From gmtoday.com: “$1.7 million grant slashes wait lists for popular WCTC programs” — PEWAUKEE – Waukesha County Technical College will now be able to slash wait lists and offer more class sections, thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Fast Forward program.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was on hand at WCTC’s Industrial building Wednesday to present the technical college with a $1.7 million award, which will be used to help train students for high-demand positions.

“There is a skills gap in Wisconsin and WCTC seeks every day to build a bridge over that skills gap – today you have some construction money,” Kleefisch said. “It is through investments like these that Wisconsin will address the skills gap today and in the years to come.”

The Fast Forward program is part of the Blueprint for Prosperity initiative which Gov. Scott Walker signed into law last year. In total, $35.4 million will be allocated by Fast Forward into worker training programs focusing on reducing wait lists, collaborative projects between high schools and colleges, and enhancing employment opportunities for disabled workers.

These grant dollars will significantly impact the journey of our students pursuing high-demand programs … and in turn benefit our local economy,” WCTC Interim President Kaylen Betzig said. “We are pleased and honored that the governor recognizes WCTC’s work as an important and valuable investment.”

The grant will be administered by the Department of Workforce Development and will go toward training as many as 168 students in the fields of welding, computer numerical control (CNC), transportation and early childhood education.

Betzig said that the funds will not only permit more students to enter these high-demand programs, but will also go toward hiring more professors and purchasing more supplies and equipment for student use.

“It is huge,” she said. “We have lots of programs – yes we can shift money – but other programs have needs too. It takes resources in order to do this and it takes resources in order to expand and offer more sections so we can get more people into the funnel.”

From bizjournals.com: “Waukesha County Technical College seeking on-campus banking branch” – by Alison Bauter – A 2009 poll told the Waukesha County Technical College that 69 percent of students would use an on-campus bank. Now, the school is seeking proposals for a full-service branch on its Pewaukee campus.

The college is looking for a banking branch that provides personal banking services, including online banking, and also links to campus ID cards, which act like debit cards.

WCTC would locate the branch in a 14-by-7-foot space inside “The Hub,” its staff and student dining area at 800 Main Street in Pewaukee.

According to a request for proposals, WCTC currently has more than 27,000 students that come to the Pewaukee campus each year. It has approximately 1,250 employees.

From biztimes.com: “DWD awards grants to Gateway and Waukesha County Technical Colleges” – Gateway Technical College has received nearly $1.9 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funding, while Waukesha County Technical College has been allocated close to $1.7 million, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development announced today.

The two technical colleges were awarded portions of a grant initiative totaling more than $28 million that Gov. Scott Walker announced last week.

According to Walker’s announcement, Wisconsin is distributing more than $28 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to the Wisconsin Technical College System to train more than 4,900 workers.

That system encompasses 16 schools, including Gateway Technical College in Kenosha and Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee.

At Gateway Technical College, grant dollars will support the training of a maximum 756 workers in several “high-demand areas,” the DWD said. Those areas touch disciplines in manufacturing, business management, apprenticeship, education, health care and more.

At Waukesha County Technical College, up to 168 workers will benefit from grant dollars. Workers will be trained for careers in manufacturing, education and human services, and applied science fields.

Transportation, distribution and logistics training will also be covered under the grants.

“These grant dollars will significantly impact the journey of our students pursuing high-demand programs such as welding, computer numerical control (CNC), early childhood education and transportation, and in turn benefit our local economy,” said Kaylen Betzig, interim president of Waukesha County Technical College. “We are pleased and honored that the governor recognizes WCTC’s work as an important and valuable investment.”

From gmtoday.com: “WCTC to offer program for high-in-demand careers” — PEWAUKEE – Waukesha County Technical College will offer a new program this fall with training opportunities for high-in-demand careers in information technology.

The Network Enterprise Administrator-INTERFACE Accelerated Pathway program is designed for veterans, their spouses and students eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance programs, Workforce Investment Act programs, and Workforce Development Vocational Rehabilitation programs. It will also be offered to unemployed individuals and qualified adults seeking the next career step.

The program could potentially help fill the skills gap by offering a special pathway for network enterprise administrator-cyber security education, according to a WCTC press release.

Network enterprise administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operations and security of computer networks that are a critical part of almost every organization, and the program will provide students with the skills and experience to support current industry technology implementations.

The program will consist of multiple credential opportunities in certificate form, including enterprise support technician, IT network support specialist, storage and virtualization administrator, and IT security administrator – all leading toward the final credential, the technical diploma.

“The program’s greatest benefits lie in the additional services of in-class tutors to support students throughout the accelerated/hybrid courses, and the four semesters of work-based service learning projects integrated into the curriculum,” said Danielle Hoffman, WCTC’s IT skills and placement coordinator.

“Embedded industry-recognized certificates earned each semester lead to possible job opportunities. Combined with enhanced job search assistance, we expect many students will be working in their chosen field well before graduation.”

Hoffman said INTERFACE is a two-year program and students will earn the certificates along the way, one certificate for each semester. She said the program is designed for students to complete all four semesters, but expects some students will find careers after receiving certificates in their desired field.

The program is funded through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant program, which provided a $23.1 million grant to be shared among Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges.

From livinglakecountry.com: “Playhouse provides opportunities for MHS students” — Building trades students at Mukwonago High School had a wealth of experience outside of the classroom this year. The team focused the beginning of the year on completing the School-to-Work house Fox River View subdivision, which sold this spring. This semester, the group worked on the playhouse/garden shed, which residents might have seen traveling around the area in recent weeks.

Associate Principal, School-to-work coordinator and Rotarian Mark Blodgett has been a key liaison in having the Mukwonago Rotary Club sponsor these opportunities for students.

“After we built our first (School-to-Work) house during the 1999-2000 school year, the instructor and I were trying to come up with some project ideas for the class to do during the ‘off’ year of house building,” Blodgett recalled. ” I had just been to the Metropolitan Home Builders Show in downtown Milwaukee, where a handful of contractors had built playhouses to be auctioned off. I took the idea to the (Rotary) Club, and it has become our biggest fund raiser.”

The building trades class is a one-year, two-hour-per-day course that allows students to earn two high school credits and fits within the Waukesha County Technical College program so students also earn four credits toward WCTC’s construction program. This year 14 students took advantage of the program.

“The benefit to our students is that both the house and playhouse projects help them meet the WCTC competencies in knowledge and skills sets to get them college- and career-ready for after high school,” Blodgett said.

The playhouse project has students start construction at the start of the new semester in January. It uses about $2,400 worth of material that is purchased largely thanks to community contributions. The playhouse is 10 feet square and could also be used as a garden shed.

The Rotary Club sells raffle tickets to raise money to offset remaining costs and put more seed money into future to School-to-Work projects to offer future students the same opportunity.

Rotarian Rick Debe helps to coordinate Rotary members each weekend from Palm Sunday to mid-June to sell those raffle tickets for the playhouse.

“Two of the key components of Rotary International’s mission is vocational service and education. This project touches both and instills both pride and confidence in young men and women,” Debe said. “We know that not all students will embark in a career in the trades, but we are certain they will use these skills as adults as they move through their life with homes and families.”

This year’s drawing will be June 12. Tickets will be available next weekend, May 31 and June 1 at Pick ‘n Save from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The last opportunity to get tickets will be at Maxwell Street Days on June 7 and 8.

 

From wisopinion.com: “A vision for 21st century tech colleges” – By Rebecca Kleefisch – We should celebrate our sons and daughters who become nursing assistants and machinists just as much as those who become lawyers and doctors. That was my message this weekend at Waukesha County Technical College’s commencement ceremony, when hundreds of students walked across the stage and stepped into new careers and new opportunities.

Governor Walker said the same thing this past January in his State of the State address. He and I know that the twin drivers of our state’s economy are manufacturing and agriculture. Both of those industries rely heavily on technical colleges for expertise and employees. A strong Wisconsin economy needs strong tech colleges in every part of the state, staffed by top-notch teachers and filled with cutting-edge technology. Our tech colleges are a good investment for students, a good partner for employers, and a good value for taxpayers.

The students graduating from WCTC are entering into careers offering the promise of prosperity. An associate’s degree graduate in Aircraft Electronics can get jobs with a starting salary of $47,000. A one-year technical diploma in brick-laying and masonry leads to jobs with a median starting salary of almost $43,000. A dental hygiene grad starts with a salary just shy of $50,000. In fact, for the past 15 years, the tech colleges have placed at least 86 percent of their graduates into jobs within six months of graduation. In other words, tech colleges are equipping our workers with the skills they need to get the high-paying jobs they want and the economy offers.

One reason these jobs pay so well is because our Wisconsin employers are actively searching for employees with the skills and experience to fill jobs across our economy, especially in our agriculture, health care, and manufacturing sectors. It’s vitally important that technical colleges gear their services to the jobs available in their communities today and in the future. That’s why I was so impressed by the Fab Lab at Gateway Tech, for instance, which offers itself as a resource to students, faculty, and local manufacturers to try new ideas and products.

Tech colleges need to stay connected to both the community and to the state as a whole. The Governor’s Blueprint for Prosperity, which invested the state’s $911 million surplus, included $406 million in property tax relief through the tech colleges. At Madison Area Technical College, for instance, state funding jumped from 10 percent to nearly half of MATC’s budget. With the property tax caps in place, that will drop MATC’s local tax levy by almost half, saving the owner of an average Madison home about $200.

We need to continue investing in our technical colleges because of the crucial role they play in our communities and our economy. For instance, given all the technical advances discovered by our tech college staff and students, I’d like to see new programs that help commercialize these innovations as new products and processes for use in business.

My address at WCTC on Saturday was my 37th stop at a technical college since taking office. All those visits reflect the high priority that Governor Walker and I place on our tech colleges. Commencement provides each of us, as friends, family, and neighbors of the graduates, an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and to appreciate their new careers building a stronger Wisconsin.

