From inwisconsin.com: “State launches expanded, accelerated training program for trucking jobs” — Pewaukee – Governor Scott Walker made a stop at the Waukesha County Technical College today to announce the launch of a new program, designed to channel Wisconsin residents, including veterans, through accelerated training courses and into guaranteed placements at companies in the growing trucking industry.  Up to 300 Wisconsinites who pass eligibility screening will earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and advance to a placement at one of three Wisconsin trucking firms.

“Wisconsin’s transportation industry is experiencing a significant skills gap that will continue through at least 2020, and we need to act aggressively to address this issue,” Governor Walker said.  “Innovative approaches, like this accelerated training program, are the kinds of investments we need.  The incentive of a guaranteed placement at the conclusion of the program makes this initiative a win-win for employers and Wisconsin’s working families.”

The new CDL training program represents collaboration between the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Wisconsin Technical College System, transportation industry leaders, and three major Wisconsin employers: Schneider National of Green Bay, Roehl Transport of Marshfield, and WEL of De Pere.

The Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) currently offers the course, and Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) will begin offering it this summer.  The Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offer related instruction at their sites.

“As Wisconsin’s lead state agency for talent development, DWD supports innovative workforce solutions that prepare individuals for careers in growing industry sectors,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson.  “We were pleased to convene the workgroup that ultimately led to this new initiative.  Wisconsin workers benefit with skills training and guaranteed placements and participating employers benefit with a direct pipeline to fill their openings.  Both efforts benefit Wisconsin’s economy.”

“One of WEDC’s areas of emphasis is to work with our partners throughout Wisconsin to help expand workforce training systems, especially for the state’s key industries,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization.  “There is no question that Wisconsin trucking companies need more qualified drivers to ensure their continued success, and the continued success of our economy.  We believe this program will play a key role in helping to fill that need.”

Up to 300 eligible job seekers will complete a four-week training course that results in a Commercial Driver’s License and a guaranteed placement at one of the three participating companies.  Once placed, the successful graduates will complete the standard introductory stage at the company and become a permanent hire.  Experienced semi-truck drivers can earn more than $23 per hour, or approximately 15 percent above the average wage in Wisconsin.

In the program, potential participants register on JobCenterofWisconsin.com and complete a series of assessments to determine their eligibility.  Those deemed eligible will complete the four-week training course offered through FVTC or WCTC, and then be matched with a guaranteed placement at one of the three trucking employers.

Given a capacity of 300 placements, DWD is prioritizing veterans, dislocated workers, workers who receive federal Trade Adjustment Assistance, and certain individuals who are eligible for programs under the federal Workforce Investment Act.  The training and placements will be at no cost to the participant.  Other interested job seekers who are deemed eligible for the program will be asked to cover the $2,500 cost of the training.

The transportation companies’ hiring needs are in line with projections showing the need for semi-truck drivers will grow by 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, to more than 55,000 semi-truck drivers.

Governor Walker recently signed legislation as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative to increase funds in the nationally-recognized Wisconsin Fast Forward by $35.4 million to focus on three key areas, including:

  • Grants to Wisconsin technical colleges to reduce wait lists in high-demand fields;
  • Collaborative projects among businesses, school districts, technical colleges, and educational partners to equip high school pupils with industry-recognized certifications in high-demand fields; and
  • Programs that enhance the employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Additionally, the current round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grant program announcements includes $1 million in available funds for employer-driven worker training programs for transportations, logistics, and distribution occupations.  These funds can be used to train new workers for job openings or train existing workers that results in a wage increase.

Interested job seekers are encouraged to visit https://jobcenterofwisconsin.com/Trucking/ or contact their local Job Center, which can be located at http://www.wisconsinjobcenter.org/directory/.

From jsonline.com: “MATC’s culinary programs expand, benefitting students and public” – By Nancy J. Stohs – The culinary programs at Milwaukee Area Technical College have undergone major changes in the last couple of years, and the hungry public is as much a beneficiary as the students.

When the student-run Cuisine restaurant relocated in fall of 2012 to the first floor of the school’s main downtown campus, that opened up space on the sixth floor to add a second culinary skills lab and an international foods lab, both of which opened this past fall.

That made two things possible: the addition of four course requirements to the culinary arts curriculum — regional American cuisine, European/Mediterranean cuisine, Asian cuisine, and South and Central American cuisine — and to eliminate the program’s waiting list.

“In the past, we could take 35 new students a semester, or about 70 a year,” said Richard Busalacchi, associate dean of hospitality and food manufacturing programs at MATC. “Last fall we took in about 75 students and this spring 86 students.

“Anybody who applied to the culinary arts program got in.”

The baking and pastry arts program, similarly, nearly doubled its enrollment after a new baking and chocolate lab opened last fall on the first floor. Typically, 50 students would be admitted each year; this year, it was 80.

And that’s where the hungry public comes in. The new baking lab feeds a new student-run venue, the 6th Street Cafe, located across the hall from Cuisine. Opened last fall serving coffee and breakfast, it added lunch this semester.

That was based on a recommendation from the program’s advisory committee.

In order to stay competitive, “the bakeries we knew once upon a time that just did doughnuts and cookies and cakes have evolved,” Busalacchi explained. So while the students do learn how to bake, “they also end up with a solid skill set for the café operation.”

Soups ($2 cup, $3 bowl), salads ($4.95 to $6.95), sandwiches ($6 or $6.94), plus various coffee drinks, pastries, cold beverages and seven flavors of ice cream and sorbet are on the cafe’s menu, which changes slightly every few weeks.

Everything in the cafe is made from scratch, including the breads for sandwiches and the sorbets and ice creams, and — as in Cuisine — ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible.

Last week I sampled a zesty Oaxacan black bean soup, a flavorful spinach salad with walnuts, pears, chevre, grapes and balsamic vinaigrette and an applewood smoked ham and aged cheddar sandwich. Oh, and a couple of couldn’t-resist desserts sold in the adjoining 6th Street Bakery.

Like Cuisine, the cafe is open most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters. Café hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (lunch service starts at 11:30). The café will close for the semester around the first week of May; Cuisine the second or third week.

Cuisine takes reservations (free through Open Table), while the cafe, which seats up to about 70 in two dining rooms and which also offers carryout, is walk-up service.

So far, promotion of the cafe has been internal word of mouth only.

Operating the 6th Street Cafe is the capstone class for the two-year baking and pastry arts program, just as operating Cuisine restaurant is the final course for culinary arts students. Graduation and job-hunting are next.

In addition to these two programs, MATC also added a two-year culinary management program about a year ago.

And where will all of these graduates find jobs?

Busalacchi isn’t worried. Statistics show that more than 800 new food service jobs — cooks, chefs, bakers and managers — are added annually within a 50-mile radius of downtown Milwaukee.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant and foodservice industry is the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer, employing more than 13 million people, or 10% of the U.S. workforce.

What’s next?

The school is hoping to have Cuisine restaurant open for business some evenings in the spring of 2015 and that summer, Busalacchi said.

As for major changes, “we’re done for a while.”

From jsonline.com: “Electric trike entrepreneurs set off on an Odyssey” — A high school project that began with scrap steel and parts from a machine used to groom ski hills has morphed into an electric trike and a business.

The latest iteration of the three-wheel vehicle from Odyssey Trikes of Slinger has a top speed of 50 mph and a range of about 50 miles before it has to be recharged.

Odyssey Trikes is a fledgling business started by Dustin Herte, a Milwaukee School of Engineering graduate, and Ryan Bass, a Milwaukee Area Technical College student.

Herte and Bass were in high school when they built their first electric trike in 2009. It has since gone through many design changes to become a prototype that’s nearly ready for the marketplace.

Odyssey Trikes has launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign meant to raise $25,000 by the end of the month. With Kickstarter, businesses seek money from the public to get projects underway.

