From biztimes.com: “Walker names Council on Workforce Investment” – Gov. Scott Walker has named the new membership of the Council on Workforce Investment, a federally mandated panel that will advise Walker and the Department of Workforce Development on the allocation of federal workforce development funds.
The council will be responsible for approving the Workforce Investment Act plan each state is required to create each year. It coordinates the efforts of Wisconsin’s 12 regional workforce investment boards.
“As we look to target substantial investments to develop the workforce and help Wisconsinites successfully pursue family-supporting careers and find true independence, the Council on Workforce Investment will provide valuable input with representatives from business, education, legislative and other key groups,” Walker said. “My administration’s continued focus on creating jobs will guide the work of the Council as we look to address the skills gap and fill employers’ current and future labor market needs.”
Mary Isbister, president of General Metalworks Corporation in Mequon, will serve as chair of the council. She has experience service on the boards of several organizations, including the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and was formerly the vice chair of the Council on Workforce Investment.
Mike Laszkiewicz, vice president and general manager of Power Controls at Rockwell Automation, will be vice chair. He is currently the chair of the national Manufacturing Council, which advises the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce on manufacturing issues.
Reggie Newson, secretary of the DWD, will serve as executive director.
The other members are:
- David Brukardt, associate vice president for economic development, University of Wisconsin System, Madison
- Alan Petelinsek, president and CEO, Power Test Inc., Sussex
- County Executive Allen Buechel, Fond du Lac County
- Rep. Warren Petryk, Wisconsin State Assembly, 93rd District
- Jeffrey Clark, president and CEO, Waukesha Metal Products, Sussex
- Dawn Pratt, human resources and EEO officer, Payne & Dolan, Fitchburg
- Morna Foy, president, Wisconsin Technical College System, Madison
- Mark Reihl, executive director, Wisconsin State Council of Carpenters, Madison
- Sarit Singhal, president and CEO, Superior Support Resources Inc., Milwaukee
- Grailing Jones, director of owner/operator small business development, Schneider Finance Inc., Green Bay
- Howard Teeter, president and managing partner, Anteco Pharma LLC, Lodi
- Theresa Jones, vice president of diversity and inclusion strategies, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, Brookfield
- Sen. Tom Tiffany, Wisconsin State Senate, 12th District
- Sen. Julie Lassa, Wisconsin State Senate, 24th District
- Rep. Robin Vos, Wisconsin State Assembly, 63rd District
- County Executive Daniel Vrakas, Waukesha County
- Terrance McGowan, president, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, Milwaukee
- Brian White, president, General Electric-Waukesha Gas Engines, Waukesha
- Dan Mella, principal, Plymouth High School, Plymouth
- Wyman Winston, executive director, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Madison
- David Mitchell, president/COO, Monarch Corp., Milwaukee
- Rep. Josh Zepnick, Wisconsin State Assembly, 9th District
- Alan “Kent” Olson, president, Olson Tire and Auto Services Inc., Wausau
From Chicagotribune.com: Corporate Leaders at Harper Event Urge Community College Presidents to “Talk to Us” – Executives representing some of the largest manufacturers in the U.S. urged community college presidents to reach out and form partnerships to help them train desperately needed middle skills workers.
Middle skills workers fill positions that typically require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.
The recent resurgence in American manufacturing has created steep demand for middle skills workers with math, communication and problem-solving skills, especially in today’s high-tech manufacturing environment. Some middle skills jobs pay more than jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree, with median salaries often eclipsing $50,000.
“Assembly and manufacturing positions are among the toughest roles to fill,” said Alan May, Vice President, Human Resources at Boeing Defense, Space and Security. “Finding this talent is key to meeting increasing customer demand for our products while helping to improve the U.S. economy and bring down unemployment.”
The call for closer college and corporate partnerships came at a skills summit at Harper College in Palatine, which brought together human resources executives from Fortune 500 companies and community college leaders from across the country. In addition to manufacturing, the summit attracted human resources executives from other sectors, including retail, health care, logistics/supply chain and information technology, who also reported difficulties in filling middle skills jobs. The conference was sponsored by The HR Policy Association’s Workforce Development Roundtable, Motorola Solutions, Harper College and the Community College Auto Communities Consortium.
Corporate leaders said part of the disconnect between employers and colleges may stem from the difference between their fast-changing business environment and, what they say is the often slow pace of changing curricula and programs to meet their needs.
“Frequently we talk about our speed and education’s speed,” said Molly Steffen, Recruiting Manager at Caterpillar. “We’ll have a [training] program, then suddenly the technology changes and the job is different.”
Community college presidents acknowledge cumbersome academic processes can be frustrating for both sides, but they say working to close the time gap and collaborating closely with corporate partners to stay ahead of the technology curve can pay off for everyone.
“The stronger the relationship and the communication is between community colleges and employers, and the more we struggle though this journey together, the better opportunity we have to be the right side of the curve.” said Dr. Steven Ender, President of Grand Rapids Community College.
Bruce Brda, Senior Vice President of Motorola Solutions, said the explosive growth of high-tech communications and mobile applications and platforms means he can’t predict what his workforce needs will look like in the next five years, but said active communication with community colleges is critical to make sure new employees have skill sets they need to be successful.
“Work is changing drastically and at an even faster pace than previously seen in business,” said Brda. “The skills for future employees continue to evolve, and the only way to stay aligned is to communicate our needs with educators.”
Employers say finding workers with the right technical skills is only half the battle. They say they often find newly hired employees can’t pass a drug test or turn out to have a poor work ethic.
You can be the best welder we have, but if you don’t show up every day, obviously that’s inefficient for us,” said Steffen. “Especially people new to their careers, they have the world in front of them but they may lose that opportunity if they are unable to fulfill their commitment to work.”
To help combat the problem, community colleges such as Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin have begun emphasizing soft skills including interviewing, personal presentation and communication skills along with technical training.
“We tell our students they’re not applying for a job when they graduate from college, they’re applying for a job when they enroll in college,” said Bryan Albrecht, President and CEO of Gateway Technical College. “They have to be constantly thinking about what it takes to be successful, and that starts with professionalism, the way you respond to your teachers, businesses on campus and the community.”
To help close the skills gap and evaluate a student’s work ethic, companies are looking at supporting more paid internships similar to those offered through Harper’s advanced manufacturing program, which promises a paid internship with local manufacturing partners after a student completes four classes. The program recently was awarded a $12.9 million federal grant to replicate the partnership throughout Illinois.
Executives and college presidents say finding and training middle skills workers of the future cannot be ignored any longer. A recent report by Georgetown University predicts the U.S. will be short at least 3 million high-tech workers by 2018. Summit attendees say the need to find solutions and act quickly has never been more urgent.
“One of the messages of the summit is this: if we are to have a real partnership and a real relationship with corporations, we have to deliver,” said Harper College President Dr. Kenneth Ender. “We can’t over-promise, but whatever we take on, we have to deliver.”
May 1, 2013
From fox11online.com: “Dual-credit program benefits students” – Tuesday was a dual-credit day at technical colleges across the state as they promote the kind of program four-year universities have long used.
Schools like Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute highlighted programs to help high school students earn college credits.
The initiative is meant to foster better partnerships between tech schools and high schools.
“I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how I’m only 19 years old but yet things are really starting to come together,” said Fox Valley Technical College student Ryan Geiger.
Geiger graduated from Brillion High School and was hired as a machinist by the Ariens Company. He says thanks to dual-credit courses, he’s working on two different degrees.
“I was really surprised how you can be a machinist and have the mindset you do and love what you do and being paid what you are. It’s just awesome.”
FVTC officials say Geiger is just one example of what educators hope becomes a trend of successful students taking dual-credit courses and filling in-demand jobs.
“It’s going to give them an opportunity to get an understanding of whether or not they would like to pursue this as their main field,” said Fox Valley Technical College Dean of Technologies Steve Straub.
