From pbn.com: “Mobile lab considered for marketing, training” — Gerald J. Bronkhorst, 45, of Suamico, Wis., trains students from six high schools in northeast Wisconsin in an advanced-manufacturing mobile lab – a model Rhode Island educators are considering emulating.

The Iraq War veteran decided to attend Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wis., to earn certificates in advanced manufacturing when he got back to the United States in 2006, and five years ago was hired by the college as a lab technician, he told Providence Business News in a phone interview.

For the past three years, he has worked as the mobile-lab technician with a few teachers and as many as 12 high school students at a time in the mobile lab, which travels about 50 miles within the school district and cost about $300,000, Bronkhorst said. The high schools pay about $5,000 for every two semesters of use, he said. Precise costs for the lab itself, a trailer hitched to a commercial grade pickup truck, and its operating costs were unavailable.

“If I can convince some of these kids to go out and learn a trade and get a job, that’s a huge win,” said Bronkhorst, the lab technician.

Rhode Island educators found out about a Michigan mobile lab just being implemented this summer and fall that is based on the Wisconsin model, and are actively exploring how such a vehicle might be used in connection with programs at the University of Rhode Island, the Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.

Chris Semonelli, one of several co-directors in the Newport County Mentor Co-Op, met on June 27 with URI President David M. Dooley to further the conversation. Semonelli said he focused on the collaboration between North Central Michigan College, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, and a local manufacturer, Precision Edge Surgical Products Inc. of Boyne City, Mich.

From haywardwi.com: “Demand rises for home health care workers” – by Patty Murray, Wisconsin Public Radio – The move to keep older people in their own homes as long as possible has meant more demand for home health care workers — a job that is not only tough, but that can be low-paying as well.

Home health care workers go into an older or disabled person’s home to help them with tasks that range from the mundane, like shoe-tying, to the intimate, like baths and going to the toilet.

It’s work that Shelly Waltman enjoys.

“It’s not like a job over there,” said Waltman. “It’s just like having another family out there.”

Waltman is a certified home health provider who works through N.E.W. Curative, a nonprofit based in Green Bay. Four mornings each week, she works with a couple who are in their 70s.

“Right now I wouldn’t call them ‘elderly,’ but aging,” she said.

The husband has Alzheimer’s disease. She gets him cleaned and dressed and monitors his medication.

Waltman has done the work for years and said it takes patience and compassion.

“One minute, like a lamb — the next minute, you could be getting hit,” she said. “So, you’ve got to be able to take the tough with the good.”

Caregivers like Waltman might be hired by family members who need a break, or they could be the client’s main source of help. They can work through private companies, or places like N.E.W. Curative.

All in-home caregivers need some level of certification. Green Bay’s Northeast Wisconsin Technical College graduates 700 certified nursing assistants each year. Students can also get a short personal care worker certification.

Cindy Theys, the school’s associate dean in the health sciences department, said the work is rewarding, but nursing assistants deal with people when they’re not at their best.

“You can’t curl up your nose if something doesn’t smell pretty, because that’s what is going to happen,” said Theys. “Even the ability to touch other people — there are people who are very uncomfortable being touched, and there’s people who are very uncomfortable touching others. But you will have to be touching people.”

NWTC claims an 85 to 90 percent placement rate for its health care graduates. Starting jobs pay between $10 to $12 an hour.

Those numbers sound good to Erica Huettl, who is pursuing a registered nursing degree. She is looking to get experience dealing with patients and is considering a job as a nursing assistant in either an in-home setting or at a nursing home. She said there’s a lot to choose from, and it’s a good way to get experience — but not to get rich.

“Obviously, with more education and the higher you go with nursing, that pay goes up,” she said.

Using a CNA as a launching pad can pay off over time. A recent NWTC survey of its graduates shows RNs can make about $50,000 dollars a year within five years of graduation.

For those who aren’t pursuing a higher degree of nursing, home health care seems to be more of a lifestyle than a career. Shelly Waltman said it’s easy to get attached to clients, even those who are rather difficult.

“Watching somebody fail; knowing that some types of the things they’re going through will progress,” she said. “(Knowing) how hard of a time the family has with it and being able to empathize. Because I did have a grandma who had issues like that. That’s the hard part.”

 

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Giving back through flowers” — In a time of uncertainty, the Lions Clubs local to Kewaunee County helped Cathei Mincheski and her fiance, Russ Naze, with Naze’s medical bills when he was diagnosed with cancer. More than a year has gone by and Mincheski finds herself working to give back to the community that helped her.

Now facing graduation from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Leadership Development Program on May 9, Mincheski is finishing part of her coursework, which involves a “capstone project” that must encompass service learning.

She decided to use the skills she has acquired from the program to give back to the Lions Clubs. Mincheski decided to host a community plant sale at the Algoma Youth Club May 30. Funds raised will be donated in the name of the Luxemburg, Casco and Algoma Lions Clubs to fund children attending Lions Club Camp in Rosholt.

“If I can help them like they helped us, that is all I really want to do,” Mincheski said.

Looking at the project objectively and deciding that she wanted to incorporate more into the plan, Mincheski contacted Algoma Elementary School to see if the students would be able to help plant the seeds.

“They are our future leaders, and this gets them involved with community service, which hopefully, when they become adults, they will continue to practice what they learned as a child,” Mincheski said.

Algoma Elementary was more than willing to contribute the students’ talents and time. Coincidentally, the school had just received a grant for a fourth-grade science class to learn about planting and growing. Mrs. Tamara Smith’s fourth-grade class started planting two weeks ago with guidance from Mincheski and Smith.

The grant specifies the children are to do all of the work, including determining how much soil and water to use. Fourth graders will learn what plants look like when growing and how to instill proper care. The approximately 40 children Smith teaches will be involved in the growing of vegetables such as green peppers and tomatoes along with herbs, fruits, blooming flowers and organic seeds.

Planting and growing materials came from the school’s grant money. The majority of the plants will be going towards the sale, and a select few will remain with the school to be planted in a garden in front of the school.