Herte said the trike has the power and speed of an electric motorcycle, with the added benefit of a third wheel for more stability.

The trike has pedals so that legally it’s classified as a bicycle. In stock form, it has a top speed of about 20 mph, but the motor can be tweaked for faster speeds.

The trike will sell for about $6,000. Still in the development stage, Odyssey has landed only one sale through Kickstarter but is gearing up for additional business, including sales to police departments that could use the trikes for patrol work.

Herte says he and Bass will use their website to sell trikes.

“I am not worried as long as we get the foundation of the business established,” Herte said of taking the prototype trike to a product in the electric bike marketplace.

“I realize there’s a lot more that needs to be done that will cost a lot of money … but we are trying for no debt. We haven’t needed outside money yet,” he added.

“If we have all the parts lined up, we can generally assemble one trike per day. We know where to get the parts we can’t make, but we want more options — and we want to be able to produce even more of these parts ourselves,” Odyssey says on its website.

Power-assisted bicycles have been around for more than a century, but recent lithium battery-powered motors have increased running times and speeds. The electric bikes allow people who are not necessarily in good physical condition to commute to work, school or run errands in town. They’re cheap to operate and easy to ride.

Some of the three-wheel versions are capable of carrying hundreds of pounds of cargo in addition to the driver. In Europe, United Parcel Service is testing electric trikes for package deliveries. In Milwaukee, at least one restaurant is using them for food deliveries.

Some electric trikes, where the rider sits only inches from the ground, are capable of going from zero to 30 mph in a few seconds.

“They can be somewhat dangerous, since automobile drivers don’t quite know how to react,” said Craig Peterson, an electric bike enthusiast and the founder of Buffalo Water Beer Co. “They don’t know how to anticipate how fast these things go.”

Under Wisconsin law, electric bikes are limited to a top speed of 20 mph when operated with motor-only power. They are allowed to go faster when the rider pedals and the motor assists. They’re allowed on bike paths and city streets.

“As long as you are riding respectfully, like everything else in life, there shouldn’t be an issue,” said Henry Blum, an electric bike salesman at Len’s Electric Bikes, in Madison.

Trek Bicycles, based in Waterloo, has made electric bikes, including models with different operating modes that vary the motor assistance. As the rider pedals, the motor will adjust to achieve the most efficient electric assistance. The bike also has a manual throttle to get maximum motor speed.

One of Trek’s bikes uses regenerative braking to capture some of the energy lost during braking and put it back into the battery. On a long downhill ride, the pedal power will charge the battery even more, extending the bike’s range.

Electric trike manufacturer Outrider USA recently introduced a full-suspension trike aimed at people with physical disabilities, including limited muscular function. The trike can be configured many different ways, depending on the rider’s needs, and is built for all-terrain use.

“Nothing compares with being outside and getting some good miles behind you,” said Jesse Lee, a partner in Outrider, based in Fletcher, N.C.

From jsonline.com: “Home improvement show serves as teaching tool” –For the 8th consecutive year, the Interior Design Contest between students from local colleges is a prominent feature of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Show.

Sponsored by Nehmey Construction, the contest pits students from Gateway Technical College, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Mount Mary University and Waukesha County Technical College in a competition to design and construct a 12-foot-by-12-foot room display with a 2014 theme of “Bring the Outside In.”

The participating schools, who will each receive $1,000 for the school’s interior design program from the Milwaukee/NARI Foundation, created and built the following designs:

  • Gateway Technical College: A dining room uses elements inspired by the outdoors with warm, neutral tones and earthy prints that creates a classic and informal space. A unique room selection is a dining table created from a reclaimed section of fence that was painted and distressed. The walls have salvaged window shutters, exterior lanterns and a mirrored window, while birdcages function as artistic light fixtures.
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC): A child’s playroom has an urban concept of the outdoors, utilizing bold colors and kid-friendly furniture selections.
  • Mount Mary University: A rustic and feminine-style home den includes natural wood textures combined with light and airy colors. This design also focuses on the use of sustainable and reclaimed products.
  • Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC): A pergola includes rockers, a table and chairs, a screen door and siding.

Gateway, participating for the 4th consecutive year and the 2013 contest winner, has six students that are part of its team. “Students in last fall’s Residential Design Studio course competed against each other to determine the space design,” said Rita Serpe, interior design instructor at Gateway. “Once design was selected, the Commercial Design Studio students work together to install and complete the display.”

MATC returned to the competition after a one-year absence, as six student members of the American Society of Interior Design were actively involved in the design process, with several other students assisting in the procurement of materials and products plus construction. “The work, from concept development through build out and show staffing, is accomplished on a volunteer basis,” said Mary Walgren, MATC interior design instructor. “Students are able to use classroom facilities, equipment, and resources to plan and meet on the design. In addition, any open lab time can be used toward their work on the project.”

At Mount Mary, the 14 students that are part of the competition are from two classes. “The freshmen class focused on project design and development, while the sophomore/junior class worked on project management skills and mentored the freshmen in the design development process,” said Leona Knobloch-Nelson, associate professor and Interior Design Student Chapter faculty advisor. “The students learn collaboration and team participation.”

WCTC has been part of the contest since its inception. This year, eight students that are members of the school’s Interior Design Club have worked on the plan. “Typically we meet over the holiday break to come up with the final plan and start working on construction,” said Brooks Eberlein, WCTC interior design instructor and club advisor. “The week prior to the show is a hustle to get everything ready for a smooth installation, and the week of the show are long hours of prepping the space and getting everything in its proper place.”

The instructors see a variety of benefits for the students, including the opportunity to network with other students, connecting with the business community for resources, and project and time management skills.

“This type of hands-on projects gives students a practical experience that simply cannot be found in a textbook or a classroom,” Walgren said. “They get real-world exposure to deadlines and are able to grow their network of professionals and vendors as they work through the product procurement process. Time management, collaborative design and team projects are standard practice for our industry and this experience exposes students to those concepts.”

“The students have fun because they get the gratification of seeing the completion of their design,” Knobloch-Nelson said.

Serpe explained that students benefit from multitasking schoolwork along with a real-world project. “Plus, they need to be creative working with a small budget,” she said.

“For many, this is a first-time hands-on experience that involves carpentry and construction,” Eberlein said. “These experiences enrich learning and also give students inside knowledge that they may share with clients at a later time. Not only do students get hands-on experience, they take great pride in their efforts. Students have also been able to network with NARI exhibitors. In some cases, this networking has led to internships and jobs. The overall experience is win-win.”

Show attendees have had the opportunity to vote on their favorite room design. The winning school will be announced after votes are tabulated at the conclusion of the show, and the school will receive a plaque.

Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Show hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16. Admission is $8 at the door. Tickets for those 60 and older are $5. Children 16 and younger and all military personnel with a military photo ID card are admitted free.

From jsonline.com: “President Barack Obama to highlight job training in Waukesha visit” — President Barack Obama drops into the Republican stronghold of Waukesha County on Thursday morning and is expected to discuss a subject that unites Republicans and Democrats.

Job training.

Obama is due to visit GE’s Waukesha gas engines plant, a facility that employs around 700 people and manufactures natural gas engines.

He is scheduled to tour the plant, meet with executives and line workers, and give a speech, before making his way to an afternoon appearance at a high school in Nashville, Tenn.

A senior Obama administration official said that during his Waukesha appearance, the president is expected to discuss taking executive action to enhance reform of job training programs. The official laid out the general themes of Obama’s visit during a teleconference with reporters.

The Wisconsin stop is part of Obama’s two-day tour after his State of the Union address.

According to the official, the president is striving to amplify key themes from the speech, including expanding economic opportunity for Americans.

“That is the focus of the president’s domestic policy agenda,” the official said. “It is the focus of his efforts to try to find common ground with members of Congress. We certainly are hopeful that there would be some bipartisan common ground that could be found on some basic steps we could take that would expand economic opportunity for every American, in areas like job creation, job training and education.”