The dual-credit classes are also free to high school students, meaning they are getting more specialized training and paying less for it.
“I really feel like we needed to be more aggressive in helping our students get one foot into post-secondary education,” said Appleton West High School Principal Greg Hartjes.
To do that, Appleton West hopes to start a machine technology charter school in the fall of 2014. Students could earn 24 credits toward a degree at Fox Valley Tech.
“These are high need areas that the community has said we don’t have enough employees, we don’t have enough people going into these areas and that is what we are trying to fill,” said Hartjes.
“I just love doing technology stuff, I just knew that’s what I always wanted to be,” said Geiger.
Providing students an open door to a bright future.
The number of high school students throughout the state taking college credits in high school has doubled in the last five years.
Fox Valley Tech says 21,000 Wisconsin students have an average of at least six college credits before graduating high school.
April 30, 2013
From wbay.com: “New FVTC program helps trucking companies fill skills gap” – Appleton – Instead of working against one another, a group of local trucking companies is teaming up to create a training program that will benefit all of them. The new program is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country.
Appleton West students are some of the first to hear about a new program being created at Fox Valley Technical College. After several local trucking companies found themselves trying to steal trailer tech employees from one other, because there’s a shortage of workers with the necessary skills, those companies decided to team up to create a curriculum to specifically teach trailer technician skills.
“It was a way for us to try and get more technicians in the field that we could all benefit from and ultimately the customer does,” says Margo Kane from Master Fleet, one of the participating companies.
The 18-week trailer tech program will cover a range of skills, everything from welding and electrical work to brake work and accident repair. With a 99% job placement rate, anyone who enters the program is pretty much guaranteed a job upon completion.
“For about $2200 somebody can come in for 18 weeks and go out in the industry and start at a good wage,” says Dan Poeschel from FVTC.
While high schoolers are being targeted for the trailer tech program, Fox Valley Tech officials tell us those who already work in the trades industry can easily transition into this program.
Says Poeschel, “The people that really transition well are somebody that may be a carpenter and they’re having a hard time finding work there. They could go right into, come on with a lot of skills and really excel at this.”
Registration for the new trailer tech program will begin in November. Classes are scheduled to start in January.
April 29, 2013
From fox11online.com: “Tech school expands to meet skills gap” – The training labs at Lakeshore Technical College have been booked solid, up to 18 hours a day, and the waiting lists are nearly 30 people deep.
“The waiting list for example, machine tool and especially our welding program, are such that we can have a program filled and before the start of the program, we already have almost the next program filled,” explained Executive Dean of Manufacturing Richard Hoerth.
With a changing job market, some employers have been dealing with what they call a skills gap.
They say they are willing to hire, but can’t find qualified people to fill the spots.
And it seems more people are beginning to understand the gap in skilled labor in the state. And so the college decided there’s only one way to address the growing need and interest, expand.
The more than $6 million project includes doubling the size of LTC’s Flexible Training Arena and modernizing the Trade and Industry building.
The expansion project is one of the largest of its kind for the nearly century old school. Officials expect the expansion will increase the number of graduates by 50 each year.
“The manufacturing sector in Manitowoc County and the lakeshore in general is extremely important. It’s about 37% of our employment,” explained Connie Loden, Executive Director of the Manitowoc County Economic Development Corporation.
Economic development officials feel the expansion is coming at the right time, but the skills gap stretches beyond Wisconsin.
According to an annual survey by ManpowerGroup, skilled trades was the hardest job to fill last year in the U.S, and it’s topped the charts since 2010.
“As the economy grows, we’re part of that solution and our employers need a skilled workforce to grow and that’s where we come in, is working with them and working with the students in the area,” explained LTC President Michael Lanser.
The college plans to break ground on the project in June. Officials say grants, loans and private investments will cover the costs.
In addition to this milestone, the college will celebrate its 100th anniversary on May 8th.
April 26, 2013
From thenorthwestern.com: “Technical college graduates find jobs by filling skills gap” – Tabetha Moore was a year away from earning her associate’s degree in human resources when a local manufacturing company gave her a full-time job in her field and agreed to pay for her last two semesters of school.
The 21-year-old hasn’t yet negotiated the salary she’ll earn after obtaining her diploma from Fox Valley Technical College in May, but that fact she secured a job so quickly reflects a new era of opportunity for graduates of two-year college programs.
“What surprised me most was that they would hire a 20-year-old without a degree to work in their human resources department,” Moore said.
She’s one of a new generation of graduates defying a stereotype that technical colleges offer a “second-to-best” option for those who don’t attend a university. Demand for technically-trained, skilled workers has driven up wages and employment opportunities for associate degree holders with highly-sought skill sets.
Analysts and educators refer to the situation as a skills gap. A wave of new jobs in a changing, high-tech economy is rolling in just as a mass of baby boomers retires. The end result is a glut of vacant positions with too few workers with desired skills.
“I think the simple economic theory about supply and demand is going to drive, locally and regionally, what’s driving up those associate’s degree wages. Employers are obviously very conscious about how some individuals joining their organization can add value to their customers and operations,” said Chris Matheny, vice president of instruction services for FVTC.
The competition for skilled workers is blurring the line between two- and four-year degree holders’ career opportunities. Nationwide, nearly 30 percent of Americans with associate’s degrees now make more than those with bachelor’s degrees, according to a recent study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
About 89 percent of 2012 graduates from FVTC were employed within six months of earning their degree, according to a survey of graduates. Three-out-of-four grads found work related to their field of study and earned an average starting salary of $33,000.
Many saw much higher wages. Graduates from the web site development program reported earning as much as $104,000; human resources grads reported earning up to $90,000; business management grads saw up to $80,000; and electrical engineers found jobs paying as high as $59,900, according to the graduate survey.
Not all these salaries are for entry level work. A growing number of adults are returning to college to learn additional skills to either find new work or stay relevant in their current field. More employers are also paying for their employees’ continuing education.
“Once you get in house, we often have to put students through $10,000-$20,000 of aircraft-specific training. Each individual we consider a huge investment for the company,” said Greg Laabs, vice president and general manager of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Appleton.
Laabs spoke during a recent forum about the skills gap hosted by FVTC, where a number of employers said they’ve become more competitive with wages, hired younger people into higher-level positions and paid for schooling.
Nearly 55 percent of Wisconsin manufacturing companies reported offering collaborative training programs through local technical colleges and 46 percent reported increasing wages for difficult to fill positions, according a December 2012 survey by Schnenck SC, an Appleton-based accounting and business consulting firm.
“We offer competitive wages… The insurance packages offered are a huge bonus as well as the camaraderie and family values that go into a small to mid-sized business,” said Tony Robinson, vice president of manufacturing for Jay Manufacturing Oshkosh Inc. “Every employee at Jay Manufacturing is offered formal or on-the-job training experiences.”
Some employers are also beginning to hire people with associate’s degrees into management positions that previously required a four-year degree.
Paul Werth, 36, was among the first three people to graduate from FVTC’s new construction management program in 2011. Within nine months he was hired by Neenah-based Miron Construction Co. as a project manager, and he is now overseeing some of the construction related to FVTC’s expansion in Appleton.
“We’ve broke into this very traditional market where pretty much all the time it required a bachelor’s degree. Now, talking with students here (at FVTC), I know some have had job offers a month ago already,” Werth said.
The Georgetown center estimates 29 million jobs paying middle class wages today require no more than an associate’s degree. Similarly, the center estimates associate’s degree holders earn, on average, about $500,000 more over their careers than people with only high school diplomas, but $500,000 less than people with bachelor’s degrees. Those figures vary widely by profession.
A survey of graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh indicates that most local bachelor’s degree holders still find a better starting wage than associate’s degree recipients. A UWO survey of 2011 graduates, which is the most recent available, shows 85 percent found jobs related to their majors within nine months of graduation. They earned starting salaries averaging $45,300.
