From “Future looking bright for graduating CVTC students hoping to get a job” – CVTC graduate Joseph Kriese wears love for the Green Bay Packers on his hat and on his shirt — all together with his graduation gown. There is a reason behind it.

“I’m real excited to start,” Kriese said about a new job he was just hired for.

He is getting ready to move to Green Bay and is taking up a position with the Green Bay Packers.

“It was definitely a dream offer; I never thought a 2 year degree would bring me this far,” he said.

He will be working maintenance, HVAC, plumbing and fixing up all the odds and ends to help make sure you enjoy Packers games.

It is a job he found online and one he never thought he would get. Four interviews later he got an offer.

“I don’t think anything could stop me now, I feel good about it,” he said.

Career experts we talked with say the 432 students who graduated from CVTC on Friday night should feel very good about their future. Beth Mathison with Manpower says they will be in high demand.

“A lot of employers are actually standing in line to attract those new grads and they’re begging them to come and work for them at their office,” she said.

She says high-skilled jobs are in high demand.

“There are some companies that specifically do internships with those candidates a year before graduation so they can get them interested in coming to work for them,” she said.

Margo Keys, VP of Student Services at CVTC, says healthcare and manufacturing are hot fields right now. She says colleges like CVTC have built up their programs to meet the demand.

“What we see is more mobility with our students and certainly the classroom has changed significantly with the higher tech,” Keys said.

Whether it is the programs, the need for workers or a combination thereof, the bottom line is students getting two-year degrees are getting jobs.

Past surveys show 90% of CVTC’s graduating classes are employed by January. 89% work in Wisconsin.

In the end Joseph Kriese got out of his program what he wanted: a ticket to work for the Packers.

“It’s just as good as a four-year degree; I mean I landed my job with a two-year degree,” he said.

From “Ten questions everyone should ask when choosing a college” — By Mike Lanser, president Lakeshore Technical College – Choosing a college has always been an important decision and there are more options than ever before. Working adults may be adding a multitude of online learning choices to their consideration list, while high school seniors and their parents might be thinking about campus safety and student life.

These are important considerations, but I’d like to offer you a list of 10 questions to ask when choosing your college. The answers to these questions not only affect where you start college, but where you will end — which for most people is a successful and rewarding career.

1. Is the college accredited?

Accreditation ensures that the institution adheres to rigorous standards of quality, process improvement and excellence which must be evidenced through documentation and on-site visits by the accrediting body. Lakeshore Technical College is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, which is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. To find out if the college you’re considering is accredited, visit

2. Is the education or credential you’re pursuing valued by potential employers? Ask for job placement rates.

You want to be sure your hard work and investment in college pays off. One indication that employers value the education you’re paying for is to find out about graduates’ job placement. LTC conducts a job placement survey of graduates each year. Last year, 4 out of 5 LTC grads were hired in 6 months or less following graduation.

3. What are the pass rates for students taking certification exams?

Many career-targeted programs promise that they will prepare you for licensure exams. Be sure to ask for pass rates from students who have taken the program previously. It can be good indicator of the program’s quality of instruction. At LTC, our students exceed the national average pass rates for certification exams by 15%.

4. What are the qualifications of the faculty, or better yet, can you meet them?

The quality of your learning experience is in your instructors’ hands. Do they have real-world experience in the area that they’re teaching. Are they certified instructors? Meeting your instructors is also a great way to enhance your understanding about the degree program you’re pursuing as well as your ultimate career goal. LTC instructors have worked in the fields they’re teaching and they welcome the opportunity to talk with students considering our college.

5. Is the program you’re considering offering college credit?

Many colleges offer both credit and non-credit offerings. Be sure to note whether you will earn college credit or not and whether your completion or credential earned will be recognized by potential employers.

6. What is the cost per credit?

Credits are a great way to compare apples to apples. If you’re paying $50 more for every credit, your college expense can really add up. Worse, if you’re not earning credit for the education you’re receiving you’ll want to consider how that could affect your future employment or education plans.

7. What kind of support will the college offer to help you succeed in meeting your educational and career goals?

You might have had areas in high school which challenged you, or maybe you’ve been out of school for a long time. Neither should be reasons for not pursuing your college degree, particularly if your college has services to help you be successful. LTC offers a wide range of free student success services ranging from peer tutors and support groups to academic counseling and career placement services.

8. Will you have the ability to build on your education to help you advance in your career?

Learning is life-long and many employers recognize this through employee tuition reimbursement programs. Keep this possibility in mind when you select a college because you may decide to continue your education after being on-the-job for a number of years. LTC has agreements with over 30 colleges and universities, including Silver Lake, Lakeland, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay so our graduates can continue to grow in their careers.

9. Is the college providing good value for your investment?

In addition to cost per credit comparisons, take a look at other expenses related to your education. Room & board if you’ll live on-campus, how many years it will take to complete your program, and the availability of financial aid and scholarships.

10. How long has the college been in operation?

You want your college degree, diploma or certificate to lead to job. While not a guarantee for your personal success, you can be assured a college has the commitment and resources to help you succeed when they have a proven history of doing so. LTC is proud to be celebrating a century of educating students for high-demand, local careers.

By answering these ten questions you’ll be armed with good information about the colleges you’re considering and ultimately which one will be the best fit for you to achieve your education and career goals.