So far, about 200 plants have been sown, with more to come from Mincheski herself and by way of the children who attend Tina Alsteen’s Country Heartland child care center in Luxemburg. Mincheski plans to visit the school as needed to plant more seeds or help the children transplant them to larger pots.

One obstacle poses mild worry at this time: the weather. Hopefully it will be favorable for the seeds to germinate and grow enough to be presented at the sale. The project plans are to involve the students in setting up fliers around the community advertising the sale and including them in the sale day productions.

Mincheski has been working on this capstone project since the end of January. She was required to do her project to assist an nonprofit group.

Luxemburg Lions member Johanna Peterson stated that Mincheski is not paying the Lions back, but rather, paying it forward.

“She is involving the community; it’s a simple and attractive project raising money for a good thing,” Peterson said. “Fundraisers are not easy things to put together, and she did it creatively while involving children into the mix.”

The Lions are also honored Mincheski decided to incorporate three clubs, because when it comes down to it, the Lions clubs work together to make the community a better place, Peterson said.

Mincheski has been employed as a teller at Harbor Credit Union for 20 years, and for the last five she has also been working at von Stiehl Winery. She enrolled in the leadership development program to expand her management, human resources and supervisory skills.

From fox11online.com: “Recruiting women for apprenticeships” – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College says it’s getting the word out to women.

Construction jobs pay well, and companies are looking for apprentices.

Look around the average construction site, and you might notice a gender divide.

“Historically, it’s been about 96 percent male,” said Todd Kiel, the NWTC Apprenticeship Manager.

So is the apprenticeship program .

Only about a dozen of the 500 current apprentices are female.

At this info session Tuesday, NWTC urged interested women, like Delphina Orosco, to apply.

“I was looking to get into carpentry,” said Orosco. “Currently, I work at the casino, so there’s not a lot of room for advancement there. But here, there are a ton of advancement possibilities.”

NWTC says apprenticeships are cost-effective ways of job training. Students get paid to be in the classroom or out on a job site.

“Generally speaking it’s one day every two weeks you get paid your regular eight hour a day salary to be here for apprenticeship training,” said Kiel.

The U.S. Department of Labor says women make up more than half of the minimum wage workers in Wisconsin.

That means they make $7.25 an hour.

Jim Golembeski with the Brown County Workforce Development Board says skilled apprentices make a lot more.

“This one says anywhere between 12 and 24 dollars an hour for a carpenter journeyman,” said Golembeski, showing a listing on the Wisconsin Job Center web site.

Right now the Wisconsin Job Center lists 111 construction openings in Brown County alone.

“After a long drought in the construction industry, things are booming,” said Golembeski.

Hopeful carpenters like Orosco say despite the gender gap, they’ll take the chance on building a better life.

“I’m ready to take that on,” said Orosco.

The Brown County workforce development office says there is no guarantee of work, after you finish an apprenticeship program, because it’s too far out to know what the economy will do.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Area students learn about employment in agriculture” — Seventh- and eighth-grade students from five area public schools had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of 32 different agricultural employment fields at the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp.-sponsored Ag Career Days. More than 900 students gathered at Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy April 10-11 to learn about potential future careers based in agriculture.

“Today is about showcasing opportunities available in agriculture,” said Tori Sorenson, GreenStone Farm Credit Services and co-chair of the KCEDC Ag Committee. “Students are getting further away from family farms, and we want to make these local opportunities known.”

Students had the opportunity to rank four different “clusters” of careers: Dollars and Sense, Grinding Gear, Diggin’ Deep and Cow “Tipping,” with the intention of learning about specific jobs within those clusters.

After a bus tour of the Ponderosa, the students broke into their groups and had the opportunity to interact with local business people.

“We need to put the tools in the toolbox and offer the opportunity to learn about where food comes from,” Sorenson said.

Monica Streff, a nutritionist at Cornette Farm Supply, dairy farmer and custom calf ranch raiser, served as one of the stops in the Cow “Tipping” cluster, and she talked about mixing products to create a formula for calf nutrition.

“I look at kids as the future of agriculture. If we don’t educate them today, we may not have a future,” Streff said. “There are jobs that involve more than just animals, like in horticulture, crops, sales, mechanics, fruits and vegetables.”

Steve Bretl of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College was a presenter in the Grinding Gear cluster, informing students about the diesel technician program at NWTC. He was showing the students how to use a PTO dynamometer, which can calculate if a piece of machinery is producing the horsepower and torque it is rated for.

“The complexity of the industry requires students to have communications, math, and technical skills in high school to prep them for program soft skills,” Bretl said. “It is important to make them aware now of what they can do and how they can obtain their goals.”

Students from Luxemburg-Casco, Algoma, Kewaunee, Denmark and Southern Door attended the two-day event.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “NWTC budget up slightly, but tax levy plummets” — Gov. Scott Walker’s property tax cuts mean a big change in the way Northeast Wisconsin Technical College balances its books.

The community college’s general fund budget for next school is expected to increase by about 1.8 percent from $77.2 million this year to $78.7 million for 2014-15.

But NWTC’s local tax levy will drop by about half, from $59.3 million to $27.6 million, under the Republican governor’s plan to use the state’s projected $977 million surplus to cover property and income tax cuts. The measure, approved by the state Legislature and signed by Walker last month, sends $406 million to technical colleges to reduce property tax levies.

That means the owner of a home valued at $150,000 in NWTC’s district would pay about $115 for that portion of their tax bill, compared with $240 last year.

A public hearing on the budget proposal is set for next month.

“It didn’t give us more money,” NWTC President Jeff Rafn said of the changes. “It just swapped state money for local money.”

NWTC will receive about 42 percent of its funding from the state, compared with 9 percent currently, he said.

“In my view it is good and properly re-balances things,” Rafn said. “The down side would be if they would eliminate property taxes altogether. Then we would become a state institution and would lose local control.”

Some people have expressed concerns that technical schools can raise taxes yet are governed by appointed bodies rather than elected officials, Rafn said. He noted the state’s 2013-15 budget limits property tax increases to value added by new construction in municipalities within the school’s district in the past year, which is anticipated to be less than 1 percent for NWTC.

“Property taxes aren’t going to go up,” he said. “But taking away local control would hamper our ability to make quick local decisions.”

Rafn cited expansion of nursing programs to meet higher demands at NWTC as an example.

The state Legislature has formed a Special Committee on the Review of Wisconsin Technical College System Funding and Governance — co-chaired by Republican Rep. John Nygren of Marinette — to review the process.

As part of next year’s budget, NWTC is looking to increase some offerings, including programs in fire-medic, therapeutic massage and software development.

The school also will expand some programming, such as its health and wellness program and joint programs with area high schools.

It will use grant money to fund a variety of learning coaches and tutors.

The school plans to eliminate a financial institution management program which is losing enrollment, but Rafn said students enrolled in the program still could finish.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Teaching, class sharing rises at rural schools as budgets shrink” – As rural schools deal with the reality of reduced budgets and smaller enrollments, one of the inevitable trends is the reduction in the number of classes offered as schools focus on core subjects.

A number of Clark County schools are turning toward sharing teachers in a number of elective classes as a way of saving costs, while still providing students with learning opportunities.

Sue Rudesill, a family and consumer sciences teacher, begins each day in Neillsville, and then around lunch time makes the 20-minute commute to Greenwood to continue teaching in the afternoon.

It’s the first year she’s split time between two schools and said it took a little getting used to the first semester.

She would find herself trying to help students after class in Neillsville, but that potentially delayed her getting to Greenwood, causing the first part of her class in Greenwood to be missed.

After discussions with administrators in both districts, she said she now has a little more time to make the commute this semester.

Another change that districts are seeing is the increased reliance on distance learning courses. Students will be in a normal classroom, but the teacher often will be miles away in another school.

“We do have some rooms that are now available,” Neillsville School District Superintendent John Gaier said. “A lot of the rooms that used to have classes in them are now being used as distance learning classrooms. It’s possible for a high school class period to have four online classes going on.”

Students in Neillsville take distance learning classes through a number of different institutions, including the Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

But it’s not just courses being taught at institutions of higher education that students are taking. Sometimes schools share courses with each other through distance learning.

In Loyal, students take social studies through Granton, a required course for graduation.

“That’s a big step to go into that. Spanish is an elective, but to have a required class that’s important, the reason we did it was it seemed to be the least detrimental. The teacher would be the most able to appropriately communicate with students. You would not want to do chemistry (over distance learning),” Cale Jackson, Loyal School District administrator, said. “History seemed like something where the kids could still have a good experience even though it was over the distance learning.”

It takes a lot of work and coordination between schools to sync schedules, Jackson said, “but everybody is in the same boat, so everybody is willing to do it.”

From fox11online.com: “NWTC international students visits with President Obama” — GREEN BAY – An international student, studying at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, has quite the story to tell his friends and family back in Tunisia.

Mohamed Dhib has been in the United States for about ten months.

“It’s so different, it’s not like the U.S. we watch in the movies,” said Dhib.

The movies might be where the story of Dhib’s trip to Washington D.C. belongs. Last week, Dhib went to the nation’s capitol thinking he was meeting with visiting Tunisian government officials.

“We just gave like advice to improve our Tunisian education system through the skills that we’ve learned here,” said Dhib.

After his meeting, Dhib was taken on an impromptu tour of the White House. He was told he’d be meeting the leader of Tunisia.

“They told us the Prime Minister and high level people from the White House, but honestly I didn’t expect it would be that high level,” said Dhib.

While in the Rose Garden, it was as high level as it comes.

“Suddenly somebody said like “oh, hi guys, how are you doing?”said Dhib. “For like ten seconds nobody said anything. We were all like this, and it was the President and our Prime Minister.”

The meeting lasted about fifteen minutes. Dhib told the President he was studying in Green Bay.

“He said, ‘How’s it going there? Do you like the winter?” said Dhib.

While Dhib says he can’t recall all the details, he remembers enough to make his fellow international students at NWTC wish they were there.

“I’m a little bit jealous, because when do you get the chance to meet the President of the United States?” said Felix Winkler, a German exchange student at NWTC.

“He was a practical person,” said Dhib of Obama. “He’s humble. I like him.”

Dhib couldn’t say whether he was more excited to meet President Obama or the Tunisian Prime Minister. He says meeting the Prime Minister is just as rare as an average U.S. citizen meeting the President.

From jrn.com: “Dual degree offered at NWTC with new fire medic program” — A new  type of training is being offered at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is exactly what fire departments say they’re looking for.  The program will offer training and real life experience in both fire safety and paramedic fields.

The enrollment window for this program just opened on Friday and the classes are already nearly 60 percent full.  They will feature state of the art technology and dual training that will prepare students for real world scenarios.

“This is going to look like an emergency room department,” says NWTC EMS education coordinator Cal Lintz.  He’s describing what will be the new addition to the tech college.  These changes will be ready for the start of the 2014 fall semester.  Among the changes, new manikins that will be programmed to be more life-like.

“They’ll have all bodily functions that will get the paramedic accustomed to the real out of hospital experience or at least as closely real as possible,” said Lintz.

The program doesn’t end there either.  It will also include fire training.  NWTC will partner will local fire departments to give students a feel for what life’s like on the job.

“Ride on board fire apparatus at the Green Bay Fire Department and experience that live fire ground operation,” said Lintz.

Dual Fire Medic training is extremely important for those looking to become a fire fighter according to Green Bay Metro Fire Chief Brent Elliott.

“Having the ability to provide that aid to people when they’re at their time of need as rapidly as possible is one of the most important missions that we do,” said Chief Elliott.

This dual education will make students more employable since they will be ready to work right after school.

NWTC says they are working to create other partnerships with surrounding fire departments before the start of the new school year.

 

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Conversation: Apprenticeship program needs business partners” — By Rich RymanPress-Gazette Media talks to business leaders in its weekly conversation feature. This week, Lisa Schmelzer of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce discusses the chamber’s Youth Apprenticeship Program.

The program is in its 20th year in Brown County.

Q. What is the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Apprenticeship program?

A. The Youth Apprenticeship program is a statewide school-to-work initiative offered by the state Department of Workforce Development designed specifically for high school students. It integrates academic and technical instruction with paid, mentored work experience at an area business. The program is facilitated for 10 area school districts in and around Brown County by the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

Q. How many youth are participating?

A. Of the 94 students we have participating in the program, we secured training site placements for 46, with many more students eagerly waiting to begin their on-the job training.

The breakdown of participants by school district is:

Ashwaubenon, 10; Howard-Suamico, 12; De Pere, eight; Denmark, eight; Green Bay, 26; Luxemburg-Casco, six; Pulaski, 11; Seymour, six; West De Pere, five, and Wrightstown, two.

Q. In which jobs are apprenticeships available? What determines availability?

A. The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Youth Apprenticeship program offers nine high-demand career areas with more than 40 career pathways.

Program areas, identified as high demand by the state Department of Workforce Development include:

• Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources, Animal Basics, Large Animal/Herd, Vet Assistant, Plant Basics, Crops, Greenhouse, Landscaping, Water Resources

• Arts, A/V Technology & Communications – Printing, Graphics

• Financial Services – Accounting, Banking, Insurance

• Health Science – Nursing Assistant, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy, Ambulatory/Support Services (dietary, laboratory, imaging, optometry or physical therapy), Medical

•  OfficeHospitality, Lodging, & Tourism – Dining, Kitchen, Front Desk, Housekeeping, Travel/Tours, Grounds & Maintenance, Meetings & Events, Marketing & Sales, Management

• Information Technology – IT General, Hardware, Software

• Manufacturing – Assembly & Packaging, Manufacturing Processes, Machining, Operations Management, Welding, Equipment Maintenance

• STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) – Engineering Drafting, Mechanical Design, Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering

• Transportation, Distribution & Logistics – Auto Collision, Auto Technology, Logistics/Supply Chain Management

Q. What are the programs greatest needs?

A. The program is in immediate need of more Brown County area businesses tfor on-the-job training in many of the program areas, especially health, auto tech/collision, STEM, finance and welding areas

Q. Have you had to turn students away because of a lack of employers?

A. The program doesn’t turn students away; students start their industry-related classes at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in anticipation of the job placement. However, students who are not placed in an on-the-job training position are missing the most important and crucial components of the program: the opportunity to start building valuable employability and industry skills.

Q. Anything you’d like to add that we did not cover?

A. With the projected workforce shrinkage due to the anticipated “Silver Tsunami,” — the large number of Baby Boomers reaching retirement — the Youth Apprenticeship program can be part of the solution. We bring goal-oriented youth into workplaces and industry paths and create highly skilled workers to fill businesses’ employment pipeline. Students in the program now may be the full-time employees businesses hire down the road.

If you’d like to learn how participating in Youth Apprenticeship may serve as a pipeline to your future work force, please contact Lisa Schmelzer, Youth Apprenticeship program manager, at (920) 593-3411 or lschmelzer@titletown.org. More information on the program is available at www.titletown.org/YA.

From fox11online.com: “Suicide awareness display at NWTC” — GREEN BAY – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College wants people to talk more about college suicides.

A Send Silence Packing display was put up Wednesday. 1,100 backpacks were laid out to represent the estimated 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year.

Some included stories about the people behind the numbers.

Organizers say while talking about suicide can be uncomfortable, it must be done.

“It’s something we really haven’t talked enough about. You know, if we’re not talking about it, then people aren’t getting hooked up with a lot of the resources that could help them you know make some different choices and get them the help that they need,” said Paul Valencic, NWTC mental health counselor.

The national nonprofit Active Minds presented the display. Organizers say NWTC students are working to open their own chapter on campus.

From fdlreporter.com: “Green Bay hiring reflects statewide needs” — GREEN BAY — Job openings in Green Bay reflect those statewide, with truck drivers, customer service and sales representatives, and registered nurses in greatest demand.

“The top positions are almost identical,” said Jeffrey Sachse, economist with the state Department of Workforce Development. “The only thing that pops up is more welder openings than CNC openings, because of the nature of the work.”

Welders have been in demand in the region for several years. Green Bay, Marinette and Sturgeon Bay have a lot of fabrication and shipbuilding companies that require welders.

Sachse said that more than anytime during the last three years, hiring is up across the board. All industries are looking for new workers. Much of that is driven by the increasing flood of baby boomer retirements. Many boomers put off retiring during the 2007-09 recession and its aftermath when retirement funds took a hit, but now are making the move.

Construction jobs have grown the most in the region, driven by the U.S. 41, Schreiber Foods and Lambeau Field projects.

“The greatest concentration is on the Highway 41 corridor,” Sachse said.

Construction jobs increased by 7 percent in 2013.

“That’s twice the industry average,” Sachse said. “Those are per-recessionary growth numbers, and it’s more than twice the growth of any industry over that same period.”

The demand for health care workers is growing as baby boomers age and health care systems add facilities and bring older ones up to date.

In addition to nurses, the Green Bay area has openings for nursing assistants, medical and health services managers and personal care aides.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay has waiting lists for its health care programs, though not as long as they once were, and it ramped up its manufacturing programs to add weekend and evening classes.

“Some of our graduates six months out are making $36,000 a year as welders. Electromechanical technology graduates are making $50,000,” said Jennifer Pigeon, manager of career services at NWTC.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Walker touts $35 million plan to bolster technical education” — Legislation signed earlier this week by Gov. Scott Walker allocates $35.4 million to help fund the education of the next generation of workers in Wisconsin.

Walker was at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Tuesday discussing the funding designed to bolster technical education at the college and primary education level.

“It’s all about training more the skills needed to fill the jobs today and the ones that will be coming up in the next couple of years, and this is the place to make that happen,” he said.

Walker said Northeast Wisconsin Technical College beefed up its training on computer numeric control machines after the Northeastern Manufacturing Alliance reported a need for CNC operators.

“We want to help campuses like this, and across the state, do more of that in the future,” Walker said. “We’ll also use a portion of this money to help school districts across the state get additional resources to partner for dual enrollment so young people get credit in both the high schools and technical colleges.”

This was Walker’s second stop in the Green Bay area in as many days, and he’s been a frequent visitor to the area in the past month stopping at a number of area businesses to talk about the importance of manufacturing to the state and the need to train skilled workers for immediate and future needs.

A portion of the money will also be used to help employers identify the skill sets disabled residents in the state bring to the workplace.

“The baby boom generation is at, or near, retirement and when that happens there is going to be this huge amount of openings and we’re going to need more skilled workers .. and more people working, period,” he said. “We can’t afford to have anyone who wants to work not be able to work.”

The money is appropriated through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Wisconsin Fast Forward program.

“We put $15 million in the budget there to do customized worker training, this additional money will be on top of that,” Walker said. “They’ll work directly with technical college campuses… to say, ‘What do you need? Where are your shortages?”

From fox11online.com: “New grants in Green Bay to help teen mothers” — GREEN BAY- Green Bay Area School District and NWTC are working together to make sure teen moms graduate high school.

It’s an effort that may benefit the entire community.

Nineteen-year-old Augustina Medina says she wants to give her 18-month-old daughter Isabella the best life possible.

“When you get pregnant, you’re put in as you’re not going to graduate,” Medina said. “You’re not going to get far in life. And that always bugged me.”

Medina says she was supported by family and school counselors after giving birth.

But she still needed to step up her efforts to graduate from Green Bay Southwest High School.

In Wisconsin, nearly half of high school aged mothers do not graduate.

School social workers say one of the biggest barriers to not graduating high school as a teen parent is not know where to go for help. But two new grants are aimed at helping teen parents get their diplomas and go on to higher education.

The first grant: 200 thousand dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It will provide additional academic support, career counseling, and parenting classes.

“We know that a really strong predictor of whether or not a child will grow up in poverty is if they are born to a mother who is a teen and one of the amazing things of the opportunity of this project is by getting more of our teen parents to the post-secondary level, we can potentially take two generations out of poverty,” said Green Bay West High School Social Worker Kim Schanock.

The second grant is from the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation Women’s Fund.

The organization won’t say how much it’s for.

The money will go toward a two year program which will directly connect NWTC counselors with pregnant high school students.

“How can you develop study skills and really learning about how to apply for financial aid, and how to fill out a college application,” said Amber Michaels, the students services manager for NWTC.

Medina now attends NWTC, studying business management.

She hopes other teen mothers will use the new resources in high school to find their own motivation, and provide a better life for their children.

From ccdaily.com: “Making success part of college culture” –  Editor’s note: This article continues a series profiling nominees of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 2014 Awards of Excellence. Featured this week are the four finalists in the category of student success. Winners in each of the six categories will be announced at the AACC Annual Convention next month.

At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), student success is more than a concept – it’s a part of the culture. The college’s Dream…Learn It. Live It ​initiative ensures that student success is woven into every facet of the student experience.

Every employee at NWTC is responsible for finding ways to help students master their courses, remain in college and complete some kind of credential.

“For people who are willing to work and earn that credential, helping them succeed is both a smart policy and the right choice,” said NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn.

Program advisors work with students from application through graduation. Four-week courses allow students to concentrate on one subject at a time while maintaining full-time status. Supplemental learning with academic coaches and tutors is available for the most difficult courses. Struggling students are identified earlier and directed to the appropriate student services.

To help students struggling financially, college employees created a food pantry, a second-hand clothing store and an employee giving campaign on campus.

What the data show

The college also improved the quality of its data, allowing for more informed decision-making.

This transformation at NWTC wasn’t always easy or comfortable — systems and assumptions had to be changed — but college leaders, faculty and staff have found ways to turn challenges into triumphs.

“The business intelligence available to us has been significantly redesigned so that we can see what helps students succeed and where they may fall through the cracks,” said Matthew Petersen, associate dean for general studies at the college.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Walker checks out manufacturing program at Green Bay West” — A future Green Bay West High School program expected to give students a hands-on look at a career in manufacturing is one of the ways public and private partnerships are helping support the state’s manufacturing sector, Gov. Scott Walker said Monday.

Walker said the Bay Link Manufacturing program, and its partnership with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and the Northeastern Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance, offers a unique, real-world, teaching opportunity to help fill future job positions.

“We’re making it relevant and we’re making a real-world connection to the valuable careers in manufacturing. Our hope is that more young people see this and want to pursue those careers,” Walker said Monday. This “will not only help us fill the jobs that are open today, but … help employers and manufacturers here, and across the state, open the door to creating more jobs in the future.”

Bay Link Manufacturing is being set up at West High School to give students real-world manufacturing experience. That includes hard skills such as welding and fabricating parts for area businesses to “soft” skills like interviewing for a job, sales, and communication with co-workers, said Andy Belongia, the Bay Link Manufacturing instructor.

The program is expected to launch this fall. Twelve to 15 students will apply for class as they would for a job and will have job reviews, Belongia said.

Profits will go back to the program and potentially to scholarships for students.

This is the second stop for Walker in the Green Bay area in a matter of days. Both stops have focused on a manufacturing in the region and state and the need to build on the existing workforce. Last week the governor was at MetalStorm, a De Pere metal fabricator.

“I repeatedly hear from manufacturers not only the need to fill existing potions, but if they could fill those on a consistent basis they’d take on more work … and that would help us put more people to work,” Walker said.

The state Senate is scheduled to vote today on Walker’s proposed property and income tax cut plan.

The tax cut bill and one that makes $35 million available for a variety of worker training initiatives are the only proposals before the Senate today.

Walker’s proposal would reduce property taxes for the owner of a median-valued home by $131 on the bill mailed in December. The income tax cut would reduce the lowest bracket from 4.4 percent to 4 percent, saving the typical taxpayer $46.

Democratic critics have argued that the tax cuts need to be more narrowly focused to benefit the middle class, increase spending on worker training programs, reduce debt and address projected shortfalls in Medicaid and transportation funding.

From postcrescent.com: “Algoma Wolf Tech takes real life into the classroom” – ALGOMA — Manufacturing has a home in Algoma. Precision Machine, Olson Fabrication, Algoma Hardwoods and WS Packaging Group are among companies that make things in the Kewaunee County community.

So, too, is Algoma Wolf Tech, a relatively new manufacturing company housed in the tech ed classrooms of Algoma High School.

“I pretty strongly believe that kids have to make something of substance to understand the process that goes into things,” said Nick Cochart, principal of the school since 2011 and godfather of Wolf Tech.

Eleva-Strum School District’s Cardinal Manufacturing south of Eau Claire, which started in 2007, established the model for in-school manufacturing. Wolf Tech followed suit, and Bay Link Manufacturing, a creation of the Green Bay School District, will launch in the fall.

Other schools are considering similar programs, said Mark Weber, dean of Trades & Engineering Technologies at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, which is assisting many schools in establishing manufacturing-related programs.

Wolf Tech is not a seat-of-the-pants, we’ve got a saw and a few welders affair. Its equipment includes two CNC milling machines, a CNC wood router, state-of-the-art table saws and, later this month, a CNC lathe.

“We are not making widgets. We are making stuff in industry that people are using every day,” Cochart said.

Algoma School District invested more than $250,000 in Wolf Tech and tech ed, but it’s not alone in supporting the program. The CNC metal lathe is courtesy of NWTC. Algoma, which is a certified Haas Automation Inc. technical training center, will provide its facilities for public classes in CNC training and in return get the $70,000 lathe free of charge.

“Those machines have opened the door to so many things,” Cochart said.

Working with their hands

Sophomore Austin Stoller, 15, is hoping the lathe will open the door to a career as a gunsmith. He’s also fond of welding.

“I like working with my hands and making stuff. I don’t like sitting in a classroom all day,” Stoller said. “It’s just not my thing.”

Stoller is the kind of student that the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance and, increasingly, educators are trying to accommodate by providing options to a four-year college degree.

“There are so many opportunities for kids now,” Cochart said. “If they just follow their passion, there’s not just good jobs, there’s great jobs.”

Tech ed instructors Matt Abel and Russ Nockerts can teach students how to operate the machines, but that’s not really the point.

“I try to teach kids useful employability skills,” Abel said. “It’s not running a machine. It’s how is this going to affect the consumer? How’s this going to affect people down the chain?”

That’s an approach seconded and abetted by Jamie Spitzer, owner of Precision Machine, to say nothing of most manufacturing employers. It’s the so-called soft skills — problem solving, communications, teamwork, high-quality work — that employers are looking for.

“We are actually asking you to contribute. We are asking you to use your mind more and your back less,” Spitzer said. “It’s crazy how you can hire someone for their hard skills, but most likely fire them for their soft skills.”

Algoma High School and Precision Machine were each honored last fall during N.E.W. Manufacturing Alliance’s Excellence in Manufacturing/K-12 Partnership Awards. The school and the company work closely. The goal is to produce employable manufacturing workers, of course, but it’s also about students’ aspirations.

“I was one of those kids at one time,” Spitzer said. “Not everyone wants to go to a four-year school and it’s a great thing when kids can do things with their hands.”

Work has to be perfect

Precision Machine serves clients in the aerospace and timber industries, among others, and has contracted Wolf Tech for parts. They are basic pieces, but require a professional level of quality. If the product doesn’t measure up, someone from Precision Machine makes the trek around the block to the high school to explain why.

“It’s got to be perfect,” Nockerts said.

The students have to deal directly with customers, which Cochart said provides a learning moment, again, focused on those soft skills.

Abel and Nockerts are nontraditional teachers in that they have business backgrounds. Able has a degree in construction management from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

“They have to have skills sets that can cut across multiple disciplines,” Cochart said. “I think they have some of the most engaging classroom activities.”

About 70 of Algoma’s 250 students are in tech ed classes. Of those, 15 are in Wolf Tech, which requires after-school participation.

“My core group are sophomores right now. From that group, it’s grown,” Able said. “They talk to their friends; ‘Hey, this is cool stuff.’ I have kids who just want to be down here. They don’t even have a class.”

Students ‘actually learning’

Cochart said what they are doing requires a different approach to teaching. Abel said it may seem like chaos at times, though it’s not.

“Each student is on a different path,” Abel said. “Everybody is working at their own speed, trying something out and actually learning.”

Other teachers are getting involved as well, Abel said.

“Our core teachers are realizing how it relates and, for example, bringing the math into here,” he said. “In machining, we use a lot of trigonometry and some students can’t even pass algebra. They don’t even know they are doing it.”

Wolf Tech is one or two customers away from being self-sustaining, Cochart said.

Among its customers is Algoma Long-Term Care nursing home, for which it is providing new cabinets. Junior Kevin Sperber, 17, designed them and CTI Hospitality of Algoma manufactured the pieces.

“This is actually going to be used by people every day,” Sperber said, explaining what sets the project apart from traditional “shop.”

Sperber is interested in design or engineering as a career. He expects to attend NWTC, but is undecided about whether to get a four-year degree.

“I was a little interested my freshman year. I had no idea what I was going to go into, then I got interested in all of this,” he said.

There are immediate benefits, including college credits while still in high school.

“For the past two years, Precision Machine pretty much offered jobs to anyone on the machining side,” Able said.

The goal is for Wolf Tech to be a completely student-run business, from front office to factory floor. Getting students to run the machines has been the easy part, so far, but manufacturing includes jobs well beyond the factory floor. Abel said Wolf Tech needs accountants, salespeople and more.

“When we started this, I said we are four years out from hitting full stride,” Cochart said. “Some of our most talented kids are freshmen and sophomores. I’d love to see a kid start his own business within a business. I think it’s right there.”

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Baldwin: Clean energy bill would aid schools, employers” – Passage of a Senate bill aimed at bolstering education and training for students who want to work in clean-energy jobs would benefit schools and factories in Northeastern Wisconsin, the bill’s sponsor said Wednesday in Green Bay.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said her proposal would help create good-paying jobs in a growing industry, while supporting technical colleges that offer coursework that prepares students for “green energy” careers. The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation Act, or GREEN, was introduced last week and calls for about $100 million in spending.

“The idea is to make some very prudent, very targeted investments in an area that’s growing … faster than the economy overall,” she said.

The senator met with educators and some students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Great Lakes Energy Education Center as part of a statewide tour to tout her bill, introduced last week. NWTC offers programs that prepare students for energy jobs, and is increasing the percentage of its energy supply that comes from green sources.

Scott Liddicott, who teaches energy-management classes at Green Bay Southwest High School, said it’s exciting to hear support for energy education at the federal level.

“It’s so easy to get students and teachers interested in this,” he said. “It’s a compelling and dynamic field. The energy business is really important stuff.”

Baldwin’s bill would allocate grant money for programs that prepare students for jobs, or to attend post-secondary schools. Her office said clean-energy jobs pay about 13 percent better than the average job in the U.S., and the field is growing nearly twice the rate of the national economy.

A hospital in western Wisconsin, she told educators, “completely redid its energy systems” to emphasize green power, and as a result was able to save patients money and avoid staff cuts.

A number of Wisconsin technical college leaders, including NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn and Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna K. Foy, have expressed support for the bill. NWTC partners with area school districts, including ones in De Pere and Sturgeon Bay, to deliver energy education, said Amy Kox, the college’s associate dean for energy and sustainability.

A bill similar to Baldwin’s was introduced in the House of Representatives in June and remains in committee, according to govtrack.us, which tracks federal legislation. The bill, by California Democrat Jerry McNerney, also would spend $100 million to develop career and technical education programs, and facilities in the renewable energy field.

Baldwin Wednesday also visited Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and Milwaukee Area Technical College. She is slated to visit Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids today.

Tour NWTC’s new expansion

January 13, 2014

From fox11online.com: “A tour of NWTC’s new expansion” —  GREEN BAY — More and more people are looking to preventative and in-home care as the American population continues to age.

A new expansion at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is helping nursing students be better prepared for the changes.

The 13,000 sq. ft. expansion includes three new learning labs — a wellness lab, a caregiver learning center and a simulation lab.

Nursing student Chris Krzewina said the simulation lab is one of the best ways for NWTC students to get experience in patient care.

“It’s a really safe environment,” said Krzewina. “I mean, we don’t have to worry about anyone full-out crashing on us.”

In the lab, students can practice their skills on life-like mannequins that are controlled by instructors. The mannequins have a pulse, and can breathe and even talk to them.

“Now we’re just going to be taking your blood pressure on your arm, OK?” Krzewina asked the mannequin. “Ok, the instructor replied as the voice of the mannequin.

The technology allows instructors to help prepare students for any type of real-life scenario.

“We can use the rare conditions in simulation, something that the students would not typically experience and give them that experience as well,” said Jeff Matzke, a nursing instructor at NWTC.

Students studying in the new wellness lab will learn theory and practice patient coaching techniques that focus on preventative care, something educators say is becoming more popular in the U.S.

“When we talk about cost of health care, which is on a lot of people’s minds these days, prevention is really the best cost,” said Scott Anderson, associate dean of Health Sciences at NWTC. “So how do we keep people out of the health care system? We do that through behavior change and lifestyle change.”

As the population continues to age, student will have to be prepared for another growing trend, in-home care.

“We have our whole kitchen here, or our whole apartment set up here, so that our students will incur some barriers because then we can teach them here in the classroom how to work with those barriers,” said Cindy Theys, associate dean of Health Sciences. “So by the time they get out to someone’s home, they’re going to have tips and tricks to know how to better care for those people in their home.”

No matter kind of patient care students choose to focus on, educators and students said the new learning labs helps give them the hands-on experience they’ll need to succeed.

The total cost for the new expansion was $3.5 million. Gifts from donors covered about $1.1 million.

 

From fox11online.com: “NWTC unveils Health Sciences Center expansion” – GREEN BAY – The future of training health care givers is looking a little brighter at an area college.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College unveiled its 13,000 square foot expansion Monday to its Health Sciences Center.

The expansion includes three new learning labs, a wellness lab, a simulation center, and caregiver learning center.

NWTC’s health services dean says the addition means more learning for students.

“Now with this expansion we’re capable of providing more opportunities for our students,” said Kay Tupala.

“We have an incredible workforce, trained, motivated, interested in improving the care that we’re giving, working together very well with one another,” said George Kerwin, president and CEO of Bellin Health.

The expansion cost about $3.5 million. It was made possible through business partners and community support.

From fox11online.com: “NWTC set to offer student housing” – GREEN BAY – Expanding the college experience is what Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is looking to do by offering students on-campus housing.

A privately-owned and operated dorm is in the works to be built and ready for students in the fall of 2015.

After more than a century of educating students, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is taking the first steps to house students on campus as well.

Plans are set to break ground next year on the college’s first dormitory.

“The scope and the depth and the breadth of the college has changed so much in 100 years, it seems to be the next evolution of what the technical college can offer the community,” said Karen Smits, NWTC vice president of college advancement.

Smits says the college entered into a deal with DeLeers Construction which will build and own the student housing building. DeLeers purchased this private land on the east side of campus and will pay to build and manage the four-story, 216-bed facility. It won’t cost NWTC or taxpayers anything.

“It’s not like the dorm when I went to college. These are apartments where students will share common rooms and each have their own bedroom,” said Smits.

The concept of housing at smaller community colleges is growing in demand according to Smits. Last year UW-Fox Valley expanded to offer student housing for the first time near its Menasha campus through a private company.

“This is a public venture, but we are here to help and support that, but it is definitely the developers that are in complete control of all the housing issues,” said Carla Rabe, UW-Fox Valley assistant dean in January 2012.

An NWTC survey last year found students wanted the option of student housing to help round out their college experience.

More than 40,000 student take classes at NWTC, 7,600 are full time students. So a dorm accommodating 200 is expected to fill up. Could there be more dorms in the future? College officials say don’t rule it out.