The UWO survey had a 53 percent response rate, and the FVTC survey had a 78 percent response rate.
UWO Chancellor Richard Wells said a four-year education remains relevant and valuable to employers.
“A general education and the ability of a person to think critically, analytically and communicate effectively” — skills traditionally associated with a baccalaureate education — “is more important than a particular major. In the end, that’s what employers are looking for because you hopefully have someone who is passionate about life long learning,” Wells said.
April 11, 2013
From waow.com: “Secretary of Workforce Development calls for more state businesses to partner with schools” – WAUSAU - Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson traveled to Wausau’s North Central Technical College. Newson called on more state businesses to get involved in apprenticeship programs to bridge a skills gap and meet employers needs.
Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to have an apprenticeship program. It dates back to 1911. As the business climate has changed, Newson says business and schools must partner to meet changing workforce needs.
He says technical schools provide the training programs business leaders need and employers can provide high paying jobs that can move workers into the middle class.
April 5, 2013
From kwwl.com: “Eastern Iowa manufacturing jobs ripe for the taking” – Eastern Iowa’s manufacturing industry has so many open positions, companies can’t fill them quickly enough.
That has prompted Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Peosta to team up with Southwestern Wisconsin Technical College. The two created the Tri-State Advanced Manufacturing Center for Excellence. It will help train and pair skilled workers with the abundance of manufacturing jobs available locally.
This week, NICC announced the appointment of the center’s director, Randy Schofield, who is currently an advanced manufacturing instructor at NICC’s Peosta campus.
He said there are hundreds of jobs available in the Dubuque area right now, and they pay well.
“We have 21-, 22-year-old people out there in the workforce that went through a one-year program that are making $50,000 or $60,000 a year,” Schofield said.
It was the job availability that drew student Titus Fair to NICC’s advanced manufacturing program. After an injury in Iraq sent the former Marine back to Iowa, Fair first enrolled in NICC’s heating and air conditioning program.
“I looked for a job for six months, and I was unsuccessful in finding a job,” Fair said, “so I decided to come back and go to the CNC program.”
Fair returned to NICC’s Peosta campus to gain advanced manufacturing skills and train as a computer numerical control (CNC) machinist technician.
“The manufacturing and CNC jobs are booming in this area right now,” Fair said.
Schofield said the advanced manufacturing jobs available right now include “welders and machinists and engineers and all throughout manufacturing, really.”
He said the high job availability has to do with an aging existing workforce.
“A lot of the machinists and the welders and the manufacturing people are getting older, and there is work coming back from countries,” he said. “When I first started out, we worked for companies that sent work over to other countries, and now some of that work is coming back.”
Fair and Schofield both said these are good jobs with benefits.
In exploring different opportunities, Schofield said he found jobs that offered, “anywhere from $38,000 to $60,000 that first year on the job, so it’s pretty good.”
For Fair, it’s now a matter of swimming in opportunities.
“Right now, it’s such a high demand for CNC. I recommend this to anybody looking for a job,” he said.
Fair said he’s now deciding between two job offers.
March 21, 2013
From wsaw.com: “8 Wis. Technical Colleges awarded funds for laser equipment” – Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson says eight Wisconsin Technical College System schools will be awarded nearly $105,000 to to purchase precision laser alignment tools to help train apprentices in manufacturing and address the skills gap.
“The funding is another example of our continuing efforts to equip workers with the latest skills, empowering them for employment in family supporting jobs,” Secretary Newson said. “With the grants, our workforce partners in the technical colleges can purchase high tech, laser equipment to train apprentices for good jobs in the skilled trades.”
Grants of $13,100 each are being awarded to Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids, North Central Technical College in Wausau, Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Waukesha Technical College, and Milwaukee Area Technical College.
The U.S. Department of Labor funds will go to purchase precision laser alignment tools for rotating machinery. Precision laser alignment is a common testing procedure in maintaining manufacturing equipment and ensuring production efficiency. The colleges will use the equipment to train apprentices in training for occupations as machine repairer, maintenance mechanic, millwright and pipefitter.
From communitycollegetimes.com: “Shoring up the gap between workers, available jobs” – When it comes to bridging the gap between available workers and available jobs, one thing is certain: it’s complicated.
“What the problem is depends on who you ask,” said Ray Suarez, a senior correspondent at PBS who moderated a panel on Wednesday that kicked off an afternoon of roundtables that included leaders from community colleges, business and industry, government and other stakeholders.
Suarez noted some parties blame K-12 for not instilling the right academic skills in students, while others point at employers, who have pulled away from providing training for their workers. Another faction cites higher education for not analyzing more closely the specific workforce needs in their communities.
The panelists agreed that it’s a mix of all the above. Jim Ryan, president and CEO of W.W. Grainger, said companies used to provide the training to upgrade their workers’ skills. That’s now a dying practice.
However, it’s crucial for businesses to find ways to ensure that their workers are upgrading their skills in order to be competitive, Ryan said. Not filling available positions costs companies in the long run through overtime and other related expenses. Add impending retirements to the mix and the problem magnifies.
“This is a matter of competitive survival,” Ryan said.
For companies such as Grainger, part of the solution has been to work more closely with community colleges. To foster more interest in technical jobs and to develop a pipeline of skilled workers—for its own workforce as well as for its suppliers and vendors—Grainger runs a scholarship program and sponsors Trades in Focus, an initiative of the American Association of Community Colleges to raise awareness of career opportunities in the industrial trades.
What exactly is needed?
Community colleges also must do a better job of working with local businesses and industry to determine what skills are needed for available jobs, said Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College (GTC) in Wisconsin. That means maintaining a constant dialogue to ensure colleges can adjust their curricula and training programs.
Often, there is a communication breakdown between colleges, employers and job seekers, Albrecht said. Companies indicate they need entry-level workers, but what that means varies among companies, he said. One company may be looking for employees with good soft skills and a degree, while another company may be looking for industry certification and several years of work experience.
People looking for work also get confused. A laid-off machinist may wonder why he or she can’t get a job as a machinist with a manufacturer in a neighboring town, but they may not know what upgraded skills are required for that job or how to acquire them, Albrecht said.
Yonnie Leung, senior manager for workforce development at Pacific Gas & Electric(PG&E), said that managers responsible for hiring employees must get involved with colleges to convey what they need in a workforce. She gave this analogy: “You can’t expect your vendors to provide you a product without them knowing what the specs are.”
In 2008, PG&E created a training program in connection with community colleges, universities, workforce training boards and other organizations to provide training for entry-level jobs. About 71 percent of graduates from the program find work either at PG&E or in the industry as utility workers, apprentice electricians, gas service representatives, materials handlers and underground technicians.
As with Grainger, providing the training is crucial for PG&E—42 percent of its workforce (about 10,000 workers) is at retirement age or approaching it, Leung said. And it’s not just an issue for PG&E. By 2015, nearly half of the utility industry’s skilled workforce will need to be replaced because of retirement or attrition.
Bringing in K-12
Better connections with K-12 were also discussed. A concern for many businesses is the lack of presenting vocational and technical jobs as viable careers. Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania, said schools have been on a downward track over the last 20 years in providing students with opportunities to learn about technical careers. He noted that highly praised programs created in the 1990s, such as school-to-work initiatives, sputtered out by the end of the decade and have not returned. At the time, there was an assumption that the jobs of the future would require higher degrees and trade jobs would fade away or be sent overseas.
“We made some policy mistakes,” Cappelli said.
However, there are movements across the U.S. to tie K-12 with trade careers. Many community colleges have stepped up to help prepare high school students for college-level work and to think about careers through programs such as dual enrollment and career academies, which often include the trades, Albrecht said.
The panel and following roundtables were the first event of the Partnership in Practice discussion series. It was sponsored by Grainger and the Aspen Institute.