The official said the president will “also talk about his willingness to act on his own.

“When Congress refuses to act, the president won’t wait for them,” the official said.

The White House announced that after his speech in Waukesha, Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum to initiate “an across-the-board review of how to best reform federal training programs.”

Vice President Joe Biden will lead the effort.

A competition will also be launched for the final $500 million of a community college training fund. Every state will be awarded at least one grant. The competition is designed to bolster partnerships with community colleges, employers and industry to “create training programs for in-demand jobs.”

The  senior administration official said the GE plant in Waukesha employs highly skilled workers who are trained to perform specific tasks.

“What the president would like to see is a re-orientation of our job training programs,” the official said. “The president wants to make our job training programs across the country more job-driven.”

The official explained that such reorientation means greater coordination between federal agencies that oversee job training grant programs and local community colleges, communities and employers.

The official said “there are many businesses across the country that, despite what continue to be elevated unemployment rates, still do have openings for workers. The difference is they are looking for workers with a very specific skill set.”

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has also emphasized the need to get workers the right training to match job openings in fields such as manufacturing and computer technology.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who will greet the president at Mitchell International Airport and be with him at the GE plant, said he expected the focus of the visit will be the economy and jobs.

“It’s something I’ve been talking about for some time,” Barrett said. “It’s what I call ‘ships passing in the night.’ Workers can’t find jobs. Employers can’t find workers. We’ve got to find a way to bring them together.”

The mayor said he hoped to share with Obama the work going on in the Milwaukee area to accomplish that.

He specifically mentioned the work of the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG STEP, which develops resources and services for companies to expand employment and advancement opportunities by upgrading the skills of current employees and training residents to get family-supporting jobs.

Barrett also cited the work of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, which is a government-business partnership that administers employment and training programs; Milwaukee Area Technical College; and Waukesha County Technical College.

Last week, Barrett and mayors from other cities around the country met with Vice President Joe Biden and discussed the manufacturing partnership between workers and employers.

“I’m guessing this is something in their wheelhouse,” Barrett said of Obama’s visit to Waukesha.

From jsonline.com: “MATC revamps south side Milwaukee building for worker” — Milwaukee Area Technical College’s failed enterprise center and business incubator on the south side has been converted into an education center that will provide academic and training programs in the largely Latino community.

For many years the MATC enterprise centers — one on the north side and one on the south side — provided low-cost rent designed to help launch new businesses and create jobs.

But a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation in 2008 and 2009 showed many problems with the tax-supported business incubators. Tenants were behind in rent, expenses for the incubators exceeded revenue and there was little or no tracking to determine if the incubators created jobs.

The Milwaukee Enterprise Center North at 2821 N. 4th St. started in 1985 and was sold by MATC in 2011.

But MATC retained the Milwaukee Enterprise Center South, 816 W. National Ave., which opened in 1994.

For a time, the dislocated worker program run by the HIRE Center, in partnership with the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, was housed in the building to train workers who had lost their jobs.

But the investment board and the HIRE Center consolidated their operations at the investment board offices at N. 27th St. and W. North Ave. in October, said Dorothy Walker, interim dean of MATC’s School of Technical and Applied Sciences.

At the same time, MATC’s F building on N. 4th St., which housed some training programs, was sold to the BMO Harris Bradley Center next door, she said.

Some of the businesses in the incubator didn’t seem to grow well and the economic downturn contributed to the failure of the enterprise center, Walker said.

“As we looked at using space more efficiently and looking at new programs and new areas to best serve the community, we decided to re-purpose the MEC south with a focus on building more educational and training programs there,” she said.

“What we’re doing there now focuses on our core mission and meets the needs of the community.”

So the 127,000-square-foot south side building has undergone $2.3 million in renovations to accommodate the many training programs once located in the F building.

The MATC Office of Workforce and Economic Development, which works with businesses and industry to provide corporations with customized programs, has been moved to the south side.

The college is focusing on locating construction and trade-related training programs there because there are a lot of small contractors on the south side, Walker said.

Now called the MATC Education Center at Walker’s Square, it’s also close to Bradley Tech High School, which has a technical focus on construction. The college will look for ways to connect with the high school, she said.

Bay View High School also has some focus on construction and links there will be sought, she said.

The plumbing program has been moved from the F building to the south campus. The one-year program leads to a technical diploma, and it’s the only plumbing program offered at a technical college in the state, instructor and master plumber Mike Geiger said.

The training program also leads to apprenticeships in three unions — plumbers, steamfitter and sprinkler fitters, he said. Last week students were busy moving washers, dryers and water heaters into the new spaces to begin the plumbing lessons required.

The brick and masonry program also has been moved. The one-semester technical diploma program serves as a pre-apprentice program, said Dragomir Marinkovich, the associate dean for engineering and construction.

Next year the school plans to move its appliance technician program from the downtown campus to the south side, he said.

He said the trade programs are critical because it’s estimated that in the spring construction jobs will start picking up again and “these guys will be ready.”

Continuing education classes also are offered in upholstery and sewing.

Alfredo Luna, associate dean of the office of workforce and economic development, said he’s working with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, the Walker’s Point Association and other nonprofits and businesses in the area to determine the needs of the community and how the center can help.

Walker said that in addition to construction, there will be a focus around energy, solar and water services.

The south center is not far from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Fresh Water Sciences that’s being constructed on the south side and MATC will look for training areas related to water, she said.

Ald. José Pérez, who represents the area, said he’s excited about the new education center and the possibilities for developing training and jobs for so many who live within walking distance.

“With time, I think there will be so many services, such as registering for classes, filling out financial aid forms, taking classes and specialized training in the trades,” he said.

He’s especially interested in sustainability and water programs. He said that seems to be a natural progression for the area with the new fresh water sciences school, the water council and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District, all located on the south side.

From jsonline.com: “MATC leaders, Sen. Baldwin discuss expanded focus on ‘green-collar’ jobs” –Milwaukee Area Technical College has expanded its training for people working in green-collar fields, including those who will maintain and repair growing fleet of vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas.

And the Wisconsin Auto and Truck Dealers Association is expanding training of vehicle technicians to include training to fix hybrid electric vehicles.

In Wauwatosa, Telkonet Inc. has hired five workers who were in the MATC sustainable facilities operations program at the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing in Oak Creek.

These are some examples highlighted during a roundtable with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) Wednesday morning at MATC’s downtown campus.

Baldwin is visiting technical colleges around the state Wednesday and Thursday to discuss green-collar jobs and a bill that she introduced last week that would expand training for careers in clean-energy and sustainable business fields.

The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation, or GREEN Act, would create a $100 million competitive grant program through the U.S. Department of Energy to help facilitate training programs, as well as energy-saving or sustainability-focused facility upgrades, at technical colleges around the country.

“This is really going to help build some of the partnerships that have already been started in this case, but create, I hope, a bunch that don’t yet exist,” Baldwin said.

The green collar sector employed more than 3.4 million people nationwide in 2011, according to federal Labor Department statistics released last year.

AT ECAM in Oak Creek, taking courses in the sustainable facilities operations program led Steve Dudek of Brookfield to get hired as a project manager at Telkonet, a developer of energy-saving technologies for hotel and college dorm rooms, even before he completed his associate’s degree, he said.

The program gave him in-the-field training when he got the chance to conduct an energy audit at his children’s school in Brookfield, he said.

Telkonet employees who have gone though the program are already versed in the importance of saving energy in a building and systems that can enable that, and then can “land virtually running,” said Gerrit Reinders, executive vice president of Telkonet, which has 105 employees and is growing.

The training on CNG trucks at MATC in Oak Creek has expanded since it was first launched in 2012.

