From piercecountyherald.com: “Retraining helps Ingli launch new career” – When the manufacturing plant where she worked shut down in 2011, Amber Ingli found herself in need of a job and at the threshold of what would be some years of struggle for her and her family.

Today, she has a job helping people who are in need of a job.

Ingli, a 1991 Ellsworth High School graduate, received her associate degree from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in the Administrative Professional program May 8. Even before the graduation ceremony, she had lined up work with SEEK, an employment agency in Hudson.

“We’re getting there,” Ingli said of the turnaround from the days of difficulty for her family. “It’s nice to know that I’m going to be working. I feel more at peace.”

Ingli was one of 46 graduates in five academic programs to be honored at the CVTC River Falls Campus commencement held at River Falls High School. The graduates included 21 in the Nursing-Associate Degree program, 12 in Criminal Justice-Law Enforcement, nine in Business Management and three in Marketing Management. Ingli was the only Administrative Professional program graduate.

For Ingli, her CVTC education and assistance from federal job retraining programs were keys to recovery from her job loss. Her husband, Mark, works at his father’s business, Ingli Auto Body in Ellsworth. Amber had a job as a production worker at Johnson Controls in Hudson since 1998. The plant shut down in 2011.

“It was a scary feeling,” Ingli said. “I carried the health insurance for the family. It was a good job, and I was first shift.”

Fortunately, she was eligible for job retraining and financial assistance through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance and Trade Readjustment Allowances programs designed to help workers displaced due to foreign competition. She was able to start her program at CVTC in January 2012, right after the plant shut-down. But that was a scary time, too.

“I was very nervous. Would I know how to study? Does my brain even work anymore? But it all came back to me. I’m graduating with honors,” Ingli said.

One of her concerns was a lack of background in computers, which would be needed for a job in an office setting. But she found the faculty at CVTC knew how to help people like her.

“They’re used to my generation coming back and my younger generation classmates were very helpful,” she said.

Her studies led her to an internship as an administrative assistant in the human resources office at Sajan in River Falls, and that helped her land the job at SEEK, which she started on April 7.

“I recruit applicants and place them in the correct jobs. We don’t want to place people at just any job. We want it to be the right fit,” Ingli said.

Her experience being unemployed after a plant shut-down helps her relate to the applicants coming into SEEK.

“I know what it’s like to be on that side, and a lot of the people we place are in light manufacturing.”

From beloitdailynews.com: “Bottle-maker set to begin layoff process” — For those entering into training, workforce development would pay the tuition and books for the employee, Borremans said.

In February the company sent letters to the more than 50 employees at the plant that it planned to shut the facility down sometime in May.

SEC President Doug Wehrkamp said in a Feb. 28 statement due to technological advances SEC’s customers are able to meet their demand with on-site production.

The company said employees not transferring to one of the other two plants will get two weeks pay for every year the employee worked for SEC with a minimum of eight weeks.

The letter given to employees said voluntary early layoff could occur depending on how quickly operations switch over to Effingham and Bowling Green.

Those relocating will receive $5,000 in moving expenses, an additional $2,500 after employees complete one year at the new plant and another $2,500 after the second year.

Yanik declined to say if employees were offered an early layoff option.

SEC, headquartered in Enka, N.C. opened the Beloit plant in 2007. The plant made Coca-Cola bottles of various sizes and shipped to six different states in the Midwest.

From bizjournals.com: “MATC investing millions to address skills gap” — Milwaukee Area Technical College is investing millions into its programs to address the region’s talent shortage and has added dozens of new programs since 2011, president Michael Burke said.

The school also recently received a more than $1 million federal grant to provide advanced manufacturing support for the community, Burke said.

Southeastern Wisconsin employers, particularly manufacturers, say they’re struggling to find candidates for open positions with the right skill sets, despite high unemployment.

As part of its response to that need, MATC has added eight degrees, 15 technical diplomas and 24 certificates since 2011, Burke said.

From fox11online.com: “Grant aims to fill manufacturing jobs”  — GRAND CHUTE – Fox Valley Technical College recently received nearly three million dollars to train nearly 400 workers.

To state workforce officials, Travis Rewalt is the perfect example of someone helping fill the manufacturing skills gap.

