators to keep up with demand. “They just got a contract but they haven’t begun employing people yet. So right now is a good time to start thinking about if that’s a job that you might be interested in getting. Now’s a good time to get the skills,” says Parsons.
Nicolet College in Rhinelander offers a 9-month program for welding. They work closely with local leaders in industry like Oldenburg Group, so they’re teaching exactly what employers want you to know. Some of Oldenburg’s employees even teach part-time at Nicolet.
July 1, 2013
From leadertelegram.com: “Summer work helps shape careers” – Lucas Nash and Julian Fogeltanz would both like to work someday in an environment-related job, and they hope their time at Chippewa Valley Technical College this summer will help with that endeavor.
On a recent bright, sunny day Nash, of Chippewa Falls, and Fogeltanz, of Menomonie, were on the grass outside the CVTC Business Education Center setting up equipment to determine the best location and angle for solar panels. The next day they assembled model windmills to see how wind energy can be converted to electricity.
The activities were part of summer jobs for the young men, who are taking part in the Workforce Resource Summer Youth Employment program. Administering funds from a federal grant, Workforce Resource hires young people from low-income families for summer jobs around the community. Part of the job includes attending classes at CVTC for a couple of weeks to explore long-term career options.
The career exploration segment focuses on four areas: blueprint reading, alternative energy, industrial mechanics and electromechanical engineering, according to Ginger Dutton, program coordinator from the Chippewa Falls Workforce Resource office.
“Our hope is for CVTC to provide some basic exploration in manufacturing,” Dutton said.
Fogeltanz, a Menomonie High School student, appreciated his experience.
“The energy stuff is kind of cool,” he said. “At least we’re getting outside. My career path is going to be environmental. I’d like to be a (state Department of Natural Resources) warden.”
Nash said he learned valuable information as part of the program.
“We were talking about different kinds of energy – fossil fuels, water, wind energy,” said Nash, who graduated from Chippewa Falls High School in May and will attend Fox Valley Technical College in the fall, where he plans to study to be a natural resources technician. “It gives me something else to think about.”
Cody Henrichs of Menomonie discovered an area of interest when he got a chance to work on one of CVTC’s high-tech welding simulators. He said he’d like to be a welder someday.
“We’re going through geothermal, wind and solar – both solar PV (photovoltaic) and solar thermal. They get to do some hands-on, setting up solar panels and taking temperature readings,” said CVTC instructor Steve Gutsch, who taught the energy and blueprint reading classes.
The content touches on career areas like construction, HVAC and energy, Gutsch said. “It gives them some idea of what’s out there.”
Dutton said the program has been around for about 25 years, dating back to when Workforce Resource was known as the Private Industry Council. The program is funded through the federal Workforce Investment Act. Youth ages 14 to 21 qualify through family income guidelines.
Those selected kick off the program with a picnic an orientation in a park, and the first part of their summer employment involves the CVTC portion, which is handled like a job. Workers are to show up on time, apply themselves, and complete tasks they’re given.
“They are learning work maturity skills as well while at CVTC,” Dutton said.
After two weeks at CVTC, the group is split up into various work locations throughout the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie areas. They work at both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Dutton noted Hope Gospel Mission’s Bargain Center as one location where program participants might work.
June 21, 2013
From jsonline.com: “Opinion: A partnership to fill jobs” – An article June 9 by the Journal Sentinel’s John Schmid provided an overview of the debate among researchers about the existence and extent of a skills gap in Wisconsin (“Program’s new approach to skills gap? Talk to employers”). However, the debate misses the immediate need to focus on a tangible solution. With area manufacturers working together with technical schools, we have an opportunity to begin that process.
We are in a manufacturing-rich region poised for growth. That growth is being squeezed by an increasing demand for advanced skills and an impending demographic shift that will mean too few workers to fill the void left by retirees. Time is of the essence to focus on action. Our ability to train, attract and retain talent to career pathways in manufacturing is simply critical to this region.
