From “Demand jumps for NTC architechtural design graduates” — WAUSAU — Marina Reinke will have a job waiting for her when she graduates May 17 from Northcentral Technical College with a degree in architectural design.

She’ll be working as a designer for a home builder in Amherst. That’s good news for Reinke, 19, of Wausau, and it is indicative of positive developments in the housing and building industry and the local economy as a whole.

But it also represents a bit of a problem: Instructors for NTC’s architectural design, sustainable architecture and other construction-related programs say that employers in those fields are beginning to clamor for trained workers. Unfortunately, instructors said, there aren’t enough graduates to fill the need for those positions.

The change over the past five years has been dramatic, said Jeff Musson, an architectural design and technology instructor. In 2008 and 2009, at the height of the Great Recession and after the housing market collapsed, NTC received only 10 job postings from employers looking for those skills. In 2013, NTC received 176 postings, and already, the school has 82 postings in the first quarter of this year.

“It’s frustrating for me,” Musson said. “I mean, these are good jobs, paying $15 to $20 per hour. And I don’t have anybody to send them.”

Reinke is one of 12 architecture and sustainable architecture students who will graduate in May. The total number of students in those programs now is 22.

Part of the problem, Musson said, is that a lot of students steered away from architecture during the recession, when there were no jobs to be had in those fields. Some counselors and parents still advise students to look to other fields in the belief that the jobs still aren’t there. Musson said parents often are surprised when he tells them about the demand for building-related jobs when he speaks at open houses and other events.

Chris Pomerening, 22, of Athens plans to move on to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture after he graduates with his associate degree in sustainable architecture from NTC in a couple of months.

Prior to enrolling at NTC, Pomerening studied fine art at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County. The switch to architecture, even during a recession, was a move in a more secure direction, he said.

“People are always going to need houses,” Pomerening said.

Reinke was offered her job even before the spring semester started and looks forward to going to work.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “I’ve been excited ever since.”


From “NTC program helps middle school students explore careers” – Phillips – You might not think that students start thinking about the future until High School.

But some Northwoods middle school students are already thinking about their careers.

Northcentral Technical College in Phillips works with local students to help them plan careers.

Starting earlier helps students when they graduate. “The sooner they start their career exploration, the easier it is for them to actually transition into a career pathway. And it’s not so much finding an occupation or career pathway that you want. Maybe it’s finding a career pathway that you know isn’t appropriate for you. So the sooner we can start the students exploring, the better it will be for them,” says NTC Phillips Dean Bobbi Damrow.

NTC is hosting a Get Smart Program for 5th through 8th graders.

Students can explore different careers they might be interested in.

“They might spend the morning in a IT media experience, and then the afternoon perhaps a welding fabrication experience. Or perhaps maybe a mini medic or an electronics. So students will get two experiences that day. It is a requirement that they have a parent or guardian with them. So it’s a very nice opportunity for students and parents to work together and explore careers for their children,” says Damrow.

NTC also held a career symposium and a campus visit last week.

They hope that students can get a better idea of what careers are available to them.


From “Information technology, nursing head list of local jobs” — WAUSAU — Information technology is on the A-list of in-demand jobs in Marathon County right now.

Laurie Borowicz, vice president of student services at Northcentral Technical College, says the college is doing its best to keep up with demand for positions in the IT field.

“We could take 50 more students in IT tomorrow if we could find them,” Borowicz said. “That’s probably our issue right now, is finding people, getting people into these high-demand programs.”

The technical college is trying to make it easier for students to take the IT track by offering more courses in the evenings and online, she said.

Jim Warsaw, economic development director for Marathon County Development Corp., said there’s a growing concentration of IT and technology-related businesses in the Wausau area and those employers currently can’t openings.

“NTC doubled their graduating class in IT and it still isn’t enough to keep up with demand,” Warsaw said.

In addition to IT, Warsaw said, other popular positions in the area include welding, skilled trades, manufacturing, health care, sales and nursing.

Most job activity, he said, is with companies that were prepared to come out of the recession when things turned around, most of which are larger employers.

“Small businesses are still trying to cope with the recession’s impact on their cash flows and equity positions,” Warsaw said.

The job of certified nursing assistant, or CNA, is big right now, according to Marathon County Job Center W2 job developer David Cruz.

One reason for that growth is that it’s easier to get started in a certified nursing course than in a registered nursing program, Cruz said.

Overall, the unemployment picture has improved in Marathon County over the past year.

The most recent figures from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development show the December 2013 unemployment rate for Marathon County at 5.7 percent. That’s nearly a full percentage point better than the 6.6 percent registered in December 2012.

From “School Board learns of transcripted credit classes for CHS students” — At its regular meeting in Glidden on February 25, the Chequamegon School Board heard a report from Bobbi Damrow, Regional Dean of Northcentral Technical College (NTC). Damrow gave background on the relationship that has developed between the NTC Phillips campus and Chequamegon School District over the last few years giving CHS students the opportunity to take classes that are recognized both by NTC for their degree programs and by CHS toward their high school diploma.