From  Filling the skilled worker gap — DOOR COUNTY — Consider this: according to the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturers Alliance, one out of every two northeastern Wisconsin manufacturing companies is going to have trouble finding skilled workers in 2012.

Meanwhile, Door County’s unemployment rate for June 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, remains at 8.1 percent. While that’s a full point lower than the county’s unemployment rate this time last year, it’s still much higher than the 5 percent or less the county was seeing in summers before 2009.

There are workers who need jobs, and there are jobs that need workers. They just don’t seem to be finding each other.

“It starts at the national level, and it’s a repeating theme right down to the local level,” says Jerry Murphy, executive director of New North, Inc. “There are skills and training missing, most of which have to do with secondary degrees.”

New North is a marketing and economic development organization that monitors and links businesses in 18 counties throughout northeastern Wisconsin, including Door County.

Murphy says the businesses New North works with recognize the problem they’re facing and are getting involved to find a solution.

“What I think is unique about northeastern Wisconsin is the very genuine, very sincere partnership…between education and business institutions,” he says. “There’s a ready acceptance on the part of the business community that they have to be involved.”

In Door County, schools and businesses have struck up a couple of initiatives designed to train a new skilled labor workforce.

Building a Better Workforce

About 50 high school students from Door and Kewaunee counties have participated in the Door-Kewaunee Business and Education Partnership’s (DKBEP) annual home construction program, which is currently in its sixth year.

According to Tara LeClair, DKBEP business and education manager, almost 60 percent of those students have gone on to some sort of trade-related program at Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC).

“Our big focus is on high school kids, encouraging them and training them,” says LeClair.

DKBEP also offers a high school Certified Nursing Assistant Program, a Youth Co-op Program where students can ‘try on’ a career for a semester, and schedules tours so students can see what goes on inside area businesses.

“The biggest challenge in shaping students’ perceptions is in, say, manufacturing,” says LeClair. “Lots of students view those jobs as dark, dirty, dingy jobs, but that’s not true. A lot of tours we schedule with schools open kids’ eyes.”

Something relatively new to the area is the Computer Numeric Control (CNC) Mobile Lab that has been travelling from school to school in the region since last September, allowing students to practice running computer-operated equipment and earn NWTC credit from the comfort of their own schools.

The purchase and operation of the lab was made possible through a partnership between DKEBP, NWTC, area high schools, and local businesses like N.E.W Industries, a CNC production company in Sturgeon Bay.

N.E.W President and C.E.O. Chris Moore says he currently has 200 workers on staff, and he’s perennially looking for 10 to 12 more people to fill open positions. He’s hopeful new projects like the mobile lab will help revive interest in manufacturing careers.

“The biggest challenge anybody in this business faces right now is finding enough qualified people for our workforce,” says Moore. “Everybody recognizes the fact that, especially at the high school level, students don’t have an interest.”

Sturgeon Bay Schools Superintendent Joe Stutting, whose students are involved in both the home construction and mobile lab projects, says he’s looking for ways to revive that interest and show students they don’t necessarily need to attend a traditional college to have a great career.

“The notion that to have a successful career you need a four-year degree is something we’ve been battling for awhile,” he says. “The truth is you just need to get something. We’re looking to see how we can align with the technical college and to see what we can do to help kids down that pathway sooner.”

Training Today’s Workers for Tomorrow

But it’s not just the workforce of the future that needs training. According to Murphy, workers already in the job market need to retrain themselves, so they, too, can claim unfilled jobs.

“I don’t think the job market is static. If it was people could wait out the storm,” he says. “The demands on the workforce are very dynamic, and you have to be investing in yourself.”

According to Melissa Emery, associate director at the Door County Job Center, about 300 displaced workers in the county have taken advantage of federal Workforce Investment Act funds, which can be used to provide training for high-demand occupations in fields such as medical care, welding, and CNC operation.

“We work with a case manager and work on getting them into NWTC usually,” says Emery.

Some resources are also available for businesses seeking to make sure their current workforce’s skills don’t become obsolete.

Sheila Curtin, who works in Corporate Training at NWTC, says the Washington Island Ferry Line and Heat Treat Furnaces, Inc. (HTF) have both recently received Workforce Advancement Training grants from the state, which provided funding for on-the-job training.

“For the ferry line, we did training in welding and marine diesel,” says Curtin. “HTF was computer design and modeling. They secured a contract and needed to upscale their business.”

The grants are competitive, and not every business is likely to receive one, but Curtin says businesses and workers must constantly monitor where they may have fallen behind and look for ways to catch up.

“For workers and companies…you need to address skill gaps to remain competitive. Because it is very competitive out there,” she says.

Workers Mean Business

Of course, the big push behind training all of these workers in Door County comes packaged with the hope they, and the businesses they work for, will stay in Door County.

“We need youth to come back here and raise families here, which will help with our business growth,” says LeClair. “We benefit a lot by the fact that businesses understand this, that they have to open their doors to kids.”

Cheryl Tieman, coordinator for NWTC’s Sturgeon Bay campus, says the community is taking a lot of the right steps toward keeping businesses in the area.

“There are a lot of things being done locally that make us a good place to locate,” she says. “The number of people graduating from high school is getting smaller, but there are professionals moving into the area.”

As for the skilled worker gap, Murphy says he’s optimistic it will close given enough time.

