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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From htrnews.com: “LTC a vital part of local educational mix” — The Lakeshore area features many unique educational opportunities. There are public and parochial schools, specialty schools, charter schools, two-year colleges and four-year universities.

Between now and June 8, hundreds of students of all ages will graduate from these institutions of learning, or at least advance to the next grade level. Many already have done so and have either begun searching for a job or are enjoying summer vacation — or both.

One area school is so unique that it required three separate graduation ceremonies to accommodate its students. Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland held — on three separate dates — a “regular” college graduation ceremony, one for about 60 GED/HSED students and a banquet recognizing 29 students in the school’s apprenticeship program.

In apprenticeship programs, workers earn while they learn the practical and theoretical aspects of highly skilled occupations. LTC’s registered apprentices are sponsored by employers and paid hourly wages to attend LTC in their specific trades.

LTC also offers unique programs unavailable at other schools in the area, including hazardous materials training, dairy herd management, nuclear technology and many others.

Studies have shown Lakeshore area schools are doing a good job in training young people for the next steps along their way. Test results are generally good at the grade school and high school levels, and opportunities for quality higher education abound.

LTC is an option more families are turning to as the costs of higher education skyrocket. The school has a solid track record of placing graduates in jobs, often exceeding 90 percent in certain fields. About 87 percent of the 550 graduates this year will find jobs in the Lakeshore area, a not insignificant number when many local employers complain of “brain drain” and a lack of skilled workers to fill their open positions.

Yet LTC often is overlooked during graduation season because its students don’t receive “real,” four-year degrees or gain the academic accolades other institutions often bestow. That is a mistake.

Hundreds of local employers and employees make solid contributions to the local economy because of past and present ties to LTC. Many of the school’s graduates are working in local jobs that likely would go unfilled without the influence of LTC and its programs.

We are thankful for all of the quality educational opportunities our area has to offer — from preschool to graduate school. It takes variety to provide this kind of quality, and we hope that Lakeshore Technical College is recognized as a vital player in that mix.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From gmtoday.com: “Apprenticeship program numbers increase in Wisconsin” — MADISON – As companies and workers realize the value of apprenticeship program, the involvement in them is increasing, reports Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson.

“Wisconsin’s economy is improving, employers are hiring and increasingly taking advantage of our Wisconsin Apprenticeship program so that workers have the right skills,” Newson said in a statement. “The unemployed and underemployed also see this proven on-the-job training program as one way to get a good job. The numbers last year show it. We saw growth in all three major trade sectors, construction, manufacturing and services, the best we’ve growth we’ve seen in three years.”

According to the DWD, new apprentice contracts in 2013 increased by 31 percent compared to 2012 and by 56 percent compared to three years ago. The increases by trade sectors were:

•Construction – new apprentices, 1,570, the biggest increase, 51 percent compared to 2012 new contracts and 73 percent compared to new contracts three years ago.
•Industrial/manufacturing – new apprentices, 581, a 9 percent increase compared to the 2012 new contracts and 75 percent compared to new contracts in 2010.
•Service – new apprentices, 1,199, a 22 percent increase compared to the 2012 new contracts and a 29 percent increase compared to 2010 figure.

The 26th Biennial Apprenticeship Conference, The Apprenticeship Solution: Meeting the Workforce Challenge will be held Jan. 26 to Jan. 28 in Wisconsin Dells and will include a special Apprentice Expo for high school students. The conference program includes nationally recognized speakers Anirban Basu, president and CEO of SAGE Policy Group and Mark Breslin, founder and CEO of Breslin Strategies. Dan Ariens, president and CEO of the Ariens Company will also speak at the conference, co-sponsored by DWD and the Wisconsin Apprenticeship Advisory Council.