The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s Manufacturing Careers Partnership is a collaborative effort in the truest sense of the word. We share a common mission: to give people the skills they need to fill jobs and create a pipeline of talent now and in the future. The only way we can accomplish our mission is to have educational institutions, workforce development agencies and employers at the same table, talking — in detail — about their needs. And that’s exactly what we are doing.
Our first project, Welding 101, is designed to create a baseline of common skill requirements for entry-level welders among a significant number of employers and to improve manufacturers’ ability to attract and retain talent. To date, more than 50 companies have participated in a survey that asks, in great detail, what employers need from their welders on day one. As more employers complete the survey, we can move with confidence toward aligning course competencies across the region’s technical colleges.
We are pleased to be working in alignment with our manufacturers and our technical colleges: Gateway, Milwaukee Area, Moraine Park and Waukesha County, as well as the Wisconsin State Technical College System on this project. Together, we can give an individual employee the skills to succeed in a welding position and give employers a starting point for building a manufacturing career pathway.
Getting clear on what we, as technical colleges can teach, and we as employers, can then train, lays out a progressive and practical path to solving one of our region’s most pressing needs. We recognize that this project is a starting point. Workforce challenges are complex and the issues impacting the entire talent pipeline will not be solved with a single approach. But much like an entry-level position, we need to tackle Welding 101 and gain some experience and tangible success.
How you can help: if you are an employer of welders, please take the Welding 101 survey at www.mmac.org.
This op-ed was signed by Bryan Albrecht, president, Gateway Technical College; Dave Biddle, manager of technical services, Joy Global (MCP co-chair); Michael Burke, president, Milwaukee Area Technical College; Shelley Jurewicz, vice-president for economic development, MMAC/Milwaukee 7; David Mitchell, president, Monarch (MCP co-chair); Barbara Prindiville, president, Waukesha County Technical College; and Sheila Ruhland, president, Moraine Park Technical College.
June 14, 2013
From brookfield-wi.patch.com: “WCTC’s Career Quest designed for middle school students” – Waukesha County Technical College will host Career Quest, an opportunity for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students to get a closer look at what skills and qualifications are needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
The three-day summer exploration will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 6, 7 and 8, at WCTC’s main campus in Pewaukee.
Middle school students will be introduced to a variety of careers – including those in Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Metal Fabrication/Welding, Cosmetology and many more — and learn about the education and training needed for those jobs. Cost of the event is $100 per student. Sessions run from at 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; lunch and snacks will be provided. Registration ends June 28, and the sessions will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited!
From the options below, students can choose two career sessions to explore: • Future of Nursing (Nursing) • What’s Up, Doc? (Medical Assistant) • Authorized Personnel Only! (Surgical Technology) • To Protect and Serve — CSI style (Criminal Justice) • Emergency! (Firefighting/EMT) • Fuse it Together (Metal Fabrication/Welding) • Precision Parts (CNC Manufacturing) • Explore Robotics (Automation Systems Technology) • Baking Quest (Baking/Pastry) • Culinary Quest (Culinary Management) • The Art of Play (Early Childhood) • Spa Day (Cosmetology)
For details on career sessions, to learn more about Career Quest and to register, visit http://www.wctc.edu/career-quest. For questions, contact John Pritchett, Career Quest coordinator, at 262.695.7847 or email@example.com.
June 12, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “Tech Knowledge College shifting focus to high school students” – ROCK TOWNSHIP — Tech Knowledge College will be reborn this summer, but this time it’s for disadvantaged high school students rather than middle-schoolers.
The pre-college summer program at Blackhawk Technical College’s central campus gave middle-schoolers a hands-on feel for programs the campus offered. It continued for many years but died as part of belt-tightening measures in 2012. The new program will have the same name, but it will focus on sharpening high school students’ math and English skills so they can do well on college-entrance exams and become better prepared for college, said Stephanie Williams, student engagement coordinator.
National studies have shown that upwards of 60 percent of high school graduates who enter community colleges need remedial classes before they can take college-level courses in math and English.