January 24, 2013
From bizjournals.com: “Second Chance Partners launch advanced manufacturing pilot program” – Second Chance Partners for Education on Tuesday launched a new advanced manufacturing certificate pilot program in partnership with the Kettle Moraine School District, Waukesha County Technical College, General Electric Co.’s Waukesha gas engines business and Generac Power Systems Inc.
The program is designed to provide high school students who have an interest in technical careers with the ability to earn hands-on work experience and credits at post-secondary schools.
“This pilot exposes students to career pathways inherent in manufacturing, including interests such as welding, fabrication and manufacturing processes to advanced degree fields such as mechanical and electrical engineering,” said Pat Deklotz, Kettle Moraine School District superintendent.
The pilot program will initially serve seven juniors and five seniors from the Kettle Moraine School District. It will be housed at Generac’s facility in Eagle and GE’s Waukesha gas engines facility.
Classroom work will focus on communications, math, applied sciences, social sciences and technical coursework.
Students will also participate in the Youth Apprenticeship Program, where they work four hours a day for the partner companies. They will earn an hourly wage and have the opportunity for raises that can be banked for use as a future college scholarship.
At the end of the program, students will have a portfolio of applied learning experiences and transcripted credits issued by Waukesha County Technical College that count toward an associate’s degree and are stackable and transferable to other Wisconsin technical colleges.
Second Chance Partners for Education, founded in 2000, has primarily focused on serving academically disengaged students with mechanical aptitude and an interest in manufacturing. This pilot program is open to any student with an interest in a technical career related to manufacturing, said Christopher Kent, marketing communications coordinator.
Other differences with the pilot include a more traditional semester model, rather than the 21 consecutive months in current Second Chance programs, Kent said.
Kent said the pilot is an extension of what the organization currently does.
“This pilot allows us to explore ways that we can leverage our model to help more students and be a greater asset for the industry and regions we serve,” said Second Chance Partners for Education president Stephanie Borowski.
January 18, 2013
From wqow.com: “Senator Baldwin stops in Eau Claire to talk skills gap, gun control” – Eau Claire (WQOW) - Senator Tammy Baldwin was in Eau Claire Thursday to visit CVTC’s NanoRite Technology Center. She spoke about the “skills gap” in the state. Baldwin says lots of jobs are available in industries that require a two year technical college degree, but there aren’t enough qualified workers to fill those positions.
“We have so many people who were displaced in our great recession, displaced from manufacturing jobs, you have manufacturers who want new workers, but they’re finding a gap between skills. And Chippewa Valley Technical college and our statewide technical college system are really stepping up and forming partnerships and tackling this problem,” says Senator Baldwin.
The senator says she’s hoping to bring forward legislation to help fix the problem during this session.
“I’m on a committee that will be dealing with educational and labor issues and so the skills gap is one that is of deep interest to me, and I’d really like to see us move forward. It’s frustrating when you have good paying available jobs, people who want work and want those jobs, and all that’s needed is the resources needed to close that skills gap,” says Baldwin.
She also spoke about the national debate over gun control. Baldwin says she’s in support of closing loopholes on background checks for gun sales.
“I think closing that loophole is a very important thing, and it’s a view widely shared among gun owners like myself and people who don’t. I strongly support the second amendment but I think the second amendment is entirely consistent with prudent safety measures, and we need to step forward to protect our citizens and protect our communities,” Baldwin says.
January 8, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Summit addresses skills gap, new ways to prepare students” – Representatives from business and education discussed how to better prepare students for the workforce through improved curriculum and partnerships at the second annual Business Education Summit held Friday at Blackhawk Technical College (BTC).
The event featured updates on the latest efforts to close the skills gap.
BTC Vice President of Learning Sharon Kennedy kicked off the morning with an overview of what’s been accomplished in the past year in terms of better preparing students for employment. She said employers surveyed on what they wanted last year had reported a long list of soft skills from new employees that were sorely missing. The skills ranged from interview skills to being on time.
After getting the employer input, Kennedy wrote a letter to the different college units to determine if such soft skills were being taught and learned that about 50 percent of classes were not teaching the skills.
The soft skills reported in demand from employers have been streamlined to include the ability to communicate professionally, use appropriate technology, work effectively in teams, demonstrate professional work behavior, show respect for diversity, solve problems efficiently and lead by example. Those core abilities are being incorporated into all departments including highly technical fields.
The soft skills now have been incorporated into all classes at BTC. For example, welding classes have adopted a strict attendance policy to re-enforce the importance of showing up to work on time. There also have been math instructors embedded in welding curriculum to help students apply math and use it in blueprints.
Kennedy said BTC also has adopted a new assessment to test students on their written and oral communication skills, and Kennedy noted plans are under way for a Career and Professional Development Center. BTC continues to partner with area business people with more than 300 partners who meet regularly with BTC advisory committees.
During the Summit, Stateline Career and Technical Education Academy (SCTEA) Director Heidi Carvin, a retired Evansville Superintendent, gave an update on the progress of the partnership.
SCTEA, a not-for-profit collaborative partnership, was formed to give students real life skills to improve prospects for future employment. The idea is that the students would learn technical skills taught by industry professionals. Organizers had hoped that students would be entered into career pathways as dictated by regional business requirements.
In the Stateline Area those areas included manufacturing, business and finance, construction, healthcare, hospitality, pre-engineering and automotive and transportation. The following school districts are affiliated with the regional program: Beloit, Beloit Turner, Clinton, Evansville, Janesville and Parkview.
There have been four active Centers of Excellence through the consortium — the automotive program in Beloit, construction program in Janesville, along with health and welding classes offered at BTC.
On Friday, Carvin said transportation had been a challenge for students who preferred to stay at their own schools as opposed to going to the Centers of Excellence.
SCTEA’s new focus is to work on aligning curriculum to the career pipeline. SCTEA is focusing on getting more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes at area schools. Carvin said SCTEA meets regularly with the participating schools to work on incorporating more STEM courses, as well as extra math courses.
Another new focus is on getting more career guidance and relevant courses to middle schoolers. There are efforts underway to give eighth graders more information on different career opportunities and the necessary courses to take in high school to reach their career goals.
December 4, 2012
From channel3000.com: “Walker wants tech schools to address skills gap” – As Gov. Scott Walker looks to technical schools to address the skills gap, some colleges say they’re already doing what’s being proposed.
Walker has been making a continued case for performance-based funding for education, including for tech colleges, to send more skilled workers to businesses that say they can’t find qualified workers to fill needed positions.
“Whatever the reason is, we need to find a way to say not just offer the classes, not just have kids in the classes, but make sure they graduate and get plugged into those jobs,” Walker said on Monday.
But officials at Madison College said they’re already taking strides to do that, including having a business advisory board for every occupational program offered at the college in order to match curriculum and course offerings to what businesses need.
Turina Bakken, associate vice president for learner success at the college, said Madison College wants to be able to offer a diversity of programs but would be open to additional funding to target the skills gap.
“Certainly, there are going to be industry-specific areas where maybe things change more quickly than we’re able to react to, so that’s why any additional funding or creative partnerships we can get and build that will allow us to work in partnership with industry to meet those gaps more quickly, then we’re all for it,” said Bakken.
But the skills gap issue isn’t as simple as that at the college level.
Madison College said it’s graduating as many students as it can given the resources in some programs. In 2011, the college graduated dozens of automotive technicians, machine tooling techs, welders, maintenance technicians as well as medical lab technicians and IT positions. Based on surveys returned from those graduates, most of them got jobs right away.
But the college said that’s not all it can focus on.
“One of our dilemmas is when you get into saying, ‘OK, there’s a need for welders,’ but there’s also a need for child care workers and vet techs and paralegals,” said Bakken. “It’s difficult for us to start to put more value on one industry than another.”
Welding is one of the most popular programs at the college. But meeting the demand for some programs isn’t the only problem.
“For retiring and aging workers, we’re not getting the initial interest from younger (students). There are fewer younger students entering the manufacturing workplace,” said Lisa Delany, associate dean of applied technology at Madison College.