From nwtc.edu: “NWTC named Top Military Friendly College” – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has been named a Top Military-Friendly College by Military Advanced Education (MAE). MAE’s 2014 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities provides potential students with information about institutions that go out of their way to give back to our men and women in uniform. NWTC is one of only two Wisconsin Technical College System schools to receive the distinction this year.

Colleges and universities were considered for the top military-friendly designation based on a comprehensive survey of their military culture, available financial assistance, flexibility, online support and support on-campus.

“Our staff used strict criteria to evaluate the submissions of the respondents, and we had a record number of schools participating this year,” said Kelly Fodel, MAE editor.

The selection reflects a long history of NWTC’s work with service-members that dates back to training radio operators and truck drivers in World War I, and continues to this day.

“We strive to create a supportive environment at NWTC with the needs of our veteran and active-duty student population in mind,” said NWTC President Dr. H. Jeffrey Rafn.

“With a full-time veterans advisor and trained support staff, an active student veterans club and our many other on-campus resources, NWTC has shown a commitment to helping those who protect us achieve their career goals.”

A complete list of all military-friendly colleges and universities can be found at www.mae-kmi.com. Visit the Veteran’s Services website for more information about resources at NWTC.

 

From host.madison.com: “Northeast Wisconsin Technical College plays key role for Marinette Marine” – MARINETTE – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is playing a key role in preparing workers for the Marinette Marine shipyard.

The school operates the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center, where workers are taught a variety of skills including welding and electrical work, as well as leadership, communications and conflict resolution skills. In the last two years, more than 1,800 students have gone through the training center.

The facility is within walking distance of the shipyard and includes computer labs, classrooms and shops, one filled with welding booths, another with electrical components like those used on the littoral combat ship (LCS). There are also programs for pipe fitters and metal fabricators.

“We were written right into the LCS contract because they needed to show that they had the ability to train thousands of people,” said Brian Lancour, coordinator of the training center. “We’ve become experts on the shipyard.”

Aaron Short, 26, a native of Escanaba, Mich., had been working as a welder at Miller Tractor Supply in Green Bay and in June applied to work at the shipyard. He started in October and began welding training at NWTC. He makes $16.50 an hour compared to the $11.50 he was making at Miller. But he’s also in a more physically demanding job, performing welding tasks while on his knees, crouched down or in some cases using mirrors to weld in tight spots.

“It’s nothing like I’ve ever done before,” said Short, who will soon be married. “It’s definitely testing my skills and getting me better at a lot of things.”

Wade Smoot, 41, of Madison, is a Lancaster High School graduate who most recently was an iron worker for a Stoughton company that did work on Camp Randall and at Epic Systems in Verona. He was attracted to the shipyard by the pay, benefits and community.

“I just wanted something different and this is really neat to build ships,” said Smoot, who was learning how to weld aluminum.

 

 

From fox6now.com: “Packers Foundation awards $500K to civic and charitable groups” – The Green Bay Packers Foundation on Tuesday, December 17th awarded $500,000 to 188 civic and charitable groups throughout the state of Wisconsin in its annual distribution of grants.

Charlie Lieb, chairman of the Foundation committee, made the announcement.

Overall, including a recent $250,000 major gift to the UW-Green Bay Scholarship Fund, $750,000 was awarded this year.

Both the total donation amount and the number of recipient organizations are records for the Foundation.

The groups were guests at a luncheon in the Lambeau Field Atrium, an event that welcomed all the recipients and honored the outstanding efforts and services performed by each of the organizations.

The Foundation now has distributed more than $3.7 million for charitable purposes since it was established in 1986 by Judge Robert J. Parins, then president of the Packers Corporation, “as a vehicle to assure continued contributions to charity.”

Of the Foundation’s contributions Tuesday, 53 grants – aggregating $142,050 – were awarded to Brown County organizations. Additional grants, totaling $357,950, were made to 135 other groups around the state.

Additionally, under the Packers Scholarship Program established in 2002, $15,000 was awarded – $7,500 to Scholarships Inc., for distribution to students in four-year colleges, and $7,500 to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) for distribution to students in two-year associate degree or apprenticeship trades programs.

A portion of the scholarship funds come from National Football League Properties which, at the Packers’ request, returns to the Foundation royalty fees paid for using the Packers logo on Wisconsin automobile license plates.

Because the royalties do not fully cover the scholarships, the Green Bay Packers fund the remainder of the amount, a figure which totals $89,000 since 2006.

In the past year, the Packers Foundation also has distributed an additional $57,375 on behalf of National Football League Foundation – $20,000 in “Community Quarterback” awards to civic leaders for contributions to the community, $12,375 in the NFL’s “Coach of the Week” program, which honors successful Wisconsin high school coaches on a weekly basis throughout the season, $20,000 through the “Hometown Huddle/Youth Fitness Zone” program and $5,000 for the NFL National Partnership Grant focusing on efforts related to the military.

In addition, a $250,000 Matching Youth Football Field Grant was received and was awarded to the Ashwaubenon School District for the redevelopment of the Ashwaubenon High School football stadium and practice fields.

“We’re honored to congratulate and thank this year’s recipients for their excellent work in our communities,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said at the event. “Their efforts inspire us and truly provide a positive impact.”

The Green Bay Packers Foundation Trustees include, in addition to Lieb, Tom Arndt, Rick Chernick, Valerie Daniels-Carter, Ricardo Diaz, Terry Fulwiler, Jerry Ganoni, Mark McMullen, Tom Olson and Hon. John Zakowski. Bobbi Jo Eisenreich is the secretary of the Foundation.

The grants and other programs highlighted Tuesday are two components of the Packers’ efforts in the community. The Packers’ community outreach department responded to more than 10,000 requests from organizations and individuals in 2013 with donated autographed items for fund-raising efforts that raised more than $3 million.

These efforts, combined with direct cash donations by the Packers to various charity endeavors, resulted in a comprehensive Packers charity impact in excess of $6 million in the past year.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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