At Blackhawk Technical College, 57.7 percent of the 2012 high school graduates who enrolled last fall needed remedial coursework in writing, as determined by entrance tests. Of those same students, 45.7 percent needed remediation in math and 33.7 percent in reading. Tech Knowledge College would benefit any student that plans on attending any college or university, Williams said.
The program, funded through the state Department of Public Instruction, will be able to take 80 students, divided into two sessions, Williams said. Tech Knowledge College Camp will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the weeks of July 8-12 and July 22-26. The program is free to students entering ninth, 10, 11th or 12th grades this fall and who meet household income guidelines.
Campers also will be able to explore two of five Blackhawk Technical College program options. They can choose from culinary arts, health care, information technology, welding and public safety.
Students will begin the camp with a test so they know where they need to improve, Williams said. The program is open to any income-eligible high school student in the college’s district, which comprises most of Rock and Green counties. Free bus transportation will be provided each day from Beloit Memorial, Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker high schools. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Program availability will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis until each camp is filled.
April 23, 2013
From reliableplant.com: “Welding Boot Camp creates skilled workers” – There’s a boot camp taking place in Fond du Lac, Wis. – one that doesn’t require boot shining, marching and bivouacs, though you do have to wear a helmet and other gear and follow instructions.
This particular group of “recruits” is firing welding torches. Along with Brenner Tank LLC of Fond du Lac, Moraine Park Technical College developed a Welding Boot Camp to train individuals for entry-level work in the welding profession. The first eight-week camp began June 18 and ran through August 15; a second seven-week round will start in September. All participants earn four college credits that articulate into Moraine Park’s welding program.
“Brenner Tank formed the partnership with Moraine Park in an effort to maintain our competitive edge,” said Dawn Marie Polakoski, PHR, Brenner Tank’s human resources manager. “ Moraine Park’s custom training program is providing the skilled welders we need to support our continued growth. As a local manufacturer, we are very pleased with the creation of the Welding Boot Camp.”
While built in conjunction with Brenner Tank, the program was designed with the broader purpose of helping manufacturers address a serious shortage of skilled welders and is open to any manufacturing employer who may have similar workforce development needs. The program works to connect energetic, dedicated individuals with a sincere interest in a welding career with employers by helping those individuals develop the foundational skills needed to be successful. Ten candidates were selected by Brenner Tank for the first boot camp. Their ages varied but their passion for welding is the same.
Sara Buechel, 18, of New Holstein, Wis., applied because she enjoys welding and wanted to get further education in the profession. Joel Grier of Fond du Lac, also 18, also wanted to learn more about welding and be able to get a good job. Daniel O’Connor, 36, of Fond du Lac sees the Welding Boot Camp as an opportunity to better himself and have a shot at a new career move. And, the camp is a chance to expand job opportunities at Brenner for Forrest Brunet, 42, of North Fond du Lac.
Brenner Tank interns are paid to train three days per week at the welding lab on Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus under the instruction of adjunct faculty member Jonathan Thill. For the remaining two days of the week, they work at Brenner, where they apply the skills they learn in the classroom. Tuition is employer-paid. The Brenner Tank interns who successfully complete the program are given priority consideration for a permanent position with Brenner.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with Brenner Tank,” said Kathy Schlieve, Moraine Park economic and workforce development sales representative. “They have been instrumental in helping Moraine Park develop this program and are actively working with area high schools to educate students about career opportunities in manufacturing. Welding interns who successfully complete the boot camp are filling open or new positions and are earning a better wage. Moraine Park’s goal is to provide the type of rapid response that companies need to develop and maintain a competitive advantage and grow their business, and the Welding Boot Camp delivers on that goal.”
Polakoski concurs, “This program is a win-win that meets our needs as an employer but also helps the individuals being trained to begin earning a good wage while developing lifelong career skills that they can build on for future career advancement.”
With additional training, the opportunities that exist for these individuals abound.
“Manufacturing has become very high-tech and offers a variety of career opportunities,” said Marcia Arndt, Moraine Park dean of manufacturing technology. “The future workforce has to be technologically savvy to handle the competitive climate of the global market. In addition to technical skills, employers are looking for people who can problem-solve, work in teams and adapt to change quickly. Moraine Park’s manufacturing program helps individuals develop these skills for future success.”