“I think our public resources are doing a great job and business involvement is incredible. What we need to do longer term is make sure schools, parents, and communities are on board,” he says. “These are hugely significant occupations and add a huge amount to our GDP. We need to be invested in the next generation, or we’ll lose it.”

From BizTimes:  “Tech College grads are landing jobs” — Students graduating from high school this month are making critical career path decisions that will determine their life’s arc at a time when such decisions have never been more complex or uncertain.

Many are questioning the value of a four-year college degree that will saddle them with tens of thousands of dollars of debt before they even earn their first paycheck.

Meanwhile, ManpowerGroup’s seventh-annual Talent Shortage Survey indicated that 49 percent of U.S. employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical positions within their organizations.

Something’s got to give.

For many students, a one- or two-year technical college degree is a safer bet for gainful employment.

Despite Wisconsin’s current economic challenges, a new survey of 2011 Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) graduates revealed 88 percent of graduates were employed within six months of graduation and most of them (71 percent) were employed directly in their field of study.

According to the system’s annual Graduate Follow-up Report, 86 percent of respondents indicate they are working in Wisconsin. The WTCS includes 16 technical college districts throughout Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC).

“This is a bright spot in Wisconsin’s economy,” said Dan Clancy, president of the WTCS. “Our graduates are employed within Wisconsin’s borders and are contributing to the economic recovery in our state. The results show that the curriculum aligns with industry skill needs and that employers value our graduates’ abilities.”

The technical colleges attribute their success in large part to advisory committees established in each program area. The committees are comprised of local business and industry representatives in their respective fields. They advise the colleges on various matters based on first-hand knowledge of supply and demand in addition to skills desired for today’s job market.
The median salary for all new tech graduates is $31,822, with those earning associate degrees receiving a median salary of $36,033.

The fields with the highest median starting salaries are utilities engineering technology, technical studies-journey worker, fire science, biomedical electronics, automated manufacturing systems technician and applied instrumentation and process control automation. Several program areas have median starting salaries of $60,000 or higher.

Nancy Merrill, policy advisor and federal relations officer for the WTCS, noted some of the hottest degree programs, as documented in the new report:

* 85 percent of IT-programmer/analyst graduates who responded were employed, with a median salary of $40,000.
* 100 percent of the logistics graduates who responded were employed, with a median salary of $49,000.
* 93 percent of dental hygienist graduates who responded were employed, with a median salary of $50,488.
* 96 percent of associate degree nursing graduates who responded were employed and reported a median salary of $47,836.

Among less-than-one-year and one-year technical program graduates, 89 percent of practical nursing graduates who responded indicated they were employed, with a median annual salary of $33,745 while 76 percent of air conditioning, refrigeration and heating graduates were employed with a median salary of $32,238.

“In total, as noted in the graduate follow-up report, 45 programs had graduates who reported median annual salaries of $40,000 or more approximately six months after graduation,” Merrill said. “In short, the graduate follow-up study proves that the WTCS works for both Wisconsin businesses and Wisconsin students.”

From “Local Weld Fixture Company Welcomes New Intern” – Rentapen Inc., the weld fixture specialists, located in Waukesha, hires intern from Waukesha County Technical College.

Rentapen is involved with WCTC’s Internship Program, which is an opportunity for companies to hire students for a period of time in order for the students to gain more workforce experience.

Rentapen welcomes Emily Young, a junior from WCTC as a summer intern. Young is studying Mechanical Design Technologies at WCTC. She first came to Rentapen to do a job-shadow. She shadowed one of the 3D CAD Designers to get a feeling of what Rentapen does on a daily basis.

Now she has been updating the Pro Engineer (Pro/E) library for Rentapen’s RAPid Tooling Components™ and frequent purchased parts, for instance RAPid Clamp Risers™. Young also has been learning to do production drawings and has been helping out with shipping and receiving.

“We are so pleased to have Emily join us this summer. She has a great attitude and is very intelligent. She quickly learned and used Rentapen’s Pro/E enhancements that make the 3D CAD software work faster and better for our weld fixture designers,” said Susan Straley, President and Queen of the Lean Machine Design at Rentapen Inc.

Last year Rentapen took on two interns. Peter Christiansen, who was Rentapen’s IT Programmer Intern, and Kory Maier, the CAD Drafter Intern. Both interns were hired as full time employees by the end of 2011.

Rentapen provides jobs, training and opportunities for people who work together to help manufacturers reduce costs of tooling to make their products.

From “Partners in Education celebrates student, school and community collaboration” —  There was no shortage of happy faces at this year’s Partners in Education lunch at the Hudson House Grand Hotel last Thursday, May 24.

The gathering is held to acknowledge the successes of HHS students who participate in the School to Career programs. Attending with the students were their parents and families and their employers. Some 50 area businesses and organizations from Hudson and the surrounding area offer employment opportunities to students.

The keynote speaker at the event is a success story for the career and technical education program in the Hudson School District. Cody Klatt, a member of the HHS Class of 2007, shared how Career and Technical Education helped him to accelerate his degree in Automated Packaging Systems from WITC. He credited his CTE instructors, learning disability teachers, and school counselors for helping to guide him on his career path.

Klatt’s interest in his program choice began after a field trip to WITC in eighth grade and sought out Melisa Hansen, School to Career Coordinator for the Hudson School District, for guidance. He delivered his message that all students should not only choose a career that they love, but one that will offer job opportunities and a self-supporting salary after attainment of his or her degree. Klatt is now Maintenance Lead at Preco, Inc. in Hudson.