The program has done five rounds of training, starting with city of Milwaukee employees for the refuse trucks that will run on CNG, said MATC instructor Craig Kuehl.

“It’s been very well received,” he said. Most recently the college conducted training with technical college instructors from around the state, to help broaden the base of people experienced with maintaining CNG vehicles, he said.

Ted Wilinski of MATC said Baldwin’s bill could still be helpful to MATC, even though it has moved more quickly than some other technical schools in training for careers in renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

The college would like to pursue energy-saving changes that would enable the south campus to become certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council, and it’s possible this could be a source of funding to assist with that initiative, he said.

From milwaukeenns.org: “Local testing centers prepare to administer new GED test” – Though uncertainty remains as to how the doubled price of the new GED test will affect local students, local testing centers are all nearly set to begin administering the computer-based exam.

Testing centers ceased offering the old version of the exam in mid-December, and those who weren’t able to complete all five tests needed for GED certification will have to start over. The change affected thousands of local students, though a hard push by adult education centers across the city resulted in hundreds earning their GEDs before the deadline. All testing centers in the city will be administering tests by Feb. 1 or earlier.

“All systems are go at MATC,” said Carol Spain, manager of Student Accommodation Services at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), which houses the largest local testing center at its downtown campus, 700 W. State St.

Spain said the school, which offers GED testing at all four locations, is prepared for new students to register for the set of tests, though no one has yet. The tests now cost $135, while the previous exams cost $65.

Though the beginning of the year is a slow period for testing, Gloria Pitchford-Nicholas, dean of the School of Pre-College Education at MATC, said any significant increase in cost is a cause for concern.

Jennifer Brown (left), celebrated earning her high school equivalency diploma with children Giannie and Lonnie at a Journey House Family Learning Center graduation event. (Photo by Edgar Mendez).

MATC does not offer programs to help students cover the cost, Pitchford-Nicholas said, “but perhaps some of our partner agencies will in the near future.”

Spain said that in the past various community organizations provided vouchers to help cover some or the entire cost of the tests.

Jake Gorges, education coordinator at the Social Development Corporation (SDC), 4041 N. Richards St., said no students have signed up to take the test there. In the past, SDC has provided some subsidies for students to help cover the cost of testing materials, but as of now, most of the organization’s GED funding has gone toward setting up for the new test, according to Gorges.

“Some portion of the population is certainly going to be impacted by the price,” said Gorges, adding that there are initiatives in the works that could help.

For example, he mentioned that students will soon be able to have tests “gifted to them.” In other words, donors will have the opportunity to pay online for individual tests or the entire set for a student.

The new GED test will include four exams instead of five, and test-takers will need to do more high-order thinking to pass, said Westmore Holmes, instructional chair for the High School Education/GED program at MATC, in an earlier interview with NNS. The test will continue to assess whether students have achieved the equivalent of a high school education, but will comply with state and national standards as well, Holmes said.

Pitchford-Nicolas added that the new test will better assess whether students are able to meet employer needs in a computer-based society and also better prepare them for further educational endeavors.

Many educational leaders have described the test as more difficult, but Michele Bria, CEO of Journey House, said she’s not worried about students adjusting to the new test. Journey House offers GED prep courses in Spanish and English,

“Critical thinking is still critical thinking,” Bria said.

As to how the new price will impact students at Journey House, Bria said that perhaps working with students on financial planning and other cost-saving measures is in order.

“There is a fee even to take the practice tests so it will be difficult to ration those vouchers so people can practice,” Bria said.

Below is a listing of Milwaukee GED testing centers and dates in which tests will be offered.

  • MATC (All campuses)- Currently offering the exam
  • SDC, 4041 N. Richards St.- Currently offering the exam
  • UMOS, 2701 S. Chase Ave.- Jan. 22nd
  • YWCA, 1915 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive- Feb. 1st

From onmilwaukee.com: “Pastry Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer: Through the eyes of an apprentice” – World renowned pastry chef Jacquey Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School and author of the new book “The Art of French Pastry,” has won countless accolades for his tireless pursuit of perfection in pastry.

He has also been recognized for his exceptional mentorship, which he has extended to dozens of pastry students from Wisconsin. Some, like Chef Kurt Fogle of SURG Restaurant Group, who Pfeiffer mentions by name as a star pupil, have gone on to make their own marks on the world of pastry.

On January 12, Fogle and a team of some of the city’s finest culinary talent – including Chefs Justin Carlisle of Ardent, Matt Haase of Rocket Baby Bakery, Andrew Miller of Hom Woodfired Grill and Jarvis Williams of Carnevor — will host a dinner honoring Pfeiffer. The five course dinner will serve as a celebration of his life, his work, and his new book.

The menu is being kept under wraps, but Fogle says each chef will be pulling out the stops in an effort to pay homage to Pfeiffer.

“We all work together, and we’re all a little competitive,” Fogle remarks, “So, you know everyone is bringing their A-game. There’s something–without trying to sound like too much of a weirdo — about watching five guys really going for it. To be a person in the room experiencing those dishes.”

Fogle has a particular investment in the dinner, since Pfeiffer was a key influencer in setting the direction of his career.

During his tenure with Pfeiffer, Fogle was one of very few Americans who had the privilege of taking part in the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France), a competition captured in the documentary, “Kings of Pastry.”

NPR’s Ella Taylor remarked, “Kings of Pastry is about the craft, the teaching and learning, the collaborative work, the tedium, the heartbreak and emotional backbone it takes to make something lovely, even if that something is destined to disappear down a gullet in seconds — and even if the maker ends up a noble failure.”

“The whole damn experience was indelible,” Fogle says. “Working with Pfeiffer was two years of just having my mind blown day after day. And it was exhausting. Nothing will ever be harder than that. Nothing. I’m going to continue to challenge and push myself, but that’s the highest level.”

Working together created a professional and personal bond between the two chefs. Fogle says Pfieffer continued to be his mentor even after he left Chicago. In fact, it was Pfieffer who encouraged Fogle to move back to his home state of Wisconsin after completion of the competition.

“Since I was 15 working at O&H Danish Bakery in Racine, I had a passion for this part of the culinary world, and Pfeiffer encouraged me to come back and see where I could enhance pastry here,” he says.

He credits Pfeiffer with launching his career, as well as setting the direction for his art.

“To sum it up,” Fogle tells me, “He’s one of the best pastry chefs on the planet, and in turn I’m one of the luckiest apprentices to walk the planet.”

He went on to talk about some of the things he took away from his experience.

“I don’t want to say I didn’t learn to cook from him,” Fogle explains. “But what I really learned is how to think, how to be organized. He didn’t teach me how to bake, he taught me how to think.”

And for Fogle, part of that experience was learning that he could do anything to which he set his mind.

“One of the first things you learn from him is that anything is possible, because if it’s impossible we’re just going to create a technique or a tool or a trick to make it happen,” he tells me. “It wasn’t how to hold a spatula and fold mousse. It was the commitment and philosophical aspect I gained – learning to be tenacious and resourceful so that when I get out into the real world… when I don’t have a proofer or a sheeter– and I have an oven with hotspots hotter than Mercury — that I could still put out a great croissant.”

Fogle, who has known Pfeiffer since 2006, says he’s more than just a great teacher and pastry chef.

“He’s really really good at foozeball and ping-pong,” Fogle goes on. “Like he makes me feel bad about even playing against him.”

But, Fogle says his gentle disposition is what really makes Pfeiffer exceptional.

“In all the time I’ve known him, he’s never raised his voice,” he explains. “He’s the sort of guy who just makes you want to do things better – whether it’s pastry or what it is… he just never loses any steam. He’s ok going back and back and back and making things better and better. That’s really what rubbed off the most.”

Fogle, who teaches part-time at MATC in their culinary department, says he learned a great deal about teaching from Pfeiffer.