Currently junior and senior students are offered courses in the Industrial Electronics and Maintenance Technician Academy. This program is intended to provide a pathway or career for students in the industrial electronics maintenance field. The classes, taken at CHS, are taught by CHS teachers utilizing curriculum provided by NTC. Students have the potential of obtaining 12 college credits and applying those credits toward an associate’s degree at NTC after high school. Students also have the option of transferring the credits earned in high school to other four-year college or university’s toward completing their bachelor’s degree.

Damrow thanked the school board for approving and supporting this cooperative venture that benefits both the school district and NTC. She pointed out, “Last year Chequamegon students earned the equivalent of 153 college-level credits and the families of those students saved $20,574 in tuition costs that they would otherwise have paid to NTC for the courses.” This year students, and their families, are on track to save over $46,000 in tuition costs. In addition to the Academy, courses taught for transcripted credit include Introduction to Business, Marketing Principles, Desktop Publishing, and Employment Skills for Technicians, to name a few. Next year and new Health Academy will be introduced to CHS students who have an interest in pursuing a career in the health field. This will build on the Medical Terminology and Body Structure courses already offered and include a possible summer field experience at Flambeau Hospital.

Damrow indicated that an Information Technology Academy is currently being developed to be introduced in the not too distant future. Board president Adam Hoffman stated, “This partnership with NTC is an example of how two schools working together can provide great opportunities for our students and their families.”

From “Employers do their part in apprenticeships” — By Donna Schultz, regional coordinator for the Youth Apprenticeship Program at Northcentral Technical College in WausauMany local employers are actively working to develop our future workforce by participating in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship, or YA, program.

YA allows high school juniors and seniors to work part-time in a career field they are considering for their future, while taking courses that support that career direction. Students learn from experts in the field and gain skills necessary for success in the world of work. The employers who hire these students benefit because they get direct access to a pipeline of motivated workers interested in building a career in their industry.

Several employers in our area who support YA agreed to share their thoughts on the program:

“It is our pleasure at Bell Tower Residence to work in partnership with the Merrill Senior High School’s Apprenticeship Program,” said Sister Mary Anne Rose, director of resident services. “Mentoring the youth has been a win-win process for Bell Tower Residence and our residents for many years. Many students are interested in pursuing some type of career in health care. Getting experience working at an assisted living community helps the students make some important decisions regarding their future.

“The program helps youths develop people skills, responsibility and dependability. Witnessing the students become members of the Bell Tower team is very rewarding. Our residents enjoy meeting the students and often get to know them very well.

“It has been a learning experience for the youths in the program as well as for the Bell Tower employees who mentor and minister with them. These students are our future caregivers. It is a privilege to observe the growth in the students as they participate in the program,” Sister Mary Ann said.

“Peoples State Bank has mentored over 20 YA students in the past six years. Six students are working as apprentices currently, and four students who successfully completed the program continue to be employed at Peoples,” reported Dawn Borchardt, Operations/CSR Systems specialist. “Peoples is a community-owned bank that strongly believes in giving back to the community that has helped make us successful. In 2013, Peoples and its employees supported 400-plus organizations in north-central Wisconsin with over 6,900 volunteer hours and monetary donations exceeding $100,000. Our belief in seeing the potential also extends to the Youth Apprenticeship program. (It) is a fantastic way to help our youth discover a career path that is right for them, while giving them hands-on training, support, and tools they can take with them as they develop into young professionals.”

Mona Kraft, director of human resources at AROW Global Corporation in Mosinee agrees. “We’ve had great success with the youth apprentice program here at AROW Global in Mosinee for two years now. The students who work here seamlessly keep pace with their peers. They do equal work for equal pay, and it’s a great introduction into the workforce. AROW’s vice president and general manager, Scott Firer, understands that not all graduates have the option or desire to go on to college. He feels that working at AROW is an excellent alternative to learn a trade in a clean, fun environment that offers a competitive wage and benefit package.

“AROW Global is the leading manufacturer of windows for the North American transportation market. The students who work here are coming in at an exciting time as AROW’s present and future growth means nothing but opportunity for them. It’s a win-win situation for both the company and the students. As an employer, AROW benefits from hiring bright, engaged apprentices, and the students gain work experience along with obtaining school credit.

“When asked what our Mosinee students like about the program, Clinton Goethlich said he appreciates the ‘real world experience, and the way that the program allows us to tap into and broaden our interests.’ Jacob Schildt was most appreciative of the employer interest and involvement, stating, ‘It’s not every company that will go ahead and hire a bunch of kids.’ That’s true Jacob, but here at AROW, we think they should,” Kraft said.

The YA program covers a variety of areas from agriculture to welding. Employers interested in connecting with a student looking for an apprenticeship or learning more about the YA program, should contact their local high school YA coordinator or Donna Schulz at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.

From “Antigo area residents getting a jump on four-year education at NTC here” – Antigo area residents are getting a jump on a four-year college degree—and saving some big cash in the process—at Northcentral Technical College.

Next fall, three students from Antigo will become the first to take advantage of an agreement between NTC and Michigan Technological University that will not only help them earn their bachelor’s degrees in two years, but will save them more than $100,000 each in the process.

Ted Wierzba is one of the students transferring to Michigan Tech in the fall to receive his bachelor of science in electrical engineering. He says with the reputation of the engineering program at Michigan Tech he saw no reason to look anywhere else, plus he says, “The cost savings is crazy!”

Wierzba, Chris Lord and Loryn Becker are all transferring their electromechanical technology associate degree from NTC into the electrical engineering program at Michigan Tech as juniors.

Antigo campus dean Larry Kind said that NTC’s one-year industrial electrical maintenance program serves as the first year of the associate degree electromechanical program.

An additional agreement offers eligible NTC students scholarships that equals the difference between non-resident and resident tuition, saving them $100,280 by starting locally.

“The best part is being able to further my education without taking any steps back from what I’ve already done at NTC,” Lord said. “I didn’t think it would be this easy.”

All three men say with the help of NTC’s Transfer & Placement Office this has been a very simple step for them.

“They walked us through the whole thing. It was so easy,” Becker, who hopes to specialize in robotics and someday work for NASA, said. “It flowed perfectly.”

According to Jeffrey Chamberlin, who instructs the industrial maintenance classes at NTC in Antigo, the one-year program in Antigo allows students to gauge their interest in the career.

“It’s a nice step process,” Chamberlin said. “They can see how they like it, plus they can do it right here at home.”

Greg Neuman, who is currently enrolled in the one-year program in Antigo, said he is considering more training.

“I’ve thought about it,” he said. “I’m not quite that far along yet.”

Brandon Ingram, also enrolled at Antigo, agreed that studying here is a big money-saver.

The electromechanical technology associate degree program is just one of four programs with transfer agreements to Michigan Tech. NTC’s architectural design and technology associate degree transfers into the bachelor of science in construction management at Michigan Tech while the IT – network specialist associate degree transfers into the bachelor of science in computer network and system administration program.

Finally, NTC’s mechanical design engineering technology associate degree transfers to the bachelor of science in mechanical engineering technology at Michigan Tech.

NTC has a series of articulation agreements with public and private universities, allowing students to complete much of their education locally, at a far lower cost.

Examples include accounting, applied engineering, business management, criminal justice, human services, machine tool, marketing, nursing, sustainable architecture and woods.

Agreements are in place across the University of Wisconsin system as well as schools such as Minnesota State, Northland College, Viterbo University and others.

From “2015 Eligible Community Colleges” — The Aspen Institute is pleased to name the following 150 community colleges eligible for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.  We recognize that there are many community colleges around the country that are employing innovative strategies and achieving excellent results for their students.  The bar for the Aspen Prize is intentionally set high in order to identify those institutions that have demonstrated exceptional levels of student success.

In a comprehensive review of the publicly available data, these 150 two-year institutions—from 37 states—have demonstrated strong outcomes considering three areas of student success:

  • student success in persistence, completion, and transfer;
  • consistent improvement in outcomes over time; and
  • equity in outcomes for students of all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

To ensure full representation of the range and diversity of the sector, adjustments were applied with respect to mission, size, and minority representation.


  • Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire, WI
  • Lakeshore Technical College Cleveland, WI
  • Moraine Park Technical College Fond du Lac, WI
  • Northcentral Technical College Wausau, WI
  • Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake, WI

From “New opportunity for NTC agriculture students” — Northcentral Technical College and UW-Platteville are teaming up for a new option for agriculture students.

“Students graduating from NTC’s Agri-Business program may transfer into the Bachelor of Science in Agri-Business program; the Dairy Science Associate Degree will transfer into the Bachelor of Science in Dairy Science; and the Veterinary Science Associate Degree graduates may enter the Bachelor of Science in Animal Science program,” according to a news release from Northcentral Technical College.

“The College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is very excited to expand our articulation with Northcentral Technical College,” says Jodi McDermott, UW-Platteville Assistant Dean for the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture. “We are happy to ease the transfer process for more students by expanding the number of courses which are accepted. We look forward to our continuing relationship with NTC and the students.”

For more information:

From “NTC graduation offers optimism” – WAUSAU — Bettina Peters was shocked when she was laid off just over two years ago as a receptionist for a clinic that helped people with mental illness and alcohol and other drug addictions.

“I was pretty shaken because I was good at what I was doing,” Peters said. “You lose your confidence, you lose your positive outlook.”

Her outlook didn’t improve after she sent out 50 resumes and basically heard nothing back from employers. That’s when the 34-year-old from Marathon decided she needed to take an even more proactive approach to her future, and enrolled in Northcentral Technical College, NTC, to study human services with a specialty in alcohol and other drug addictions.

Peters was among 230 students who received their degrees and certificates at Saturday’s NTC graduation ceremony. She plans to continue her studies at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, eventually aiming for a master’s degree that will allow her to be a clinical social worker for patients with mental illnesses and addictions.

Her accomplishments have changed everything. “It kind of built me back up,” she said. Now she’s looking forward with confidence and optimism.

Optimism could have been the theme of Saturday’s ceremony. Although final numbers haven’t officially been tallied, many graduates already have jobs lined up, school officials said. That’s good news for them, but it also is good news for everybody, because it can be interpreted as a sign of a recovering economy.

Nearly 90 percent of students who graduated from NTC in 2012 have either found jobs or are continuing their educations, according to a survey, said Suzi Mathias, NTC’s director of transfer and placement.

That’s about the same employment rate reported by students who graduated in 2008. But the numbers took a dip in 2009 — 86 percent — and 2010, 87 percent, before rising back up to about 90 percent in 2011.

But Mathias said the difference now is that employers are coming to NTC looking for graduates to hire more often than in the past.

“For example, the business and IT, and also tech and trades, those areas seem to be booming,” Mathias said. “It’s a very positive sign.”

Even one of the economic sectors hardest hit by the recession — the construction industry — is showing signs of growth, said Jeff Musson, an NTC instructor of architecture and sustainable design.

The years between 2008 and 2012 “have been very hard on the construction industry. There were not many jobs and many actually left the industry to pursue other fields. Something totally unexpected started happening in January of 2013,” Musson said. “We started getting requests to hire our graduates.”

Between 2008 and 2012, NTC’s employment website had almost no ads for employers seeking construction workers, Musson said. This year, there have been more than 180 postings.

Peters knows that it won’t be easy for her meet her goals, but she’s got a positive determination. “I really built that confidence,” she said. “I feel like I’m much better prepared to get out there and take credit for the things I can do.”



From “Wausau officials, schools promote computer sciences” – We’re nearing the end of Computer Science Education Week, which has included a number of events to promote technology and the opportunities for careers in computer sciences.

Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple issued a proclamation at City Council earlier this week, recognizing Computer Science Education Week. He says locally, they’ve worked together with Northcentral Technical College, UW Stevens Point, the Wausau and DC Everest School Districts, and Wausau based Collaborative Consulting, which specializes in computer and software fields. “What we’re doing is coming together, working out some solutions on how we can engage younger people to attract them into the profession, get the schools engaged to offer the classes that are needed, so it’s just kind of a coming-together thing, and everybody realizes the importance. I know we’re doing a good job now, but we can always do better.”

Computer technology is tied into more and more types of business and industry, and Tipple says anything he can do to help attract young people to consider careers in technology will be good for the local economy. “We’re creating some awareness. It’s important to us, and it’s certainly important to the region.”

For the people that do get more education after high school in the computer sciences, their outlook for career placement is very good. “The Tech has a December graduating class, and all of the kids in the class have already received job offers and all have accepted them. Some of them are going to Skyward.” Skyward is the Stevens Point based educational software developer that creates programs for school districts.

The pay isn’t bad either. Northcentral Technical College figures show recent graduates in their program are starting out at close to $55,000 a year.

From “Salvation Army, NTC recognize successful students” – A celebration was held Tuesday for a group of students that have been working hard to improve their futures. The Salvation Army works with Northcentral Technical College to help people they serve have a more positive future.

Stan Steckbauer heads the program, and says they help teach skills needed in today’s world. “Things like getting a G-E-D, improving their computer literacy activities, being able to apply for jobs online, and teaching them how to fill out resumes, and also doing things like college preparation.”

The educational program also helps people get regular and commercial drivers licenses, so people can get to and from their future jobs.

Steckbauer says their program helps the recipients decide what their future should be, and helps them achieve it. “We try to assess their situation and then determine what they might be best suited for, and how to eliminate any barriers so that they can accomplish their academic or vocational goal.”

The program recognized 40 students for reaching their educational goals in a ceremony at the Salvation Army in Wausau Tuesday evening.


From “D.C. Everest recognizes volunteer for work at Junior High” – WESTON — Joseph Wilhelm was recognized and thanked by the D.C. Everest School Board Nov. 20 for his volunteer service at D.C. Everest Junior High.

For the past four years, Wilhelm has volunteered countless hours working with students in the technical education classes. Additionally, he served for a year on the D.C. Everest Idea Charter School Board.

Wilhelm shares knowledge and skills from his 35 years in manufacturing, engineering and management with the technical education students. He leverages industry connections by arranging guest speakers and tours; encourages female students to consider career options in industry, including arranging meetings for interested female students with local female engineers; and encourages students to participate in rich and varied learning opportunities such as plays, concerts and other district and community events to make connections with one another.

The greatest barometer of Wilhelm’s impact at the junior high is student feedback. Students like Wilhelm a great deal. They have made comments including, “He cares about us,” “He makes learning fun,” and “We learn a lot from him.”

This school year, Wilhelm is teaching at Northcentral Technical College and continuing his volunteer work at the junior high during two periods each day.

From “Local high school girls learn about male-dominated fields” – More than 50 girls from nine central Wisconsin highschools learned Friday what it would be like to be welders, mechanical designers, machinists and other professionals in the manufacturing and technical fields.

They were taking part in a program called Females in Technology & Trades at Northcentral Technical College. The idea was to expose the girls to professions that are in what have been traditionally male-dominated fields to ensure that they know of all the career opportunities available to them.

The program was organized by Laurie Schulz, a mechanical design instructor at NTC. Schulz worked as a designer for years and said she had no problems working in a male-dominated field, but not all young women know that such careers are even possible.

The F.I.T.T. program, Schulz said, was meant to change that by both exposing the girls to all of the programs NTC has to offer and giving them a chance to do some hands-on activities, such as welding.

Maddy Krueger and Katherine Russell, both juniors at Tomahawk High School, participated in the program to find out what they might do after graduation.

“I think this is really interesting,” Krueger said. “I’m in a shop class at school, and I’m interested in mechanical comprehension and design. So I thought that would interesting to learn.”

Russell wants to become a materials sciences engineer, designing materials that can do new things.

“There’s a need for more women in engineering fields, so I wanted to learn more about that. And I’ve never welded before, so I’m really nervous,” Russell said. “I really learned a lot today about what NTC had to offer. I didn’t know we had an engineering and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) school so close as Wausau.”

The program was beneficial for female students, Schulz said, so that “they can see what types of options are out there for them that are nontraditional, compared to what they may normally do.”


From “NTC Phillips Campus in midst of expansion” – An expansion project geared at better meeting the needs of one increasingly in-demand base for education in the Northwoods is moving forward at Northcentral Technical College’s Phillips Campus.

Each year, NTC completes two major capital projects, and current construction efforts at the Phillips Campus make up one of those projects for 2013.

The overhaul involves an expansion of the manufacturing lab along with the addition of 4,500 square feet of new classroom space to the southwest corner of the campus building.

“What it’s going to mean is that the Phillips Campus is going to be able to support more programs such as the machine tool and the manufacturing technician, which will complement our one-year and one-semester welding programs,” said NTC North Campus Dean Roberta Damrow.

The footings and floors for both areas of expansion are in. Now, the campus is waiting for segments of the actual building to arrive, something project leaders believe will happen in mid-January.

Damrow noted that these project aspects are expected to be wrapped up in April.

It looks like the new spaces will be useable in time for summer classes and then see full scheduling by fall semester of next year, as Damrow explained.

One really nice feature about the classroom addition is that the partition between two distinct classrooms can be opened up to create a larger area spanning 1,700-square feet, Damrow noted. This feature will help cover the campus’ increased need for face-to-face instruction to support expanded offerings in the manufacturing lab while at the same time providing a space different groups can utilize outside of school hours.

“We should be able to support community needs for large groups,” Damrow said.

Four new IVC (Interactive Video Conferencing) rooms will be added along with the large, connectable classrooms.

This will allow the North Campus of NTC to stream more courses offered at other campuses across the college system. Damrow sees this increased distance learning capacity being particularly useful when it comes to meeting community needs for continuing education, something that’s a cornerstone of work in the early childhood field or the food and beverage industry, to name a few career areas.

“Any sort of occupation that needs continuing education. We’ll be able to stream in more classes so people don’t have to travel as far to be recertified,” Damrow said.

Expansion plans also call for the creation of something called a net meeting room, which will hold 16 computer spaces for students taking online and Adobe Connect classes.

This allows for more flexibility in course offerings to meet the diverse needs of different learners.

A new set of bathrooms is also in construction plans for the larger classroom space.

In addition to the building expansions, contractors are putting up a stand-alone storage shed behind the main building to house equipment and materials for use in the manufacturing lab. This structure is on schedule to be completed before Thanksgiving.

“The Price County campus continues to see growth, and we attribute that to the newer campus and the newer programming that we continue to bring in…” Damrow said.

Area residents find in NTC a nearby institution where they can access a range of education options, as Damrow explained.

Instructors at the Phillips Campus sees a number of high school students “getting a jump on their college career” via technical college courses that are transferable to other colleges, as well as students who spent their first year post-high school at the campus and then transfer to Wausau or other colleges across the state.

“It’s a cost effective way to start your education. It’s also a cost-effective way to earn your first degree, and we know that lifelong learning is the way of the future, so we intend to continue to be innovative in offering things that are going to support the local industries,” Damrow said.

The campus is tentatively planning for a spring ribbon cutting to dedicate the new spaces.


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

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

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

— Kevin Zimmerman, BMO Harris Bank, Mosinee

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

— Rachel Schulte, Family Dental, Mosinee

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

— Noah Warren, Mosinee High School

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

— Halee Nieuwenhuis, Saint Clare’s Hospital, Weston

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

— Andrew Hilgemann, A&B Process Systems, Stratford

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

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

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

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

From “Dr. Lori Weyers, who heads NTC, complimentary in board address” – The Langlade County Board of Supervisors couldn’t have asked for a more complimentary guest at its November meeting today.

Dr. Lori Weyers, who heads the sprawling Northcentral Technical College, paid a visit and with her staff, explained what is happening at the college, improvements, advances being made and across the system, all with student success in mind.

Targeting the Antigo campus, she explained there are currently 1,700 students enrolled, which is one in every nine people living here. Last year there were 87 graduates, with many students going on to employment but more are continuing their education at campuses across Wisconsin and Michigan to start their university careers as juniors.

