May 15, 2013
From nbc26.com: “Walker stops in Green Bay for Jobs Tour” – Governor Scott Walker talks manufacturing and jobs Monday at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
He was part of a round-table discussion at NWTC. The Governor says his main goal Is to make it easier to create jobs In our state. “Manufacturing is still our bread and butter,” Walker explained. “It’s about 20 percent of the state’s GDP. It’s a little bit higher here in the northeast, and so today is important.. working with the chamber here and our regional partners to talk about manufacturing.”
The Governor says he plans to take part in similar discussions all throughout Wisconsin.
From biztimes.com: “Walker names Council on Workforce Investment” – Gov. Scott Walker has named the new membership of the Council on Workforce Investment, a federally mandated panel that will advise Walker and the Department of Workforce Development on the allocation of federal workforce development funds.
The council will be responsible for approving the Workforce Investment Act plan each state is required to create each year. It coordinates the efforts of Wisconsin’s 12 regional workforce investment boards.
“As we look to target substantial investments to develop the workforce and help Wisconsinites successfully pursue family-supporting careers and find true independence, the Council on Workforce Investment will provide valuable input with representatives from business, education, legislative and other key groups,” Walker said. “My administration’s continued focus on creating jobs will guide the work of the Council as we look to address the skills gap and fill employers’ current and future labor market needs.”
Mary Isbister, president of General Metalworks Corporation in Mequon, will serve as chair of the council. She has experience service on the boards of several organizations, including the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and was formerly the vice chair of the Council on Workforce Investment.
Mike Laszkiewicz, vice president and general manager of Power Controls at Rockwell Automation, will be vice chair. He is currently the chair of the national Manufacturing Council, which advises the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce on manufacturing issues.
Reggie Newson, secretary of the DWD, will serve as executive director.
The other members are:
- David Brukardt, associate vice president for economic development, University of Wisconsin System, Madison
- Alan Petelinsek, president and CEO, Power Test Inc., Sussex
- County Executive Allen Buechel, Fond du Lac County
- Rep. Warren Petryk, Wisconsin State Assembly, 93rd District
- Jeffrey Clark, president and CEO, Waukesha Metal Products, Sussex
- Dawn Pratt, human resources and EEO officer, Payne & Dolan, Fitchburg
- Morna Foy, president, Wisconsin Technical College System, Madison
- Mark Reihl, executive director, Wisconsin State Council of Carpenters, Madison
- Sarit Singhal, president and CEO, Superior Support Resources Inc., Milwaukee
- Grailing Jones, director of owner/operator small business development, Schneider Finance Inc., Green Bay
- Howard Teeter, president and managing partner, Anteco Pharma LLC, Lodi
- Theresa Jones, vice president of diversity and inclusion strategies, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, Brookfield
- Sen. Tom Tiffany, Wisconsin State Senate, 12th District
- Sen. Julie Lassa, Wisconsin State Senate, 24th District
- Rep. Robin Vos, Wisconsin State Assembly, 63rd District
- County Executive Daniel Vrakas, Waukesha County
- Terrance McGowan, president, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, Milwaukee
- Brian White, president, General Electric-Waukesha Gas Engines, Waukesha
- Dan Mella, principal, Plymouth High School, Plymouth
- Wyman Winston, executive director, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Madison
- David Mitchell, president/COO, Monarch Corp., Milwaukee
- Rep. Josh Zepnick, Wisconsin State Assembly, 9th District
- Alan “Kent” Olson, president, Olson Tire and Auto Services Inc., Wausau
May 1, 2013
From fox11online.com: “Dual-credit program benefits students” – Tuesday was a dual-credit day at technical colleges across the state as they promote the kind of program four-year universities have long used.
Schools like Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute highlighted programs to help high school students earn college credits.
The initiative is meant to foster better partnerships between tech schools and high schools.
“I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how I’m only 19 years old but yet things are really starting to come together,” said Fox Valley Technical College student Ryan Geiger.
Geiger graduated from Brillion High School and was hired as a machinist by the Ariens Company. He says thanks to dual-credit courses, he’s working on two different degrees.
“I was really surprised how you can be a machinist and have the mindset you do and love what you do and being paid what you are. It’s just awesome.”
FVTC officials say Geiger is just one example of what educators hope becomes a trend of successful students taking dual-credit courses and filling in-demand jobs.
“It’s going to give them an opportunity to get an understanding of whether or not they would like to pursue this as their main field,” said Fox Valley Technical College Dean of Technologies Steve Straub.
The dual-credit classes are also free to high school students, meaning they are getting more specialized training and paying less for it.
“I really feel like we needed to be more aggressive in helping our students get one foot into post-secondary education,” said Appleton West High School Principal Greg Hartjes.
To do that, Appleton West hopes to start a machine technology charter school in the fall of 2014. Students could earn 24 credits toward a degree at Fox Valley Tech.
“These are high need areas that the community has said we don’t have enough employees, we don’t have enough people going into these areas and that is what we are trying to fill,” said Hartjes.
“I just love doing technology stuff, I just knew that’s what I always wanted to be,” said Geiger.
Providing students an open door to a bright future.
The number of high school students throughout the state taking college credits in high school has doubled in the last five years.
Fox Valley Tech says 21,000 Wisconsin students have an average of at least six college credits before graduating high school.
April 26, 2013
From thenorthwestern.com: “Technical college graduates find jobs by filling skills gap” – Tabetha Moore was a year away from earning her associate’s degree in human resources when a local manufacturing company gave her a full-time job in her field and agreed to pay for her last two semesters of school.
The 21-year-old hasn’t yet negotiated the salary she’ll earn after obtaining her diploma from Fox Valley Technical College in May, but that fact she secured a job so quickly reflects a new era of opportunity for graduates of two-year college programs.
“What surprised me most was that they would hire a 20-year-old without a degree to work in their human resources department,” Moore said.
She’s one of a new generation of graduates defying a stereotype that technical colleges offer a “second-to-best” option for those who don’t attend a university. Demand for technically-trained, skilled workers has driven up wages and employment opportunities for associate degree holders with highly-sought skill sets.
Analysts and educators refer to the situation as a skills gap. A wave of new jobs in a changing, high-tech economy is rolling in just as a mass of baby boomers retires. The end result is a glut of vacant positions with too few workers with desired skills.
“I think the simple economic theory about supply and demand is going to drive, locally and regionally, what’s driving up those associate’s degree wages. Employers are obviously very conscious about how some individuals joining their organization can add value to their customers and operations,” said Chris Matheny, vice president of instruction services for FVTC.
The competition for skilled workers is blurring the line between two- and four-year degree holders’ career opportunities. Nationwide, nearly 30 percent of Americans with associate’s degrees now make more than those with bachelor’s degrees, according to a recent study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
About 89 percent of 2012 graduates from FVTC were employed within six months of earning their degree, according to a survey of graduates. Three-out-of-four grads found work related to their field of study and earned an average starting salary of $33,000.
Many saw much higher wages. Graduates from the web site development program reported earning as much as $104,000; human resources grads reported earning up to $90,000; business management grads saw up to $80,000; and electrical engineers found jobs paying as high as $59,900, according to the graduate survey.