“I think the most important thing that I learned from him is that you have to be patient, and you have to let people struggle through it… a good example is that he was trying to teach me how to pipe something. I was struggling with holding the bag and not moving it. A couple of years later I realized I was doing it properly. But, I don’t know when it happened. He instilled in the idea that you just need to do it and do it again.”

So, when he teaches, Fogle says he always keeps that in mind.

“The fact is, I can’t talk you into being a good pastry chef, and I can’t make you into a great chef. But, I can be there for you and work with you and help you get there.”

Sounds like the sort of teacher we’d all love to have had.

From jsonline.com: “Recipe for Milwaukees feast mixes volunteers, fellowship” – After 24 years, they really do have the Christmas Family Feast down to a science.

On Wednesday, thousands of people streamed through the Wisconsin Center to savor a free festive meal, bringing joy and cheer to the quiet downtown on Christmas Day.

There was turkey and ham, green beans and sweet potatoes, pie and ice cream.

Choirs belted out Christmas standards.

And a musician named Kevin Kennedy donned a red and white suit, put on a white beard and took his place on a seat that looked a little like a throne.

Santa Claus was in the building.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Kennedy said. “You’ve got kids and adults and you can make them all happy.”

The Salvation Army of Milwaukee County was once again the host, with lots of local sponsors pitching in with support. There were other smaller, events around town, like at the Guest House of Milwaukee, where 86 men who stay at the shelter had a holiday party.

Volunteers are the key ingredient for the Family Feast, with more than 1,200 doing everything from seating visitors to clearing tables to handing out gifts. The volunteers included Gov. Scott Walker; his wife, Tonette; and sons Matt and Alex. The Walker family has volunteered at the event for 11 straight years.

“The last few years it has gotten bigger, which probably reflects on the economy,” Walker said, taking a brief timeout from putting pats of butter on rolls. “Talking to people here, you see not only folks in need in terms of food, you see a lot of folks in need in terms of family and fellowship. So this becomes an extended family.”

That extended family could be seen at dinner tables, complete strangers sharing meals and conversations.

Lisbeth Maturin; her husband, Miguel Moure; and their four young children were seated with Norma Anwar and her two middle-age sons.

“We wanted to do something special for the kids,” Maturin said.

Anwar said she enjoyed the food but especially enjoyed the spirit of the event.

“It brings Christmas back,” Anwar said.

Anwar’s older son, Marlon, said the event provided “a beautiful experience. This is the chance to say hello to a lot of people.”

A 3-year-old named Donovan Webb celebrated his Christmas Day birthday with his mom, Latonya, and other family and friends.

“This was a good year,” Latonya Webb said.

East siders Marilyn Kruger and Kim Morgan bumped into one another at the event. Kruger enjoyed Christmas morning, visiting her grandchildren and attending a religious service. The feast, she said, capped “a wonderful holiday season.”

Morgan said many people may be struggling through the year, but the feast serves as a way “to make the community come together.”

Back in the kitchen, the staff was busy making up parcels of food that were to be taken to shelters around the city.

Between the people who attended the feast and the food parcels, about 10,000 meals were made under the supervision of chefs Gus Kelly, a veteran of the feast, and Bob Ilk, who was volunteering at the event for the first time.

The pair taught together for years at Milwaukee Area Technical College and worked easily under great pressure in the kitchen on Christmas Day.

“Bob can take over next year and I’ll be his helper,” Kelly said.

Don Rosette, the former longtime general manager of WMCS-AM (1290), was back for another year. It was Rosette and the station who helped get the first feast off the ground in only 55 days and helped it grow through the years.

“The Salvation Army has taken the reins and it’s going well,” Rosette said. “It’s a tradition now.”

 

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Tech schools prepared for changes in GED tests” – WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Mid-State Technical Colleges in central Wisconsin doubled the number of offerings of tests for General Equivalency Diplomas in preparation for changes taking effect Jan. 2.

Those seeking to obtain their GEDs were encouraged to try to complete the process before the changes took hold. Tests often were offered on a weekly basis at the three technical colleges, and Portage and Adams County jails. The main test site is at the Wisconsin Rapids campus; test examiners travel to other sites.

“We started the push, really, about September last year, so we’ve been at this for over a year to try and get people to finish up,” said Jo-Ellen Fairbanks-Schutz, MSTC associate dean of general education for the colleges. “We had an increase of over a couple hundred tests, previous to our big push.”

Last year, more than 1,000 tests were taken between all the test locations; since July, 402 tests were taken, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“There were some areas of the state that saw a very marked increase in demand for GED testing,” Fairbanks-Schutz said. “While we saw an increase, it wasn’t as dramatic as some areas of the state. Madison and Milwaukee were just bursting at the seams; we were able to handle the demand with extra seats available.”

There are a few changes, but there are two major ones — the test will only be available on computer, and the 2002 test series will be replaced with the 2014 series, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“Historically, it’s always been a pen and paper test,” she said.

The 2002 test series had five components: reading, writing, math, science and social studies. The new series will not include the writing component; that will be dispersed into the other four areas. The new structure is based on the Common Core standards and college and career readiness standards, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“The downside of the changes was if a candidate started testing in the 2002 series, and did not complete or pass the test, those tests cannot be rolled over,” Fairbanks-Schutz said.

The testing is somewhat time-consuming, and advisers often recommend candidates break up the testing cycle, Fairbanks-Schutzs said. Each component takes at least an hour to complete.

The college has a plan for candidates who are not computer literate. The institution has invested in NEO 2 from Renaissance Learning, which comes with a keyboarding program.

“We’ll start the students just learning the basic keyboarding skills while studying the content to get ready for the test,” Fairbanks-Schutz said. “We have another software program that we bought that looks just like the (new) GED and it specifically goes over the computer skills (candidates) are going to need to be able to take the test.

“We’re trying to get it from multiple angles, depending on the skill of the students, to give them multiple options.”

The college’s Academic Success Center also offers preparation resources for students.

The cost for testing also has changed. The 2002 series was $120 for all five tests; the new test will cost $33.75 for each component or $135 total. Retesting is available at $30 a test.

Candidates also have to wait 30 days before retaking the test, so anyone taking a test in December and not succeeding will have to take the test under the new system. The last test dates in Wisconsin were Dec. 5 for the writing test and Dec. 13 for all other tests. The official tests are not available online, according to the MSTC website.

Wisconsin test centers offering computer-based testing include Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Gateway Technical College, according the the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website.

From jsonline.com: “Opinion: Milwaukee making progress on developing its manufacturing workforce” — By Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee - Around the country, October is Manufacturing Month. It is a celebration of modern manufacturing, and it provides an opportunity for us to encourage people to look at careers in manufacturing.

Milwaukee’s regional economy relies on manufacturing more so than just about anywhere else in the United States. For everyone in our region manufacturing presents both opportunities and challenges. How will we create a skilled manufacturing workforce, and, at the same time, how do we spur economic development?

The 2013 Talent Shortage Survey, released by Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup, cites skilled trades as the No. 1 hardest job to fill in the United States, and there is plenty of other evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, that we need well-prepared workers to keep our manufacturing economy humming.

A little over a year and a half ago, along with Milwaukee’s workforce partners, we created the Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership. This initiative works directly with manufacturing employers to determine the skills needed for current open positions. From there, a collaboration is developed to create an employer-driven training program providing workers with specific skills tailored to a company’s needs. Employers commit to hire from the group who successfully complete the training. To date, there have been 12 employer-driven training programs completed for area manufacturers.

Local manufacturer Solaris Inc. makes medical compression garments, and that company has hired 13 individuals through this initiative. Solaris employee Nhy Pease is an example of how the Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership directly connected an individual with a job. Pease tried for some time to find the right fit with a manufacturing company.