“We have partnered,” she said, telling the board that the NTC program has worked with universities to meet requirements for the students from the eight campuses accepted as juniors.

Larry Kind, dean of the campus in Antigo, outlined the gains being made at the local site and the advances that the wood technology facility has brought to the education program. Those changes also include a nursing program.

The NTC representatives who accompanied her explained there are jobs for the graduates of the two-year program, noting the information technology and welding programs as attractive fields for employment.

Weyers said the partnership with NTC and the Langlade County Board on the wood technology center is working well, and established a guideline for programs that have continued.

“You were the first,” she said, noting that the supervisors here worked with the college on construction of the wood technology facilities.

“You were the leader,” she added, “without you we may have not had these other things happen.”

The presentation by Weyers and her staff brought applause from the board.

From “Governor Walker talks about jobs grants, casinos and more at appearance in Wausau” – Governor Walker made an appearance in Wausau at Northcentral Technical College today to discuss a new grant project called Wisconsin Fast Forward.

“Workers need to have access to the most up-to-date employment information,” Governor Walker said. “By providing quality worker training and cutting-edge labor market information, our workers will be best equipped to re-enter the workforce in places where opportunities are available.”

The funding will work to create new jobs and training in manufacturing and small manufacturing businesses with 50 or fewer employees, construction, and customer service representatives. Walker says business leaders tell him Wisconsin is a great place to place customer service positions. “It’s easy to understand folks in the Midwest. The people in the Midwest he found to be overwhelmingly pleasant and easy to get along with.”

The state is looking at continued growth in the customer service industry and Walker says they want to help that grow. “The Department of Workforce Development estimates that through 2020 there’s going to be a 15% growth in customer service jobs, and an annual basis, that means 2200 new jobs each year.”

During questions after the speech, Governor Walker says he’s not in a big hurry to make a decision on the casino project in Kenosha. “This project has been before the Bureau of Indian affairs at the federal government for 20 years. And I’ve got considerable time as governor to take this matter up and fully consider the implications on it.”

Walker also said he’d be in favor of tougher OWI laws if they make it to his desk. “Ways we can toughen up, particularly penalties for repeat drunk drivers is something I’ve been in the past supportive of. And presumably, I’d have to look at the individual bills, but would be open to consider.”

He also addressed the continuing issues with the new federal health care law. Walker says the state is stepping up to make sure residents in need will be covered before the enrollment period is up on the Affordable Care Act. “Under our plan, everyone in poverty will covered. In the past, under my predecessor, there was a wait list for some on poverty, going forward everyone will be covered under Medicaid in the state of Wisconsin.” He says state officials are putting together training for insurance agents in Wisconsin in order to help them get people signed up for the exchanges and for insurance before the enrollment period is up.


From “NTC announces agreement” – WAUSAU – Northcentral Technical College in Wausau and Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa, have announced a new articulation agreement for the NTC Early Childhood Education associate degree program. Students graduating from this program at NTC will be able to seamlessly enter the Early Childhood Education Bachelor Degree program at Ashford University with junior status. The Early Childhood Education Bachelor Degree program is offered both online and face-to-face in Clinton, Iowa. For more information regarding transfer opportunities and to view the transfer guides, visit

From “Making a Difference one yard at a time” – A group of Northcentral Technical College, NTC, international students cleared the leaves off a large lot at the intersection of North 32nd Avenue and Madonna Drive Saturday morning.

The students, hailing from several Central American and Caribbean nations, joked and laughed with each other as they raked and bagged the leaves from the yard of 56-year-old Margaret Duranceau. Health problems would have made the job near impossible for Duranceau, and she appreciated their efforts.

“They are one fantastic crew,” Duranceau said. “They should keep them here.”

The students were among the estimated 400-plus volunteers who turned up to rake the leaves of about 250 area residents for the Make a Difference Day efforts coordinated by the United Way of Marathon County.

“We had fabulous volunteer turnout,” said Shelly Kaiser, the director of the agency’s Volunteer Connection. “The weather cooperated. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. We had outstanding turnout.”

Kaiser said she didn’t know why so many people signed up to help their neighbors this year, but “our target is 300 volunteers,” she said.

One of the motivating factors for the NTC students is that they are required to volunteer in the community as part of the program that brought them to study in the United States, Scholarships for Education and Economic Development, or SEED. The program is designed to help low-income students from high-need countries to learn business, design projects and to go back to their countries to make a difference there.

Make a Difference Day offers a great opportunity for SEED students to work those required volunteer hours, but participation means more than that, said student Mariela Valdez, 19, of the Dominican Republic.

This was her second year of participating in the day, and she found last year that helping people, instead of working for programs, is gratifying.

“Doing it for people who need it, it’s like, wow, that’s awesome,” Valdez said. “We enjoy doing it. … We have fun.”

From “Career exploration: Ag education council considers new website plan” – MADISON — Wisconsin’s Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council is heading in a new direction with its efforts to recruit potential workers for the state’s agricultural industry.