Collaborating to offer HHS students post-secondary credits to support their career goals are UW-River Falls, Chippewa Valley Technical College, and WITC with support from the Wisconsin Department of Public Education, the Department of Workforce Development/Youth Apprenticeship, Junior Achievement and the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry Council.

Hansen said the gathering was reflective of the support for the district’s work-based learning and Career-Technical Education programs.

Said Hansen, “Through collaboration and teamwork among all partners, programs offered provide students exposure to the world of work, help foster and encourage growth in 21st century skills, engage students, and help create a seamless transition from school to careers.”

Hansen also acknowledged the contribution of the instructors from the district’s career and technical education departments and the district’s Advisory Council Partners who provide expertise in their area of business and industry. They work with the faculty to help plan appropriate curriculum to ensure that students are learning the most up to date technical and academic skills necessary. They help design curricular frameworks and supportive materials or events.

For more information about the Hudson School District’s career and technical education programs contact Hansen at (715) 377-3712.

From “Students with disabilities get help facing workaday world” — Mequon - In a classroom at Milwaukee Area Technical College last week, student Sonia Fischer offered her teacher some examples of good and bad job interview behavior.

Good: keeping your hands on your lap or on the table. Bad: talking on your cellphone.

Fischer, who is 20, and the four other students in the class that day attend Homestead High School, where they receive services until 21 years of age because of their disabilities.

But a new partnership between Homestead and the MATC Mequon Campus is aiming to enhance the high school’s existing transition program for young adults with cognitive disabilities by educating students at the college a few times a week and having them spend afternoons working at MATC or visiting local businesses.

The eight-week pilot program, STRIVE, or Students Taking Responsibility for Independence and Vocational Education, is nearing the end of its run for about eight students at Homestead High School. Supporters say the experience has been a success and that they’re hoping MATC might expand the partnership to allow overage students at other local high schools to participate in the coming years.

More broadly, the program underscores an emerging push to help expose students with cognitive disabilities to postsecondary educational experiences, perhaps even with some traditional education students in some scenarios.

The private Edgewood College in Madison was one of the first to experiment with this design by offering a postsecondary track for students with significant intellectual disabilities.

“We’ve never done this before,” said Lucia Francis, vice president of the MATC Mequon Campus who worked with Homestead to design the new program. “Part of it has been a mind shift for all of us.”

Transition programs have been in place for years for students with disabilities who receive additional years of service in public schools. They aim to help such students move into adulthood with skills that could lead to steady work after they exit the K-12 system.

But Homestead staff wanted to take that transition period a step further. They approached MATC with the idea, and with Francis, they made it happen the second half of spring semester.

Starting in March, the participating students, their aides from school and Barbara Dedrick, a Homestead special education teacher, traveled from Homestead to MATC three days a week. There, Dedrick taught about different career options, proper workplace behavior and etiquette, such as a firm handshake, good hygiene and eye contact. After lunch, students worked at the college, such as helping out in the student services office or cleaning the tables in the cafeteria.

Other afternoons featured visits to job sites. These were primarily hosted by members of the Mequon-Thiensville Sunrise Rotary Club, a supporter of the new program. According to Mequon-Thiensville School District officials, the program has cost about $8,000, or about $1,000 per participating student, and was covered by federal funding.

Services to age 21

While traditional-education students generally exit high school around age 18, federal law allows students with disabilities to stay in the system longer. Public schools are required to offer services to these students until age 21.

Statewide, school districts serve about 6,000 overage students with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 21, according to data from fall 2010. The state’s largest district, Milwaukee Public Schools, serves about 890 students who meet that criteria, about 280 of whom have cognitive disabilities.

Claudia Weaver Henrickson, the interim director of special education, said that while MPS offers a variety of work training programs for these students, it does not currently have an avenue for them to seek postsecondary experiences.

Reflecting on news of the new program in Mequon, Weaver Henrickson said it could be a “great thing to add” in Milwaukee.

“I think there’s a need for more of our students with cognitive disabilities to do an actual class at MATC, with an MATC instructor and other students, not just with special-education students,” she said.

Ginger Moerschel, the mother of one of the students in the STRIVE program, called the experience a dream come true.

Her 20-year-old daughter, Katie, has spent her educational career mainstreamed with other children in Mequon-Thiensville schools and earned enough high-school credits to graduate with her peers.

But then her friends went off to college, and Katie returned to high school.

“But Mom,” she would say, perplexed. “I’ve graduated.”

At MATC, Katie has gotten exposure to a new environment and new people, Ginger said.

With light guidance from librarian Patrick Mundt, she has been getting the mail and organizing books and doing other tasks.

On a recent day in the cafeteria, 20-year-old Cory Zamora was meticulously moving from table to table with a rag and bucket.

His aide from Homestead, Brent Manor, kept an eye on him. He said Zamora has made progress over the eight weeks in learning how to focus on a task.

“At first it was tough for him to get through a whole shift, but now he’s getting more independent,” he said. “I would put him in a restaurant industry job after seeing him do this kind of work.”

Dedrick, from Homestead, said the program has been a success and they hope the collaboration with MATC will expand so more high schools, such as Cedarburg and Grafton, can allow their students to participate.

“We want to give these students an opportunity to navigate a world of higher expectations,” she said.