Not all these salaries are for entry level work. A growing number of adults are returning to college to learn additional skills to either find new work or stay relevant in their current field. More employers are also paying for their employees’ continuing education.
“Once you get in house, we often have to put students through $10,000-$20,000 of aircraft-specific training. Each individual we consider a huge investment for the company,” said Greg Laabs, vice president and general manager of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Appleton.
Laabs spoke during a recent forum about the skills gap hosted by FVTC, where a number of employers said they’ve become more competitive with wages, hired younger people into higher-level positions and paid for schooling.
Nearly 55 percent of Wisconsin manufacturing companies reported offering collaborative training programs through local technical colleges and 46 percent reported increasing wages for difficult to fill positions, according a December 2012 survey by Schnenck SC, an Appleton-based accounting and business consulting firm.
“We offer competitive wages… The insurance packages offered are a huge bonus as well as the camaraderie and family values that go into a small to mid-sized business,” said Tony Robinson, vice president of manufacturing for Jay Manufacturing Oshkosh Inc. “Every employee at Jay Manufacturing is offered formal or on-the-job training experiences.”
Some employers are also beginning to hire people with associate’s degrees into management positions that previously required a four-year degree.
Paul Werth, 36, was among the first three people to graduate from FVTC’s new construction management program in 2011. Within nine months he was hired by Neenah-based Miron Construction Co. as a project manager, and he is now overseeing some of the construction related to FVTC’s expansion in Appleton.
“We’ve broke into this very traditional market where pretty much all the time it required a bachelor’s degree. Now, talking with students here (at FVTC), I know some have had job offers a month ago already,” Werth said.
The Georgetown center estimates 29 million jobs paying middle class wages today require no more than an associate’s degree. Similarly, the center estimates associate’s degree holders earn, on average, about $500,000 more over their careers than people with only high school diplomas, but $500,000 less than people with bachelor’s degrees. Those figures vary widely by profession.
A survey of graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh indicates that most local bachelor’s degree holders still find a better starting wage than associate’s degree recipients. A UWO survey of 2011 graduates, which is the most recent available, shows 85 percent found jobs related to their majors within nine months of graduation. They earned starting salaries averaging $45,300.
The UWO survey had a 53 percent response rate, and the FVTC survey had a 78 percent response rate.
UWO Chancellor Richard Wells said a four-year education remains relevant and valuable to employers.
“A general education and the ability of a person to think critically, analytically and communicate effectively” — skills traditionally associated with a baccalaureate education — “is more important than a particular major. In the end, that’s what employers are looking for because you hopefully have someone who is passionate about life long learning,” Wells said.
April 11, 2013
From waow.com: “Secretary of Workforce Development calls for more state businesses to partner with schools” – WAUSAU - Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson traveled to Wausau’s North Central Technical College. Newson called on more state businesses to get involved in apprenticeship programs to bridge a skills gap and meet employers needs.
Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to have an apprenticeship program. It dates back to 1911. As the business climate has changed, Newson says business and schools must partner to meet changing workforce needs.
He says technical schools provide the training programs business leaders need and employers can provide high paying jobs that can move workers into the middle class.
From lacrossetribune.com: “Health care, accounting, tech are hottest fields for area graduates” – Shainah Hughes knows she’ll find a job and support her family when she graduates.
Job security is one of the big reasons the 29-year-old student at Western Technical College is pursuing a degree in electronics and computer engineering.
“When I graduate, there’s going to be a need for that,” Hughes said.
Health care, accounting and technology are big draws for grads who want to live locally, but college officials agree there’s no hard and fast trend.
Job security is “huge” for today’s graduates, said Beth Dolder-Zieke, director of career services at Viterbo University.
Many started college on the eve of the recession.
“They heard you go to college, you do really well, get a job,” Dolder-Zieke said. “And then they go to college, and for those of them who were aware of what was going on, it was very discouraging.”
College grads have high expectations from their first job. Nationally, they expect a salary approaching $50,000 and “want opportunities for future growth,” Dolder-Zieke said.
For that, many are looking to health care.
More than 160 students graduated from Viterbo’s un-dergraduate nursing and nursing-completion programs last year. Western, UW-L, Winona State University and Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical in Winona all offer degrees in health care, too.
Radiography, certified nursing assistant and physical therapy programs have a consistent following because of local hospitals, said Jackie Newman, career services specialist for Western.
“The regional area makes health care a popular pick,” Newman said.
Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are also in demand by local hospitals “because that’s a way that they can serve underserved populations,” said Tim Tritch, UW-L’s associate director of career services.
Health care-related work makes up nearly 20 percent of La Crosse jobs, and about 24 percent of Winona County jobs, according to state employment data.
Issac Tillman went back to college with plans to open a restaurant but wound up working in financial aid.
Tillman started in Western’s business management program, hoping to pad years of experience and a past degree in food service. He soon realized he wanted something more stable.
Tillman graduates this year and has already found work in Western’s financial aid office.
“It clicked,” Tillman said.
Accounting and technology are both strong choices for students like Tillman, who stay in the region, college officials say. Employers want skilled workers in both fields.
“Even when the economy goes bad, they still need accountants,” said Gale Lanning, director of admissions for Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical. “They have always been our consistent program that still will survive no matter what.”
Career choices vary as much as certificates and degrees available at the region’s colleges — especially when an aspiring college grad is willing to move for work, Tritch said. Proximity of two major job markets, the Twin Cities and Madison, creates myriad possibilities for students.
April 5, 2013
From kwwl.com: “Eastern Iowa manufacturing jobs ripe for the taking” – Eastern Iowa’s manufacturing industry has so many open positions, companies can’t fill them quickly enough.
That has prompted Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Peosta to team up with Southwestern Wisconsin Technical College. The two created the Tri-State Advanced Manufacturing Center for Excellence. It will help train and pair skilled workers with the abundance of manufacturing jobs available locally.
This week, NICC announced the appointment of the center’s director, Randy Schofield, who is currently an advanced manufacturing instructor at NICC’s Peosta campus.
He said there are hundreds of jobs available in the Dubuque area right now, and they pay well.
“We have 21-, 22-year-old people out there in the workforce that went through a one-year program that are making $50,000 or $60,000 a year,” Schofield said.
It was the job availability that drew student Titus Fair to NICC’s advanced manufacturing program. After an injury in Iraq sent the former Marine back to Iowa, Fair first enrolled in NICC’s heating and air conditioning program.
“I looked for a job for six months, and I was unsuccessful in finding a job,” Fair said, “so I decided to come back and go to the CNC program.”
Fair returned to NICC’s Peosta campus to gain advanced manufacturing skills and train as a computer numerical control (CNC) machinist technician.
“The manufacturing and CNC jobs are booming in this area right now,” Fair said.
Schofield said the advanced manufacturing jobs available right now include “welders and machinists and engineers and all throughout manufacturing, really.”
He said the high job availability has to do with an aging existing workforce.
“A lot of the machinists and the welders and the manufacturing people are getting older, and there is work coming back from countries,” he said. “When I first started out, we worked for companies that sent work over to other countries, and now some of that work is coming back.”