At a Sept. 17 meeting, WAEWDC members discussed a plan to transition from its “WhyAg” website that links qualified job candidates with companies that have employment needs to an online Career Pathways Initiative being developed by Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.

The career pathways website is designed to help middle and high school students, parents and displaced workers explore potential career end points for their educational efforts. It will be a resource for young people and displaced workers as they determine what type of education they need for jobs in the broad field of agriculture.

The website would include links to agriculture career exploration, higher education opportunities and job placement/wage data.

The WAEWDC was created by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2008 to help provide a qualified workforce to support the state’s agricultural industry. It has been struggling to stay financially afloat since no state money was allocated to fund the effort when the council was created.

Council vice chairman Corey Kuchta said Al Herrman, a past WAEWDC chairman and current council executive director, has been organizing a fundraising campaign to help fund future council efforts. Herrman is working on a volunteer basis.

“In October he’s going to start to do some mailings to ask people who have contributed to the council in the past for future contributions,” Kuchta said. “The money is needed to fund all of the council efforts.”

Lori Weyers, Northcentral Technical College president, said the career pathways website will outline the steps in the career decision-making process.

“Where do I want to go and how do I get there,” she said. “Students will be able to see what jobs are at the end of the path for them and how much those jobs pay.”

Katie Felch, director of marketing and public relations at NTC, described the website as a “one-stop shop to see all the things that are available.”

People visiting the website would be able to review a wide variety of agricultural job opportunities and investigate what type of school might be best for them to get the training they need for the job they want.

Council members discussed the possibility of selling advertising on the website to employers who are in need of agricultural workers.

Although NTC officials developed the website, Weyers said it could be customized to include information from all of the various technical colleges and universities in Wisconsin.

“Even though we developed this template, this is not about NTC,” Weyers said. “We did this on our own time as an in-kind donation to the council. We want to share it — you can use it and you can have it.”

WAEWDC members discussed on what server the website would be housed and who would pay for maintaining and updating it.

Weyers said she would come back to the next council meeting in December with information on how much it would cost to host the website on NTC servers. Council members said employer sponsorships could help pay for the service.

Each technical college and university listed on the website would be responsible for keeping its information current, Weyers said.

Randy Zogbaum, agriculture and natural resources consultant for the Wisconsin Technical College System, said he would take the concept to deans of the technical college system and ask for funds to help support the project.

Council members said the career pathways website could be an extension of what the council has been working on with its WhyAg initiative.

“I think this will be a great transition from WhyAg,” Kuchta said.

Kuchta said the difference with the career pathways website will be that people will be able to do everything from explore career opportunities to find a path to get there and see how much money they can make.

“This is why we exist as a council — to create an opportunity to build that pipeline for jobs and to connect workers and employers,” council member Liz Henry said.

Mike Compton, dean of the UW-Platteville School of Agriculture, said he is looking forward to sending the school’s agricultural ambassadors out to high schools with the career pathways website in their tool belt.

Council members said the new website would not compete with but be a complement to the Wisconsin Job Center website recently developed by the Department of Workforce Development. The website has a page devoted to agriculture.

On a related note, Wisconsin FFA Adviser Jeff Hicken said the National FFA Organization is collecting job and career data on an Ag Career Network. The effort is directed at helping students develop profiles, resumes and portfolios before they leave high school.

Paul Larson, an agriculture instructor in the Freedom School District, has agreed to continue as chairman of the council for the next year, Kuchta said.

From “Good news for Wisconsin job seekers” – There’s good news on the horizon for Wisconsin residents looking for work.

Though the state’s labor market continues to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-09, Wisconsin economists say prospects for job seekers are looking up.

“The picture is improving significantly,” said Jeff Sachse, an economist for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) who monitors the labor market in northeastern Wisconsin. “We’re seeing demand pretty much all over the place in fairly large numbers statewide. We have about 42,000 job openings on our Job Center of Wisconsin website right now.”

Wisconsin’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2013 was 6.8 percent, unchanged from June and down from 7.0 percent in July 2012, according to the most recent numbers from the DWD and the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Across the U.S., the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2013 was 7.4 percent, down from 7.6 percent in June and 8.2 percent in July 2012.

While Sachse anticipates Wisconsin’s unemployment numbers would remain relatively high in August because of the number of high school and college students looking for summer work, he predicts the jobless rate will dip below 6 percent in fall in many parts of the state, including the Fox Valley.

“That’s an indication that the labor market itself is getting back to normal,” Sachse said. “The real growth areas in the state are the Fox Valley into Green Bay. If you’re looking at central Wisconsin, there’s a lot of activity in Wausau around insurance as well as metal manufacturing.”

Wider range of manufacturing jobs

Economists continue to see strong hiring activity in manufacturing, especially in the Fox Valley and Sheboygan.

In central Wisconsin, economists are beginning to see an uptick in metal fabrication and machinery manufacturing jobs.

“We got hit pretty hard in paper manufacturing and wood product manufacturing over the course of the recession,” said Tom Walsh, a DWD economist who monitors the labor market in north-central Wisconsin. “But we’re now starting to see some other manufacturing sectors start to grow.”