From “Uptick in starting salary of tech college grads” — A new report shows new technical college graduates are making more money than their counterparts the prior year. The Wisconsin Technical College System’s annual follow up survey shows median salary for all graduates starting their careers is $31,822 ($31,198 the year prior) with those earning associate degrees receiving a median salary of $36,033 ($35,616 for 2010 grads).

System President Dan Clancy says their research also shows 88 percent are working within six months of graduation. Most of them–71 percent–work directly in their field of study. Clancy says these figures are about the same as last year, a positive sign given a down economy.

Clancy credits advisory committees, made up from people in the industry, that help guide students while in their programs.

From “Job placements high for some FVTC graduates” — It didn’t take Jenna Gehring long to find employment after she graduated from Fox Valley Technical College.

She landed a job with Aerotek, a professional employment agency in Appleton, following graduation in May of 2010 when she received a two-year degree in marketing.

“I had heard a lot of good things about the marketing program at Fox Valley Tech and that it could open up a lot of opportunities and a broad range of jobs,” said Gehring, who attended the FVTC Riverside Campus in Oshkosh. “I also heard there were some excellent professors.”

She isn’t alone in finding employment in an economy that has yet to regain a lot of its robustness since the recession struck in 2008.

Graduates who attended the four FVTC sites in Oshkosh — Riverside Campus, Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, S. J. Spanbauer Center and FABTECH Training Center — have experienced a very high rate of employment.

In some programs, every graduate in the 2010-2011 academic year found a job after graduation. Programs with 100 percent placement of graduates included pilot training, aircraft electronics, metal fabricating and nursing.

“I think first and foremost it says we are really connected to the employers in our region,” said Chris Matheny, vice president of Instruction at FVTC. “Each of our programs has advisory committees made up of individuals, who are in industry in a particular career sector. They work in the field every day, so they know exactly the skill sets that our graduates will need in order to be successful in their industry.”

The annual Graduate Employment Research Report revealed a record 29 FVTC programs in its district reported 100 percent job placement for the 2010-2011 academic year, said Chris Jossart, a spokesperson for FVTC. In all, 88 percent of the college’s graduates were employed within six moths of graduation, up from 85 percent reported in the same survey in 2011.

Before the economic crash of 2008, FVTC averaged more than a 90 percent job placement rate for its graduates, based on the same data.

Matheny said the goal is to continue to strengthen employment opportunities FVTC graduates.

“The pride that we have is really based in the college’s mission to train a skilled work force for our regional economy,” Matheny said.

Jossart said FVTC has a Student Employment Services Department, which helps students prepare for the workforce and learn where the job leads are located.

Oshkosh resident Steve Lemmens was able to upgrade his job skills through training at FVTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center on Poberezny Road.

Lemmens said he had a job at Muza Metal in Oshkosh and the opportunity came up for him to go back to school to improve his jobs skills. He graduated from FVTC in the spring of last year with a degree in welding and metal fabrication.

He said the degree opened up more opportunities at Muza Metal.

“I wanted to advance and learn more and upgrade my skills so I could be more valuable to Muza Metal,” Lemmens said. “It was a sense of accomplishment for me and I’m glad that I went back to school. I got a good education at Fox Valley Tech.”

From “CVTC hosts manufacturing show” — An event aimed at growing jobs in one specific industry was held Thursday at a local tech college.

People were given a peek inside the world of manufacturing Thursday at the Chippewa Valley Technical College.  The manufacturing show included hands on demonstrations.

The college also showed off its latest addition, a state of the art, 10-thousand square foot welding lab. They christened the new portion of the building with a unique ribbon cutting.  The lab was designed based on input from local manufacturers and will help to teach the skills they want future employees to know.

“Under our old curriculum, on the job training was becoming a bigger and bigger factor for employers so we actually added a second year to our welding program, to our industrial mechanical program and made modifications in our machining program so that the skills that the students learn here are more in line with the skills that the employers need” says CVTC President Bruce Barker.

The school also said this was a way to connect with high school students who might have an interest in a manufacturing career.

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From “Finding work for Manitowoc-area veterans” — Wisconsin veterans looking for work have two high-profile supporters — President Barack Obama and Gov. Scott Walker.

“Our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it,” Obama said in his January State of the Union as he outlined a new jobs program for veterans.

“It is unacceptable to think that any man or woman who has served our country would return home and not be able to find a job,” Walker said in his State of the State.

With about 15 percent of veterans unemployed, considerably higher than the citizenry-at-large, those who served in the military, irrespective of decade, can reach out for job-seeking help.

Jim Warner’s passion is to match veterans with job opportunities.

“When people hire a veteran, I think they will be very pleased and will want to hire more. Veterans have stick-to-it-iveness and are highly trainable with transferable skills,” said Warner, a U.S. Navy veteran who works for the state Office of Veterans Employment Services.

Warner primarily works in Green Bay but comes to the Manitowoc County Job Center on Thursdays to meet with veterans and also “speak with employers to gain their support in giving veterans an interview.”

He helps veterans who have just returned from the military — though many of them take advantage of education benefits and go to college — as well as those who have become displaced workers several or many years after wearing the uniform.

Like Tony Jones, who served in the U.S. Marines for four years and was discharged in 1998.

“Improvise, adapt and overcome” is the unofficial mantra of the Corps, and Jones said his military experience helped prepare him to serve Orion Energy Systems in production process control.