Dan Schmidt, of Lake Mills, is in the welding program at Madison College in hopes of starting a new career.
“The main reason I got into the program was because I lost my position I had after 26 years,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt’s career at Madison Kipp Corporation had given him years of experience but his layoff had him see the light that experience wasn’t enough for some employers.
“I had 12 interviews in a 10-month period, and nobody said, ‘Hey, you’re just the guy I’m looking for,” Schmidt said.
Now as a student at Madison College, he said he hopes a degree in welding will lead to re-employment.
The welding program is one of the most in-demand areas Madison College sees right now.
“We have hired three additional faculty. We’ve expanded our physical capacity here in Madison and at Fort Atkinson,” Bakken said.
Madison College officials said they’re already working with local employers to see workforce trends and to design programs around those trends.
The college also said that manufacturing, health care and IT are also the most expensive programs to fund, so that should be kept in mind when allocating funding to schools in the next budget.
December 4, 2012
From wisnconsinrapidstribune.com: “Column: MSTC helps close Wisconsin’s skills gap” – Wisconsin’s technical colleges are essential to closing the state’s skills gap, a term used to describe the mismatch between workforce skills and available jobs in business and industry.
Despite persistent unemployment, the Department of Workforce Development estimates there are 32,000 to 45,000 unfilled jobs statewide.
The “Silver Tsunami,” an industry term referring to the impending impact of the retirement of the baby boomer generation, only adds to this workforce shortage.
To help address Wisconsin’s skills gap, Mid-State Technical College continues to offer and advocate for the educational resources MSTC students need to be successful in the workforce.
Half of all jobs require a two-year degree, making MSTC a preferred destination to learn skills for a new career or enhance skills in your current career. Our college serves about 9,000 students per year. In fact, the 16 colleges that make up the Wisconsin Technical College System, or WTCS, serve 370,000 students and form the largest higher education system in all of Wisconsin.
MSTC offers 10 unique career programs that can be found nowhere else in the WTCS. We regularly assess our more than 100 career programs and certificates to ensure they are relevant to today’s economy, enhanced by flexible technology and easily accessible to individuals in our district communities.
Recent survey results indicate that 86 percent of MSTC graduates were employed within six months of graduation. An MSTC associate degree graduate earns an average of $31,000 in their first year, and in their lifetime can expect to earn $400,000 more than those with a high school diploma.
Student success is priority number one at MSTC. Our students experience small class sizes, hands-on instruction, engaging faculty with industry experience, and programs of study tied to local workforce demand. Interested in learning more? Stop by any of our four locations, call 888.575.MSTC, or visit www.mstc.edu. Spring semester classes start Jan. 14. Enroll now!
Sue Budjac is president of Mid-State Technical College.
November 26, 2012
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.
November 7, 2012
From lacrossetribune.com: “Western, North Side school referendums ride high on local support” – Voters appeared to back Western Technical College’s plan to add students and update facilities with a strong showing of support Tuesday for the school’s $79.8 million referendum.
By early this morning, 53.4 percent had voted “yes” with 202 of 211 precincts reporting.
The money will fund six building projects, including remodeling of the college’s technology building and the Coleman and Kumm centers. The extra learning space will allow Western to serve an additional 1,000 students by 2020. It will also benefit the region’s economy, Western President Lee Rasch said.
“There is a skilled worker shortage, and it’s in manufacturing and information technology,” Rasch said. “Those are really key areas for us.”
Property taxes will increase by about $39 a year on homes worth $100,000.
The referendum covers:
- $32.6 million for an addition to the technology building to combine the school’s mechanical and tech programs.
- $26.5 million remodel of Coleman Center to update the 89-year-old space with more efficient, flexible learning areas.
- $10.1 million remodel of the Kumm Center, for new health and science facilities.
- $4.9 million for a parking ramp
- $4.1 million expansion of Western’s diesel training facilities.
- $1.6 million for a greenhouse near Seventh and Vine street
Western’s growth will have a $97 million impact on the regional economy by 2034, according to an economic report by NorthStar Consulting Group. Construction alone will have an estimated economic impact of $112 million by 2016.
“It’s going to make a difference,” Rasch said.
West Salem resident Bob Severson, 59, said he supported the referendum because the changes will help people learn valuable workplace skills.
“I went there myself and I think that’s going to be the crux of getting the right training,” Severson said.
Western will borrow the money for the building projects, adding to existing debt of about $58 million.
Wisconsin technical colleges can’t use referendum dollars for operating costs – unlike school districts — so they are less frequent. Western’s last referendum was more than 15 years ago, when 64 percent of voters agreed to pay for a $3 million chunk of the city’s Health Science Center.
A wave of support at the polls Tuesday also appears to have pushed through La Crosse School District’s $15.7 million referendum for a new North Side elementary school.
Voters in the La Crosse School District approved a building referendum. Final numbers show 21,494 yes votes to 10,424 no votes.
A new school will house teachers and students currently split between two aging facilities. Officials plan to build the new facility at 1611 Kane St., where the old Franklin Elementary School building stands.
“It’s going to mean a lot for our community, not just for the North Side,” Superintendent Randy Nelson said.
Taxpayers in the district could pay about $25 more on a home worth $100,000.
The prospect of higher taxes inspired 75-year-old La Crosse resident and retiree Kay Weldy to vote against the referendum.
“The taxes are too high as they are,” she said.
Franklin combined with Roosevelt about three years ago, and both run under the same administration, with grade levels divided between the two buildings.
Roosevelt, built in 1923, is the oldest school building in the district. Builders used clay tiles in the 1955 construction of Franklin, which has led to continual structural problems for the school.
Both buildings were slated for about $6 million of work, including about $2 million already bonded for heating and ventilation upgrades. Officials agreed to opt out of the bonded funds if voters passed today’s referendum.
The new building saves the district about $200,000 in operating costs each year.
Shelby resident David Loeffler, 63, said he voted “yes” on the referendum because he to ensure a quality education for future generations.
“I have a grandson and I want to make sure he gets everything he can,” Loeffler said.
Similar referendums in 2004 and 2008 failed to pass muster with voters, but this is a different time — when the community appears be favoring neighborhood revitalization in the wake of recent economic struggles, Nelson said.
“Things have changed,” he said.
October 31, 2012
From wuwm.com: “Project Milwaukee: Workers follow different paths to build skills for new jobs” — Businesses in the Milwaukee area say there are not enough skilled workers to fill available jobs.
We heard about that frustration Tuesday when WUWM’s LaToya Dennis spoke with local managers. Today, in our Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted series, we learn how people seeking jobs are striving to acquire the skills needed.
Often the journey is punctuated by emotion.
Fresh paint covers brick walls along a hallway of the old Square D factory. Roger Hinkle says its workers made electrical transformers.
“I went in and worked with workers in that factory education center and so they could work on their basic educational skills but within a few years that closed and this building became transformed to a newer use,” Hinkle says during a tour of the center.
Today’s newer use is called the HIRE Center, and Hinkle serves as one of its training specialists. The agency is tucked inside the Milwaukee Enterprise Center-South at 8th and National. It uses federal funds to retrain workers who’ve been displaced due to factors beyond their control.
“People coming into this program come from every walk of life, every background, the common thing they have is they’ve lost their jobs,” Hinkle says.
The center provides a range of services. It teaches some how to run complex machinery. For others, it offers a basic education. Hinkle says often mixed in, is the need to overcome the pain and fear of losing a job.
I hear those emotions in the voices of Connie Skonecki and Robin Klein. Skonecki’s job evaporated when the t-shirt factory where she worked outsourced production.
“It’s devastating, especially when you’re there for 16, 18 years, you lose it all,” she says. I ask if she has a family. “My kids are grown but I got grandchildren,” Skonecki says and adds job loss has had an impact on her extended family. “I can’t get ‘em anything,” she says.
Robin Klein nods knowingly at the story. She tumbled into the ranks of the unemployed when the day care center where she worked closed abruptly.