For more information about upcoming welding boot camps in Fond du Lac, call Moraine Park at 920-924-3449 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 11, 2013
From lacrossetribune.com: “Welding institute launching bigger lab” – A local initiative to train skilled welders has received monetary boosts and will have a bigger lab and more participants when its first regular session begins next month.
The Welding Skills Institute is using a combined $80,000 it received from Jackson County and the Black River Falls School District to expand its BRF High School-based lab and, in turn, welcome more participants.
The initiative, started last year in an effort to fill a growing local need for skilled welders, will begin its first regular session May 13 with nearly double the number of participants it had in each of its two pilot sessions.
“I’m super excited about it,” said BRF High School Principal Tom Chambers, who helped launch the institute. “I think it’s a great example of collaboration between the school, county, businesses and the community.
“The project is, by far, the biggest collaborative project I’ve worked on.”
The effort to launch the Welding Skills Institute began when Nelson Global Products welding engineer Paul Schulz approached Chambers to use high school welding lab space to test new company applicants.
That push showed there weren’t many qualified applicants for welding jobs in the area, and soon representatives from local businesses, Western Technical College, Jackson County Treatment Court and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections began collaborating to launch the institute to fill the local need.
The institute trains participants in basic wire feed welding skills through welding, blueprint reading and math curriculum that are necessary for jobs at manufacturing companies like Nelson Global Products and D&S Manufacturing.
“I think it’s an excellent start. It’s a real short-term, high-intensity program that hopefully someday will expand into longer terms and more technical topics,” said Schulz, who will accept a 2013 Business Friends of Education award from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for Nelson’s work on the institute.
“I think we’re off to a really excellent start.”
The Welding Skills Institute received $50,000 in Ho-Chunk Nation funds through Jackson County last fall and $30,000 from the BRF School District to allow it to update the lab. Nelson and D&S Manufacturing also have donated materials and equipment throughout the program’s tenure.
Work on the BRF High School technical education classrooms spurred by the monetary contributions has allowed the institute to expand from seven welding booths to 13, which are about one-third bigger than their original size.
That will allow more students to enroll in the first regular 10-week session next month, including five spots for high school students interested in higher-level welding, three spots for Ho-Chunk Nation participants and the rest for Jackson County Treatment Court participants and placements through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
Officials hope to hold four 10-week sessions a year now that the expansion is taking place and the pilot period is complete. They are pursuing a grant to create a mobile classroom equipped for computerized numerical control training, a skill in demand and a natural extension of basic welding, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lister said.
They also hope the institute will remain a presence in the community for the indefinite future.
“I’ve been impressed with the collaborative effort by Western Technical College, (the Department of Corrections), principal Tom Chambers at Black River Falls High School, as well as the willingness of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors and the Black River Falls School Board to fund substantial expansions and improvements of the welding institute,” said Lister, who also assisted in the program’s launch.
Chambers said community collaboration has been an integral part of the program and commended the work of Nelson, D&S and other local entities.
He said it’s appropriate Nelson was recognized through the Department of Public Instruction award.
“Nelson has been very supportive of the whole process,” Chambers said. “They’ve been good partners to work with.”
April 10, 2013
From jsonline.com: “Few employers show up to recruit MATC students” – Employers who have said there’s a shortage of welders in Wisconsin – and that it’s serious enough to threaten their business prospects – didn’t turn out in large numbers Tuesday for a Milwaukee Area Technical College job fair that could have introduced them to 50 job candidates.
Eight companies attended the event at the college’s campus in Oak Creek, which was intended to help recent and upcoming welding program graduates find employment.
For years, companies have lamented a lack of welders, especially for work that requires a high level of skill and knowledge. In some cases, they’ve said, the shortage has created production bottlenecks at their manufacturing plants.
MATC has ramped up its welding programs to help address the need, and college officials said they expected more businesses to be at the job fair.