He’s been with Orion for about a year, with the company taking advantage of a “Work Opportunity Tax Credit” that was part of the federal Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.

Scott Gilson, Orion’s vice president of human resources, said military experience is “one more plus” in a job applicant’s column, though, usually most important is having a particular skill set the company is seeking.

Still, succeeding in military life includes being flexible and open-minded about new strategies and approaches and those are traits Orion looks for in its 280 employees, including Jones and eight other veterans.

Kevin Crawford, Orion’s senior vice president of governmental affairs and corporate communications, lauds Walker’s focus on veterans.

Crawford said providing strong education and job benefits is a way to help retain Wisconsin veterans who have returned to the U.S. to resume their civilian lives.

Get back to work

Steve Ignera was one of about 40 city of Manitowoc workers whose jobs were eliminated at the end of 2011.

“I would like to return to the job market as soon a possible,” said Ignera, a Parks worker for 27 years. “If you’re off any longer than a year employers tend to wonder what’s wrong with this person.”

The Army veteran is appreciative to Warner for helping him write a resume and cover letter “to bring out the skills I have.”

Ignera also takes advantage of federal law mandating veterans to have access to Job Center postings on the Internet 24 hours ahead of nonveterans.

He plans to go to Fox Valley Technical College in spring for a three-week diesel truck driving school, to augment the commercial driver’s license he previously used driving trucks for the city.

“I enjoyed working outdoors and the city had real good benefits … it was all very hard to give up,” Ignera said. “Now, it’s like I’m starting over.”

“Steve is very enthusiastic and doesn’t want to ride unemployment for a year … he is motivated to go to work,” said Warner, who wants those he advises to “feel good about themselves.”

Warner said it is not just skilled labor openings that he tries to match with veterans. “It is also people who in their military careers have been professionals in administration or accounting or human resources,” he said.

Project management

Lisa Mrotek Miller and her husband, Barry Miller, both 41, are Army veterans on a mission to land post-military positions.

A Lincoln High School graduate, Lisa Miller retired in 2008 as a master sergeant after a 20-year career that included serving as a senior munitions logistics supervisor in Uzbekistan and Kuwait.

With her mother residing in Manitowoc, Miller has bachelor’s and master’s degrees and would like to go into property management or take advantage of her background in human resources and marketing.

The couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary Saturday and had an offer accepted on a Manitowoc house last week. They also have purchased a small storefront downtown on Quay Street they are renting out.

Last week also was significant for the Millers because Barry’s retirement papers were approved. His last day in uniform as an acting sergeant major will be Aug. 13.

But he said his departure date can probably be moved up should a new employer want to bring him onboard sooner.

“I’d like to get involved in project management … help a company whether it be with a labor dispute or, perhaps, a logistics flow issue,” he said.

Miller said private-sector employers should find value in the resiliency that is critical to successful military careers.

He said many military veterans also have faced tough life-or-death situations testing their ability to carry out critical tasks under pressure.

Miller said he is always grateful when citizens express their support to him as one who has defended America but said employers shouldn’t hire him only because of a tax credit.

Hire veterans because of their resilience, leadership flexibility and ability to get the job done, he said.

The Millers said they are excited to be new homeowners in Manitowoc with Barry citing an affinity for the downtown and Lisa expressing a fondness for running along Lake Michigan.

From “Column: MSTC education instrumental in job placement” —  By Sue Budjac, president Mid-State Technical College – The faculty and staff of Mid-State Technical College take pride in preparing students for graduation. However, full culmination rests in job placement.

We strive to provide people of every walk-of-life with the tools needed to enter or re-enter the workforce. Smaller classes, flexible scheduling, and instructor involvement all contribute to the fact that nearly 85 percent of MSTC students have jobs within six months of graduation.

The Instrumentation & Controls Engineering Technology program is one example of many programs that effectively prepare MSTC students for the workforce, a program where every member of last May’s graduating class was employed in the field within one month of graduation. In fact, every Instrumentation program graduate in the last three years has been offered a job in their field.

Recent instrumentation graduate Travis Menadue’s story is one of many examples of commitment and perseverance among the ranks of MSTC graduates. Menadue had a successful career working for manufacturing giants like Georgia-Pacific, Stora-Enso, NewPage and Nalco Chemical. After almost 20 years in the industry, he found himself unemployed following an organizational restructuring. Menadue returned to college to diversify his paper industry skill set. Program recommendations from alumni and the seamless transfer of credits from previous education led him to MSTC’s Instrumentation program.

Menadue speaks highly of his former instructor’s passion for student success and job placement. He says Instructor Dennis Goetsch’s rigorous style and the program curriculum are designed to provide the technical knowledge and aptitudes essential to hit the ground

running while equipping students with the skillset to solve problems, take initiative and execute.

That certainly proved to be the case with Menadue. He is employed as a field engineer in quality control systems for The ABB Group, a global leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. Menadue believes employers recognize the superior quality of an MSTC instrumentation education. Indeed, employers have raced to hire graduates from the program. Goetsch says students often have job offers prior to graduation and each stands to earn an average of $20 per hour in their first year on the job.

Many MSTC students and alumni share Menadue’s story. Members of our dedicated faculty and staff are a significant ingredient in why 96 percent of MSTC graduates say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their education. These graduates soon complete the cycle as alumni, establishing valuable relationships throughout local industry, enhancing future job placement and real-world training opportunities, and inspiring the next wave of MSTC graduates.