Fair and Schofield both said these are good jobs with benefits.
In exploring different opportunities, Schofield said he found jobs that offered, “anywhere from $38,000 to $60,000 that first year on the job, so it’s pretty good.”
For Fair, it’s now a matter of swimming in opportunities.
“Right now, it’s such a high demand for CNC. I recommend this to anybody looking for a job,” he said.
Fair said he’s now deciding between two job offers.
March 26, 2013
From wjfw.com: “Forestry program provides graduates for a growing industry” – Antigo – The first graduating class from a Northwoods forestry program will receive their diplomas this May, and most of them have job offers.
It’s a program that’s taking the forest industry to another level.
But it’s not just about the trees.
It’s about jobs. “We’re just trying to develop the best possible people for this industry that we can,” said Brown.
Northcentral Technical College’s Wood Tech program is teaching future forest industry employees, right in Antigo.
“The equipment that we have here on the floor, the curriculum that we teach here at NTC is very unique, and it is cutting edge. It’s what employers are looking for when they’re hiring new employees,” said instructor Travis Allen.
The forestry industry job market looks good too.
With almost 60 thousand jobs in Wisconsin in 2011, compared to 52 thousand in 2010, according to the DNR.
Oradei sees it as a sustainable job market too.
“It’s a very desirable industry to be involved with; you’re always working with a renewable resource,” said Oradei.
Brown is happy to see business growing.
“Business has picked up in the united states and worldwide, so it’s getting a lot more fun,” said Brown.
Sixteen students in Travis Allen’s class are hearing from employers too.
“A week ago I had three different employers contact us for skilled employees, and the nice thing is our curriculum is covering exactly what they want to hire on,” said Allen.
March 21, 2013
From wsaw.com: “8 Wis. Technical Colleges awarded funds for laser equipment” – Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson says eight Wisconsin Technical College System schools will be awarded nearly $105,000 to to purchase precision laser alignment tools to help train apprentices in manufacturing and address the skills gap.
“The funding is another example of our continuing efforts to equip workers with the latest skills, empowering them for employment in family supporting jobs,” Secretary Newson said. “With the grants, our workforce partners in the technical colleges can purchase high tech, laser equipment to train apprentices for good jobs in the skilled trades.”
Grants of $13,100 each are being awarded to Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids, North Central Technical College in Wausau, Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Waukesha Technical College, and Milwaukee Area Technical College.
The U.S. Department of Labor funds will go to purchase precision laser alignment tools for rotating machinery. Precision laser alignment is a common testing procedure in maintaining manufacturing equipment and ensuring production efficiency. The colleges will use the equipment to train apprentices in training for occupations as machine repairer, maintenance mechanic, millwright and pipefitter.
February 11, 2013
From jsonline.com: “University, college funding would be tied to job-readiness efforts” – Madison - To respond to global competition and an aging workforce, Gov. Scott Walker wants to invest nearly $100 million to build a faster system to track jobs data, tie technical school and university funding to filling high-demand professions and require nearly 76,000 people to train for work to collect food stamps.
The sweeping proposals – some of the biggest in worker training in more than a decade – would expand the Medical College of Wisconsin to Green Bay and Wausau and draw in millions of dollars in added federal money toward the goal of equipping the workforce for needed jobs as welders, nurses, accountants, machine operators and rural doctors.
The measures encompass big parts of the Republican governor’s 2013-’15 budget being introduced on Feb. 20, as well as separate legislation to be introduced on Monday.
Many of the proposals will likely find bipartisan support in the Legislature, while others will likely be greeted with dissatisfaction from Democrats pushing for bigger investments from the governor to backfill the cuts he has made in the current budget to the state’s technical colleges and universities.
One potentially contentious plank – and one with big implications for Milwaukee – is Walker’s proposal to require able-bodied adults without dependent children to train or search for work to receive benefits under the state FoodShare program. Providing the training will cost the state $17 million a year and won’t save money directly on the federally funded food benefits.
But in an interview, Walker said he believes the recipients will gain confidence and move into the workforce and off other costly state benefits.
“I want to provide a hand up, not a permanent handout, and I think the idea here is it’s not enough to just say, ‘You should go find a job.’ We’re willing to put our money where our mouth is and say we’ll train you,” Walker said.
The scope of the proposed changes is ambitious, reaching from 4-year-old kindergarten through university study and into training in the workplace. The measure draws on reports by Competitive Wisconsin, former Bucyrus International executive Tim Sullivan and Walker’s Read to Lead Task Force.
More investments in education will likely come in the budget, but likely not be enough to placate Democrats. They’ve stewed about Walker’s higher-education cuts in the current budget, which included some $300 million over two years to the University of Wisconsin System alone.
“Governor Walker made the biggest cuts to education and worker training in our state’s history,” said budget committee member Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “It has widened our skills gap and resulted in waiting lists (at technical colleges) of up to three years in some high-demand professions.”
Walker made the UW cuts – as well as ones to local governments and school districts – just after approving a measure that all but eliminated collective bargaining for public workers and required them to pay more for their pensions and health care.
He argued Friday that those savings and the added flexibility offset the cuts, and that to him his proposed spending in the next budget amounts to new money.
The FoodShare proposal would not affect the elderly, disabled or those with minor children. It would limit able-bodied recipients’ benefits to three months over any three-year period unless they are working or doing at least 20 hours per week of job training or searches.
The state will attract federal matching funds for the training costs for a total of $33 million over two years.
The proposal will face skepticism from advocates such as Sherrie Tussler, executive director of Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee. Tussler remembers previous state requirements as creating more jobs for social workers than it did for FoodShare recipients, who she said were taught just basic skills.
“There’s this huge bureaucracy to get people to do the work and make sure they’ve done it. It ends up costing more to mandate the work than the good you get. . . . You’re trying to take away people’s food to get them to get a job,” she said.
Currently, the training element to the program is voluntary, and Tussler said she has struggled to get state funding for a proposal to pay FoodShare participants $10 an hour to work at a farm growing vegetables for the needy. That’s because of tight federal restrictions, she said.
The governor is also proposing linking current state funding to technical schools with their performance at placing their more than 78,000 students in the right jobs.
Starting in 2014, Walker wants 10% of the general state aid to technical colleges to be awarded based on job placement and how well the schools do at catering to fields that are in high demand.
That percentage would ramp up in future years, until all state funds would be allocated on a performance basis, starting in 2020.
The technical colleges would see a $5 million boost in general state aid, bringing it to $88.5 million a year. That’s a 5.9% boost in its current funding, but does not come close to replacing all the money Walker cut from technical colleges in 2011.
That year, funding for technical schools dropped by 30%, from $119.3 million to $83.5 million.
The $88.5 million Walker will propose for technical colleges accounts for just a sliver of overall funding for those schools, which also receive property taxes, tuition and federal aid.
For state universities, Walker is proposing awarding $20 million for programs that help the economy, develop a skilled workforce and make higher education more affordable.
He also plans to give $2 million to the UW System to start up its flexible degree program – about two-thirds of the $3 million the system had requested.
The program is meant to allow people already in the workforce to get degrees in programs such as nursing, information systems or medical imaging more quickly by getting credits for knowledge they already have, whether they learned it on a job site or through online courses.