From wxpr.org: “Gov. Walker signs Youth Apprenticeship bill in Rhinelander” — Governor Scott Walker has signed a bill in Rhinelander that he says will help employers get more skilled workers to companies. Youth Apprenticeship integrates high school-based and work-based learning to instruct students in skills defined by Wisconsin industries. It works with local school districts and the area technical colleges.

Stopping at Nicolet College to sign the Youth Apprenticeship Walker says the bill passed both legislative chambers with just one “no” vote, showing broad bi-partisan support. The program is already in action, but the new funding enlarges the program. 1900 students went through the program last year Walker says…

“….we were able to put a half-million(more) in each year…for a total of $4.6 million dollars that will be invested in this program. And in doing so, we’ll be able to place 550 more individuals into this youth apprenticeship program….”
Walker says manufacturing, agriculture, architecture, information technology and healthcare are targeted for apprenticeships. Walker says the business community needs skilled workers in these areas now…

 “….many of our employers across the state, particularly our small and mid-sized employers would add more work but they’re a little bit resistant to do that right now until they know they can fill the positions they have for things like high-skilled welders, CNC operators, machinists, tool-and-dye operators….”

Walker says manufacturing jobs pay more, have more benefits and workers stay longer than many other jobs.

 

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Youth Apprenticeship builds workforce of the future” — Mosinee High School has participated in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship, or YA, program since 1995. During that time, over 350 students participated in this unique work-based learning program. YA allows juniors and seniors to work part-time in a field they are considering for their future, while taking high school courses that support that career direction.

As the School to Career coordinator, one of my responsibilities is to supervise students in this program. From my perspective, this program has literally changed the lives of some of our students. They have learned to “walk the walk” and gain those skills necessary for success in the world of work while finding out if that career direction is right for them. I asked students to share their thoughts on participating in this program.

“I applied for youth apprenticeship so I could gain work experience in a professional environment. What I like most about my position is the face-to-face contact I have with customers. I learned I am very interested in the business field and would enjoy a career in it. After high school, I will be attending UW-Whitewater for business management with a minor in finance/insurance.”

— Kevin Zimmerman, BMO Harris Bank, Mosinee

“I work at the desk taking calls, doing health history updates and confirming appointments. I also help clean work stations, assist with sterilization, X-rays, charting, restocking and sealants. I applied for an apprenticeship because I was thinking about going into dental hygiene. I like that I am learning more about the field, and I like working with people. I’ve learned I can work really hard if I put my all into it, and that I work really well with people and as a team. After graduation, I plan to attend NTC to become a dental hygienist.”

— Rachel Schulte, Family Dental, Mosinee

“I help manage the school’s website and assist with technology problems throughout the district. I applied for YA so I could work in the field I want, as well as for the recognition that comes with YA. I enjoy working in a field that I am very knowledgeable about, and I can use my knowledge to efficiently do whatever task is at hand. I’ve learned how to manage and handle multiple projects at once, completing them efficiently and to the best of my ability. After high school, I plan to attend college for a degree in computer science.”

— Noah Warren, Mosinee High School

“I am a CNA on the Surgical/Orthopedics floor. I was interested in a job in healthcare and thought work experience now would help me gain an insight into what my future career might entail. At Saint Clare’s, witnessing the strength of people pushing through less-than-desirable circumstances to overcome obstacles has become the most inspirational thing in my life. I enjoy the interactions I have with people much more than I ever dreamed possible. I proved to myself that my communication skills are critical in the medical field. I plan to attend UW-Madison to pursue a degree in genetics and continue on to medical school with my ultimate goal to become a physician.”

— Halee Nieuwenhuis, Saint Clare’s Hospital, Weston

“I help design processing systems for many big name companies. I applied for YA because I wanted to learn first-hand what the work environment would be like in my selected field. My favorite aspect of my job is working with Auto-Cad. The most important thing I’ve learned during my YA experience is that I insist on being perfect at a lot of what I do. Once I graduate from high school, I plan on going to a four-year college to become a mechanical engineer.”