For more information about the instrumentation program or how you can join one of MSTC’s other engaging programs, call 888-575-MSTC or visit

From “Walking out of class and into a job” — For some students graduating this week walking into the classroom two years ago was scary. Students say they’re confident especially since the college says it has a 91% job placement rate.

More than 200 students from the Chippewa Valley Technical College walked across the stage at Zorn Arena to get their diplomas and hopefully walk into a job.

“I do have something lined up and I start my new position on Tuesday,” says Nursing Graduate Heather Post.

Post graduated from CVTC with a business degree in 2003 but says after getting married and becoming a mom the job market a few years ago wasn’t looking good for her.

“In business there weren’t that many positions in the area so I decided to go back to school into something where I thought could be growing,” says Post.

“I lost my job the company moved they left Eau Claire and I was left hanging. I looked for a job for about two months and couldn’t find anything that was on a comparable pay,” says Kevin Kademan who’s graduating in Machine Tooling Technics.

Kademan says he went from working in the real world as a truck driver to heading back to school to learn how to tool machines.

“I think it’s a pretty cool feeling. I am knocking on 40’s door here and I am graduating from a higher education institute,” says Kademan.

CVTC says many of the students graduating started classes after already being in the workforce and are looking to change their careers because of the economy. It says the school has one of the highest job placements rates of all the state’s technical colleges. CVTC says 86% of graduates are in jobs related to their training compared to 71% of the Wisconsin Technical College system.

“It’s a great day, it was a lot of hard work it’s a great feeling to know we’re done and move on and use that education,” says Post.

The school says most of the graduating students, more than 60%, land jobs and stay right here in the Chippewa Valley.

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From “The time and cost of retraining” —  Connecting skilled workers with companies looking to hire. It’s viewed by many as a key component for lowering Wisconsin’s unemployment rate.

At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, the phones are ringing.

“We have employers that call here for certain programs, looking to hire people. ‘Do you have anyone close to graduating?’ They’ll sometimes hire them before they even graduate,” NWTC academic advisor Cindy Kothbauer said.

Kothbauer says the health care and skilled trades industries are especially looking for workers.

That’s why Sarah Christensen of Lena, without a job for two years, is starting classes in January to become a medical assistant.

“Hopefully by 2013 I’ll be certified and working in that field,” she said.

Academic advisors estimate the average dislocated worker going back to school will need one or two years of school, costing between $5,000 and $10,000.

But time and money are just part of the equation.

“Definitely there’s apprehension in coming back to school,” Kothbauer said.

“I was terrified. It had been literally ten years since I’d been in any kind of school,” Jamie Campbell of Green Bay said.

But, after losing her job, Campbell says she buckled down and put her fear aside. She’s pursuing an associate degree in health care business services.

“I need something that at least will help me pay my bills. I need to survive,” Campbell said.

Those going back to school are banking on a brighter future.

“There’s definitely job opportunities by going back to school. It’s a good investment,” Christensen said.

Job training success story

November 2, 2011

From “Job training has success story” — CLINTON – The Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board’s (SWWDB) On-The-Job Training (OJT) program is designed to benefit both the employee and the business that hires them. It has worked out that way in almost all cases, and the successful bonding of Scot Forge of Clinton and Victor Burrington is but one example how both can benefit.

The 42-year-old Burrington, of Shopiere, started working at Scot Forge at the end of March, 2011 as a CNC (Computer Numerically Controller) Operator. He actually was recruited while still attending Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) classes, where he earned his CNC diploma. He is extremely happy to be working at Scot Forge. “It is a great place to work, and it appears there is ample opportunity for advancement,” he said. He mainly programs machines to form and produce metal and machine parts.

His initial employment was considered a type of internship, but he is now a regular, full-time employee. He utilized Trade Adjustment Act (TAA) and Dislocated Worker funds to cover his schooling costs. He was laid off from Lear Seating, where he had worked for 16 years. Prior to that, he had worked for Newco Welding in Janesville for about four years, and prior to that, Custom Manufacturing, just down the street from Scot Forge, for about three years.

“School was different. At first I didn’t feel like I fit in, but after I knew what was expected of me, it was much better than I initially thought it would be,” Victor said. “The OJT people came to me at BTC about participating in the program, and it sounded very good. It certainly has been,” he explained.

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From “NWTC plans shipbuilding training center in Marinette” — Construction is set to begin next week on a multi-million dollar training center in Marinette.

The Goodwill Industries building on Main Street will be transformed in just two months into the 16,000-square foot NWTC North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center.

It will provide the skilled training for Marinette Marine’s estimated 1,000 new workers hired to build 10 Navy littoral combat ships.

“They’re adding 35 new positions every month for the next 18 months, so it’s critical that we help them find the workforce and help them find the talent that they need,” NWTC Strategic Partnerships Manager Ann Franz said.

NWTC partnered with Marinette Marine to design the facility to be specific to industry needs.

“We have had an employee embedded at Marinette Marine for about six or eight months already, and that person’s job was to be sitting down with the mangers, supervisors, and staff at Marinette Marine to make sure we understand clearly what their training needs are,” NWTC Vice President for Learning Lori Suddick said.


