From wsau.com: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” — It’s the big question we all face when we’re young, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Common answers are firefighter or police officer and middle and high school students from the Wausau Boys and Girls Club got the chance to live out that dream on Wednesday.

Kids got to try on a couple different hats for size at the Northcentral Technical College Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill as they went through the training exercises of police, fire, and EMS professionals.

“It’s really fun and it teaches us to be on our feet and be very active,” Tyler Jones, 14 said.

“They’re kind of at that point of ‘what should I do for my career when I get a little bit older?’ And, ‘where should I go to college?’ And things like that are starting to play into their minds, so this gives them an opportunity to see maybe this might be the avenue that they might want to venture into,” said the college’s Public Safety Executive Director Bert Nitzke.

Fourteen-year-old Asia Stalsberg said she’s now thinking of going into the behind the scenes work of public safety.

The hands-on experiences is, of course a great opportunity for all the kids involved, but it’s especially so for the young women.

“This has been a male-dominated field for a long time and seeing more girls come here today and seeing them apply at the fire departments is great because we do need that diversity and it’s just great seeing them out here having fun,” said SAFER Firefighter and EMT Emily Dobeck. “Sometimes it can be very intimidating seeing is how most of the tasks that we perform require strength, but sometimes it comes in handy when you’re smaller.”

Experiences like the one the Boys and Girls Club and NTC provided for the kids may inspire more women to join the field.

If you would like to try some of the college’s hands-on training classes or bring your group to some, you can visit their website here: http://www.ntc.edu/.

From waow.com: “Rhinelander college gets $1.9 million state grant” – Nicolet Area Technical College was awarded $1.9 million in state grants Tuesday to train up to 303 students for in-demand jobs, such as welding and nursing assistants.

The money comes from about $35 million earmarked to help Wisconsin technical colleges train nearly 5,000 workers for jobs that employers need filled, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said during a stop announcing the grant.

Last week, Northcentral Technical College in Wausau received $2.3 million from the program Gov. Scott Walker calls his “Blueprint for Prosperity” to train another 160 in-demand workers, including for diesel transportation jobs.

Here’s a breakdown of the additional students the money will help at Nicolet Area Technical College: 16 in electromechanical technology, 92 in welding, 30 in computer support specialties, 50 in business management and marketing, 80 in nursing and 35 in early childhood education.

“The college has a long history of working in close partnership with area businesses to determine training needs,” Interim President Kenneth Urban said in a statement. “These grants will directly benefit our students by giving them the exact skills they need to be successful, while businesses in the region will gain a skilled workforce to drive economic development.”

From wausaudailyherald.com: “The future workforce is here, working” – By Donna Schulz-Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator for Northcentral Technical College – If you follow the news, you’ve heard about a shrinking workforce facing employers. As more baby boomers retire each year, employers need to find and develop individuals who will be able to support the growth of their businesses in the years ahead.

These news stories remind me of a public service announcement from television in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s; the question “Do you know where your children are?” was asked during the 10 p.m. news as a reminder to parents that it was important for them to know where their children were and what they were doing. It seems the question employers dealing with an aging workforce are trying to answer is, “Do you know where your future employees are?”

I can tell you part of the answer is that they’re right here in the community, going to high school (taking classes that might surprise you), and trying to find the answer to their own question, “Do you know where your future is?”

This past year, 309 juniors and seniors from 21 high schools within the Northcentral Technical College district were literally working to find the answer to that question for themselves by participating in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program.

YA is a rigorous one- or two-year program that combines mentored, paid, on-the-job learning with academic and technical instruction related to a specific program area. That means students working at a local bank through a finance apprenticeship are studying business, math and financial management; students completing an apprenticeship in manufacturing are perhaps taking welding, machining and manufacturing classes; students working at a healthcare facility may have taken a nursing assistant course at NTC along with medical terminology, biology, anatomy and physiology at their high school.

These students are seeing a real-world connection between their classrooms and the workplace. An exit survey taken by high school seniors who finished their apprenticeships this year provides some thought-provoking data. Of 173 graduating seniors, 151 have plans to attend some type of post-secondary school. While 26 of these students hope to focus only on school, the rest have plans to work while in school. And here’s where it gets really interesting: 85 percent of those 125 students are continuing to work for their YA employer, and 71 percent will be majoring in a field related to their apprenticeship.

Based on these numbers, you can see that some employees of the future are here now, developing relationships with employers who are helping them find their futures. If you would like to learn more about opportunities to hire a youth apprentice, contact the youth apprenticeship coordinator at your local high school or Donna Schulz at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau at schulz@ntc.edu.