“There’s not enough jobs out here for people nowadays because they don’t have the skills,” Klein says.
Klein says she quickly realized she needs her GED, so that’s what she’s tackling.
According to the HIRE Center, of the 2,800 people it serves every year, 80 percent find employment.
A few miles south, white sparks dance on the concrete floor as students practice skills they hope will pay off with a family supporting job. This is the welding lab at the Oak Creek campus of MATC and the students’ backgrounds vary from landscaper to chef.
Tom Wicinski drove a forklift until his employer left the state and he lost his $18 an hour job.
“I don’t know if I’ll get into welding. I may. I may not, depending on how my skills will develop. For some people that think welding is easy, they should go out try it,” Wicinski says.
Fellow trainee Shannon Bartley has also found parts of the trade, daunting.
“It’s a challenge to remember how to do dimensions and figuring it out in your head first before you can actually put it on paper,” Bartley says.
A family welder encouraged her to enroll.
Nearby, is Clinton McCarey, a veteran who served with the Army National Guard in Iraq.
“It was miserable. I’m happy to say I made it through, a couple of my soldiers did not, and here I am, picking up a new trade,” McCarey says. I ask if he was working prior to enrolling at MATC, following his service. He says, “Yes sir, I was a roofer. I had to wait a year just to get into this program. I was on the waiting list. I’m doing it and I like it,” McCarey says.
McCarey will attend classes five days a week for one year. Course material includes not only welding practice, but also math and economics. MATC reports that every graduate last year, landed a job with a manufacturer.
Technical school is not the only route to learning industrial skills.
Equipment is humming at Pereles Brothers on Milwaukee’s northwest side. The company makes plastic parts such as handles for power saws.
President Ted Muccio says he could not find skilled applicants, so he created his own training program.
“We have what we call entry level positions, someone comes in and runs a molding press. They’re given instructions on sheets about what they need to watch for, and then there are some other levels above that,” Muccio says.
Muccio partners with the nearby Silver Spring Neighborhood Center. It identifies potential entry-level workers and gets them up to speed on work readiness skills such as showing up on time.
Derrick Roby joined Pereles Bros. a couple years ago.
“I never knew what a machine operator was, and now, I’m pretty good at what I do. I’m trying to advance in this company,” Roby says.
Roby mentioned it was difficult to find a job on account on his background.
“I’m a three time felon, and one thing I like about Pereles, they opened the doors for me and offered a helping hand, which is something that no one would do. Everyone was shutting the door in my face,” Roby says.
On Thursday, WUWM’s Erin Toner will look further into what’s working and what’s missing, in local efforts to close the skills gap.
October 29, 2012
From biztimes.com: “Enrollment up at CNC boot camps” – Some area technical colleges that host CNC boot camps have seen increased demand from both employers and students, so they have added additional courses.
“This is basically condensed and it is a very intensive six to eight hours a day,” said Francisco Sanchez, CEO of the WOW Workforce Development Board. “There is no general education courses required.”
WOW and WCTC have increased the number of boot camps they offer to meet the demand in the manufacturing industry, Sanchez said.
“We try to minimize the amount of time they spend in the technical college,” he said. “The manufacturers want to get people in, because there is a huge need right now.”
WOW also hosts a CNC boot camp at Moraine Park Technical College in West Bend, which currently has 16 students enrolled.
Often, WOW is able to bring employers in during the boot camp to talk to students about employment opportunities once they finish the courses.
“We started offering it because an employer came to us and needed about 15 CNC operators,” said Mike Shiels, dean of the School of Applied Technologies at WCTC.
In addition to WOW, WCTC works with the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership to match employers with students, he said.
WCTC previously offered three boot camps per year, but has doubled the offering this year. Last year, between 30 and 45 people graduated from the CNC boot camp, while close to 90 have completed the program this year.
“We have also increased the amount of sections that we’re offering in our one-year program as well,” Shiels said.
The one-year program provides training for CNC machinists, while the boot camp teaches basic manufacturing skills like blueprint reading and the basic operation of CNC machines.
The college has hired an additional full-time instructor to help teach some of the courses, he said.
At Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, there is a one-year course and a boot camp to learn CNC skills. The boot camp participants are generally dislocated workers who are upgrading their skills, said Debbie Davidson, vice president in the workforce and economic development division at Gateway.
“We have found that within the last year, companies are looking to hire again and are looking for maybe different skill sets that what people who worked in machining before had,” Davidson said.
Gateway aims to simulate a work environment at the boot camps, which are 15-week courses with 20 students each. The college recently upped its boot camp offering to three times per year.
Both CNC skills and soft skills like attendance are emphasized, Davidson said.
“Employers have said to us, you need to teach them (soft skills),” she said. “We’ve had great success. We’ve had over a 90 percent placement rate on individuals who come out of the program.”
October 8, 2012
From jsonline.com: “Wisconsin companies’ new task: Manufacturing skilled workers” – High school teacher Scott Bruening encourages his students to pursue blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, something that’s much less common now than it was 30 years ago.
One reason is that, nationwide, more than 600,000 skilled-trades jobs remain open because of a shortage of qualified applicants, according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., which provides audit, tax, consulting and financial services to companies in more than 150 countries.
It’s one of the top-five issues for manufacturers, according to Deloitte, especially as 10,000 Americans a day turn 65 and companies haven’t attracted enough young talent to replace their retirees.
Bruening teaches auto mechanics and other shop classes at Waukesha North High School.
Those programs are making a comeback, he said, as more students realize they can lead to a good career.
“It’s a daily conversation we have,” Bruening said.
Worldwide, more than 10 million manufacturing jobs cannot be filled because of the growing skills gap and because the jobs have become technically more demanding, Deloitte said in a recent report.
In the race to future prosperity, nothing will matter more than talent, said Tim Hanley, the Milwaukee-based U.S. process and industrial products leader for Deloitte.
Last week, about 20 Wisconsin manufacturers opened their doors to high school students to show them the work they do and the jobs that are available.
Some companies had dozens of students sign up for a tour, while others had only a handful.
Having seen layoffs and job losses that decimated entire communities, some people have reason to be skeptical of careers in manufacturing.
“I have lived with some of that myself,” said Nick Kroll, president and CEO of Aries Industries Inc., a Waukesha-based manufacturer of video equipment used to inspect underground facilities. The equipment was used in the rescue of miners in Chile in the summer of 2010.
“We make some cool stuff here, and most people don’t know about it,” Kroll said.
Aries has brought high school students into its plant, where they are mentored and work side-by-side with regular employees. The company also offers college tuition reimbursement for employees.
“I would argue that there are wonderful opportunities in manufacturing,” said Kroll, who entered the field in 1992 as a customer service representative and held sales and business development positions at several companies before he was hired as Aries president and CEO in 2010.
Kroll has seen the downside to manufacturing, including layoffs in the machine-shop industry where, as a teenager, he worked in his father’s business. But he believes the long-term trend favors job openings, including work created as companies bring production back to the United States from other countries.
“The reality is the U.S. has the most productive workforce on the planet,” Kroll said, adding that a combination of technologies and skills allows companies here to manufacture high-quality products at a reasonable cost.
Companies such as Super Steel LLC have grown their own talent through skilled-trades classes.
“If somebody has a good work ethic, we can teach them how to weld,” said Mark Rutkowski, Super Steel’s marketing and sales director.
Even with waves of retirements, there’s some hope the skills gap has narrowed with increased enrollment in technical colleges and with high schools placing more emphasis on manufacturing careers.
“For a long time, there was a real block in education that just cut off manufacturing as a ‘nothing’ career with no future,” said Paul Rauscher, president of EMT International, a Green Bay company that builds equipment for the paper, packaging and other industries.
There are still too many high school students graduating with no career goals, said Jim Golembeski, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board in Green Bay.
“There is either complete ignorance about manufacturing careers in many school systems or an outright hostile attitude,” he said.