For more of this story visit

From “Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges win $23 million federal grant” — Wisconsin’s employers and workers will benefit from a new $23.1 million investment by the U.S. Department of Labor, which today announced a grant to Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges to address emerging needs in the information technology (IT) sector.

The successful grant application applies to the third installment of a multi-year, nearly $2 billion federal stimulus initiative designed to increase community college credential attainment in high-priority economic sectors.

In the previous round, the Wisconsin technical colleges won an $18.3 million grant to expand innovative programs that produce high-skilled workers in advanced manufacturing.

“Collaboration within our system has allowed us to leverage more than $41 million to address the strategic needs and priorities we’ve identified with our workforce and economic development partners,” said Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy. “That’s pretty exciting for Wisconsin.”

The most recent grant will allow the colleges to enhance and expand career pathways not only within cutting-edge IT programs, but also within other critical sectors – such as health care and manufacturing – that increasingly require workers with advanced IT competencies.

Drew Petersen, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board and an executive with TDS Telecom, said, “Our programs are uniquely industry-driven, and these funds will allow us to scale innovation in response to needs identified by our employer partners in the IT space.”

Northcentral Technical College (NTC) led the consortium effort for the initiative. NTC President Lori Weyers said, “We recognize the importance of a skilled workforce in the IT sector and the significance of this industry to the state’s economy. This grant award is a testament to the many individuals from the 16 colleges that worked together to put this grant proposal together.”

Wisconsin’s technical colleges received one of the largest single awards from the Department of Labor’s investment, and the collaboration makes the technical college system one of the few applicants to receive back-to-back grants. Grant implementation will begin in October.

From “Northcentral Technical College expands Dairy Science programs” – WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – This year marks the second anniversary of the Northcentral Technical College Agricultural School of Excellence, and the program is running stronger than ever.

Students are starting to graduate from the program after doing training at the Center, and NTC VP of learning Shelley Mondeik says they’ve been placing all their graduates. “At this point, the students that we’ve surveyed have had 100 percent employment, so we’re very excited.” Students have been getting jobs working in cattle sales and trading, running farms, and working as farm hands while they continue their training.

The dairy sciences program at NTC has been expanding as well, and Mondeik says they’ve got more to offer students. “When we started we only had the one dairy science degree. As of today we’ve got three associate’s degrees, one technical diploma and an apprenticeship, so it’s just more and more offerings for the students.”

Mondeik says that apprenticeship program is really helping retain farmers and keep the dairy tradition alive. The program pairs students with a master grazer who works with the school, and they go through about 4000 hours of training over the course of the program. “Once that person achieves those hours, they have the potential to be an expert in dairy grazing.”

If you’re interested in the dairy sciences program, contact NTC through their website at or call the college at 715-675-3331.

From “REI donates survey equipment to college” – REI Engineering Inc. donated survey equipment Aug. 13 to Northcentral Technical College. The equipment includes a Leica electronic total station with accessories, a Sokia electronic total station with accessories and a data collector with Survey Pro software and two extendable prisms and poles. Close to $4,000 of equipment was included in this package.

Tom Radenz, owner and senior consultant of REI, said, “As we continue to upgrade and invest in technology, we are proud to donate our land surveying equipment to NTC. The equipment will provide a learning platform for students to become better prepared for their careers in site development.”

This survey equipment will be used in the classrooms to familiarize students in the Architectural Design Program with the technology and equipment available to them once they become active members of the field.

“We are grateful for the support and generosity of REI to bring state-of-the-art training equipment to our technical and trades programs,” said Lori Weyers, president of NTC. “They are an excellent supporter and partner of the college. This donation not only continues the strong partnership between REI and the education community, but will also foster growth in the community.”

From “NTC students head back to class” — The first day of classes is now in the books at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.

NTC’s campus is once again alive with students. That includes a 19-year-old transfer from UW-Milwaukee.

It’s a day of introductions, nerves, and learning

NTC in Wausau has officially begun its fall semester. School officials say about 4,000 students are enrolled this fall. That includes 19-year-old Emily Worden.

“Stuff is just so much different down there than it is here, it’s just a lot better quality here,” said Worden.

Worden is from the Wausau area. When she graduated high school she wanted to try something new. So she applied and got accepted to UW-Milwaukee.

“I decided I had enough of the small scene so I was going to go down to Milwaukee and I absolutely loved it down there,” said Worden.

But now one year later Worden transferred to NTC, a place she says will definitely help her in becoming a nurse.

“I’m totally a hands-on person so to be there and just sitting there and not having examples to work on it was just like making me crazy,”said Worden.

She says the cost of tuition and close communication with professors are big reasons why Worden transferred to the college.

“You can get the help that you need and sufficient help to help get you in the direction you want to go,”said Worden.

Worden says her new direction will be an adjustment, but it’s one she’s willing to make for a bright future.

“It’s a new start for me I’m really excited,” said Worden.

Worden says she plans on getting her two-year degree from NTC. She says she might go back to UW-Milwaukee for her bachelor’s degree.



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