— Andrew Hilgemann, A&B Process Systems, Stratford

“I help prep food on Saturdays, and during the week I work up front helping customers. I applied for YA because I thought it would be a good experience, and it looks good on college and job applications. I like working with people and working “hands on” rather than just sitting behind a desk. I’ve learned that I work well with others in stressful times and what teamwork really is. After high school I plan on working until I find out what I would like to do with my life.”

— Morgan Plautz, Culver’s, Cedar Creek, Rothschild

As you can see, Youth Apprenticeship provides students with experiences that will benefit them throughout their lives, but YA also benefits every business involved with the program. Employers get direct access to a pipeline of motivated workers interested in building a career in their industry, and they have the opportunity to shape their future workforce. YA covers a variety of areas from agriculture to welding.

Employers interested in connecting with a student looking for an apprenticeship should contact their local high school YA coordinator or Donna Schulz at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.

From canadianmanufacturing.com: “Bridging the Skills Gap” — New Richmond, WI—A new partnership has been forged between industry and education, with Bosch Packaging Technology, Inc., and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), both in New Richmond, Wisconsin forming a joint apprenticeship venture.

“We’ve been working together on this project since last spring,” says Nancy Cerritos, WITC academic dean of trade and technology. “Bosch is very proactive and realizes it will lose a significant portion of its skilled work force in New Richmond and Shell Lake over the next five to seven years. They wanted to create apprenticeships – which we have available and can develop — to create a better skilled work force for the future.”

Adds Mark Hanson, manager, continuous improvement coordination and technical functions at Bosch Packaging Technology: “We tried to hire local workers, but it’s not a densely populated area, and we have a need for highly skilled workers, so we had to come up with a new approach.

“By utilizing our strong relationship with WITC and the state we were able to custom-design a program that gives us the skilled workers we need.”

The program includes electro-mechanical technician and machinist apprentices. The electro-mechanic apprenticeship—the combination of an electrician and mechanic—is the first of its kind in the state and is now considered a new trade in Wisconsin.

Two WITC programs participate in this flagship effort: the Automated Packaging Systems program and theMachine Tooling Technics program, as these two WITC programs are best represented in the work at Packaging Technology.

The opportunity to become an apprentice was opened to Bosch employees, and four stepped up. Machinist apprentices are Josh Marquand and Brant Couch. Electro mechanical technician apprentices enrolled in the Automated Packaging Systems program are Philip Taylor and Paul Petty. These four apprentices will complete their respective program over a four or five year time span, while also working at Bosch.

What makes the program unique is what the participant receives at the completion of the apprenticeship – five years for an electro-mechanical technician and four years for a machinist – an Associate’s degree in technical studies, a technical diploma and a State of Wisconsin Certificate of Apprenticeship, commonly known as a journeyman card. A traditional apprenticeship usually results in only the journeyman card.

Upon acceptance in the program, the apprentice signs a contract with the State of Wisconsin that they will meet the obligations required for a journeyman card. During the apprenticeship, Bosch is responsible for ensuring the apprentices meet the minimum requirements, as well as assigning a shop-floor trainer and mentor to each apprentice.

The apprenticeship program works very closely with Wisconsin’s Workforce Development Department through Travis Ludvigson, Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards, who produced the contract the apprentices signed. At WITC, Randy Deli, divisional dean of trade and technology, coordinates the college’s apprenticeship opportunities.

Once accepted in the program, apprentices receive a salary and benefits for their 40-hour-a-week schedule, during which they split time between on-the-job-training and classroom work. In addition, the program covers the cost for tuition and tools needed for coursework. Outside of the program, the normal curriculum requires classroom attendance for 30 hours a week, leaving little time for job training.

“This was a great opportunity for me,” says Taylor, one of the new apprentices. “It’s a perfect scenario, I get to continue working at Bosch, and in five years I’ll have a degree, diploma and journeyman card that will benefit my career and family.”

 

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