From gmtoday.com: “Learning to swim with the sharks” — WAUKESHA – It’s a common question asked of start-up owners: Will you go on “Shark Tank” someday?

The ABC show that puts an entrepreneur before four venture capitalists and gives them an opportunity to pitch their products to gain financing for growing or saving their businesses has gained a steadfast following among entrepreneurs and consumers alike.

While many tune in to the show for entertainment, there are lessons to be learned too, said Dan Steininger, co-founder of BizStarts Milwaukee, which works with entrepreneurs, service providers, capital connections and other resources to help launch and grow new companies.

BizStarts Milwaukee hosts investor forums, which Steininger called a friendly version of “Shark Tank.” Entrepreneurs can go before potential investors for about 15 minutes.

Steininger said “Shark Tank” educates viewers on how to get investors to fund their companies by providing insight into the typical questions an investor will ask, such as amount of sales, profit margins and money already invested in the company.

Before entrepreneurs participate in the investor forum, BizStarts Milwaukee provides training, so sometimes they are often more prepared than the contestants on “Shark Tank,” Steininger said.

Peter Rathmann incorporates episodes of “Shark Tank” and “Undercover Boss” in the Intro to Entrepreneurship class he teaches at Waukesha County Technical College. He also teaches marketing classes at WCTC and Carroll University, in addition to owning SalesTechnik, which helps Individuals, organizations and companies increase their opportunities and sales.

Rathmann said many students start the class with an idea of what they would like to do. Both the class and TV shows can help them think about creating a business structure and learning the vernacular.

The students also learn to promote their product in terms of knowing their sales, costs, how they make money, the hurdles the business has encountered, why their product is worth investing in and more.

For Intro to Entrepreneurship, the final presentation is conducted in a Shark Tank format, Rathmann said.

“It kind of gives it a simple form at the end of the day,” he said of “Shark Tank.”

Jon Anne Willow, entrepreneurship director for BizStarts Milwaukee, said entrepreneurs can learn from the strengths and weaknesses of “Shark Tank” contestants.

“When the best entrepreneurs pitch on those programs, they are prepared, they are not defensive, they are open to ideas and suggestions,” she said. “They have a strong vision for how they want their business to grow.”

When entrepreneurs pitch in front of BizStart Milwaukee’s investor forum, which consists of venture capitalists, banks and angel investors, they need to be prepared, but local investors are more apt to work with the owners. 

“It’s important to remember they want you to succeed; they want your idea to be fantastic, but it’s their money and it’s their risk,” Willow said.

Tough lessons can also be learned from TV shows, Seininger said.

“You learn you just can’t have a dream,” he said.

Unless you have real customers paying for your product, Steininger said, you don’t have a business.

One of the upsides to shows like “Shark Tank” is making business seem exciting.

“It’s about creativity and innovation,” Steininger said. “It is rewarding people for not just doing the same thing.”

Gary Bredow, host and creator of “Start Up,” a show highlighting successful businesses that often began in someone’s kitchen or garage, asks questions of the owners that provide insight about how they found success.

Bredow said the main thing he has learned from doing the show is there is no formula for success – each person has his or her own path to it. While some say a business plan was not useful, for example, others swear by it.

One constant, Bredow said, is that successful entrepreneurs need to have “drive and determination or don’t bother.”

The notion is that being self-employed means you have a lot of free time, but that’s not the case at all, he said.

“You have to be a very independent spirit,” Bredow said.

These are some lessons he learned while filming at Newaukee, Iron Horse Motel and Gouda Girls in Milwaukee in season one. He is in the process of shooting for season two, which will bring him to Madison.

While the show has been airing on PBS, Bredow said “Start Up” has been picked up by The Create Channel, which will begin to re-air episodes from season one.

Bredow said he has heard from fans of the show who have been inspired, including one person who decided to start Prohibition tours of Chicago.

Learning how to valuate a company is also an important skill and one viewers of “Shark Tank” can see work against an entrepreneur who is not well prepared.

Russ Roberts, manager of the Small Business Center at WCTC, said the show has illustrated how valuing a business can be more “art than science.”

“The most important is preparation and being ready to answer questions confidently,” Roberts said of lessons learned from entrepreneurial TV shows.

Others positive effects from watching “Shark Tank” include anticipating the questions you’ll get and being prepared to answer them. The contestants on TV  must also be able to think on their feet, to get to the point and answer the questions, Roberts said.

The investors on “Shark Tank” illustrate how many people are looking to invest in the entrepreneur and not just the product, by the comments they make and the way they determine whom they will invest with, Roberts said.

The impact of shows like “Shark Tank” is widespread.

“It’s rare that I find anyone who doesn’t know “Shark Tank,” Roberts said. “It has had impact.”

“My hope is that programs like “Shark Tank” and “Start Up” do spur interest in entrepreneurialism and do inspire people to get out there and start businesses of their own and follow their dreams,” said Willow. 

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