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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From journaltimes.com: “Gateway campuses receive Fast Forward – Blueprint grants” – Gateway Technical College Racine and Kenosha campuses are among recipients of the 2014 Wisconsin Fast Forward-Blueprint for Prosperity High School Pupil Grant Awards. The intent to award total is $149,512.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development secretary Reggie Newson announced Department of Workforce Development’s intent to award 30 grants totaling $2.1 million to develop or expand creative programs that prepare high school pupils for the workforce or postsecondary education through training in high-demand fields. The grants cover training for up to 949 high school pupils and could involve employment at up to 153 employers.

The investment is part of Gov. Scott Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity, a comprehensive agenda to provide tax relief and invest in worker training to move Wisconsin along a path to prosperity. The plan includes $35.4 million to expand the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker-training program into three key areas, including increasing industry-recognized certifications in high-demand fields for high school students; reducing wait lists in high-demand fields at Wisconsin technical colleges; and enhancing employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

The Department of Workforce Development worked with the state Department of Public Instruction to develop grant criteria and issue a grant program announcement in March for up to $1.5 million in potential awards. Applications had to include at least one business or business organization in collaboration with school districts, educational partners and/or technical colleges.

The Department of Workforce Development’s Office of Skills Development is administering the grant program. The school-to-work programs will kick off during the 2014-15 academic year.

From journaltimes.com: “‘Victory’ over blindness–Woman graduates from Gateway despite going blind while in school” – By Aaron Knapp – RACINE COUNTY — When Leticia Gomez walked up to receive her diploma from Gateway Technical College Tuesday evening, she did so without something that she started her studies with three years ago — her sight.

The 35-year-old Union Grove resident was diagnosed with a degenerative retinal disease in 2010, and even though doctors expected she had 15 years of eyesight remaining, she describes her vision currently as what one might see looking through a hole in a child-sized shoebox.

Nevertheless, Gomez is graduating with an associate of applied science degree in information technology from Gateway with a 3.95 GPA, and will continue her studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the fall.

“Over the past three years, it’s been all about adapting,” she said in a phone interview Monday. “It’s not critical; it’s not taking years off of my life.”

She is one of more than 700 Gateway students expected to graduate either in spring or summer who were recognized at a commencement ceremony at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s Sports and Activity Center, 900 Wood Road in Somers, on Tuesday night, according to a press release from Gateway.

Gomez had intended to start school in 2008 and had registered for classes at Cardinal Stritch University, but when her then 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she canceled those plans to be her daughter’s caregiver.

She explained that her daughter requires constant monitoring because she was diagnosed at such a young age that she does not recognize the signs in her body to treat herself.

Although Gomez was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease two years later, doctors anticipated the disease would take 15 years before she would notice a loss in her vision — ample time to plan for her own livelihood and her daughter to become self-sufficient in treating herself.

That changed as her eyesight failed much more quickly than anticipated. She lost her driver’s license in June 2012 and was deemed legally blind in July 2012, barely two years after the initial diagnosis.

Gomez explained that school became even more urgent to set an example for her daughter, noting that diabetes can lead to blindness.

“I just said, ‘I need to do this for my daughter,’ ” she explained. “Why don’t I choose to be a role model for her?”

Gomez started classes at Gateway’s Racine campus soon after losing her driver’s license, in spite of snickers from passers-by when she was dropped off at school in a bus.

“All the time she’s been in school, she’s worked around it, didn’t bring attention to it,” said instructor Jill Fall. “I’m just thrilled she’s going back to school … nothing stops her.”

Gomez gained confidence as she consistently earned high grades and joined organizations at school, like as an officer in the Association of Information Technology Professionals.

“Seeing those A’s and making the dean’s list … that’s what fueled me to do better because that was the only thing I could control,” she said. “I earned those; I made those happen. I could put in the hard work and see the results. That was my victory.”

Already registered at UW-M, Gomez will start classes toward a four-year degree in information technology in the fall with the end goal of getting her master’s degree and returning to Gateway as an instructor.

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

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

Gateway represents Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Would you say that Gateway is an innovator?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: Is there some additional funding?

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

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

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

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

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

From kenoshanews.com: “Baldwin pushes bipartisanship at Kenosha chamber breakfast” – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said rebuilding the nation’s economy takes a bipartisan commitment with federal and state Democrats and Republicans working together to find solutions that will promote business growth.

Speaking at a Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast Monday morning, Baldwin noted that the nation’s economy is progressing slower than expected. Applauding economic development efforts in Kenosha County, she noted how partnerships have been important in this region’s business growth.

The Wisconsin Democrat also noted how Gateway Technical College and other local entities are building the technology to address the employment issues of the future, and she praised the efforts of two Kenosha-based companies, Snap-on and Xten Industries.

“One thing that both parties should be able to agree upon is the need to create economic growth by investing in the workforce readiness that we need and advance manufacturing innovation making us more competitive in the state and in the nation,” Baldwin said during the event at the Kenosha Country Club.

“Our made-in-Wisconsin tradition, work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit deserve nothing else than our combined commitment,” Baldwin added. “Simply put, we need to find common ground and work across party lines. So wherever, I go throughout the state, people think we should have both parties working.”

 

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