Walker’s budget would also require the university and technical college systems to establish a core set of 30 college credits that can be transferred between all public institutions in the state.
Private colleges would have a chance to opt into that system.
In a provision that could rankle GOP lawmakers, Walker wants to allow the UW-Madison chancellor to determine the pay plan for employees without going through the Legislature.
Similarly, the UW Board of Regents would be able to set pay for other campuses without getting sign-off from lawmakers – flexibility that UW System President Kevin Reilly said was essential to closing a pay gap with salaries at other institutions.
“Over time, if we can’t give our people hope we’ll be able to close that 18 percentage point gap, people who are mobile and attractive to other universities will leave,” Reilly said. “The biggest threat to students of the future is that they will not be taught by the best and brightest.”
Walker’s budget would also seek to increase the number of doctors and dentists in Wisconsin, particularly in rural areas.
- Provide $7.4 million in bonding so the Medical College of Wisconsin could establish campuses in the Green Bay and Wausau areas. In addition, the college would receive $1.75 million over two years to add 12 more family medicine residents.
- Give $3 million over two years to the UW School of Medicine so it can expand training for doctors who will serve rural areas and inner cities.
- Provide $4 million for rural hospitals so they can receive national accreditation and take on medical residents, along with $1 million in grants to hospitals so they can take more doctors in training.
- Give $520,000 to the Marquette Dental School so it can expand.
- Provide $5 million to the Wisconsin Health Information Organization, which is meant to make health care costs more transparent and make people wiser health care consumers.
Education, other items
Walker’s budget would also expand testing in schools so by the 11th grade teachers can identify and better prepare students who are ready for college or a career when they graduate.
The testing would cost $11.5 million over two years and would be covered by the state. The proposal would also screen the reading readiness of students in 4-year-old kindergarten and first grade in the fall of 2013. The following year, screening would also be used for second-graders. The plan would cost $2.8 million over two years.
Starting in sixth grade, students could develop an academic and career plan, under Walker’s budget. The plan would be updated throughout a student’s school career so he or she can graduate from high school with a job plan. Schools would receive about $1.1 million starting in the fall of 2014.
The second set of Walker’s proposed workforce changes will be stand-alone legislation that will be introduced on Monday, said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). He said he hoped to pass the measure by the end of March.
That bill would cost $20 million over two years and would:
- Spend $15 million over two years in grants to organizations that train workers.
- The competitive grants would go to technical colleges, local workforce boards and regional economic development organizations working in partnership with state businesses, which could provide matching funds.
- Create a four-person state Office of Skills Development to coordinate the scattered worker-training systems of the state and adapt them to the needs of employers.
- Spend roughly $5 million to develop a system to better track the state’s labor market by some time in 2014.
If successful, it would more quickly deliver to students, guidance counselors and businesses data from the state’s unemployment system that currently takes six months to become public.
The system would link jobless workers to openings they are qualified to fill and provide students and guidance counselors with better information about career opportunities. If successful in getting the unemployed back to work even a week sooner, the system could save the state tens of millions of dollars.
Walker, who has struggled to meet his pledge to create 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, said the system wasn’t an attempt to gloss over the current figures, just deliver the same data more quickly.
February 1, 2013
From wkow.com: “Democrats say Gov. Walker is interested in their jobs ideas” – MADISON — Senate and Assembly Democrats are trying to get ahead of the game on job creation in an attempt to make themselves more relevant this legislative session.
“Representative Barca and I have had two meetings already with the Governor, and we’ve talked about some of our initiatives and some of the things that we want to see,” said Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), the Senate Minority Leader.
One of those initiatives is a competitive grant training program.
That allows businesses or economic development agencies to partner with local technical colleges to develop projects that focus on increasing skills in high employment areas.
The best ideas get the grants.
“These are jobs that are advertised, if only they had the training. So we believe we need to focus on workforce training,” said Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), the Assembly Minority Leader.
Another proposal would allow out-of-state investors to receive refundable tax credits for supporting high-tech start-ups and entrepreneurs. Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) said expanding those credits beyond Wisconsin’s borders will only boost the economic growth they’ve already created.
“For $11 million in tax credits, those funds leveraged in Wisconsin a total financing of $152 million for our entrepreneurs and small businesses in our state,” said Sen. Lassa.
But Rep. Fred Clark (D-Sauk City) says existing small businesses also need financial help. That’s why he is proposing an up-front tax credit which would help a business owner secure a loan for expansion or equipment.
He said many current small business tax credits for things like that go unused.
“I worked with a business owner who actually could have benefited from a provision that we passed in 2009, giving a tax credit for purchase of harvesting equipment in forestry. What the owner said to me was, ‘what good is it if nobody will borrow me the money to operate the thing,’” said Rep. Clark.
The Governor’s office confirmed that they are looking at the Democratic proposals, and say they will discuss them further after the full budget is released on February 20th.
January 24, 2013
From bizjournals.com: “Second Chance Partners launch advanced manufacturing pilot program” – Second Chance Partners for Education on Tuesday launched a new advanced manufacturing certificate pilot program in partnership with the Kettle Moraine School District, Waukesha County Technical College, General Electric Co.’s Waukesha gas engines business and Generac Power Systems Inc.
The program is designed to provide high school students who have an interest in technical careers with the ability to earn hands-on work experience and credits at post-secondary schools.
“This pilot exposes students to career pathways inherent in manufacturing, including interests such as welding, fabrication and manufacturing processes to advanced degree fields such as mechanical and electrical engineering,” said Pat Deklotz, Kettle Moraine School District superintendent.
The pilot program will initially serve seven juniors and five seniors from the Kettle Moraine School District. It will be housed at Generac’s facility in Eagle and GE’s Waukesha gas engines facility.
Classroom work will focus on communications, math, applied sciences, social sciences and technical coursework.
Students will also participate in the Youth Apprenticeship Program, where they work four hours a day for the partner companies. They will earn an hourly wage and have the opportunity for raises that can be banked for use as a future college scholarship.
At the end of the program, students will have a portfolio of applied learning experiences and transcripted credits issued by Waukesha County Technical College that count toward an associate’s degree and are stackable and transferable to other Wisconsin technical colleges.
Second Chance Partners for Education, founded in 2000, has primarily focused on serving academically disengaged students with mechanical aptitude and an interest in manufacturing. This pilot program is open to any student with an interest in a technical career related to manufacturing, said Christopher Kent, marketing communications coordinator.
Other differences with the pilot include a more traditional semester model, rather than the 21 consecutive months in current Second Chance programs, Kent said.
Kent said the pilot is an extension of what the organization currently does.
“This pilot allows us to explore ways that we can leverage our model to help more students and be a greater asset for the industry and regions we serve,” said Second Chance Partners for Education president Stephanie Borowski.
January 8, 2013
From wsaw.com: “Nicolet Technical College adds manufacturing associate degree” – Nicolet Technical College in Rhinelander announced this week that they will be offering a manufacturing associate degree starting in January.