Those in the industry say hard work and perseverance can pay off.
In 1979, David Westgate landed a job as a machine operator in a factory that made engine drive shafts.
He was only two weeks out of high school in Allegan, Mich., worked nights and continued his education during the day. He also went through manager training programs and worked in various departments including materials and human resources.
“I didn’t like all of it, and some of it I couldn’t stand, but later on it really paid off,” said Westgate, chairman and chief executive of Jason Inc., a Milwaukee company that generates more than $700 million in annual sales and employs 3,600 people worldwide.
“You kind of pay your dues,” he said.
‘Logical career choice’
Besides working many jobs, Westgate earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Still, he respects those who have remained in the skilled trades.
“To be a tool-and-die maker is a great thing,” Westgate said. “We have to talk about it with our kids, be open and honest with them, and show them that manufacturing is a very logical career choice.”
That conversation couldn’t come quickly enough for many companies hard-pressed to fill jobs that include engineering and product development.
It resonated with Robert Wells, a senior at Waukesha North High School who is pursuing a career in welding and metal fabrication while working part-time at Hydro-Thermal Corp. in Waukesha.
After he graduates, Wells plans to pursue various certifications at Waukesha County Technical College.
He doesn’t feel the need to pursue a four-year college degree.
“I am a very technical person, and I get into creating stuff,” Wells said. “My parents are glad I am going into a field like this. They would rather see me do hard work and feel accomplished. I take pride in what I do.”
October 4, 2012
From voicefwr.com: “Bus tour will show students local manufacturing technology” – October is Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin and manufacturing is definitely the backbone of our community.
The paper industry built our area and continues to support thousands of workers and their families. Many other manufacturers and processors, in many different sizes and industries, have grown in our community and are leading to a comeback for our local economy.
A lot of people think we no longer make anything in our country. This statement is far from the truth. If the U.S. manufacturing sector were its own country, its $1.7 trillion worth of annual value-added would make it the ninth largest economy in the world. This is larger than the entire economy of India, Canada, Mexico or South Korea. On in seven private sector jobs depend on manufacturing to succeed in their business.
A potential problem within manufacturing, which is very prevalent here locally, is the aging workforce within manufacturing. The mean age of the manufacturing workforce is 44.1 years, vs. 42.1 years for non-manufacturing workers, and this gap is growing quickly. In talking with local company representatives, I would say the gap is even bigger here in our community. One local manufacturer called this gap the “silver tsunami” as many of their skilled workers would be retiring over the next several years, and they are not seeing the skills needed from possible applicants to replace this workforce.
Working at these manufacturers is not dark, dirty, and dangerous as might have been thought in the past. The skills needed at today’s manufacturers include high level math, engineering and physics. Technology, including computers and robotics, also play a huge role in modern manufacturing. These jobs of now and the future are high paying, have good benefits, and offer a great quality of life, and are right here in the heart of Wisconsin.
There are many groups hard at work to try to fill this generational skills gap here locally. We are blessed to have Mid-State Technical College in our community. They have the ability to train local workers in the skills needed to fill these opportunities and are working with many local manufacturers to align their curriculum with specific manufacturer’s needs. My colleague Rick Merdan at Incourage Community Foundation has worked hard to help set up programs with MSTC, which includes a food manufacturing science program that has placed several graduates into local food processing companies like Ocean Spray and Membrane Systems.
In an effort to educate our local students about our manufacturers, The Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Heavy Metal Bus Tour” on Oct. 10. We will be taking more than 40 eighth and ninth grade students from Assumption, Immanuel Lutheran, Lincoln, Nekoosa and Port Edwards on tours of several local manufacturers. The Heavy Metal Bus Tour was first held in the Wausau area last year with great success. We will be touring Domtar, Tweet Garot Mechanical, SKS Machine, Corenso, and ECC Corrosion.
We hope to make this an annual event and tour some different local manufacturers every year. MSTC will host lunch, which will include a visit and talk from Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, as well as visits from State Sen. Julie Lassa, State Rep. Scott Krug and Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Zach Vruwink.
The goal of the day is to show students some of the amazing work that is being done right here in their own backyard and highlight the skills and education that is needed to fill the positions that will be needed in the near future.
Currently our local manufacturers have to take applicants from around the country to fill engineering and technology positions. Our community has the ability, the facilities, and the skills to keep manufacturing strong and growing and we can fill these positions with locally trained students who want to stay and raise a family here in the Heart of Wisconsin.
I want to thank all of the manufacturers for helping to sponsor the tours, as well as Mid-State Technical College, Lamers Bus and local media WGLX and WFHR. Manufacturing is our base, our backbone, and we need to support it, highlight it, and celebrate it.
Phil Hartley is the director of business development at the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce
October 3, 2012
From biztimes.com: “Practical solutions to bridge the skills gap” — By Steve Jagler, executive editor - Educational leaders and enlightened business executives will share practical solutions for employers to bridge Wisconsin’s skills gap at the fourth annual BizTimes Get Smarter Conference.
The conference will take place Thursday, Oct. 11, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee.
A panel of experts in workforce development, education and executive enlightenment will convene to share their insights about how southeastern Wisconsin’s educational institutions and infrastructure, as well as the private sector, can collaborate to develop smarter employees who have the skills that employers need to grow their companies and the region’s economy. The conference also will feature a discussion about how the region’s executives can become more enlightened and effective leaders.
The conference will kick off with opening remarks by Tim Sullivan, who is serving as a special consultant for business and workforce development for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Sullivan recently submitted his long-awaited workforce development report to Walker, calling for bold actions to address the gap between the skills needed by the state’s employers and the skills of the available workforce. The report, “The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin Workforce Development,” is a comprehensive review of the background and current issues pertaining to workforce development in the state.
Sullivan will outline his bold recommendations at the Get Smarter Conference.
Sullivan’s remarks will be followed by a panel discussion of workforce development and executive enlightenment. The featured panelists will include:
- Mike Lovell, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lovell will discuss the future of collegiate education and share ideas for how employers can become engaged with the region’s universities.
- Joe Weitzer, dean of the Center for Business Performance Solutions at Waukesha County Technical College. Weitzer will discuss how the Wisconsin Technical College System is responding to the need for trained employees in the skilled trades.
- Peggy Troy, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Troy will discuss the burgeoning employment opportunities in the health care field as the baby boom generation ages and the need for effective professional training and executive enlightenment.
- Keith Coursin, president of Desert Aire Corp., a Germantown company specializing in production of mechanical refrigeration equipment used for control humidity. Coursin has served as chairman at the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), a trade association based in Washington, D.C. Coursin will share insights about a bold scholarship program to attract new candidates for employment in the HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) industry.
- Greg Johnson, general manager of Power Test Inc., a Sussex company specializing in the design, manufacture and implementation of dynamometers and dyno control systems. Power Test recently formed Manufacturer’s Resource Training (MRT), a startup company focused on training people for entry machinist positions in manufacturing companies. The nine-week program will provide hands-on training using the Power Test production facility and equipment for entry-level candidates for employment in manufacturing.
I will have the honor of moderating the panel discussion.
The panel discussion will then be followed by a series of breakout sessions for executives interested in learning to become more enlightened and effective leaders. The sessions will be led by highly acclaimed consultants in the BizTimes network.
The workshops will include:
- “Are we on the same page? What employers and employees need to understand about developing talent and producing outstanding results!” (Led by Alonzo Kelly, president and CEO of Kelly Leadership Group LLC).
- “A leader’s no-budget guide to talent development.” (Led by Susan Marshall, author and president of Executive Advisor LLC)
- “So you want to hire a leader? What skills are most important? Why does it matter? Beginning with consciousness – crucial leadership skills in an era of heightened change. (Led by Christine Hill, president of Collaborative Nature)
- “Practical strategies to bridg the skilled labor workforce gap.” (Led Dave Vetta, First Business Bank; Stephanie Borowski, Second Chance Partners; Austin Ramirez, HUSCO International; Jessie Augustyn, Wisconsin’s Office of Business Development; and Joseph Weitzer, Waukesha County Technical College).