From wsaw.com: “Middle Schoolers Compete in STEM Academy Final Competition” — Summer vacation is well underway for most students, but for more than one hundred middle school students class is far from dismissed.

Middle schoolers from seven different schools throughout the state are spending their first weeks of summer learning about science, technology, engineering and math.

Through video conferencing, all seven schools worked together on projects like building water rockets and marshmallow catapults. Friday, they all met face to face for the first time to show off and test their projects in a friendly competition.

“Our passion for this program is for them to understand that science, technology, engineering and math they are exciting fields and that it’s not scary and they can do it,” Program Director Jamie Lane explained.

Their methods seem to have worked. Students tell us the program made STEM subjects fun and more interesting to learn.

“I’ve never really been a big fan of math,” Rosholt sixth grader Cora Kertzman confessed. “But now I’m understanding it more and I like it a lot more.”

Even teachers say they’ve learned from this experience and hope to bring the fun back into the classroom this fall.

This was the first year for the STEM Project Academy. Organizers tell NewsChannel 7 the program was so popular they already have a waiting list for next year.

The STEM project was made possible through a partnership with the Erving Network and Northcentral Technical College.

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Mid-State enrollment projected to increase for first time in 3 years” — GRAND RAPIDS — After three years of steadily declining enrollment, Mid-State Technical College’s student body is slowly ticking upward.

This upcoming academic year will be the first time the college has projected an increase in student body population since the 2010-11 year. The school expects enrollment will rise 3.5 percent to 2,144 full-time equivalent students in 2014-15 from 2,070 in 2013-14.

Vice President of Student Affairs Mandy Lang attributed this year’s increase in students to the opening of the new Stevens Point campus and its new and expanded course offerings. She said the three-year enrollment decline was due to the economy.

“When the economy gets better, there can be a drop in enrollment for colleges,” Lang said.

After the recession hit in 2008 and layoffs became more common in central Wisconsin, MSTC saw enrollment increase as dislocated workers decided to return to school and acquire new skills. Government funding for dislocated worker training also increased during this time, Lang said. However, as the effects of the recession mitigated, the school’s numbers steadily declined from 2011 to 2014.

Still, these trends in enrollment are not unique to MSTC. According to the Wisconsin Technical College System’s 2011-13 Biennial Report, all Wisconsin technical colleges saw a decrease in full-time equivalent students from the 2009-10 academic school year to the 2011-12 year. Across the technical college system, there was a 3.9 percent drop in enrollment from 2009-10 to 2011-12, totaling a decrease of 3,175 students.

Conor Smyth, director of strategic partnerships and external relations at WTCS, said enrollment rates in the state’s technical colleges were the highest in the system’s history during the recession. The tendency for people to return to college during times of economic hardship is a historic trend, he said. Likewise, when the economy gets better, people tend to go back to work. This phenomena, he said, explains the subsequent decline in enrollment.

“There’s a preference for work and earning money,” Smyth said.

Katie Felch, director of public relations and marketing at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, also noted the economy’s role in determining enrollment at NTC. Since 2006-07, Felch said NTC’s enrollment increased by 50 percent and in 2012, it was recognized as the 21st fastest-growing community college in the nation by Community College Week. This past May, NTC graduated its largest class ever.

This year, NTC’s enrollment is down 8 percent, but Felch expects it to rebound.

“We saw a big bubble due to dislocated workers,” Felch said.

However, the recession isn’t the only factor influencing enrollment. MSTC’s pool of potential students is much smaller because of its district’s demographics.

According to MSTC’s calculations in its 2014-15 budget, residents in the school’s district are significantly older than the national average. Compared to the national average, there are 16 percent more people per capita who are older than 50. Combine this with the fact that MSTC’s district has only grown 1 percent in population since 2001 and it puts MSTC at a notable disadvantage in enrolling students. For context, Wisconsin’s population has grown 7 percent and the U.S.’s has grown 11 percent since 2001.

Another cause for concern in technical college enrollment is the diminishing number of students in high school. Smyth said the total number of high school graduates is expected to decrease in the next decade and with fewer students enrolled in high school, it is likely to impact enrollment at all colleges.

However, the technical colleges are especially starting to notice.

“There are just fewer students in the pipeline,” Felch said. “So we’re working to attract those students.”

But, as Smyth said, recruitment for students is especially hard for technical colleges because of their constant battle with a “four-year bias.” High school students, in particular, might feel more pressured by their peers, parents and school counselors to enroll in a four-year university even though their academic interest might be better aligned with a technical college.