From “The Workforce Corner: Services for job seekers” — In honor of Workforce Development Month in September, the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, Inc. is highlighting two Job Center of Wisconsin partners: Job Service and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Job Centers deliver a range of services that stretch beyond simply finding a job. They can also help people along career pathways.

Job Centers in northwest Wisconsin have five primary partners who bring key components to the partnership. The partners in the northwest region consist of the Job Service, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College or Northcentral Technical College, W2 providers, and the Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. Each Job Center partner shares a common goal of strengthening Wisconsin’s workforce and economy.

“Most of the agencies that create Job Centers have a targeted population,” said Chuck Gottschall, Job Service Workforce Development Area (WDA) #7 director. “Job Service doesn’t have eligibility requirements. Our main job is to ensure that a high quality of public labor exchange and targeted program services are made easily available to all job seekers and employers in Wisconsin.”

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From “On the job hunt: Unfilled jobs across America, are you qualified?” — Every day we hear the steady drumbeat. Unemployment over 9 percent. People who can’t find jobs exhausting their unemployment benefits. Going months – even years without work. Losing their homes to foreclosure. Marital and family breakups. Homelessness. It is tragic. No question.

But here’s a bizarre twist. While millions of people can’t find work, there are many American companies who can’t find people to fill open jobs. Thousands of jobs. Good paying jobs.

Drive along Riley Street in Zeeland, Mich,. and you’ll come across an unusual sight in America.

It’s a “now hiring” sign. It has been there for more than a year. It’s in front of the Gentex Corporation. Gentex is a high-tech manufacturer that makes “smart” rearview mirrors for cars.

Mirrors that darken at night. Mirrors that dim your high beams to an oncoming car. That have backup camera displays in them. That will tell your cruise control that you’re getting too close to the vehicle in front of you. They are in high demand – not just in the U.S., but among automobile manufacturers around the world. Gentex makes other products as well, including those new hi-tech windows for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that darken at the touch of a button. Business is booming.

And Gentex has jobs it can’t fill. More than 200 of them. And it plans to add another 1,150 in the next five years.

“Our problem right now is – we’re growing like crazy.” That’s Bruce Los talking. He’s Gentex’s Vice President of Human Relations. He bears a striking resemblance to actor Bruce Willis. He’s the guy in charge of finding people to fill vacant jobs.

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From the Northwestern: “Q&A: Jobseekers helps people chart new path, gain employment” — “How’s sending out letters and resumes working for you?” Chris Czarnik asked a Job Seekers student in late April.

“I’m here,” the student replied.

“You cannot get hired in the traditional way. If you could, you’d be working right now,” Czarnik said, turning his attention back to the group of nearly a dozen people in a Fox Valley Technical College classroom. “But there’s another way.”

Every Thursday afternoon, a regularly-changing group of people stop at FVTC’s Riverside campus to hear a short, engaging lecture from Czarnik on his “new way” to find a job and to update the group on the status of their efforts.

The process he teaches and, to an extent preaches, requires a person to begin with a self-evaluation aimed at assessing their skills and determining what industries interest them. From there, students craft a core message about the skills they have and the benefits that can provide before setting out to extensively network with anyone and everyone related to the markets and companies your search focuses on.


From Wausau Daily Herald: “Dislocated Worker Program sees success” — Meet Jacqueline.

Workforce challenge: Losing a job, being a single mom with a slight learning disability, and beginning the journey toward a new career path, made for a very stressful and busy life for Jacqueline.

Workforce solution: Shortly after being laid-off from a local stainless steel manufacturing facility in October 2008, Jacqueline met with LETC’s WIA, Dislocated Worker Program Employment and Training Specialist, John Peters and enrolled in the program. Through a variety of assessments, Peters determined that Jacqueline would benefit most by first enrolling in a prevocational basic skills class for the upcoming spring semester. She also enrolled in an Adult Career Awareness class and worked with Peters to further develop her employment plan.

Then, Jacqueline decided to enroll into the Surgical Technologist Technical Diploma program at Mid-State Technical College in Marshfield. Jacqueline’s goal was to complete the training program and obtain full-time employment.


From “Opportunity knocks at Gateway — Graduation ceremony held Tuesday” — 

RACINE – The last time Dawn Stombaugh was in school, she turned in paperwork she printed from a dot matrix printer.

The 43-year-old Racine resident graduated in 1991 from University of Toledo in Ohio, and moved to southeast Wisconsin in 1998 where she worked as a quality control manager in the next decade.

“Then the recession hit and I didn’t have a job,” Stombaugh said. “I tried to find other jobs in quality control but found nothing. I knew I needed to go back to school.”

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From the Door County Advocate: “Northeast Wisconsin Technical College expands offerings at Sturgeon Bay campus” — Door County residents who want to prepare for their future careers close to home now have two more options. Starting in August, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College will offer the Business Management and Accounting Assistant programs at the Sturgeon Bay campus.

“More local learning opportunities like these mean more ways for the people of Door County to reach their career goals,” said Bob Loss, Sturgeon Bay campus dean. “With today’s gas prices, these programs are coming at the right time.”


A Western Technical College counselor describes the the effects of job loss as being very much like losing a limb. With major layoffs taking place around some of Wisconsin’s biggest employers including Harley-Davidson, General Motors and Briggs & Stratton, Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges help provide job placement services, resume writing tips and of course career and technical education to help people get back into relevant jobs.

View article from the Chicago Tribune


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