“I think there is some fair criticism” for employers who complain about a shortage but didn’t show up for the fair, said David Dull, president and CEO of Allis-Roller LLC, a metal fabricator in Franklin that was at the event.
“It’s easy to complain,” said Dull, who is also a MATC board member.
Some companies have started welding classes in their factories, and some have said MATC’s programs haven’t met their needs for highly specialized and demanding jobs.
“I would say it’s challenging to find skilled help,” Dull said, adding that some companies might be turned off by a job fair that doesn’t have experienced candidates for them.
Area business leaders have said the welder shortage is going to get worse as thousands of older workers retire and there aren’t enough young people willing to take their place.
“Welding is more than just grabbing a stick and going to work. There’s a lot of science and knowledge involved,” said Mike Kuehnl, manager of student employment services at MATC.
“I was hoping for more employers” at the job fair, Kuehnl said. “I can’t speak to the reasons why more didn’t show up. Maybe they don’t need people right now, and it’s quite possible we might be catching up a little bit with the demand.”
Welding has been a sensitive subject at the technical college.
A labor union, for instance, has asked the college to stop training nonunion employees who could step in as replacement workers at Caterpillar Inc.’s South Milwaukee plant in the event of a strike.
Labor officials also have questioned whether there is a welder shortage.
“If there is one, we shouldn’t have to be pulling teeth to get companies at a job fair,” said Michael Rosen, faculty union president at MATC and economics instructor at the college.
“I think some employers want to keep flooding the market with job candidates so they can keep wages down,” Rosen said. “In a market where companies are looking for welders, the only way to attract them is to pay a higher wage.”
Some research, though, suggests these shortages are real and can be expected to worsen.
Wisconsin will have fewer than half the metal manufacturing professionals it needs by 2021, according to a recent report from ManpowerGroup. Demand for these skilled tradesmen will grow by nearly 50%, but the supply will decrease about 12% as the industry gets slapped by a wave of retirements, the report said.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that two-thirds of the fastest-growing occupations from 2012 to 2018 will be in apprentice-based fields. More apprenticeships could help fill some of the skills gap. But many young adults, especially, don’t realize they could earn a good living in a manufacturing career, Dull said.
“More than half of the jobs in the state don’t require a four-year degree, but nearly 100% of the students are being told to go to college. To me, that’s the biggest disconnect,” Dull said.
But Marc Levine, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor of history, economic development and urban studies, says the skills gap is a myth.
“All of the data suggests that companies that have been crying the loudest about a shortage of skilled workers have exaggerated the claims,” said Levine, who last month published a research update titled “The Myth of the Skills Gap in Wisconsin.”
There are about 2,000 unemployed welders in Wisconsin and about 500 job openings here a year for them, according to Levine.
In Wisconsin and surrounding states, there are about 17,000 unemployed welders, he said.
Levine says the only welder shortage he’s aware of is in places like North Dakota and Wyoming, where a boom in the oil and gas industry has resulted in a widespread lack of skilled help.
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If there really were a shortage of welders here, you would expect employers to be lining up for them at the MATC job fair,” Levine said.
March 15, 2013
From wdio.com: “Empowering high school girls with welding” – While the students of Wisconsin’s Indianhead Technical College are on Spring Break, some high school girls are taking over their welding shop.
The high school students are from Denfeld High and are in the “Girls Restorative Program,” which is ultimately part of “Men as Peacekeepers.” The after-school program is about building resiliency and fostering community among young women.
As part of their program, the girls are learning the basics of welding at WITC in Superior. Holding a torch to steel isn’t something any of the girls thought they’d ever do.
“At first I didn’t want to do it because I thought it was too boyish,” said Donisha, a sophomore at Denfeld High.
But after learning the basics, the girls said they loved the process of getting their hands dirty.
“We’re strong!” said Cynthia, also a sophomore at Denfeld High.
The “Girls Restorative Program” aims to empower young women. Elena Bantle, the program’s coordinator, said working with fire and cutting apart steel is the ultimate form of female empowerment.
Bantle added that welding opens the high school girls’ eyes to a field many people consider a male-dominated skill.
“In a tangible way, you can make a lot of money welding,” said Bantle.
The girls all created their own designs of what it means to be a woman.
“I chose Lady Liberty because I think she is a person for girls to stand up for,” said Donisha.
They will then cut out their designs and weld all of their pieces together to make a large piece of artwork.
No matter the end product, Bantle said there is just one goal.
“I hope they can themselves as strong women who can do anything,” said Bantle.
March 12, 2013
From todaystmj.com: “Future welders look to Wisconsin’s new mining law for jobs” – PEWAUKEE – In the confines of a hot, cramped workspace, student Eric Defries practices his craft. Defries is studying at Waukesha County Technical College to become a welder.
“Before this, I was doing windows and doors, and everybody and their uncle thinks they can do windows and doors. That market’s flooded, but welders, that takes skill,” Defries said.
Defries—and other students may soon have their chance to prove themselves. Future welders see Wisconsin’s new mining law as a way to build a career at home, instead of leaving Wisconsin for work.
“A lot of people have moved out of the state, because there’s not enough jobs here, so it’s excellent,” said student Gary Kender.
The news means a potential boost for the hiring pool, and colleges are already taking notice. WCTC recently doubled its lab space for welders ahead of the bill becoming a law.
“We just hope that parents as well as students see these are great jobs with great career opportunities,” said Mike Shiels, dean of the college’s Industrial and Engineering Technologies division.
Though the sparks aren’t flying on any projects just yet, Defries and fellow students have high hopes and are already thinking about the years ahead.
“I’m trying to contribute to the cause. Gives me a job. Gives me benefits. Gives me something to do,” Defries explained.
March 8, 2013
From chippewa.com: “Chi-Hi students turn scrap metal into school mascot” –
Dan Hietpas can tell his welding students to build a trailer hitch and it easily gets done. They eye the details, draw a design and build to the specs.
Ask them to build a metal sculpture of a cardinal out of random material, and that takes a bit more effort.
“This is very abstract,” Hietpas said. “They had to dig around a little bit; it takes that creative art side of these kids to pull something together from garbage.”
About 10 students in Hietpas’ advanced welding class at Chi-Hi are competing in the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s “Junk Yard Wars.”
Area schools participating in the competition are required to build replicas of their school’s mascot out of scrap metal. The students will then present their projects to a panel of judges at CVTC.
“It’s a neat way for them to keep in contact with CVTC,” Hietpas said. “It’s a real nice tie-in to Chippewa Valley Tech.”
Sophomore Steven Schmidt, 16, said the most difficult part was fitting the satellite, which functions as the breast and abdomen of the cardinal.
He said the project calls for more spot welding, since students are handling smaller pieces, which can pose additional challenges.
“You can’t just go to town on it,” Schmidt said.
The cardinal’s feet are made from old rotors, and the beak, wings and rest of the frame are built from old scrap metal left over from projects that didn’t turn out.
Hietpas said 80 percent of the resources used to build the cardinal are required to be recyclable.
The class scurried to finish the project Wednesday, which Schmidt said might not be painted.
“I don’t think we’re going to win,” he said. “We started late.”
Thorp’s class is also building a cardinal.
“We’ll see who has the best cardinal out of the two,” Schmidt said.
The first-place group will be awarded a mini-welder, which Hietpas estimated at $1,000. The cardinal will probably be displayed in the welding classroom after the competition. The project serves as a mid-term for students.
Advanced welding classes have participated in the Junk Yard Wars in previous years, but this is Hietpas’ first year teaching at Chi-Hi.
“These kids are sharp; they’re good welders,” he said. “I had to take a lot of classes to catch up to them.”
After the project, the class will begin work on a flip-flop chicken grill that they will donate as a door prize for STEM night, which teaches students about careers available in science, math and technology fields.
February 28, 2013
From wjfw.com: “Nicolet College expands welding program” – Rhinelander – Hearing about jobs on the rise can be comforting.
A program expansion at Nicolet College in Rhinelander highlights one of those growing job markets.
They’re expanding their welding program to bring in more students and meet the needs of a growing workforce.
“The need for welders, not only in our district here, but nationwide, is phenomenal,” said welding instructor Chuck Kopp.
Expanding the welding program at Nicolet College is the result of two grants totaling 1.2 million dollars.
“We have accelerated our series of classes so that we can get our students out into jobs sooner, we have upgraded equipment, and hired some new instructors and we’ve re-vamped the curriculum to better meet employer’s needs,” said Elizabeth Burmaster, President of Nicolet College.
Part of that expansion means going from 17 to 23 work stations.
“What they’ll be able to do with them is the same thing they’re doing here now with the booths that are existing, which is all the different processes,” said Kopp.
Kopp says this one year program is helping students get jobs in the Northwoods.
“So this is a response to our manufacturers, to try to satisfy their need for welders and give them the ability to grow their businesses,” said Kopp.
February 27, 2013
From madison.com: “On Campus: Blackhawk Technical College eyes new manufacturing training site” – Students hoping to learn advanced manufacturing could soon get another new facility in the region. Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville recently approved plans to open a 105,000-square-foot industrial facility in Milton by the fall semester in 2014.
It would piggyback on a new advanced manufacturing training center at Madison Area Technical College that was approved in a 2010 building referendum and is slated to open later this year.
Blackhawk’s District Board approved plans for the college to lease the facility and convert it into a training ground for five of the college’s programs initially with four more moving there in the future.
The initial wave of programs in the new facility include precision machining, industrial maintenance, electromechanical technology, welding and metal fabrication. The next wave would include computer systems technology, industrial engineering, mechanical design technology and HVAC.
“The face of manufacturing is changing radically, and the need for highly trained technicians has never been more acute,” said Tom Eckert, Blackhawk president, in a statement. The new training facility “will provide us some much-needed space and at the same time help address the workforce gap.”
The lease will cost $155,125 in the first year at $1.48 a square foot. In the second year the rate increases to $2.88 a square foot with annual increases limited to 2 percent after that, Eckert said.
The plan must still be approved by the state technical college system board.
February 25, 2013
From wearegreenbay.com: “Hortonville student gets head start on welding career” – While most of his peers are still figuring out their lives –a local high school junior is working on a career. He’s taking advantage of a special program that helps him train to be a welder.
Welding anything together takes a lot of skill and know-how and for a 16-year-old high school junior to do it – it’s pretty impressive. Bo Huss, “I took a class at Hortonville High School and it really interested me.”
Because of that, Huss got involved with the state’s Youth Options program through his school that pays for 18 credits of technical education. Those credits can be counted toward high school graduation and college credit for approved classes.
Huss is on the fast track to getting a degree in welding from Fox Valley Technical College. Says Huss, “I already have a job at Tom-Cin Metals, so I’m really waiting to turn 18 so that I can start welding.”
Tom-Cin Metals has hired five high school students over the last couple of years. There’s a large need for welders across the country. Welders make on average 17 dollars an hour.
February 20, 2013
From superiortelegram.com: “Busting manufacturing myths” – From robots to equations, high school students stepped behind the scenes to view manufacturing in Superior last week. “Mythbusting Manufacturing” sent 35 students on a fact-gathering expedition. They toured four Superior businesses — Genesis, Field Logic, Charter Films and Superior Lidgerwod-Mundy — and looked in on manufacturing-related classes at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior.
“The tour’s goal is to help break myths about manufacturing and expose youth to manufacturing career opportunities in the region,” said Suzannah Crandall, youth services specialist with Northwest CEP. “What better way to interest youth in future career opportunities than to get them a first-hand look at the options that exist?”
The Genesis tour group got to see two robotic welders on the job, creating pieces to be assembled into massive shears, pulverizers and grapples for heavy machinery. Northwestern High School junior Jeff Priem said they were the coolest things he saw at Genesis. The controls for the high-tech machines were built around the gamers of today, according to Tom Cavallin, operations manager at the Genesis plant on Connors Point.