Still, Smyth admits that breaking this bias is especially hard.

“We’re trying to get people to think along the lines of, ‘What do you want to do?’ rather than, ‘Where do you want to go?’” Smyth said.

In addition, student financial aid is growing harder to attain because of government regulations, further hindering student enrollment. Although technical colleges might be more affordable than a four-year university, Smyth said the number of students eligible for state-funded, need-based financial aid far outpaces the sufficient funds available to them.

At MSTC, Lang said the declining accessibility of financial aid is impacting the number of students it enrolls.

“It has been a factor (in enrollment) over the past few years,” Lang said about financial aid. “Those regulations do continue to tighten.”

Lang said MSTC anticipates a “moderate growth” in student body population during the next few years but would not speak to whether maintaining a steadily increasing enrollment was a high priority for MSTC. Instead, she emphasized student success as one of MSTC’s largest priorities.

From wjfw.com: “NTC’s Ag Center of Excellence gives students valuable, hands-on dairy experience” – WAUSAU – Programs offered at the Northcentral Technical College’s Ag Center of Excellence help students interested in the agriculture industry.

The Ag Center offers hands-on learning opportunities for its students.

That includes learning about a robotic milker and feeding calves.

Right now, more than 100 students are involved in Ag Center of Excellence programs.

“I think it’s a great opportunity. Just the learning experience and being able to see the different aspect of the farming industry, or part of the agriculture business. I don’t have much experience myself, so any opportunity is a great opportunity,” said Rylee Gregoriche, a Dairy Science Student at the Ag Center.

Gregoriche says she appreciates learning more about agriculture and being able to participate in the internships that are available with the Ag Center.

The center offers Associate degrees in dairy science, veterinarian sciences and agriculture business.

There’s also a technical program for operating agriculture equipment.

Leaders at the Ag Center believe these programs adequately prepare students for their futures.

“They can go on to do a variety of things in the agriculture world. Most of the time, that experience coupled with the degree, [agriculture] people are more than happy to hire them because they’ve had that experience,” Katie Vandergeest, Agriculture Sciences Development Manager.

The Ag Center of Excellence opened its doors in June of 2011.

There is still room available in summer and fall classes.

From wausaudailyherald.com: “NTC’s Agriculture Center continues to grow” — WAUSAU — Enrollment at Northcentral Technical College’s Agriculture Center of Excellence has more than tripled since the academy opened about three years ago and though the farm part of the center still is losing money, administrators are confident that soon will change.

In 2009, the Marathon County Board voted to give NTC $1 million to help start the center, a farm-based learning laboratory in the town of Maine. NTC’s initial investment was $164,338, according to NTC marketing & public relations director Katie Felch.

Two years later, students started using the facility, with 31 signing up for one of the two available associate degree programs: dairy science and agribusiness.

In the 2013-14 academic year, 107 students were enrolled in an expanded selection of four programs taught at the center. Veterinary science, an associate degree program, and agriculture equipment technician, which offers a technical diploma, recently were added to the course offerings.

In 2013, 12 students graduated from the dairy science program, according to figures provided by the college. Of those, 11 responded to a follow-up survey, with two listing “farm owner” or “family farm owner” as their occupations.

That means the program isn’t churning out graduates who take over or start their own family farms, but NTC leaders said the students being educated at the academy are contributing to central Wisconsin’s farming economy in myriad other ways.

By the numbers

From a budgetary standpoint, the Agriculture Center is split into two components; the instructional budget, which includes expenses such as instructional pay, supplies, printing costs and minor equipment; and the farm operations budget, which includes revenue from crops, milk, calves and cows and expenses including seed, fertilizer, livestock, fuel and repairs.

The instructional budget is a fixed cost for the college, but the farm operations spending plan can be affected by a variety of factors, including weather and milk prices, said NTC president Lori Weyers.

The farm has been operating in the red since it opened, losing about $24,000 in fiscal year 2013 and with losses projected to be about $5,000 in the current fiscal year, according to figures provided by the college.

While that might not be ideal, Weyers said it’s not unexpected.

“We said we had a five-year budget plan we were working toward to get to be cost-neutral,” Weyers said. “But it is very dependent on milk prices and how we do with the crops, if we have a good growing season, because then we don’t have to buy as much feed for the cows.”

Weyers said learning to cope with weather’s whims and fluctuating milk prices is a good lesson for students preparing for lives as farmers.