Then, through the HIRE Center/Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB), Pease began a four-month on-the-job training program at Solaris. Even though she already had some of the necessary skills, Solaris needed her to have job-specific training. A year and a half into her new career, she is successfully working for Solaris and was recently promoted. The wages she earns are sufficient to support a family.

The Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership has upgraded the skills of nearly 500 workers, advancing their manufacturing careers through the Milwaukee Area Technical College Worker Advancement Training Grant. This is the same strategy championed by U.S. employers to grow the workforce, ManpowerGroup found in a national survey.

At the outset of the Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership, the project partners, City of Milwaukee, MAWIB, Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP/BIG STEP) and MATC, set what we thought were ambitious goals of training 150 individuals and connecting 500 more people with employment or career pathways in manufacturing. We already have exceeded that: 178 area employers have either hired newly trained employees, benefited from employees with upgraded skills or have been connected with skilled unemployed individuals, totaling more than 800 workers impacted. There is a need for training funds to continue this momentum. We are off to a great start, but there is more work to be done.

With an aging workforce, employers and the workforce system need to work together to provide a pipeline of qualified workers. This is a critical task. Within a decade, industries that now account for 50% of Wisconsin’s gross domestic product will be looking for 60,000 more skilled workers than are projected to be available. We need to invest now in our workforce to protect our economy.

We are fortunate to have MAWIB, Milwaukee’s coordinating workforce entity, maximizing funds by developing and administering initiatives such as the Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership and more than twenty other programs to create a skilled workforce. The key to the success of these efforts is a close working relationship with employers.

A prepared workforce is essential for growing companies. At the same time, we have far too many people in our city who are underemployed or unemployed. Making the right connections between employers and employees can set individuals, companies and our entire economy on a course for success.

I am optimistic about Milwaukee’s economic future, and manufacturing will be a big part of that. So let’s celebrate manufacturing this month and in Octobers for decades to come.

 

 

From ozaukeepress.com: “Grafton High students hit the street” – Career day talks can only go so far in inspiring teenagers to the varied job prospects in the work world.

The Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grafton Education Foundation were looking to fill that void on Wednesday, Oct. 16, when nearly 500 Grafton High School students hit the street for a first-ever Career Exploration Day.

During the day, buses transported students to job sites throughout the community to learn about career opportunities in manufacturing, health care, education and marketing.

The goal was to expose students to workplace settings and to provide prospective employees with information as they think about career possibilities.

More than a dozen local employers took part in the career day, with students boarding shuttling buses to visit two job sites during the day.

Participating businesses included Kapco Inc., John Crane Engineered Bearings, Waukesha Metal Products, RAM Tool, Blanking Systems/Oetlinger, Exacto Spring Corp., Axcesor, Gilman USA, Frank Mayer & Associates and Gauthier Biomedical.

Stops were also made at Concordia University Wisconsin and Milwaukee Area Technical College North Campus, both in Mequon.

The program was made possible through a $3,000 AT&T Wisconsin Innovation & Investment Award.

Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pam King said the seeds for the program were sown, during a 2012 brainstorming session on ways to address the manufacturing skills shortage in Grafton.

From that session, the Grafton Manufacturing Alliance was formed. The group has hosted two manufacturing career fairs at the high school.

King said the AT&T grant allowed the group to bring students — freshmen, sophomores and juniors — to local job sites. Representatives from the Foundation helped write the grant proposal.

She said everyone involved agreed the on-site visits would open the eyes of manystudents.

“We believe that it will be much more impactful for our students to see and experience actual job sites rather than just hearing about them,” King said.

“With manufacturing in particular, it is important for our students to see what it looks like and all of the technology that is involved.”

Ken McCormick, principal of Grafton High School, said the tours are sure to make an impression.

“This event is a neat opportunity for our students to travel out into the community to explore potential careers and not only see firsthand the available jobs, but also begin to plan for their future academic and work careers,” McCormick said.

Foundation President Bob Hoffman said the program was a welcome opportunity to collaborate with the business community and to support the group’s slogan, “Quality Schools, Together.”

“Thanks to AT&T, this award will help us live our mission of connecting the community and businesses to our Grafton schools,” Hoffman said.

“I am hopeful this is just the first of many grants from local businesses that the Foundation can use to fund other Grafton School District programs.”

The AT&T Wisconsin Innovation & Investment Award program provides funding to organizations and programs that improve the community by advancing education, enhancing the environment, promoting economic development, or delivering other community services. This is the second year of the program.

“We are very proud to support the efforts of Grafton’s Chamber, business and education leaders to introduce students to the many exciting careers available in the Grafton community,” said Julie Tonkovitz, director of external affairs for AT&T Wisconsin.

“As a company, AT&T is committed to investing in education and helping prepare our young people for future success.”

From oakreek.patch.com: “MATC, business groups push manufacturing to students” —  About 170 students will get an up-close look at manufacturing careers at an event Friday. - High school students from around the South Shore will be at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Oak Creek campus Friday to get an up-close look at manufacturing careers.

About 170 students are taking part in the “Heavy Metal Tour,” hosted by MATC, the South Suburban Chamber of Commerce and local manufacturers to raise awareness about careers and opportunities in manufacturing.

Students will talk with manufacturers, work with manufacturing equipment and tour several companies as part of the free, public event, set for 8 a.m. to noon at MATC’s Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing Center, 6665 S. Howell Ave.

Participating companies include Allis-Roller, Iverson & Company, Krones, Nucor Cold Finish, Poblocki Sign Company, PPG Industries and Super Steel.

Students from Oak Creek, Cudahy, South Milwaukee and Tenor high schools are scheduled to attend the event.

 

From bizjournals.com: “New MATC scholarship targets construction trades apprentices” – Great Lakes Higher Education Corp. is investing $200,000 over 10 years in scholarships for Milwaukee Area Technical College apprenticeships in the construction trades, according to a Thursday press release.

The “Jim Elliott Apprentice Scholarship for the Construction Trades” will award an initial group of 20 MATC apprenticeship students with up to $1,000 to help cover expenses for equipment, clothes and tools.

The scholarship honors Jim Elliott for his service to the construction trades in Milwaukee and to the Wisconsin Technical College System and the Great Lakes Higher Education Corp. & Affiliates board of directors.

“Wisconsin has a long and proud history of valuing apprenticeships,” said Richard George, Great Lakes Higher Education’s president and CEO. “By helping hard-working students complete an apprenticeship, this scholarship will help them build good careers for themselves and their families, and stronger communities for us all.”

Applications will be provided to eligible MATC students and are due Dec. 2.

“Construction apprenticeships are a valuable opportunity for those seeking to improve their skills and have a great career,” said WTCS president Morna Foy. “We appreciate the ongoing partnership with Great Lakes that makes this sort of opportunity possible for our students.”

From bizjournals.com: “MATC launching water technician certificate through Water Council, MAWIB partnership” – By Jeff Engel – Milwaukee Area Technical College will offer a water technician certificate to serve increased demand for water industry professionals, according to a Wednesday press release.

The program was developed in partnership with Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board and The Water Council, which is officially opening its Global Water Center in Walker’s Point Thursday.

The certificate requires 17 to 19 credits and courses also count toward MATC’s environmental health and water quality technology associate degree and other related associate degrees and technical diplomas.

“Having a strong educational foundation for future professionals is essential for the continued growth of this industry,” said MATC president Michael Burke. “MATC is committed to providing the education and training area residents need to secure employment in water careers.”

The Water Council aims to establish the Milwaukee region as the world hub for freshwater research, economic development and education.

The program was developed through a $1 million grant to MAWIB from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.

“Together, we worked with more than 50 water-related industry employers for input as to the fundamental skills needed to enter into water industry jobs,” said MAWIB president and CEO Donald Sykes. “We are pleased that this industry-recognized credential, in one of the most promising employment sectors, will serve as a foundation to water industry careers.”