“I felt like I was learning the basics I needed and I kind of wanted to learn more to keep me on top of the game so that I could be marketable in the future,” said Rewalt of Menasha.

State officials say if more people like Rewalt stepped forward, empty jobs in manufacturing could start being filled.

“The skills gap issue is on the training side and people not having the skills to fill the role because there is a perception that manufacturing is dumb, dirty and dangerous and it’s not,” said Georgia Maxwell, the executive assistant for Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development.

The state’s Department of Workforce Development is teaming with Fox Valley Technical College to address the issue. $2.9 million will help train people interested in jobs in welding, machine tool operations, printing and electronics/automation.

“These are the primary areas that we have more demand for jobs and for skilled labor than we have supplies at the moment,” said Steve Straub the dean of Fox Valley Technical College’s Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies Division.

State and school officials say above any other field, manufacturing currently has the most opportunity. They say the problem is there aren’t enough people like Rewalt who want to learn the necessary skills.

“I guess it comes down to motivation of the individuals. The people that seem to want to do it, don’t have the tools available to them, particularly on the financial end,” said Rewalt.

Manufacturing leaders hope the new grant money will help provide that motivation.

The grant money is funded through the federal Trade Adjustment Act.

From fox11online.com: “Clintonville company, employee honored” — CLINTONVILLE – October is Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The state is honoring a company in Clintonville, for rehiring a former employee who is now wheelchair bound.

Operating the press brake at Walker Forge is a job Jake Dudzik loved to do.

“It was definitely a fun job out there that’s for sure,” said Dudzik.

It was until 2007. That’s when Dudzik was partially paralyzed in a diving accident. But being wheelchair bound doesn’t mean he’s out of work.

“It was Jake’s initiative to go to school and be successful at school that allows him to work here. We didn’t take his classes or get his degree for him, he did all of that himself,” said company president Richard Recktenwald.

Three years and a drafting degree later, Dudzik returned to Walker Forge full-time in March.

“I was never one who wanted to go back to school before this that’s for sure, but I had a good group of classmates and teachers and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be,” said Dudzik.

Dudzik now works in front of a computer analyzing projects and preparing cost estimates. While Jake no longer works on the factory floor he says he enjoys his new position and most of all, he says he appreciates being treated like everyone else.

“Just another guy in the shop pretty much is all it is and that’s the way I want it,” he said.

Dudzik’s father Brian also works at the company. He says the state recognition is well deserved.

“It was a long road to go down and today is a proud day for all of us; I mean he had a lot of hard work today.”

Recktenwald says Jake is still a valuable member of the company.

“All we did was give a job to a person with the right skills at a time we had an opening,” said Recktenwald.

And that was all Jake was looking for.

The state gave both the company and Dudzik plaques Tuesday. Walker Forge employs more than 400 people in Clintonville, including several others with various disabilities.

 

From beloitdailynews.com: “Editorial: Tech schools fill big need” — It’s a crown jewel in Wisconsin’s educational system, but doesn’t always get the attention, or the appreciation, it deserves.

The state’s 16 vocational-technical colleges collectively serve tens of thousands of residents, from teenagers to the elderly. Students come to learn scores of skills that help them obtain good jobs, from carpentry to high-tech positions.

One of the smaller — but more sophisticated of those 16 schools that serve Wisconsin is Blackhawk Technical College. Its main campus is on Prairie Road between Beloit and Janesville. Branch campuses are in Monroe and in the Eclipse Center in Beloit. There’s a smaller training center at Janesville, and an aviation unit at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

WE DRAW READERS’ attention to Blackhawk Tech because the college is observing its centennial next week. There’s a campus open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a celebratory dinner and scholarship fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 13. And there’s much to celebrate.

BTC currently has some 5,700 students. Enrollment tends to fluctuate from perhaps half that number to over 6,000. Since the General Motors plant in Janesville shut down in 2008, former GM employees have joined younger and older students to retrain for new careers.

Blackhawk Tech’s president, Thomas Eckert, proudly asserts that the school has dedicated itself to meeting current shortages of skilled workers, be it in construction, manufacturing, the medical profession or other fields. Meanwhile, there are assorted courses for those who simply want to find fulfillment in art, literature and so forth.

STUDENTS’ AGES VARY from the mid-teens to 90 and sometimes beyond. If there’s enough demand for classes in basket-weaving or parachute jumping, the technical colleges probably can provide the teaching required.

Blackhawk Tech’s student body currently consists of about 3,000 at the central campus, whose facilities constantly are being improved; to the Beloit campus’s enrollment of about 1,400 and a similar number at Monroe.

Eckert is proud to point to BTC’s record of having most who graduate with technical, associate or other forms of certification, find the right employment soon after they complete their one- or two-year stints at the college. Eighty-seven percent of grads find jobs within six months.

ALL OF WHICH suggests that the technical college system helps Wisconsin keep its manufacturing, construction, medical and service industries supplied with the workers needed. It’s been doing that since the state directed public school systems back in the Fall of 1912 to create “vocational schools” for young people wanting to find paying jobs instead of finishing high school, or older folks who were either under-employed or had no job-training.

Older Beloiters will remember the Vocational-Adult school on Fourth Street, which served until the 1960s. Other cities, including Janesville, had similar schools. The popularity — and productivity — of the local schools prompted the state to create 16 districts, each to be served by a central campus and branches as needed. The Blackhawk Tech district, serving primarily Rock and Green counties, is the fifth smallest of the state’s 16 tech colleges.

It turns out that the colleges have been a good investment. Blackhawk Tech’s current budget is about $50 million. That may seem like a lot, but consider that in a year’s time, as many as 4,000 get the training they need to enter the workforce. That’s a good investment. Tuition, often supplemented by financial aid, accounts for about half of the budget. Local property taxes and state aid make up the difference.

AGAIN, THOSE FIGURES may seem hefty, but Eckert says that the community, in one way or another, realizes benefits of $140 for every $100 spent.

Wisconsin’s public school system is, of course, vital as well as costly. And the University of Wisconsin system, with its two- and four-year campuses (including UW-Rock County) ranks with some of the best among the state. So do our private colleges, including Beloit College. We’re fortunate, indeed, that the Badger State’s technical college system bridges what would otherwise be a wide gap between the public schools and the colleges that not everyone wants, or can afford, to attend.

ANNIVERSARY CONGRATULATIONS go out to the technical college that serves our area so well, and to the foresighted leaders of earlier years, who saw the need, and filled it.

From Patch.com:  “One year later: WCTC facility provides high level of training” — PEWAUKEE — One year after it opened its doors, Waukesha County Technical College’s criminal justice training center in Pewaukee is getting strong reviews from area police officers.

The 20,000-square-foot facility, located at a former day care center, provides scenario-based training for police officers.

A recent evaluation of the program has ranged from comments such as “great facility” or “Can’t believe how high-tech it is.”

The Muskego Police trains officers there, and has also included the use of the facility to “train” citizens as part of its twice-yearly Citizens’ Academy.

“It has allowed us to the holistic scenario-based training,” said Brian Dorow, associate dean of the criminal justice program at the college. “We have received just an incredible response from the police officers that are training there. … It is the highest level of training where someone is actively learning when you are able to do the scenario based training. We actually try to replicate what an officer is going to encounter on the streets from start to finish.”

Before conducting exercises in which an officer may have to determine whether to use physical force against a suspect, the training program first does what it can to raise an officer’s heart rate and increase adrenaline before the officer responds to the calls. The trainers will present different variables during the calls.

“They are fatigued, they are breathing hard,” explained Dorow. “That is going a long way.”

About 3,000 officers from throughout southeastern Wisconsin have used the  center. Police officers need 24 hours of continuing education in law enforcement training in order to maintain their certificates.

Waukesha Police Capt. Ron Oremus said his department uses the facility for in-service for annual training updates for its officers. It also gets a lot of use during new officer training.

“It is very helpful to have a facility like that,” said Oremus, who is an instructor during the training.

Before the center was located on Morris Street, the police department used a ranch-style home near WCTC. The training center’s an improvement when it comes to scenario-based trainings.

“I can tell you that while (the ranch-style home) is nice, it just didn’t have the room to train like the new facility does,” Oremus said.

The training center at WCTC could be even more enhanced in the future. Dorow said he wants to add the element of sound into the scenarios. It is not uncommon for area police to be called to scenes that have couples arguing or children crying.

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