Earlier this fall, Nicolet added a six credit manufacturing certificate to their repertoire with the goal of continually adding higher level training. Now, starting on January 23rd, students will be able to enroll in a 65 credit associate degree program thanks to nearly $1.2 million in state and federal grants.
The college used some of that money to upgrade their labs, adding 6 new state-of-the-art stations where students can learn to operate and trouble shoot a wide variety of manufacturing equipment.
Another part of that $1.2 million grant will also be used for financial aid.
So far over 100 students have taken manufacturing classes under the new certificate program and spaces for the new associate degree are filling up fast.
For students already enrolled in the manufacturing certificate program, like Mike Huber, they have the option to extend their schooling a receive that two year degree.
“Originally I was signed up for the certificate class. At that point the degree was not offered, now it is. So I’m enrolled for the degree and planning on following through,” Huber said.
Manufacturing instructor Richard Johnson says this new 65 credit program will send students like Huber into the workforce more prepared than ever before.
“What it’s intended for is to provide instruction to new students just coming in to learn about the systems and components and equipment that would be used in a typical manufacturing facility in the region,” Johnson explained, pointing out that these skills are very valuable right now because of the shortage of skilled workers in the manufacturing industry.
It’s this hands-on training that has Huber confident he will be able to do the job. After graduation he’s hoping to get a job working at a paper mill or cardboard production plant.
“I was self taught in my own profession and that died out and here I am, at my age, going back to school to start a new career and looking forward to it,” Huber said.
November 26, 2012
From bizjournals.com: “MATC investing millions to address skills gap” – Milwaukee Area Technical College is investing millions into its programs to address the region’s talent shortage and has added dozens of new programs since 2011, president Michael Burke said.
The school also recently received a more than $1 million federal grant to provide advanced manufacturing support for the community, Burke said.
Southeastern Wisconsin employers, particularly manufacturers, say they’re struggling to find candidates for open positions with the right skill sets, despite high unemployment.
As part of its response to that need, MATC has added eight degrees, 15 technical diplomas and 24 certificates since 2011, Burke said.
November 14, 2012
From chippewa.com: “Area job picture picking up” – For all the talk of a down economy, Riverside Machine & Engineering in Chippewa Falls has had pretty steady growth. Human Resources Director Rita Bernard estimates it at about 12 to 20 percent each of the past few years.
“We are adding to our workforce. We want to add two full-time and two part-time people,” she said.
A manufacturer of metal parts primarily in the medical and aerospace industries, Riverside has need of people in the machine tool trade. To find them, Riverside came out to the Career Fair at Chippewa Valley Technical College Tuesday, where 27 manufacturers had registered for tables.
The employers were not necessarily in the driver’s seat at the Career Fair. Many were in recruiting mode, looking to convince students who will graduate soon to consider their companies.
Brandon Halmstad felt that. The second-year student originally from Ladysmith in the electromechanical program found quite a bit of interest — in him.
“It’s hard to keep track of where (which tables) I’ve been,” he said. “I looked into ConAgra, and I looked into Presto a lot. I’ve heard from a few different people that they’re a nice company to work for.”
Yes, there are positive signs in the local economy, even with an unemployment rate hovering in the 6.8-percent range in the Eau Claire-Chippewa Falls area. CVTC’s Career Fair was a bit of a good sign itself, with 72 companies registering for 76 tables at three locations. Last year, there were just 51 registrants.
Of course, whether there is a surplus or shortage of workers for job openings depends on the field, but having companies in growth mode tends to help an economy across the board.
“We just about doubled our workforce in a year’s time,” said Gary Fenner from Pro-Cise, a contract manufacturer on Eau Claire’s north side. Pro-Cise is part of the Plank Enterprises family of companies, where Fenner is corporate vice president.
Fenner said Pro-Cise, which has seen growth in orders from the oil industry, currently employs 26.
“We’re looking for machinists and welders, just like every other manufacturer here,” he said.
That includes Thomas & Betts Corporation, whose plant in Hager City has a huge demand for welders to make those huge metal power line poles.
“We have a high demand right now. We just added a third shift not too long ago,” said company representative Rod Peterson.
Other opportunities are available outside the manufacturing area. Service Manager Frank Paulich of E.O. Johnson Office Technologies was primarily recruiting people from the Information Technology programs at CVTC, but one who also has some mechanical aptitude.
“Our real need right now is someone in the middle — someone who carries a screwdriver in one hand and a laptop in the other,” he said.
For job seekers, it’s often all about training for the jobs that are available. First-semester CVTC student Alex Henry of Eau Claire was looking for internships in the Information Technology field.
“Long term, I would like to program mobile applications or games, but I just need to get some experience in the industry,” said Henry, who also has an English degree from UW-Eau Claire.
He set up a couple of interviews at the Career Fair and has a generally positive outlook on his prospects once he finishes the two-year program.
October 29, 2012
From biztimes.com: “Enrollment up at CNC boot camps” – Some area technical colleges that host CNC boot camps have seen increased demand from both employers and students, so they have added additional courses.
“This is basically condensed and it is a very intensive six to eight hours a day,” said Francisco Sanchez, CEO of the WOW Workforce Development Board. “There is no general education courses required.”
WOW and WCTC have increased the number of boot camps they offer to meet the demand in the manufacturing industry, Sanchez said.
“We try to minimize the amount of time they spend in the technical college,” he said. “The manufacturers want to get people in, because there is a huge need right now.”
WOW also hosts a CNC boot camp at Moraine Park Technical College in West Bend, which currently has 16 students enrolled.
Often, WOW is able to bring employers in during the boot camp to talk to students about employment opportunities once they finish the courses.
“We started offering it because an employer came to us and needed about 15 CNC operators,” said Mike Shiels, dean of the School of Applied Technologies at WCTC.
In addition to WOW, WCTC works with the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership to match employers with students, he said.
WCTC previously offered three boot camps per year, but has doubled the offering this year. Last year, between 30 and 45 people graduated from the CNC boot camp, while close to 90 have completed the program this year.
“We have also increased the amount of sections that we’re offering in our one-year program as well,” Shiels said.
The one-year program provides training for CNC machinists, while the boot camp teaches basic manufacturing skills like blueprint reading and the basic operation of CNC machines.
The college has hired an additional full-time instructor to help teach some of the courses, he said.
At Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, there is a one-year course and a boot camp to learn CNC skills. The boot camp participants are generally dislocated workers who are upgrading their skills, said Debbie Davidson, vice president in the workforce and economic development division at Gateway.
“We have found that within the last year, companies are looking to hire again and are looking for maybe different skill sets that what people who worked in machining before had,” Davidson said.
Gateway aims to simulate a work environment at the boot camps, which are 15-week courses with 20 students each. The college recently upped its boot camp offering to three times per year.
Both CNC skills and soft skills like attendance are emphasized, Davidson said.
“Employers have said to us, you need to teach them (soft skills),” she said. “We’ve had great success. We’ve had over a 90 percent placement rate on individuals who come out of the program.”
October 22, 2012
From fox11online.com: “Grant aims to fill manufacturing jobs” – GRAND CHUTE – Fox Valley Technical College recently received nearly three million dollars to train nearly 400 workers.
To state workforce officials, Travis Rewalt is the perfect example of someone helping fill the manufacturing skills gap.
“I felt like I was learning the basics I needed and I kind of wanted to learn more to keep me on top of the game so that I could be marketable in the future,” said Rewalt of Menasha.
State officials say if more people like Rewalt stepped forward, empty jobs in manufacturing could start being filled.
“The skills gap issue is on the training side and people not having the skills to fill the role because there is a perception that manufacturing is dumb, dirty and dangerous and it’s not,” said Georgia Maxwell, the executive assistant for Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development.
The state’s Department of Workforce Development is teaming with Fox Valley Technical College to address the issue. $2.9 million will help train people interested in jobs in welding, machine tool operations, printing and electronics/automation.
“These are the primary areas that we have more demand for jobs and for skilled labor than we have supplies at the moment,” said Steve Straub the dean of Fox Valley Technical College’s Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies Division.
State and school officials say above any other field, manufacturing currently has the most opportunity. They say the problem is there aren’t enough people like Rewalt who want to learn the necessary skills.
“I guess it comes down to motivation of the individuals. The people that seem to want to do it, don’t have the tools available to them, particularly on the financial end,” said Rewalt.
Manufacturing leaders hope the new grant money will help provide that motivation.
The grant money is funded through the federal Trade Adjustment Act.
October 17, 2012
From fox11online.com — “New flight simulator at FVTC” – OSHKOSH – Thinking about a career as a pilot?
Experts at Fox Valley Technical College says there are a shortage of pilots across the country. To address the demands for pilots, the Oshkosh campus has added some new technology to its pilot program, including a flight simulator.
The public can learn more about how the flight simulators work during an open house on Monday, Oct. 22 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Click on the video links to your left to watch the segments that aired on Wednesday’s Good Day Wisconsin. Angela Kelly got to see the new flight simulators and learn about the school’s construction management program.
October 8, 2012
From jsonline.com: “Wisconsin companies’ new task: Manufacturing skilled workers” – High school teacher Scott Bruening encourages his students to pursue blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, something that’s much less common now than it was 30 years ago.
One reason is that, nationwide, more than 600,000 skilled-trades jobs remain open because of a shortage of qualified applicants, according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., which provides audit, tax, consulting and financial services to companies in more than 150 countries.
It’s one of the top-five issues for manufacturers, according to Deloitte, especially as 10,000 Americans a day turn 65 and companies haven’t attracted enough young talent to replace their retirees.
Bruening teaches auto mechanics and other shop classes at Waukesha North High School.
Those programs are making a comeback, he said, as more students realize they can lead to a good career.
“It’s a daily conversation we have,” Bruening said.
Worldwide, more than 10 million manufacturing jobs cannot be filled because of the growing skills gap and because the jobs have become technically more demanding, Deloitte said in a recent report.
In the race to future prosperity, nothing will matter more than talent, said Tim Hanley, the Milwaukee-based U.S. process and industrial products leader for Deloitte.
Last week, about 20 Wisconsin manufacturers opened their doors to high school students to show them the work they do and the jobs that are available.
Some companies had dozens of students sign up for a tour, while others had only a handful.
Having seen layoffs and job losses that decimated entire communities, some people have reason to be skeptical of careers in manufacturing.
“I have lived with some of that myself,” said Nick Kroll, president and CEO of Aries Industries Inc., a Waukesha-based manufacturer of video equipment used to inspect underground facilities. The equipment was used in the rescue of miners in Chile in the summer of 2010.
“We make some cool stuff here, and most people don’t know about it,” Kroll said.
Aries has brought high school students into its plant, where they are mentored and work side-by-side with regular employees. The company also offers college tuition reimbursement for employees.
“I would argue that there are wonderful opportunities in manufacturing,” said Kroll, who entered the field in 1992 as a customer service representative and held sales and business development positions at several companies before he was hired as Aries president and CEO in 2010.
Kroll has seen the downside to manufacturing, including layoffs in the machine-shop industry where, as a teenager, he worked in his father’s business. But he believes the long-term trend favors job openings, including work created as companies bring production back to the United States from other countries.
“The reality is the U.S. has the most productive workforce on the planet,” Kroll said, adding that a combination of technologies and skills allows companies here to manufacture high-quality products at a reasonable cost.
Companies such as Super Steel LLC have grown their own talent through skilled-trades classes.
“If somebody has a good work ethic, we can teach them how to weld,” said Mark Rutkowski, Super Steel’s marketing and sales director.
Even with waves of retirements, there’s some hope the skills gap has narrowed with increased enrollment in technical colleges and with high schools placing more emphasis on manufacturing careers.
“For a long time, there was a real block in education that just cut off manufacturing as a ‘nothing’ career with no future,” said Paul Rauscher, president of EMT International, a Green Bay company that builds equipment for the paper, packaging and other industries.
There are still too many high school students graduating with no career goals, said Jim Golembeski, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board in Green Bay.
“There is either complete ignorance about manufacturing careers in many school systems or an outright hostile attitude,” he said.
Those in the industry say hard work and perseverance can pay off.
In 1979, David Westgate landed a job as a machine operator in a factory that made engine drive shafts.
He was only two weeks out of high school in Allegan, Mich., worked nights and continued his education during the day. He also went through manager training programs and worked in various departments including materials and human resources.
“I didn’t like all of it, and some of it I couldn’t stand, but later on it really paid off,” said Westgate, chairman and chief executive of Jason Inc., a Milwaukee company that generates more than $700 million in annual sales and employs 3,600 people worldwide.
“You kind of pay your dues,” he said.
‘Logical career choice’
Besides working many jobs, Westgate earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Still, he respects those who have remained in the skilled trades.
“To be a tool-and-die maker is a great thing,” Westgate said. “We have to talk about it with our kids, be open and honest with them, and show them that manufacturing is a very logical career choice.”
That conversation couldn’t come quickly enough for many companies hard-pressed to fill jobs that include engineering and product development.
It resonated with Robert Wells, a senior at Waukesha North High School who is pursuing a career in welding and metal fabrication while working part-time at Hydro-Thermal Corp. in Waukesha.
After he graduates, Wells plans to pursue various certifications at Waukesha County Technical College.
He doesn’t feel the need to pursue a four-year college degree.
“I am a very technical person, and I get into creating stuff,” Wells said. “My parents are glad I am going into a field like this. They would rather see me do hard work and feel accomplished. I take pride in what I do.”
October 4, 2012
From voicefwr.com: “Bus tour will show students local manufacturing technology” – October is Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin and manufacturing is definitely the backbone of our community.
The paper industry built our area and continues to support thousands of workers and their families. Many other manufacturers and processors, in many different sizes and industries, have grown in our community and are leading to a comeback for our local economy.
A lot of people think we no longer make anything in our country. This statement is far from the truth. If the U.S. manufacturing sector were its own country, its $1.7 trillion worth of annual value-added would make it the ninth largest economy in the world. This is larger than the entire economy of India, Canada, Mexico or South Korea. On in seven private sector jobs depend on manufacturing to succeed in their business.
A potential problem within manufacturing, which is very prevalent here locally, is the aging workforce within manufacturing. The mean age of the manufacturing workforce is 44.1 years, vs. 42.1 years for non-manufacturing workers, and this gap is growing quickly. In talking with local company representatives, I would say the gap is even bigger here in our community. One local manufacturer called this gap the “silver tsunami” as many of their skilled workers would be retiring over the next several years, and they are not seeing the skills needed from possible applicants to replace this workforce.
Working at these manufacturers is not dark, dirty, and dangerous as might have been thought in the past. The skills needed at today’s manufacturers include high level math, engineering and physics. Technology, including computers and robotics, also play a huge role in modern manufacturing. These jobs of now and the future are high paying, have good benefits, and offer a great quality of life, and are right here in the heart of Wisconsin.
There are many groups hard at work to try to fill this generational skills gap here locally. We are blessed to have Mid-State Technical College in our community. They have the ability to train local workers in the skills needed to fill these opportunities and are working with many local manufacturers to align their curriculum with specific manufacturer’s needs. My colleague Rick Merdan at Incourage Community Foundation has worked hard to help set up programs with MSTC, which includes a food manufacturing science program that has placed several graduates into local food processing companies like Ocean Spray and Membrane Systems.
In an effort to educate our local students about our manufacturers, The Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Heavy Metal Bus Tour” on Oct. 10. We will be taking more than 40 eighth and ninth grade students from Assumption, Immanuel Lutheran, Lincoln, Nekoosa and Port Edwards on tours of several local manufacturers. The Heavy Metal Bus Tour was first held in the Wausau area last year with great success. We will be touring Domtar, Tweet Garot Mechanical, SKS Machine, Corenso, and ECC Corrosion.
We hope to make this an annual event and tour some different local manufacturers every year. MSTC will host lunch, which will include a visit and talk from Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, as well as visits from State Sen. Julie Lassa, State Rep. Scott Krug and Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink.
The goal of the day is to show students some of the amazing work that is being done right here in their own backyard and highlight the skills and education that is needed to fill the positions that will be needed in the near future.
Currently our local manufacturers have to take applicants from around the country to fill engineering and technology positions. Our community has the ability, the facilities, and the skills to keep manufacturing strong and growing and we can fill these positions with locally trained students who want to stay and raise a family here in the Heart of Wisconsin.
I want to thank all of the manufacturers for helping to sponsor the tours, as well as Mid-State Technical College, Lamers Bus and local media WGLX and WFHR. Manufacturing is our base, our backbone, and we need to support it, highlight it, and celebrate it.
Phil Hartley is the director of business development at the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce
From matcburkesblog.wordpress.com: “MATC grads pursuing careers that have lasting impact on society, lives” –By Dr. Michael L. Burke, president MATC –
As business and educational leaders from across Wisconsin deliberate on how to best help both businesses and our residents recover from the economic recession, it is clear to me that the state’s technical colleges will play an integral role in that recovery. Tim Sullivan’s The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin’s Workforce Development suggests a number of solutions to address the state’s skills gap, and I appreciate the herculean effort Mr. Sullivan made in developing the report. and I hope others spend time digesting it.
Mr. Sullivan identifies the need for real-time labor market data. I wholeheartedly agree with him. That is why key administrators at MATC have access to EMSI, a cloud-based database of real-time labor market data for every job title in America. In addition, MATC provides current and prospective students with job and salary growth projections for each associate degree and technical diploma through the Career Coach feature on our website (matc.edu). Students can use this information to map their occupational interests to jobs that have a strong future. They can also learn what education and training is necessary (and available at MATC!) to get started on a rewarding career.
Mr. Sullivan rightly targets the byzantine process we have in Wisconsin around the transferring of college credits. While I am proud of the many transfer options MATC students currently have, both inside and outside of Wisconsin, I support anything we can do to ease the logistics and the sheer weight of processes on our students,
That said, the report’s lack of accurate data and consistency in places undercuts the overall effectiveness of Sullivan’s report for me. On one hand, Mr. Sullivan concludes correctly that using a simple “graduation rate” metric for the state’s technical colleges is not the best way to measure our success, since so many students will opt for employment (or “job out” as we call it) before graduating. Yet, one page later, Mr. Sullivan takes MATC to task for low graduation rates in welding. Mr. Sullivan’s overlooks the rather significant fact that 100 of the 148 students he cites in 2010 were taking classes part-time and simply could not have successfully graduated in that timeframe. Yet, MATC is blamed for a low graduation rate, the metric previously described as ill-conceived and ill-fitting. If you are confused, imagine how I feel.
In addition, I struggle with Mr. Sullivan’s recommendation to charge a higher tuition for students who already hold a baccalaureate degree. Why would we, as a state, penalize students financially when they seek enhanced technical skills that are complimentary to their other degree? There are countless examples of university graduates who are successful in their given profession and who come back to us to further improve themselves in order to get a promotion, a salary raise, or a new career altogether. Honestly, I did likewise, pursuing college course work in fundraising after my Ph.D. I’m just saying….
Mr. Sullivan is right – we need to immediately come together to address the issues that hamper workforce development. However, in our haste to move forward, we cannot rush to judgments that could result in setting the state back even farther. Regardless, I remain committed to being a part of the solution that benefits Wisconsin’s residents and businesses.
September 26, 2012
From lacrossetribune.com: “Jennifer Shilling: Wisconsin must narrow its ‘skills gap’ – As Wisconsin continues to struggle with the effects of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, employers are still having a difficult time finding workers with the necessary skills to fill vacant positions.
Workforce development professionals refer to this as the “skills gap.” Narrowing that gap and ensuring that Wisconsin’s workforce has the necessary skills to meet the needs of current and emerging industries needs to be a priority as we continue to pursue efforts to get our economy moving again.
On Sept. 19, Sen. Jessica King and I convened a hearing about job training and workforce development to learn about the skills gap and discuss ways the Legislature can be a more effective partner in addressing Wisconsin’s workforce training needs.
This hearing was an opportunity for elected officials and stakeholders to have an open dialogue about important workforce development issues confronting Wisconsin, including the skills gap. We heard from the state Department of Workforce Development, as well as representatives from technical colleges, businesses, and the construction trades who are engaged in public-private partnerships that provide training in high demand occupations.
Two main themes emerged from that hearing:
- Wisconsin’s technical colleges, businesses, construction trades and other community partners are engaged in many successful local and regional worker training initiatives throughout the state, and we need to find a way to build on these success stories on a statewide level.
- Adequate resources are needed, including both public and private sector investments, to move workers through the educational pipeline and get them ready to enter the workforce with the proper skills in a timely manner.
The 2011-13 state budget, which I voted against, cut funding for the Wisconsin Technical College System by 30 percent, which put state funding assistance for our technical colleges at a level not seen since the 1980s. Consequently, technical colleges reported almost 12,000 students on waiting lists for high-demand programs throughout the state in June.
It doesn’t take a workforce development expert to make the connection between the significant funding cut for our technical colleges and the growing skills gap dilemma facing our state.
With the next legislative session scheduled to begin in about three months, now is the time to consider our options, have a bipartisan discussion and come up with proposals to tackle our state’s top priorities: preparing Wisconsin’s workforce to meet the needs of employers and growing our state’s economy.
As a member of the Governor’s Council on College and Workforce Readiness, I attend regular meetings focused on creating a bipartisan package of job creation and workforce development recommendations for Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature to consider during the upcoming legislative session and state budget process. I’m hopeful that the work of this council will lead to more bipartisan cooperation in addressing our state’s educational and workforce development needs.
I have confidence that Wisconsin can meet the needs of employers and employees in current and emerging industries, and I also appreciate the limited resources with which we have to work. By including all stakeholders, continuing to have an open dialogue and learning about successful workforce training efforts in high demand occupational fields, we can better understand how to direct our resources to develop and foster a successful statewide workforce development strategy.
September 24, 2012
From jsonline.com: “State can be a model for creating skilled workers” — By Tom Still –An expert in invention and entrepreneurship who has forgotten more about both than most people know recently used this line in a room of economic development professionals: “Increasingly, there is no room in America for the unskilled.”
Before the politically correct among us rise up in solidarity for the right to remain unskilled, let’s do something refreshingly honest and concede he’s right.
The current job market certainly suggests so, given the stubborn national unemployment rate three years after the official end of the recession. And so have credible studies on the future of the American workforce, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast and state-specific reports from the Georgetown University Center on the Economy and the Workforce.
Between 2008 and 2018, Georgetown researchers predicted, the need for workers with some kind of postsecondary training or education will grow by 139,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Jobs for high-school graduates and dropouts will grow by 52,000 jobs. By 2018, 61% of all jobs in Wisconsin will require some postsecondary training.
Meeting the need for skilled workers – from people with the right training for today’s high-tech manufacturing to people with advanced college degrees – has been addressed by three recent reports in Wisconsin. That kind of consensus around the size of the problem should mean solutions are achievable, even in a divided political era.
Unveiled a month ago was “The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin’s Workforce Development.” Otherwise known as the Sullivan report, it was a volunteer effort headed by Tim Sullivan, the former Bucyrus International executive who was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker in February to take a hard look at state workforce gaps.
The report stressed that demographics alone are threatening the state’s long-term economic health. The number of senior citizens living in the state will nearly double between 2010 and 2040 (from 777,000 to 1.54 million), the report said, and its working-age population will grow by a miserly 0.4% (from 3.57 million to 3.58 million).
“Baby boomers are also aging out of the workforce, leaving gaps that cannot be met by our current projected population, or the education system in which they develop working skills,” it read.
The Sullivan report’s conclusions ranged from finding ways to encourage immigration of high-skilled, hard-to-find workers to better coordination of state workforce programs to establishing academic and career plans for all students.
Another recent report stressed the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education. “Wisconsin STEM: Navigators to the future” was produced by a group led by Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College. Gateway has a successful history of meeting employer needs for skilled labor.
That report noted that so-called STEM occupations are predicted to grow by 17% from 2008 to 2018 and that STEM workers command higher wages, earning 26% more than their non-STEM counterparts. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs in the United States was three times the rate of non-STEM jobs. Workers with STEM skills are also more likely to keep a job, contribute to a local economy and drive innovation, the report noted.
“STEM education is an imperative to secure our state’s viability in a competitive global economy,” said S. Mark Tyler, president of OEM Fabricators and a contributor to the report.
It established five markers to chart success: Eliminate barriers that prevent learners from exploring STEM careers; emphasize acquiring STEM knowledge and skills for all learners; increase public-private partnerships with a focus on STEM skills; establish a statewide awareness campaign for STEM careers; and invest in development for educators so they can better integrate STEM throughout the curriculum.
Also weighing in is the Department of Public Instruction, which recently issued its Agenda 2017 report. Among its recommendations are increasing Wisconsin’s graduation rate, doubling college and career readiness rates, and increasing the percentage of students scoring proficient in third-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics.
One specific DPI recommendation: Expand high-school programs for “dual enrollment.” Those are programs that allow high school students to earn college credits and specific career skills through industry certifications and youth apprenticeships.
Indeed, there is precious little room in America for the unskilled. With the help of those who are committed to understanding the problem, perhaps Wisconsin can become a model for giving the unskilled hope and pathways to more rewarding, productive lives.
September 7, 2012
From goldcollarcareers.com: “Deal with the skills gap in advanced manufacturing” – Wisconsin’s technical colleges’ success in aligning technical education and manufacturing careers was the focus of an international delegation in Washington, D.C. recently.
Experts from Wisconsin, California, and New York were invited by the U.S. Department of Education to meet with Chinese officials interested in American approaches to involving business and industry leaders in the development of education programs. Wisconsin leaders focused on the technical colleges’ approach to developing “gold-collar careers,” which offer rewarding opportunities in high-tech manufacturing to those with a passion for pushing the limits of machining, electronics, IT, and other technologies.
Wisconsin’s representatives were Jim Mackey, the Wisconsin Technical College System’s manufacturing program expert, and Dan Conroy, vice president of human resources for the Nexen Group, a leading manufacturer in northwestern Wisconsin and a close partner of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
“Chinese manufacturers are facing some of the same challenges we are, including worker preparation and closing skills gaps,” said Mackey. “We had a great response from everyone involved.”
“The meeting was amazing,” said Conroy. “There was much openness and sharing. All the participants were congenial and engaged. It certainly reinforced the importance of our efforts – the urgency of the skill shortage issue – and highlighted the fact that we have to keep chasing this.”
This was the second time that U.S. and Chinese officials convened on the topic of career and technical education, with the focus of this session on the unique and critical role Wisconsin employers play in developing the curriculum for each education or training program.
“I believe Nexen Group is the standard for other manufacturers to follow when it comes to promoting “gold-collar careers,” said Bob Meyer, president of WITC “I’m pleased that the Chinese educators were able to expose themselves to a best practice partnership as represented by Jim Mackey and Dan Conroy. The Chinese delegation learned from the best in the nation.”
Local and regional employers serve on advisory committees for each technical college program. These committees rely on the employers’ expertise to ensure that courses and programs are aggressively modified to consistently reflect current industry practices. The employers also provide valuable local labor market insights, which allow the colleges to be confident that program graduates will find employment upon graduation.
“Knowing both Jim and Dan well, I guarantee that this was a productive exchange, and one that really showcased the great work being accomplished by all of our colleges in delivering manufacturing programs that truly reflect the needs of employers,” said Mark Tyler, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board.
Roughly 90 percent of Wisconsin technical college graduates are placed in jobs within six months of graduation. This latest recognition of the high-quality education and training programs offered by the technical colleges comes as the state tightens its focus on job creation and positioning for Wisconsin’s employers to be even more globally competitive.
“The success of WITC, as well as the other 15 Technical Colleges in Wisconsin, is dependent on strong working relationships with business and industry,” said Meyer. “And there is no stronger partner in that regard than Nexen Group under Dan Conroy’s leadership. Not only does Nexen Group invest itself heavily with participation on WITC’ advisory committees to strengthen our programmatic offerings that hone our graduates’ capabilities, but the company is also extremely dedicated to developing career pathways in the K-12 system by clearly articulating all of the exciting and challenging manufacturing career options available.”