“It turns out video games might help them out,” Crandall said. She was quick to ask Cavallin to repeat himself when he mentioned that Genesis has a hard time finding skilled workers. Three years ago, he told the students, the company interviewed 120 people for jobs. Only 15 passed the welding test and were hired. He outlined the different positions at the business as well as pay scales.
“I didn’t know they had that many jobs open,” Priem said.
Another set of students toured Field Logic, which specializes in archery targets.
“Field Logic was, it was different from what I thought it was going to be,” said Nate Van Ert, a junior from Superior High School. “Because there are way more departments and categories instead of just making targets.”
As they toured the machine tool, industrial maintenance, welding and Heat, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) classes, high school students solved an equation for electrical resistance and met students who were passionate about their career paths.
“I absolutely love welding,” said Ashley McDonald, a 2012 graduate of the welding program. “I was hooked the first time I struck an arc.”
She’s part of a local union and said the field is ripe with job opportunities.
“If you want work, overnight you have it,” McDonald said, so long as you’re serious about it and not afraid to work hard. The program has had a 100 percent placement rate for the past five years, according to welding instructor John Palmer.
WITC will be launching a second session of welding classes this fall, funded through a federal Trades Adjustment Act grant. The program will include career pathways to get students working sooner, according to Diane Vertin, campus administrator. This new evening session of welding classes is aimed at retraining displaced workers for high-demand, high-wage jobs. Another part of the funding will be used to expand, bringing WITC’s mechanical design technology program to the Superior campus.
Along with Superior and Maple, students from Solon Springs and Hayward high schools also participated. Dale Van Ert, curriculum pathways coordinator for the Superior School District, said more such events are needed.
“Manufacturing jobs are in our community and there are going to be many more,” he said. The key is to provide local people to fill them.
“Jobs in manufacturing range from basic line-workers to advanced positions as CNC machinists and mechanical engineers,” Crandall said. “It’s an industry where everyone is a fit.”
February 14, 2013
From bizjournals.com/milwaukee: “WCTC doubles welding lab space to address worker shortage” – Waukesha County Technical College recently completed an expansion of its Pewaukee welding lab that doubled the square footage and training capacity, the college said Friday.
The expansion also allows for heavy plate welding training, which will begin this summer.
“This expansion was necessary because we did not have the ability to do heavy plate welding in our current lab and there has been a considerable demand for welders from employers in our area,” said Mike Shiels, dean of WCTC’s School of Applied Technologies, in a prepared statement. “We needed to expand capacity to graduate more students from our welding programs and deliver more short-term training programs.”
The project in the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Center began in October 2012 and was completed in late January. The expansion doubled lab space from about 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet and added 19 new welding stations, upping the lab’s total to 44.
Shiels said the expansion improves the logistics of safely moving heavy plate material around the lab and improves material handling and processing for welding training. A jib crane will also be installed this summer.
“This expansion allows us to bring people off the waiting list and double the number of students we train every year to help meet the current demand for employees in the welding field,” Shiels said.
WCTC’s welding programs now have 200 students enrolled.
The lab expansion is an important step that will help feed the worker pipeline at Joy Global Inc. and other area manufacturers, said Dave Biddle, manager of technical services at the Milwaukee-based manufacturer of surface and underground mining equipment.
“The shortage of skilled workers is a real issue that many companies are struggling with,” Biddle said in a phone interview. “Between supporting our own internal needs as well as other local companies that we work with, (the WCTC expansion) is very important.”
Joy Global has an internal advanced welder training program that prepares workers for the company’s specific needs. About 20 percent of its 52 program graduates took welding classes at WCTC, said Bryan Hackbarth, Joy Global manager of weld engineering.
Hackbarth, who sits on an advisory board at WCTC, believes the area is making progress in addressing the skilled labor shortage.
He said local employers had a say in the curriculum for WCTC’s welding program.
“WCTC was very open and responsive to those requests,” Hackbarth said. “They took it upon themselves to be proactive and develop a heavy plate welding training program to meet the needs (of local employers).”