To join BizTimes in building a smarter Milwaukee, register to attend the conference at www.biztimes.com/smart.
From matcburkesblog.wordpress.com: “MATC grads pursuing careers that have lasting impact on society, lives” –By Dr. Michael L. Burke, president MATC –
As business and educational leaders from across Wisconsin deliberate on how to best help both businesses and our residents recover from the economic recession, it is clear to me that the state’s technical colleges will play an integral role in that recovery. Tim Sullivan’s The Road Ahead: Restoring Wisconsin’s Workforce Development suggests a number of solutions to address the state’s skills gap, and I appreciate the herculean effort Mr. Sullivan made in developing the report. and I hope others spend time digesting it.
Mr. Sullivan identifies the need for real-time labor market data. I wholeheartedly agree with him. That is why key administrators at MATC have access to EMSI, a cloud-based database of real-time labor market data for every job title in America. In addition, MATC provides current and prospective students with job and salary growth projections for each associate degree and technical diploma through the Career Coach feature on our website (matc.edu). Students can use this information to map their occupational interests to jobs that have a strong future. They can also learn what education and training is necessary (and available at MATC!) to get started on a rewarding career.
Mr. Sullivan rightly targets the byzantine process we have in Wisconsin around the transferring of college credits. While I am proud of the many transfer options MATC students currently have, both inside and outside of Wisconsin, I support anything we can do to ease the logistics and the sheer weight of processes on our students,
That said, the report’s lack of accurate data and consistency in places undercuts the overall effectiveness of Sullivan’s report for me. On one hand, Mr. Sullivan concludes correctly that using a simple “graduation rate” metric for the state’s technical colleges is not the best way to measure our success, since so many students will opt for employment (or “job out” as we call it) before graduating. Yet, one page later, Mr. Sullivan takes MATC to task for low graduation rates in welding. Mr. Sullivan’s overlooks the rather significant fact that 100 of the 148 students he cites in 2010 were taking classes part-time and simply could not have successfully graduated in that timeframe. Yet, MATC is blamed for a low graduation rate, the metric previously described as ill-conceived and ill-fitting. If you are confused, imagine how I feel.
In addition, I struggle with Mr. Sullivan’s recommendation to charge a higher tuition for students who already hold a baccalaureate degree. Why would we, as a state, penalize students financially when they seek enhanced technical skills that are complimentary to their other degree? There are countless examples of university graduates who are successful in their given profession and who come back to us to further improve themselves in order to get a promotion, a salary raise, or a new career altogether. Honestly, I did likewise, pursuing college course work in fundraising after my Ph.D. I’m just saying….
Mr. Sullivan is right – we need to immediately come together to address the issues that hamper workforce development. However, in our haste to move forward, we cannot rush to judgments that could result in setting the state back even farther. Regardless, I remain committed to being a part of the solution that benefits Wisconsin’s residents and businesses.
September 26, 2012
From lacrossetribune.com: “Jennifer Shilling: Wisconsin must narrow its ‘skills gap’ – As Wisconsin continues to struggle with the effects of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, employers are still having a difficult time finding workers with the necessary skills to fill vacant positions.
Workforce development professionals refer to this as the “skills gap.” Narrowing that gap and ensuring that Wisconsin’s workforce has the necessary skills to meet the needs of current and emerging industries needs to be a priority as we continue to pursue efforts to get our economy moving again.
On Sept. 19, Sen. Jessica King and I convened a hearing about job training and workforce development to learn about the skills gap and discuss ways the Legislature can be a more effective partner in addressing Wisconsin’s workforce training needs.
This hearing was an opportunity for elected officials and stakeholders to have an open dialogue about important workforce development issues confronting Wisconsin, including the skills gap. We heard from the state Department of Workforce Development, as well as representatives from technical colleges, businesses, and the construction trades who are engaged in public-private partnerships that provide training in high demand occupations.
Two main themes emerged from that hearing:
- Wisconsin’s technical colleges, businesses, construction trades and other community partners are engaged in many successful local and regional worker training initiatives throughout the state, and we need to find a way to build on these success stories on a statewide level.
- Adequate resources are needed, including both public and private sector investments, to move workers through the educational pipeline and get them ready to enter the workforce with the proper skills in a timely manner.
The 2011-13 state budget, which I voted against, cut funding for the Wisconsin Technical College System by 30 percent, which put state funding assistance for our technical colleges at a level not seen since the 1980s. Consequently, technical colleges reported almost 12,000 students on waiting lists for high-demand programs throughout the state in June.
It doesn’t take a workforce development expert to make the connection between the significant funding cut for our technical colleges and the growing skills gap dilemma facing our state.
With the next legislative session scheduled to begin in about three months, now is the time to consider our options, have a bipartisan discussion and come up with proposals to tackle our state’s top priorities: preparing Wisconsin’s workforce to meet the needs of employers and growing our state’s economy.
As a member of the Governor’s Council on College and Workforce Readiness, I attend regular meetings focused on creating a bipartisan package of job creation and workforce development recommendations for Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature to consider during the upcoming legislative session and state budget process. I’m hopeful that the work of this council will lead to more bipartisan cooperation in addressing our state’s educational and workforce development needs.
I have confidence that Wisconsin can meet the needs of employers and employees in current and emerging industries, and I also appreciate the limited resources with which we have to work. By including all stakeholders, continuing to have an open dialogue and learning about successful workforce training efforts in high demand occupational fields, we can better understand how to direct our resources to develop and foster a successful statewide workforce development strategy.
September 24, 2012
From thenorthwestern.com: “Editorial: Technical colleges are vital” – Wisconsin has a problem that’s only going to get worse. It’s been described in great detail, and will accelerate with the fruition of demographic trends that are neither new nor unexpected.
How quickly and decisively it is addressed will determine whether Wisconsin will be relegated to a rust belt relic or undergo an economic transformation. A lack of skilled workers is holding back the state’s economy today, and will certainly cripple it tomorrow as more Baby Boomers leave the workforce.
There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing thousands out of work and job openings unfilled for lack of enough properly trained workers. Worse yet, the crisis will become acute when existing skilled workers retire and replacements cannot be found.
The solution doesn’t require anything more than affirming the values that made Wisconsin an economic powerhouse in the first place: the Wisconsin ideal retooled for the new economy. We’ve already seen the fruits of the cooperation between higher education and industry, such as Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s partnership with Marinette Marine to train workers to help the company fulfill major government contracts.
Still, Marinette officials sounded a warning during a legislative hearing held last week at Fox Valley Technical College’s Riverside Campus in Oshkosh, and co-chaired by State Sens. Jessica King, D-Oshkosh, and Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse. The vice-president of human resources at the company said significant challenges remain.
“My concern is, I have a rapidly aging workforce, and these are highly skilled positions,” Marinette’s Steven Baue told the committee. “I should not have to work this hard to find employees.”
Officials from the Wisconsin Technical College System estimate employers will require 39,000 more workers with technical college training than the system can produce with current resources. Inexplicably, the state cut 30 percent from the state technical college system in the last budget, even as Gov. Scott Walker embarked on his goal of creating 250,000 new jobs.
The state must invest in its technical college, much like the voters that overwhelmingly approved a referendum last spring for Fox Valley Technical College to expand its Appleton campus and make needed improvements across the system. Taxpayers recognized that investing in the technical college to train and retrain workers is critical to our economic health and well-being.
As it crafts its 2013-2015 budget proposal, the Walker administration has an opportunity to connect its aggressive job creation goals with workforce realities. Companies will not create jobs without trained workers to fill them. Wisconsin technical colleges have a great track record of working with businesses to build a stronger economy.
The Final Thought: State must invest in technical college system to remain economically relevant.