 

From jsonline.com: “Building inspector making Milwaukee ‘a better place to live’” — By Tom Dakin - By the time she was 8 years old, Stacey Tyler’s dad was taking her along to help out on handyman jobs he did in his spare time. Over 30 years later, Tyler is a city building inspector at Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services. Tyler, who jokingly calls herself a “professional household technician,” has worked at the department for 13 years and focuses mainly on inspecting residential rental properties.

On its most basic level, Tyler’s job involves making Milwaukee “a better place to live,” she said.

“I try to make sure that the constituents I deal with are living in places that have very minimal violations, and that there are no health and safety violations that would affect them, or their children,” Tyler said.

Tyler typically spends about half of her work day doing building inspections, with the other half of her day tied to writing reports to correct building code violations and other matters. She is currently assigned to an area on Milwaukee’s north side.

How did you get the job? Tyler was working at a medical company, where her duties included scheduling services for patients and ordering supplies. She saw a job description for building inspectors, and thought the work sounded interesting. Tyler was hired as a Department of Neighborhood Services intern, and after completing the two-year program was hired as an inspector.

What kind of education did you need? A high school diploma was required to become a department intern. The internship included taking courses at Milwaukee Area Technical College in such areas as technical math and architectural drawings.

Tyler also had practical experience in home repairs and maintenance. Her father, Robert, who died last year, taught her at a young age such tasks as preparing walls for painting and applying the floor seal when installing a new toilet.

As an alternative to the internship program, the department’s minimum requirements are an associate’s degree in the field of architecture, real estate, fire safety, environmental health, law enforcement or building trades, and two years of work experience in one of those specialties above the level of laborer.

What do you like about the job? “I enjoy going out and meeting the constituents. There are a lot of interesting personalities in the city of Milwaukee. And I have great co-workers. … I really like the fact that I can set up my own schedule. I like going out on my aldermanic walks because I can be heard by the people who have questions that need to be answered. It gives you a chance to be one-on-one with the constituents.”

What are some of the challenges? For Tyler, who’s a mom, perhaps the most difficult situation is when a family is displaced because she inspects a rental unit that has such serious health and safety problems that it’s not livable. That happens every couple of months or so, and the department works with Community Advocates, a nonprofit group that helps poor people on housing issues, to relocate the displaced families.

“You want to try to give the best help you can give them,” she said.

Is there a particular horror story the stands out from your 13 years in the Department of Neighborhood Services? About five years ago, Tyler inspected a property where the gas meters were pulling away from the foundation wall, raising the risk of a natural gas leak and explosion. The department immediately shut down the property, which encompassed over 20 rental units in four buildings.

“The situation was so horrible. All of those people had to be removed from the buildings,” Tyler said. “We had a little meeting on the front lawn and told them we have to vacate the buildings immediately. It’s difficult, especially when that happens so close to the time when they just paid rent. Their concern becomes where are they going to live, and how are they going to pay the rent for that month.”

From bizjournals.com: “Shorewood chef wins MATC kitchen entrepreneur challenge” – Marcus Thie from Shorewood has been named winner of the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge for his concept Sauceformations, a line of organic sauces.

The finalists were judged at a tasting event which took place last week at Cuisine, the student-run restaurant at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Thie won top honors for his line of gluten-free and Paleo-diet friendly organic sauces for home chefs including Tomato Choka, a recipe from Trinidad.

Thie wants to to launch StreetBeet, a food truck where he can promote locally grown food and showcase organic recipes featuring his sauce line.

The grand prize was $2,500 in seed money from Reliable Water Services of Milwaukee to help start Thie’s business, a comprehensive entrepreneurial consultation package from MATC and over $500 worth of professional cookware and professional knives from Boelter Superstore and a two-hour private meeting with food industry executives serving on FaB Milwaukee’s Advisory Council.

Other finalists included Pete Cooney of Pete’s Pops – Handcrafted Ice Pops and Andrew Bechaud of Bechaud Elixing Company, both based in Milwaukee.

The Challenge was sponsored by Milwaukee Area Technical College and Reliable Water Services.

 

From jsonline.com: “Sisters focus on quality butchery, wines” – You don’t think of a butcher shop as a place to sit down for a glass of wine and a sandwich, but then, there aren’t too many places like Bavette La Boucherie.

This shop, which seems on track to become a foodie destination, opened in May in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.

It’s primarily a neighborhood butcher shop, where you can buy locally and sustainably produced beef, pork and lamb, as well as a selection of sausages.

But it’s also a café with several tables and eight counter seats that look over the area where the meat is cut.

On the wall to the right as you walk in, there’s a small collection of gourmet food items — honey from Spain, for example — and about a dozen astutely chosen wines for sale.

No matter what brings you to this shop at 330 E. Menomonee St., you’ll find you’re in expert hands.

The owner is chef Karen Bell, who has a culinary degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Over the years she’s cooked up a resumé that reaches from Vong and Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago to Madrid, where she operated her own restaurant. Most recently she was at Café at the Plaza in Milwaukee.

She also has the good fortune of having a wine expert in the family.

So when the time came to select the libations for her new venture, she turned to her sister Jessica Bell, a wine consultant and founder of My Wine School.

“Jessica has a much more sophisticated palate for wine than I do,” said Karen, who at 36 is a year-and-a-half older than her sister.

“And Karen has a much more sophisticated palate for food than I do,” said the younger sister. “Bavette is Karen’s — I simply helped with the wines. We sat down and tasted them all together. I want her vision to shine through.”

The sisters grew up in Whitefish Bay, as part of a food-loving family with four girls. Today, Jessica and Karen live next door to each other on Milwaukee’s east side.

Karen says the inspiration for Bavette came from two Chicago locales — Publican Quality Meats, which combines butcher shop, market and café, and the Butcher & Larder, a whole-animal butcher shop.

She volunteered at both places to begin learning the business of butchering.

Bavette, with its “main focus on the butcher shop,” is a departure from what she had been doing as a chef.

“But I thought — why can’t I do this? I already know a lot of the cuts of meat,” she said.

How did she come up with the name Bavette, which means flank steak in French?

As Karen tells it: “I did not specifically seek out a French word, but when I was trying to think of names and thought of this one, I did like the fact that it is French, easy to pronounce and has a butchering or meat meaning. I was also drawn to it because it is feminine sounding and being a woman butcher, I liked that.”

She says she’s always been “enamored” of French butcher shops, although she’s not trying to emulate one.

As she has become more interested in the politics of food, the idea of a butcher shop that sells meat from responsibly raised animals appealed to her.

And because Bavette is also a café, she can continue her cooking.

Asked if female butchers are a rarity, she said, “I think so — it’s traditionally a male occupation maybe because it’s physical work.”

She sees butchering as “a dying craft, with very few people getting in the whole animals directly from the farm.”

But that’s what they do at Bavette. The carcasses come in weekly, and then are cut up, often by Bill Kreitmeir, a veteran butcher whom Karen hired — and from whom she is learning.

On a recent Friday he was cutting up a Red Wattle hog that had just arrived. It’s a breed included in Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, which catalogs distinctive foods in order to preserve biodiversity and culinary heritage.

The shop’s meat is all from grass-fed animals and sourced locally, mostly from farms in the Madison area.

“We love knowing where our food comes from,” Karen said.

And, yes, you might want to beef about the relatively high cost of the meat here.

Spareribs, for instance, will run you about $6 a pound; at a regular butcher shop, they would cost less than $5 a pound.

But Karen believes the uptick in cost is worth it because the meat “tastes better and is responsibly raised.”

“People are willing to spend a little more money for quality.”

She points to the popularity of Whole Foods as an indication that this is true.

When asked to select wines for her sister’s store, Jessica knew she had to be “very choosy” because they wanted to start with only about a dozen wines in the retail area, priced between $15 and $30.

In addition, there are five wines sold by the glass on the café’s beverage list — all $8 a glass — along with a dozen bottled beers.