“We’re dependent on the weather, we’re dependent on milk prices, so our students need to understand this — that if they go into this field they’re going to be very much dependent on what happens with their crops and what happens with their milk prices,” she said. “It’s real life, it’s real-world living, and so that was our goal.”

The center lost about $85,000 in fiscal year 2012, but Felch said that figure doesn’t reflect a fully operational year; its herd still was growing and the center had yet to secure the annual milk-purchase contract it now has with Mullins Cheese.

The herd took time to build, said Vicky Pietz, NTC dean of agricultural sciences.

“We have over 100 animals now; we can have up to 110 on the property for the zoning,” Pietz said. “We started off with a smaller herd so it takes time for your cows to come up through the milking lines.”

Ag Center graduates

Of the 12 students who graduated from the dairy science program in 2013, 11 responded to a six-month follow-up survey from the college. Two of them reported owning farms — one a family farm — and others held jobs such as property manager, farm technician and farm hand.

Weyers said the industry is trending toward large farm operations and away from smaller family farms, so it’s not atypical for those entering the ag business to get jobs as farm managers instead of farm owners.

“The research says that larger farms are coming in and the smaller dairy farms of the ’60s and ’70s is no longer going to be the case,” Weyers said. “It’s tough to make a living when you’re talking about 40 or 60 cows, you’re going to have to have an outside job. … So either the wife works outside the home or somebody does.

“But then you’re seeing these 2,000-herd farms, the large operations, and they need a lot — they need a herdsman, they need somebody in charge of the crops, and that’s where our graduates are going.”

Brian Brendemuehl of Merrill, who graduated in May from the dairy science program, said he and his classmates got both a degree and real-world experience at the academy — a valuable combination when it comes to landing a job.

“It gives you credentials going into somebody’s farm; credentials that you were on a working farm with animals,” Brendemuehl said. “A lot of people will hire upon experience and you also have a degree, so if you have both, you have a leg up on the competition.”

The 30-year-old said the best part of the program was the hands-on learning.

“It gives you a perspective with the cow being there, it’s not all done by simulators,” Brendemuehl said. “You actually can see how things act and how the cows react to what the students are doing with the cows, so it gives you something to expect out in the real world and some perspective of how it’s going to happen.”

Growing a farm

The center, which sits on 110 acres on Highway K in the town of Maine, was developed in partnership with the Dairyland State Academy, a consortium of agribusiness advocates that helped raise money to make the facility a reality. In March 2009, the Marathon County Board voted 29-7 to spend $1 million to develop the center.

Then-county board chairman Keith Langenhahn was one of the yes votes.

“When we took the vote, the flavor of the (county) board was that agriculture is very important in Marathon County and with the average age of the producer at 57 or 58 at that time, we thought it was important to have young people trained to take over the industry and retain the agriculture base in Marathon County,” Langenhahn said.

The center includes a cow barn, calf and heifer barn, robotic milker, parlor and a “green” classroom that has the capacity to seat 32 students. The calf and heifer barn has the capacity to house 40 to 50 animals and the freestall barn has 50 stalls. The main building is equipped with a milking parlor and a Lely robotic milking machine.

The farm includes 83 acres of tillable land planted in a variety of crops — peas, oats, alfalfa, red clover, grass and corn. Through an agreement with Case IH, students are able to use the latest agricultural equipment and precision farming technology.

A farm operations manager oversees the center and is helped by two assistant managers, Pietz said. Two full-time instructors and some adjuncts round out the staffing.

Selling the center

The center is marketed in a variety of ways, Felch said, from career coaches promoting it in the high schools, to getting the word out at events such as the state fair, this month’s dairy breakfasts and organizations such as the FFA.

Felch said farm staffers also give frequent tours and hold high school-geared events where students can see the farm firsthand.

“That’s really what sells them,” Felch said. “That’s the great thing about the Ag Center of Excellence is that it’s that learning laboratory, you have that hands-on opportunity, you’re not just learning in the classroom, you’re actually seeing first hand all those experiences.”

In addition to its efforts to present the center in a good light, Pietz said the college wants to put a good face forward for the agriculture industry.

“We work really hard to make sure the place looks nice, looks clean, stays looking new, so that when folks do come in and tour they leave feeling great,” Pietz said. “They’ve had a good tour, they’ve had a good experience.”

From waow.com: “Wausau’s Northcentral Technical College hiring more teachers” — A central Wisconsin college is adding jobs to help students prepare for the working world.

Northcentral Technical College is looking to fill about 30 positions.

Darren Ackley, the dean of the Technical and Trades Division, said there are more jobs out there than NTC graduates can fill.

He says adding more instructors means they’ll be able to teach more students skills that are in demand.

“Our business community has been telling us that we need more welders, we need diesel technicians, we need [certified nursing assistants], we need nurses,” said Jeannie Worden, the vice president of college advancement. “We know in our IT area that we do not have enough graduates for the IT jobs that are there. Welding, we know, is the same issue.”

The leaders of NTC want to fill that need.

“We go out to our employers to find out what their hiring needs are,” Worden said.

“We definitely try to take notes from them on what we need to do and try to accommodate however we can,” said Ackley.

Part of their solution is to add about 30 new positions, including around 10 teachers.

“We’re really focusing on increasing the number of students we can accommodate here and with that, we need more instructors, so we’re definitely having an exciting time here where we’re hiring lots of people,” Ackley said.

Ackley says they’re looking for “somebody that has some occupational experience that has been out in the industry, working, that knows what they’re doing out there.”

It’s a quality students say is helpful in the classroom.

“They have worked for huge companies or they have been managers in other states here,” said Adelio Ortiz, a student from El Salvador. “They not only bring the theory of the class, they bring real experience.”

It prepares students for life after college because Ackley says they can tailor the curriculum to what the industry needs are.

To help pay for these new positions, the school received a $6 million grant from the federal government.

From wsau.com: “College graduation week features NTC, UWSP Saturday” – Several colleges are having their graduation ceremonies Saturday.

One of them is Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, where Sean Sullivan says the students have been doing more than classroom work to get ready for the job market.  “A lot of our graduates have really been active in taking advantage of the services that we offer to prepare to go out into the workforce, so it’s not only about the classes, but it’s about the extra things that we can offer them like leadership development, job skills training, those soft skills that employers are looking for.”

The NTC graduation is held at Wausau West High School starting at 10:00 a.m. Sullivan says just over half of the graduates will take part in the ceremony.  “NTC is going to be graduating almost 800 students this semester, and of those, I’d say about 475 will be at the graduation ceremony.”

Some of the NTC grads are the first virtual college Associate Degree graduates for the school, having taken most of their classes online.

The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point also has commencement Saturday, with both a morning session and an afternoon session to send 1,427 graduates on to their next step.

Mid-State Technical College had their graduation Thursday evening, but they have something else to celebrate. Their new Stevens Point facility is ready, and they’ve begun moving in. The college acquired the former Penney’s wing of the Centerpoint Marketplace mall, and they expect to be done moving in early next week.

UW Marathon County had their graduation Wednesday.

 

From wausaudailyherald.com: “GED/HSED grads overcome much on their path to diplomas” — WAUSAU — Jason Wolfgram said he grew up on the “rough south side of Milwaukee, where finishing high school, or even imagining of going to college, was completely unheard of.”

But on Friday evening, Wolfgram, 36, was wearing a dark blue graduation gown and mortarboard, standing in front of his three children and a crowd of fellow GED/HSED graduates, their friends and family members, talking about how he earned his diploma after years of selling and taking drugs and spending plenty of time behind bars. He talked about how he was now working as a welder and taking human services classes at Northcentral Technical College.

Wolfgram was a student speaker at NTC’s commencement ceremony for its GED, or General Educational Development, and HSED, or high school equivalency diploma, programs. He was one of more than 250 graduates receiving the diplomas at NTC this spring.

NTC President Lori Weyers and keynote speaker state Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Stettin, spoke about how important those diplomas are. They stressed that the graduates had achieved a crucial accomplishment that can help lead to a successful life.

“Years ago, it was possible to make a living in this world without an education,” Petrowski said. “Those days are over.”

That’s one reason why Melody Olson, 55, of Colby decided she would pursue her GED. When she was a teenager, “I didn’t like school,” she said. “So I quit, married and had kids.”

Now her three daughters are grown, and she has four grandchildren with a fifth on the way. She moved from Baraboo to Colby to be with her longtime boyfriend, Jim Powell, 59. She said she couldn’t find a job without a high school diploma, but it also simply bothered her that she didn’t have a diploma. So with the encouragement of Powell, she enrolled in NTC’s individualized, self-paced GED/HSED program.

“I thought, ‘I gotta do something,’” Olson said.

Getting the GED has given her confidence, Powell said.

“That was really important for her,” Powell said.

Wolfgram made his decision while serving time in the Marathon County Jail.

“I wanted to make some serious changes finally. I wanted to be a person that my family, mostly my babies, could and would look up to,” he said. “You see, all my life, I have lied my way through applications, jobs, to support my family. I never understood the true meaning, or the feelings associated with receiving a diploma. But today I stand here, before all of you, with what’s accepted as a high school diploma.”

Wolfgram thanked the NTC staff members forsticking with him and helping him earn the diploma.

“Like I said earlier, I’m just the product of rough streets,” Wolfgram said. “The stigma of a violent offender. A drug user. A dealer. Those things are all in my rear-view mirror right now.”

From wausaudailyherald.com: “NTC, SPASH receive Blueprint for Prosperity grants” — Northcentral Technical College in Wausau and Stevens Point Area Senior High School will be the recipients of two grants to develop or expand programs that prepare high school pupils for work or further education in high-demand fields.

NTC will receive just under $150,000, the second largest of all the grants. SPASH will receive just over $33,000.

The two grants are part of a total of $2.1 million to be awarded by the state Department of Workforce Development, Secretary Reggie Newson announced Tuesday in a DWD news release.

The grants are part of Gov. Scott Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity, a program designed to provide tax relief and invest in worker training. The plan includes $35.4 million to expand the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training program into three key areas, including:

• Increasing industry-recognized certifications in high-demand fields for high school students.

• Reducing wait lists in high-demand fields at Wisconsin technical colleges.

• Enhancing employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin seeks Wausau-area participants for training” – By Jorge Franco — The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin Advanced Manufacturing Partnership is emerging this spring with a new-generation training solution to address the growing skilled worker shortage in the Wausau region.

The HCCW Partnership is a collaboration including the Central Wisconsin Metal Manufacturing Alliance, chaired by John Peterson of Schuette Metals and co-chaired by Kathy Drengal of Greenheck Fan Corp. The alliance also includes Northcentral Technical College, the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and the outstanding leadership of Miller Electric Manufacturing Company. The HCCW training initiative is made possible under Gov. Scott Walker’s Fast Forward skills development program and the ITW Foundation. We’ve received national recognition and substantial funding from the American Welding Society.

This initiative is an employer-driven and mentor-based anti-poverty solution that connects Wausau’s unemployed and under-employed workers with accredited welding skills development and training at no cost to trainees. It is designed to fill existing higher paying job vacancies to the benefit of everyone including the state and local economies.

According to Competitive Wisconsin Inc.’s “Be Bold 2” study by ManpowerGroup, the unmet demand for metal workers, including welders, is expected to reach 7,101 by 2016. To the extent these positions are to remain unfilled, the HCCW estimates that state and local government lost revenues could amount to more than $265 million in lost income, sales and property tax revenues over a 10-year job lifecycle.

This program offers a pathway to a higher-paying career in welding at an accelerated pace. The median starting pay for skilled welding positions is $35,450 a year. The program is a paid training that takes 14 to 16 weeks to complete. Participants are immediately job-eligible upon completion with lifelong learning and earning skills. This program is followed by ongoing HCCW support programming and on-the-job training to continue workplace advancement.

In the Wausau region alone, more than 200 welder graduates of this program are in high demand based on a recent five-day sign-up period offered to manufacturers by the HCCW.

The initiative distinguishes itself from traditional skills training by including essential life skills training for participants, including time management and punctuality, critical thinking and problem solving, financial access to lifeline financial services along with financial education and communication skills development among other topics. It is designed to supply workforce-ready candidates who are able to step into entry-level welding positions. Participants will complete essential life skills training in a support group setting before they advance to the employer-approved customized welder training course provided by Northcentral Technical College.

This initiative facilitates upward economic mobility for trainees and at the same time provides skilled workers in order to help keep manufacturers strong in the Wausau region. People of any ethnicity can participate; the program is open to any resident in the Wausau region. The HCCW is now recruiting training initiative participants and is excited to be a part of the Wausau community.

If you’re interested in participating as a training candidate or a manufacturer, call 1-844-890-5096 or email skillstraining@hccw.org for more information.

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Demand jumps for NTC architectural 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 wjfw.com: “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 marshfieldnewsherald.com: “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 pricecountydaily.com: “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 wausaudailyherald.com: “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 antigodailyjournal.com: “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 aspeninstitute.org: “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.

Wisconsin

  • 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 waow.com: “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: http://www.ntc.edu/transfer

From wausaudailyherald.com: “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 wsau.com: “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 wsau.com: “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 wausaudailyherald.com: “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 wausaudailyherald.com: “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.”

 

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