“I teach classes on how to judge quality in wines,” she said. “So my goal here is to find the best quality at the best price point.”

The choices reflect the food-friendly wines she and her sister prefer.

Jessica describes the wines, which are from around the world, as having good acidity and an elegance that goes beyond simple fruit taste.

“I guess you can say these wines are more austere, made more in the Old World style,” she explained. “And there are plenty of New World producers making this style of wine, too.”

So, for example, she’s apt to recommend the more restrained wines from Oregon or Washington over California’s big-bodied, high-alcohol wines.

Bell sticks to simplicity with food pairings

For Milwaukee-based wine guru Jessica Bell, pairing wine and food is part of the fun. “It’s a puzzle I love to solve.”

Her basic strategy is to consider three things: sweetness, acid and body.

That’s sweetness, acid and body in both the wine and the food. And the idea is to match them up.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it’s not an exact science.

In her sister Karen Bell’s recipe for Red Pepper Miso and Sesame Glazed Spare Ribs, for instance, there’s “some sweetness in the glaze,” so that is echoed in the touch of sweetness in the New Zealand Riesling that Jessica chose.

The orange juice and zest in the recipe is a tip-off to look for a wine with good acidity — and that’s a characteristic that top-quality Riesling is known for, according to Jessica.

Pork is one of those meats that can go with either red or white wine. And in this instance, a white with some heft — more body than, say, a Pinot Grigio — matches well with the ribs.

Jessica emphasizes that the method of preparation in a recipe and the secondary ingredients are often more important than the main ingredient.

Looking at the “facts” of the food you’re considering “helps to reduce the chance of a disaster,” she said. “I could think of some really bad match-ups with those ribs. A big, heavy Barolo would be horrible — it’s too tannic for those ribs.”

Of course, there are some always-happy marriages when it comes to wine and meat.

Jessica loves simply prepared lamb with Rioja, a Spanish red made from Tempranillo grape. And with steak, Cabernet is a great pairing. For game, she’ll reach for a richly flavored Syrah-based wine.

“Why mess with something that works?” she said.

From wispolitics.com: “Milwaukee Mayor Barrett visits Culinary Arts Program showcase” – This summer marks the 12th year of the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board’s (MAWIB) Culinary Arts Program at Wisconsin State Fair Park, introducing young people to food service careers by providing training, certification and connections to area employers. For six weeks, 37 young people employed through Mayor Barrett’s Earn & Learn Summer Youth Employment program are training with Milwaukee Area Technical College’s (MATC) Chef Paul Carrier. They will prepare 22,000 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for the 4-H youth housed at the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center beginning on Wednesday, July 31. The 4-H youth are at the Wisconsin State Fair to showcase their livestock and other skills for the duration of the Fair. The program gives young people the opportunity to have a real life work experience, earn the industry-recognized ServSafe certificate and prepare for a career in the food service industry.

Over 35 young people on the Culinary Arts Career Path will talk about this unique training opportunity. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will speak to the importance of helping young people explore career paths, including through the Culinary Arts Program. Wylbur Holloway, MAWIB Youth Services Manager will provide an overview of this highly successful longstanding program. MATC Chef Paul Carrier will provide details about training youth in Culinary Arts.

 

From bizjournals.com: “MATC to offer truck driving diploma” – Milwaukee Area Technical College will offer a truck driving technical diploma starting this fall that could help fill demand for truck drivers in the state.

Graduates of the 10 week program will be prepared for entry-level positions as local or over-the-road truck drivers. Students will develop their driving skills through classroom, lab, range and roadway experiences.

Courses also will emphasize cargo management, records maintenance, vehicle inspection and U.S. laws and regulations pertaining to commercial vehicle operation. Once students finish the program they will be prepared to take the Class A or Class B Commercial Driver’s License exam.

Scott Jansen, director of the office of skills development at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, identified heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers as among the top five occupations in greatest demand in the state. He made the comment at a recent Business Journal roundtable on jobs held at The Pfister in Milwaukee.

 

From bizjournal.com: “MATC changes up barber, cosmetologist studies” – By Wendy Strong - Milwaukee Area Technical College will offer barber technical diploma and apprenticeship programs beginning in the fall semester of 2013.

In the past, students in the diploma and apprenticeship programs were required to take combined barber/cosmetologist studies.

The split allows students interested in studying barbering only to enroll in a technical diploma program that requires 1,000 hours of training instead of the 1,800 hours required in the cosmetology technical diploma program.

The program puts additional focus on men’s haircuts and shaving, while eliminating nail care studies.

Barber and cosmetology apprenticeships also have been separated. Barber apprentices work four days a week in a local barber shop/salon as paid employees gaining experience, and attend class one day a week at MATC’s downtown Milwaukee campus.

The two-year apprenticeship program prepares students for the Wisconsin State Board Exam; individuals who successfully complete the exam earn a licensed barber credential.

From jsonline.com: “MATC to expand entrepreneurship center with grant from Helen Bader Foundation” – The Milwaukee Area Technical College Foundation has received a $50,000 grant from the Helen Bader Foundation to expand the college’s entrepreneurship center.

The entrepreneurship center opened in April 2012 when MATC launched an entrepreneurship technical diploma. More than 100 students, many of whom are already self-employed, have received mentoring and support from the center, said Armen Hadjinian, the MATC faculty member who is adviser to the center.

The grant will allow the school to expand the center and support scholarships for students who complete a service learning project.

From jsonline.com: “MATC finalists serve up heated competition” – Do you have to pick just one?

That was my thought when I looked over the contenders for grand prize in this year’s Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge, sponsored by Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Three guys are finalists in the second annual competition, which is also sponsored by Reliable Water Services and FaB Milwaukee. And each product sounds like something I’d like to try.

There’s Andrew Bechaud of Milwaukee, whose Bechaud Elixing Co. is a line of handcrafted, small-batch beverages made with Wisconsin agricultural products. Consider flavors like Chocolate Chai Veloute, Spring Blossom Cherry Soda and Citrus Saffron Horchata. He’s targeting upscale grocers.

There’s Pete Cooney and his Pete’s Pops, a line of frozen treats made with fresh fruits and natural sugars in flavors that include watermelon mint, strawberry basil and pineapple jalapeño. His goal is to start with push carts and eventually get into area stores.

And finally there’s Michael Thie of Shorewood, with Sauceformations, a line of gluten-free and Paleo diet-friendly organic sauces. His StreetBeet food truck would serve up organic recipes featuring his sauces. One such sauce: tomato choka, a Trinidad specialty.

The judges will have a tough choice to make on July 31, when the finalists make their pitches in person in the student-run restaurant, Cuisine, at MATC’s downtown campus. The judging panel includes (among others) Jan Kelly, chef-owner of Meritage restaurant, Lynn Sbonik, co-owner of Beans & Barley market and cafe, and Eric Olesen, owner and president of O&H Danish Bakery of Racine.

The winner gets $2,500 in seed money, an entrepreneurial consultation package from MATC, $500 in professional cookware from Boelter Superstore and a two-hour private meeting with food industry executives.

 

From onmilwaukee.com: “CSI: Milwaukee at Discovery World” – Want to learn more about how crimes are solved? You can, by visiting Discovery World next week.

“CSI: Milwaukee,” a cooperative effort of the Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, MATC’s Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement program and the World Martial Arts Academy, will let participants explore their true detective skills.

The event will feature a mock crime scene and you’ll be able to “investigate” the scene and find clues before going through a witness identification challenge. In the forensics lab, you’ll learn how to lift, record and read finger prints and explore DNA investigation techniques.

No word on whether or not all of that will be done to a snappy music sequence with a bunch of jump cuts, but feel free to drop your own snarky yet timely one-liners.

CSI: Milwaukee runs Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Regular Discovery World admission fees apply.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 156 other followers

%d bloggers like this: