From biztimes.com: “Fill the skills gap” – by Cary Silverstein – A question constantly asked by business people and the unemployed is: “What are we doing to close the skillset gap in Wisconsin?”

The answer lies in businesses and the community getting together to solve this “gap.” According to Competitive Wisconsin Inc.’s Be Bold 2 study by ManpowerGroup, the unmet demand for metal workers, including welders, is expected to reach 7,101 by 2016. Should these positions remain unfilled, it is estimated that state and local government lost revenues could amount to $265,410,915 over a 10-year job lifecycle.

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Wisconsin, a non-profit 501(c)(3) established more than 40 years ago, has developed a new generation training solution that addresses the growing skilled worker shortage in the greater Milwaukee, Wausau, Fox Valley and Green Bay regions. It is called the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

The HCCW has developed this partnership with Miller Electric Mfg. Co., Monarch Corp., Joy Global, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, technical colleges, government agencies and private foundations with the intent of solving the critical shortage of skilled welders in Wisconsin. Together, they have created a unique employer-approved education and training program, which addresses this shortage in a manner that benefits the underserved low to moderate income (LMI) workers who are often unemployed/underemployed and who are often constituents of the HCCW. This program is not exclusive to any ethnicity, and is open to any state resident.

This HCCW Training Initiative is an anti-poverty solution that connects unemployed and under employed workers with accredited welding skills development and training at no cost to trainees. This program offers a pathway to a higher paying career in welding at an accelerated pace. The median starting pay for skilled welding positions is $35,450 a year. This is a paid training program that takes up to 16 weeks to complete. The participants are immediately job eligible upon completion of the program. This is followed by ongoing on-the-job training to enhance their newly acquired skills.

This initiative differentiates itself by including essential life skills training for participants, including time management and punctuality, critical thinking and problem solving, financial education and communication skills. This program is designed to supply workforce-ready candidates who are able to step into entry-level welding positions. Participants will complete essential life skills training in a mentorship-based support group setting before advancing to the employer-approved welder training course provided by the tech colleges.

What makes this program different?

Solving the skilled welder shortage isn’t just providing technical training. A true solution involves addressing those issues (substance abuse and a lack of essential life skills) which ultimately disqualify someone from employment. This unique program has three primary components: a support system program with trainee mentorship, essential life skills training and technical skills training via technical college partners.

The HCCW provides employer-approved essential life skills training to each candidate including:

  • Time management and punctuality
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • First impressions/building relationships
  • Computer literacy
  • Maintaining a household budget
  • Communication skills (may include English language instruction)

Technical training is provided by area technical colleges via an employer-approved training curriculum. The 14 to 16 week curriculum includes basic welding, blueprint reading and weld symbols, math, and manufacturing techniques.

Projected results of the initiative

This initiative produces an individual that is responsible, punctual, accountable and reliable, with a strong work ethic and a drive to succeed. These candidates are ready to enter the job market with all the skills necessary for entry level welding positions. The technical college credentials earned in this program are transferable and can be used to attain further, more complex welding credentials. This initiative simplifies and eases the rigors of the traditional hiring process, which permits the employers to review a candidate’s metrics and a trainee’s video profile. Also, they can hire an employee with a proven track record, worthy of further training investment.

The HCCW Training Initiative is a real solution to the shortage of skilled welders. By providing essential life skills and technical training, candidates are able to obtain well-paying jobs. This initiative facilitates upward economic mobility for the LMI constituents served by the program. Once employed in an entry level position, these new employees have the opportunity for further employer training and tuition reimbursement programs. The result is they strengthen themselves and their employers through the adoption of life-long earning skills. The dual nature of this program will help the unemployed/underemployed while providing sorely needed skilled workers, keeping Wisconsin’s manufacturers strong. This training initiative recently received national recognition and substantial funding by the American Welding Society after their review of the program. The HCCW Training Initiative is now considered to be the top AWS skills development program in the nation.

The next step

If this pilot project proves successful, we as business communities should duplicate it across the board in our state. Closing the skillset gap in this and other vocational areas will strengthen our economy and bring new jobs to our communities, while reducing unemployment in areas where few opportunities exist. The resources, both educational and technical, exist in our community. We need to leverage these resources and provide the unemployed with new skills so they can rejoin the workforce and provide a better standard of living for themselves and their families.

The HCCW says its partners report that in the Racine-Kenosha manufacturing sector there are more than 1,000 skilled worker vacancies. Filling the local manufacturing sector’s jobs would contribute to the state and local economy year after year.

Companies interested in joining this program should contact the Hispanic Chamber at skillstraining@HCCW.org.

 

From nwtc.edu: “Seven NWTC students win gold at SkillsUSA State Conference” — Seven Northeast Wisconsin Technical College trades students will compete against
the nation’s best after taking gold in the SkillsUSA Wisconsin State Leadership & Skills Conference April 29-30 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

NWTC students Trevor Lustilla, Brandon Janssen, Chris Lacenski, Jacob Schultz and a team of Brent Champan, Jeff Lidbury, and Nathan Mertens each captured first place in their categories and will move on the national SkillsUSA Conference in Kansas City June 23-27. Lustilla took gold in Automotive Refinishing Technology, Janssen in CNC Milling, Lacenski in Welding, Schultz in Welding Sculpture, and Champan, Lidbury and Mertens won for Welding Fabrication. Instructor Doug Tennant was also named State Advisor of the Year.

In the SkillsUSA competition, students work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in areas like electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting, culinary arts and more.

Other NWTC students placing in the state competition include the team of Matt Baenen, Dylan Pulley, Cory Wotachek, who took silver in Automated Manufacturing Technology, Sam Buhk, Fred Culvahouse, and Amy Koenig, who captured bronze in the same category, Alan Stefanic, who won bronze in Automotive Refinishing Technology, Eric Burch with a silver in Diesel Equipment Technology, Cole Dollar who won silver in Welding, and James Maryniak, who won silver in Welding Sculpture.

From hngnews.com: “A glimpse at their future?” – By Brandon Felvor – Blackhawk Technical College’s (BTC) Advanced Manufacturing Training Center is planned to open in August, but more than 200 high school students got a sneak peak of the facilities on April 23.

Students from Edgerton High School and Milton High School spent last Wednesday touring Blackhawk’s Central Campus in Janesville and the new 105,000-square-foot Milton location.

At the Janesville campus, students had the chance to learn about the eight different programs that will be offered at the new campus first-hand. According to Marketing and Communications Manager Gary Kohn, the Milton site will open in two phases. The industrial maintenance, welding and computer numeric control (CNC) programs will be ready for the fall semester of the 2014-2015 school year and the second phase of the campus will completed in the summer of 2015.

MHS Principal Jeremy Bilhorn said he had been talking with representatives from BTC for the last few months about opportunities for the students. He said it’s important for the kids to see what is happening just a few blocks from their school.

“One of the things we want to see our students do is start a program after high school and finish it,” Bilhorn said. “Our vision is to make sure kids are college and career ready. Part of our mission to this community is to take their kids and make sure they are ready for the next phase of life.”

To that end, the MHS staff has been working with BTC to design some dual-enrollment classes. Amy Kenyon, MHS’ school-to-work/youth apprenticeship coordinator, said they already work with BTC through its nursing program and hopes a similar arrangement can be made for tech ed classes.

Ideally, students in those courses would earn both MHS and BTC credits. Bilhorn said he hopes students and teachers alike will benefit from their proximity to the campus. He said there is a shortage of tech-ed teachers and students heard something similar from BTC instructors. They said in certain fields, there are more jobs available than there are people who are qualified to fill them.

“It’s hard to find tech-ed teachers. People are not going into that field to teach,” Bilhorn said. “(BTC can) keep our staff abreast with the latest technology, and help us in retaining staff.”

New MHS tech-ed teacher Will Stamper had the chance to tour BTC with the students. He has been at the school for about a month, and he said he was also excited about the prospect of having dual-enrollment classes.

“(Going to BTC would be) an excellent experience for me as a teacher because I can go out and get training and bring that back to the school,” Stamper said. “(Hopefully,) having a tech school in our backyard will save parents money and will promote our programs.”

While the graduating senior class will not have the chance to benefit from those programs, students can still enroll at BTC when it opens for the fall semester. 2013 MHS grad Jacob Rennhack is about nine months into his one-year technical diploma for welding and is satisfied with his experience so far.

He was at the Central Campus on the day of the tour and said after two months BTC helped him find work. He currently works at Kuhn North America Inc., an agricultural machinery manufacturer in Brodhead, while finishing his final semester. Rennhack spent all of his time at the Janesville facility, but said future Milton students are lucky to have a campus in their own backyard.

“It’s a really good, hands-on course,” Rennhack said in regards to the welding program. “It’s about the best one in southern Wisconsin and a lot of the businesses in the area recognize that it’s a good program as well.”

From thenorthwestern.com: “Life after Oshkosh Corp” — Evaristo Mondragon Jr. got used to the lines.

He had lined up for interviews and skill tests at job fairs across the Fox Valley, welding gear usually in tow, since February. An assembler at Oshkosh Corp. for four years, until he was laid off last July, Mondragon’s unemployment benefits had run out and graduation from Fox Valley Technical College’s welding program in May approached fast.

The cold-calls to companies throughout the valley, like the job fairs, produced only glimmers of hope. Mondragon, 30, was told he wasn’t quite qualified yet, even for the part-time jobs, so often he can still recite the standard response from memory.

“‘We like everything about you, but we really need someone with three to five years of welding experience,’” he said.

So earlier this month, when officials at Ariens Co. directed him to another line, after the lines for his interview and another for the skills test, he wasn’t sure what this line was for.

“Eventually one guy walking by told us ‘They’re offering you a job,’” Mondragon said. “A couple of days later, I got offered a job on second shift. They either liked something in my skills test or they liked everything.”

This summer more than 700 Oshkosh Corp. employees will face those same lines as they look for new work in the wake of another layoff driven by declining orders for the company’s military transport trucks.

But examples like those of Mondragon and others who were let go in previous layoffs offer hope, for both the former employees and for the broader economy, that there is life after Oshkosh Corp. for the company’s former employees.

Life after layoffs

Mass layoffs are never easy affairs.

They can depress a regional economy, push longtime employees into a crowded job market, strain families and require government assistance to support and retrain people in the name of recovery.

And then there’s Oshkosh Corp.’s 2013 layoffs.

As defense revenues declined by more than 30 percent, the size of the company’s workforce had to shrink. After 8,700 Mine-Resistant All-Terrain Vehicles and 26,000 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles trucks and trailers rolled off the line, layoffs had to come once the orders were filled.

But an odd thing happened: The region’s economy absorbed a significant portion of the 1,150 production and office employees Oshkosh Corp. laid off last year.

After the layoffs in April and July of 2013, local unemployment rates in Winnebago, Outagamie and Fond du Lac counties continued to decline for the rest of the year. At a job fair Oshkosh Corp. held last year to help more than 500 laid off workers find new jobs, it boasted that participating companies had more jobs to fill than there were employees being laid off.

And that hasn’t changed. Even today, 19 companies have 121 welding and metal fabrication jobs available in the region according to Wisconsin TechConnect, a job service offered through Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

“It shows the brilliance of the economy up there,” said Reed Hall , CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. They’ve been through these issues before,” Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. CEO Reed Hall said. “The good news is there are not a lot of mass layoffs going on. Mass layoffs at a 10-year low which is a good sign for our economy.”

Support systems

When Oshkosh Corp. completes the layoff this summer of another 700 production and 60 office employees itwill have laid off more people than the combined workforces of both hospitals in Oshkosh.

Affected employees aren’t the only ones taking notice, though, as local, state and federal agencies continue to look for ways to help soften the blow.

Just last week, the WEDC unveiled a special loan program to help manufacturers, fabrication shops, machine shops, parts suppliers and other parts of the supply chain months ahead of time specifically to help Oshkosh Corp. suppliers.

Hall, WEDC’s CEO, said the agency would provide a loan or loan guarantee of $50,000 to $250,000, provided the company matches 50 percent of the loan amount, to help businesses fund equipment purchases, add staff and take other steps to pursue other business opportunities.

“We certainly understand the impact the Defense Department cuts have and how that ripples through our economy,” Hall said. “We’re doing what we can to retain these jobs here in Wisconsin. And Oshkosh Corp. will make it through. We have a lot of confidence in Oshkosh Corp., that they will … grow again.”

The WEDC program is just the most recent of a series of federal, state and local efforts to mitigate the impact of the layoffs.

The Department of Defense took notice last fall and awarded the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission an $837,000 grant to find ways to soften the blow of defense cutbacks on the company’s supply chain. The grant includes funds to explore diversifying the economy and specifically allocated funds for a marketing and cluster study for the aviation business park under development at the southeast corner of Wittman Regional Airport.

Chamco CEO Elizabeth Hartman said the study will identify a focus, or market, for the aviation business park that would identify 20 to 30 companies economic development officials could target to fill the park.

“When they reach out to contacts, they really try to identify potential folks that would want to be a part of a cluster centered around a business issue or cluster,” Hartman told the Council in March. “You already have built-in prospects as a result. There’s also a marketing aspect to it, but there might be some additional work we want to do locally.”

Moving forward

Some former Oshkosh Corp. employees, like Mondragon, went back to school for new training. He said the state offered him $1,000-per-semester to help with tuition and that FVTC staff “was a pleasure to work with” and helped make sure he started school in the fall.

Fox Valley Technical College Welding Instructor Ben Cebery said the college’s Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center welcomes 64 new students to its one-year welding certificate training program each school year. In addition, students are able to take individual courses to upgrade their skills.

“All of our classes have filled up to the max for a long time now,” Cebery said. “There’s definitely a mix between laid off workers and young people here for their first series of training. The night classes are definitely a big mix.”

Others found new jobs, like machinist Pat Wallace, who said he was offered three jobs within a month after he was laid off last summer.

“It was a good time to be laid off,” Wallace said.

Wallace opted to take a job as an inspector at Eagle Supply and Plastics over ones at F. Ziegler Enterprises and Mercury Marine because it paid better and he could work first shift. An added bonus: He’d be working with his friend and former Oshkosh Corp. coworker John Schmitz.

Wallace, 55, was prepared for the worst, though, because he had already been there five years ago. He had worked at Marvel Manufacturing for 22 years when the recession struck. Sales plummeted and so did the hours.

In 2009, Wallace landed at Oshkosh Corp. at a time when production was ramping up so fast then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the company on Nov. 12, 2009. Gates called what he saw the most impressive military vehicle production run since World War II.

Workers hired at that time largely knew going in that they were being hired for the duration of the order, and that peacetime would bring reduced orders and a scaled back work force.

Wallace said his job search experiences, in good times and bad, have taught him that staffing companies can be useful, but workers should avoid signing contracts with them; that age isn’t the issue older workers may think it is, and that building up savings is key.

“It worked out that my training and experience were right for Eagle,” Wallace said. “The only thing I was worried about was health insurance. I’m older. But I had money in savings to hold me over.”

From automationworld.com: “D&S Manufacturing lauded for supporting industrial education” — The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) board recently bestowed the Futuremakers Partner Award on D&S Manufacturing of Black River Falls, Wis.

D&S Manufacturing Vice President and General Manager John Barkley, and Human Resources Manager Sherri Hein accepted the award.

The WTCS Board honored D&S Manufacturing for their broad based support and longstanding partnership with Western Technical College. In his presentation, Drew Petersen, WTCS board president, highlighted the role D&S has played “as a driving force in establishing the Jackson County Welding Skills Institute, which serves to provide training for welders in the Black River Falls area.”

Petersen added that without the support of D&S, the initiative would not have been possible. Additionally, D&S has a long history of providing funding for scholarships.

D&S Manufacturing is an employee-owned company that custom manufactures large-scale components, assemblies and complete weldments for customers including Caterpillar, Oshkosh Corp., Parkson, The Trane Company and CNH.

D&S’s plate-metal fabrication processes include machining, laser, high definition plasma and oxy-fuel cutting, and manual and robotic welding. The company also provides liquid spray painting, powder coating, shot blasting, assembly and testing services.

Barkley said, “Many of our employee owners have taken advantage of and benefited from the educational opportunities that Western offers. We look forward to continuing our support of Western and the opportunities it provides to our community and region.”

D&S employee owners serve on WTCS advisory committees to provide support and feedback to ensure relevant, responsive programming for the community.

D&S also is committed to providing leadership throughout the community, said Barkley. It will continue its lab partnership with Black River Falls High School, where it provides financial support, equipment and supplies to encourage students to pursue a career in welding.

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

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

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

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

Q. How many youth are participating?

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

The breakdown of participants by school district is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Financial Services – Accounting, Banking, Insurance

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

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

• Information Technology – IT General, Hardware, Software

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

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

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

Q. What are the programs greatest needs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

From sheboyganpress.com: “Youth apprentices find positions with local companies” – Nick Steenwyk, of Sheboygan, is a computer aided design drafter in the bathing group for Kohler Company in Kohler. Like most CAD drafters, he performs tasks such as working with Creo software to create models and drawings of whirlpools.

Unlike most CAD drafters, Nick is currently a high school student at Sheboygan Christian High School. Through the youth apprenticeship program at Lakeshore Technical College, Steenwyk began working at Kohler Company.

“The best part of my YA experience has been working in a career field I’m interested in pursuing,” Steenwyck said in a news release. “Not only am I able to pick up skills and techniques that with be invaluable in years to come, my experience has been a tremendous help in determining a career field I want to enter.”

Steenwyk is not alone in Sheboygan County when it comes to Youth Apprenticeship. The Lakeshore Technical College Youth Apprenticeship program recently completed their annual Information Nights for high school students interested in the 2014-15 Youth Apprenticeship program. For the third consecutive year, the Sheboygan County Youth Apprenticeship program is seeing large increases in both student apprentices and employer participation.

Representatives from employers like Nemak, Rockline, Blue Harbor and Wigwam also are working with students.

Youth apprenticeship offers students the opportunity to explore future careers while they are still in high school and get paid for their time working at area employers. Youth apprenticeship offers one- and two-year programs in fields like health, hotel and hospitality, culinary, finance, mechanical design, welding and manufacturing.

The Sheboygan youth apprenticeship program has grown rapidly in the past few years, from 11 students in 2010-11 to 32 students in 2011-12. The program swelled to 68 students in the current school year. It’s expected that number will rise to 85 for next school year.

For more information on the LTC youth apprenticeship program, contact Jill Preissner at 920-693-1261 or jill.preissner@gotoltc.edu.

From lacrossetribune.com: “Lincoln students get creative with junkyard sculpture in welding contest” — Lincoln High School students are too creative to weld a sculpture of just any old fish out of scrap metal for the Chippewa Valley Technical College Manufacturing Show’s Junkyard Battle welding contest.

“I came up with the idea of the fish body,” said senior Nicki Danielson. “I just thought an angler fish would be awesome.”

But that wasn’t all. They had it in a tank of water, set up a system by which it could be raised from the tank by turning a wheel, had a spout of water coming out of its mouth through use of a pump system and integrated a little game with prizes. The effort was good enough to win second place, with another angler fish sculpture from Fall Creek taking first. The Lincoln team took first place at last year’s show.

Lincoln High School had a strong showing at the manufacturing show, with over 40 students coming in attendance. The students and other participants and visitors to the show experienced just how interesting and fun manufacturing can be. Area high school students were heavily involved in this year’s show. Besides the Junkyard Battle, students created complicated mazes in the machine tooling technics contest, and in electromechanical technology, students built robots to navigate a simple maze as fast as possible.

Visitors were able to don masks and try their hands at welding under the watch and with assistance from a CVTC student or instructor. People saw automated machines that could play guitar, set up bowling pins and make a golf putt – all designed and created by CVTC students. The chair on the flight simulator moved with the banking of the plane on the screen. In the nano engineering technology area, students demonstrated the properties of liquid nitrogen.

Nearly 40 companies from around the Chippewa Valley set up displays to show their company’s role in area manufacturing, and to recruit future employees.

“In the Chippewa Valley, close to 40,000 people make their living in manufacturing,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker in opening the show along with Gov. Scott Walker. “Ninety-one percent of our graduates have jobs within six months, 89 percent are right in the state of Wisconsin, and 70 percent are in northwest Wisconsin.”

A major purpose of the show was to present the modern face of manufacturing.

“If you go in our shops, they’re bright, they’re clean, they’re automated, and it takes a high skill level to operate the equipment,” said associate dean of manufacturing Jeff Sullivan.

To many of the young people attending, there was just a lot of fun stuff to do, like race robots and show off their junkyard fish sculptures.

The Lincoln team’s sculpture incorporated concepts of metal working, making it an educational piece as well. The tank of water, for example, can serve as a common welding shop tool.

“You can put a piece of metal you just welded in the fish’s mouth and lower it down to cool it. It’s called a quench tank,” Danielson said.

“We made a prototype of the sculpture out of cardboard,” said team member Edwin Ramos. “Nicki was the lead welder in putting her dream together.”

Team member Daniel Brown brought a lot of the junk used to make the sculpture.

“I got a lot of used junk trucks sitting around. I had an old fuel pump from a Chevy truck and an old fuel line, and wired it all up,” he said, explaining how he made the pump system for the spout of water.

Ramos explained another part of the process.

“We used an old water boiler, band saw blades, a weight bench, and a chain for the hook,” he said.

Many students in Scot Kelly’s principles of engineering class helped on the sculpture.

While many high school students took part in competitions, many students and members of the public came to learn more about opportunities in manufacturing. Jonathan Hurd, 23, of Fall Creek was eyeing up a new career by visiting the various program areas.

“I’m interested in electromechanical technology, but I’d love to learn it all,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I came, to get a feel for it all.”

Becky Larson of Eau Claire came with her husband and their son, Nick, who is in eighth grade. “I wanted to see what opportunities are out there for a job, and so many of the jobs that are coming up are going to be in manufacturing,” she said.

Larson, a middle school counselor, was also picking up information for her students who are beginning to think about careers.

“Electromechanical technology was fun with all the projects they do, like the ‘Smoke on the Water,’ one that played guitar by itself,” said Nick Larson.

Approximately 2,000 people attended the show, including Walker, who noted in opening remarks to an audience mostly of high school students that the Wisconsin flag displays the tools of manufacturing.

“It’s part of our heritage and our history, and it’s part of our future,” Walker said. “Manufacturing is leading our state’s economic recovery, and we need to encourage the next generation of workers by educating everyone about the great, family-supporting jobs available. These students are the future of our workforce; and by providing quality, highly technical training, we are setting them up for success and securing Wisconsin’s place among the top manufacturers in the country.”

From beloitdailynews.com: “BTC’s manufacturing facility takes shape quickly in Milton” – By Shaun Zinck – MILTON — The new Blackhawk Technical College advanced manufacturing facility in Milton is on schedule and on budget, said college President Tom Eckert.

A year ago in February the college announced it had leased a building at 15 N. Plumb St. in Milton to house several of its advanced manufacturing programs.

Work began on half of the building in the fall with plans to move three programs by the 2014-15 academic year. Eckert said about 50,000 square feet of the 105,000-square-foot building is currently being remodeled.

“We are putting in general classroom in the front of the building for general education course. Also that is where the office complex will be located for staff,” he said. “Each of the labs will also have their own specialized classrooms.”

Once work is complete this summer, equipment will be transferred over to the building just in time for students in the welding, industrial maintenance and precision machining (CNC) to occupy that half of the building this fall. Work on the second half will continue during the academic year, Eckert said.

The other programs — heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration technician, mechanical design technology, industrial engineering technician and computer systems technology — will start holding classes in the 2015-16 academic year.

Gary Kohn, marketing and communications manager for the college, said the new space will bring all the programs closer together to allow for more collaborative projects between the students.

“So you might have a CNC student working with a welding student working with an industrial maintenance student,” he said.

Kohn said a lab station will be built as a connection between another building during the second phase of construction and renovation.

The entire renovation cost will be about $12 million, Eckert said. He said nothing unexpected has come up during the first phase of renovations.

“They did a really great job predicting exactly what it would take to do the job,” he said.

The welding program at BTC has been in high demand as of late. The college had to add a third welding section in order to increase the number of students it could admit into the program. The college currently has about 105 welding students in three different sections. The new facility will double the capacity for the programs, however, that doesn’t mean double the students just yet, Eckert said.

“We don’t know how many students (the building will hold),” he said. “We are still in decision-mode on what shifts we will have for each program.”

The college entered into a 10-year lease at the location, and can exercise two five-year renewals. Last year, the college said it would pay about $1.47 per square foot for the lease space or about $155,125 for the first year. The second year the rate increases to about $2.88 per square foot or about $302,688 per year.

Prior to choosing the Milton location the college looked into locating the facility at the Ironworks campus in Beloit. Funding the project proved too costly, Eckert said at the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From leadertelegram.com: “Manufacturing in the spotlight” — A group of high school students stood wide-eyed as a Chippewa Valley Technical College student dropped a metal ball that seemed to defy gravity as it fell through a simple copper tube. It fell slowly through the tube as if moving in molasses, never touching the sides.

The demonstration of electromagnetic forces took place in the Nano Engineering Technology area of CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center last March at the annual Manufacturing Show, which returns for a third year Thursday.

That simple ball-and-tube trick will have to take a distant back seat to other high-end demonstrations this year. For instance, CVTC now has equipment that uses streams of water under extremely high pressure to cut metal in precise detail, without the harmful effects heat-based metal cutting can leave behind.

Manufacturing Show demonstrations also will include a three-dimensional printer that doesn’t use ink. Instead, it produces, layer after layer, at high speed, a 3-D plastic model of items drawn up with paper and numbers.

“It gives us an ability to replicate a concept or design, showing the working parts,” said CVTC Associate Dean of Manufacturing Jeff Sullivan. “The printers are being used a lot in the medical field.”

New machine tool program equipment that will be on display is capable of speeds up to 12,000 rpm. “The purpose of the high speed is higher accuracy and tighter tolerances,” Sullivan said.

And the purpose of students working on such a machine is to prepare them for the kind of equipment being used in the industry today, important given the prevalence of the machine tool industry in the Eau Claire area.

Welcome to the world of modern manufacturing. People who still picture manufacturing as taking place in dark, dingy places with low-skilled workers doing simple repetitive work will have their minds changed by attending the show, people affiliated with the event said.

“The entire show will present a good overview of manufacturing careers in western Wisconsin,” said Roger Stanford, CVTC vice president of instruction. “We have a great diversity of manufacturing companies in this area, many of them producing products that are getting attention worldwide. Attendees can learn more about these companies at the Manufacturing Show and how CVTC prepares workers for lucrative careers in manufacturing.”

About 20 manufacturing companies will have displays about their role in their industries and in the Chippewa Valley economy. They will use the show to recruit new workers as well.

Joining those companies will be representatives of CVTC’s manufacturing programs: electromechanical technology, industrial mechanic, industrial mechanical technician, machine tooling technics, welding and welding fabrication. Some of the physical science programs, such as nano engineering technology, manufacturing engineering technologist and industrial engineering technician also will be involved.

Students play a vital role in the show. As part of regular course work, they have constructed and programmed robotic equipment that performs such tasks as playing a guitar, making a golf putt or resetting bowling pins.

Area high school students also will be heavily involved in this year’s show. Back again will be the Junkyard Battle, in which high school welding students will compete with their creations made of scrap metal. Last year the contest featured student-made sculptures of their school mascots. This year’s show will feature several more competitions.

Machine tool students will compete in the Amazing Maze event, creating complicated mazes in competition for the best design. Engineering students will use computer-aided design programs to draw up plans for devices. The top design will be reproduced on the 3D printer.

In the electromechanical area, students will create robots that work through a maze without human intervention. The industrial mechanics program is working on a competition involving development of miniature cannons.

“We are reaching out to our K-12 school district partners to develop agreements and programs that expose younger students to manufacturing and prepare high school students for entry into CVTC’s manufacturing programs,” Sullivan said.

The event has been well-attended by the general public since its inception, and area school districts take advantage by using it as an educational experience for students. Some parents bring their children who are starting to think about careers.

The show offers plenty for attendees to do, such as trying out simulators, watching robotic welders, learning what local manufacturers are producing and witnessing student creativity.

From postcrescent.com: “Referendum would add space, new equipment to Appleton technical education department” – APPLETON – About a dozen people braved the cold temperatures Tuesday to see firsthand how the upcoming referendum would impact technical education at Appleton West.

The referendum consists of two questions: One for $25 million to purchase technology and complete capital projects. The other question would allow officials to borrow up to $5 million outside the budget each year. The money would be used to replace outdated technology, perform maintenance projects and cover the salaries and benefits for five instructional technology integrators.

If both questions pass on Feb. 18, people who own homes valued at $150,000 would see the school portion of their property taxes rise $118.50.

Paul Lindberg teaches metals, welding and graphic arts at West. Lindberg showed those in attendance how referendum dollars would expand the technical education area, and allow all the department’s classes to be centrally located.

“Right now we have some of our classes upstairs and some of them downstairs, but if we’re all in one area the kids can move through the classes easier,” Lindberg said.

The lack of updated equipment is keeping Lindberg from training students in additional areas. Lindberg worked with instructors at Fox Valley Technical College over the summer to align three of his courses with their curriculum. Students who take those courses would earn credit through FVTC, but because not all of his equipment is up to industry standards, Lindberg can only teach one of the three classes. That would change if the referendum passes.

Equipment would be updated in the cabinetry/construction lab and the automotive shop as well. The construction space would be expanded and the auto shop would have additional storage, which would give students more space to work.

Julie Painting attended the information session because she has three children who attend West High School and she wanted to learn more.

“It was very helpful,” Painting said. “I’m very impressed that the teachers, the staff want to do what’s best for the students, for the community, and we’re not talking about extravagant spending. We’re talking about just what’s needed to keep up with our economy.”

Other than the technical education areas, West High would receive a secure entrance area and see the kitchen, cafeteria and outside common space remodeled and repurposed. Students who attend West and the district’s other two high schools would be given a mobile device to use — one for every student.

From yourdailyglobe.com: “Nicolet College names welding student of the year” – Three weeks after starting Nicolet College’s welding program, Chad Lawfer, of Minocqua, was ready to quit.

Learning the tig welding process was proving to be more than a challenge.

“I have to say, there was one point where I had just had it,” Lawfer said. “I was ready to walk.”

But he didn’t, digging deep to persevere.

On Dec. 17, Lawfer was named Nicolet’s Welding Student of the Year.

“Lawfer definitely deserves it,” welding instructor Warren Krause said. “He could have taken the easy way out and just quit, but he didn’t. He stuck with it and one day everything just clicked for him and he was able to do all of welds.”

Not only was he able to do the welds, he did them to a very high standard, earning straight As.

As good of a student as he is technically and academically, he also has other talents called soft skills which employers seek out, according to Chuck Kopp, adjunct welding instructor.

“Lawfer always comes in with a positive attitude and is always willing to help other students,” Kopp said. “He has a strong work ethic, knows how to communicate well, and is just a great guy to be around. Manufacturers today want new employees with these traits and skills.”

Lawfer said his instructors deserve the credit for his success. “They’ve just been fantastic,” he said. “They take the time to work with you until you really understand what they are teaching. I owe it all to them.”

 

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC’s welding program helps inmates find work after incarceration” – School may not be in session at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior, but learning through WITC’s welding program is still sparking.

The welding room at WITC was filled with the bright flicker of flames as people on probation, parole, or currently incarcerated, took advantage of the Accelerated Welding Program being offered through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Employment Program.

“We’ve been doing these for about five or six years,” said welding instructor Dan Wilkinson.

Years of teaching valuable skills that can make all the difference in the lives of participating inmates.

“It’s great that they’re giving us an opportunity to learn something, because a lot of us don’t have skills,” said Matthew Sanford, an inmate at the Gordon Correctional Facility.

The intense learning program involves many different styles of welding, to prepare inmates for possible careers after the completion of their sentence.

“We’ll bring these guys in for three weeks and there’s an employer at the end of it that’s agreed to interview them… so that’s the big piece of this program… that there’s an opportunity,” said Wilkinson.

…an opportunity that is paying off for many.

49% of the program’s 59 past participants are now working in the area either in a welding capacity or as a general laborer.

“A lot of us never had the opportunity for this and the fact that they’re giving us the opportunity means so much,” said Sanford.

Accelerated Welding Programs like these are among the most successful community corrections employment programs in the state, providing the spark for success after incarceration.

The current welding class is the fifth Accelerated Welding Program that WITC, NW-CEP, and Wisconsin DOC have partnered on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Local high school girls learn about male-dominated fields” – More than 50 girls from nine central Wisconsin highschools learned Friday what it would be like to be welders, mechanical designers, machinists and other professionals in the manufacturing and technical fields.

They were taking part in a program called Females in Technology & Trades at Northcentral Technical College. The idea was to expose the girls to professions that are in what have been traditionally male-dominated fields to ensure that they know of all the career opportunities available to them.

The program was organized by Laurie Schulz, a mechanical design instructor at NTC. Schulz worked as a designer for years and said she had no problems working in a male-dominated field, but not all young women know that such careers are even possible.

The F.I.T.T. program, Schulz said, was meant to change that by both exposing the girls to all of the programs NTC has to offer and giving them a chance to do some hands-on activities, such as welding.

Maddy Krueger and Katherine Russell, both juniors at Tomahawk High School, participated in the program to find out what they might do after graduation.

“I think this is really interesting,” Krueger said. “I’m in a shop class at school, and I’m interested in mechanical comprehension and design. So I thought that would interesting to learn.”

Russell wants to become a materials sciences engineer, designing materials that can do new things.

“There’s a need for more women in engineering fields, so I wanted to learn more about that. And I’ve never welded before, so I’m really nervous,” Russell said. “I really learned a lot today about what NTC had to offer. I didn’t know we had an engineering and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) school so close as Wausau.”

The program was beneficial for female students, Schulz said, so that “they can see what types of options are out there for them that are nontraditional, compared to what they may normally do.”

 

From postcrescent.com: “Workers needed, but manufacturing healthy in region” - There is a lot of good manufacturing news in Northeastern Wisconsin, but long-term challenges remain.

Manufacturing companies report they are healthy, modernizing and expecting growth in sales in 2014. They also continue to struggle to find qualified workers, a problem that will remain critical as baby boomers retire and employers add new machines that require better-trained operators.

Those are the findings of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance’s 2014 Manufacturing Vitality Index, released Friday during the annual NEW North Summit in Ashwaubenon.

Fifty-one percent of the surveyed companies reported increased sales in 2013 and 66 percent are expecting more increases next year. Fifty percent are planning plant modernization, as was the case last year, and three out of four expect to hire. But there’s the rub. Sixty percent report having difficulty finding qualified workers.

“The skills shortage hasn’t changed a dramatic amount year to year,” said Scott Kettler, general manager of Fox Cities manufacturing sites for Plexus Corp. and incoming president of the Manufacturing Alliance. “We see people are hiring and we have that growth. What the index says to me is we are not out-pacing our growth.”

The five most difficult-to-fill positions include machinist/CNC machinist, machine operator, truck driver, team assembler and engineering technician. Welders remain in the top 10, though progress has been made in this region in supplying them.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay is turning out 140 welding graduates a year, up from a handful five years ago. It also will train 100 CNC graduates this year and hopes to increase that to 130 next year, said Mark Weber, dean of training and engineering technologies at NWTC.

The Manufacturing Alliance was formed to get educators, students and parents thinking differently about manufacturing.

“I think that the tide has turned,” Weber said. “I’ve seen that in a relatively short time in the discussions I’ve had with K-12s. Before, you couldn’t get them to talk about manufacturing. Now they are calling us to talk about manufacturing.”

Manufacturing accounts for 23 percent of Northeastern Wisconsin’s jobs, and Wisconsin ranks second in the nation in with 19 percent of jobs in manufacturing.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s “Industrial Cities Initiative” called Green Bay a “resurgent city.” It said the region had four areas that predict economic strength: leadership, regionalism, workforce development and economic development finance.

But the alliance report says long-term demographics are not favorable. Some companies are losing 10 percent or more of their workforce annually to retirement and more people turn 65 each year than turn 18.

A key to mitigating the problem is to get more people interested in manufacturing, Kettler said.

“We have to solve our own problem. We have to continue to work with the education system,” he said. “I want to continue to focus on working with our manufacturers to continue to get involved. Our focus needs to be on that 8-12 (grade) range and we need to turn parents’ minds around that manufacturing is a viable career.”

Many efforts are underway. Some companies are working directly with local high schools, such as Ariens Co. in Brillion and Precision Machine in Algoma. Others are sending workers into classrooms to talk about manufacturing, and NWTC, in collaboration with the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, is sending a classroom — it’s mobile CNC lab — to the students.

“It’s no one thing that’s helping. It’s all of those things; working with high schools, working with manufacturers themselves,” Weber said.

Kettler said companies are taking workers with lesser skills and trying to grow them internally.

“It’s slower and more expensive and it’s not hiring for the future as much,” he said.

The good news, though, shouldn’t be overlooked, he said. Ninety-two percent of companies said they expect to be healthier next year. Half are planning modernization projects in 2014, compared to 46 percent last year and 36 percent in 2012.

“We are seeing companies invest,” he said.

The survey was based on the telephone responses of 111 companies with $3 million or more in annual revenue and 25 or more employees. It had a 28 percent response rate and 95 percent level of confidence. It was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Business Success Center.

 

From chippewa.com: “Latest equipment helps prepare students for job market” – Instructor assistant Corey Wegner proudly shows off a steel cutout in the shape of an elk, done in such fine detail that the texture of the hairs on the elk’s neck is apparent. The metal was cut on the latest piece of equipment in the welding shop at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Amazingly, the metal was cut without applying any heat, and in fact, it is specifically because no heat was used that the detail was so fine.

A Flow waterjet cutter did the job, and students enrolled for the fall term will be learning how to use it. It’s another example of how CVTC continues to stay on the “cutting edge” of manufacturing equipment. It’s rare indeed for the graduate of a CVTC manufacturing program to enter the workforce and be baffled by the technology. The college is generally ahead of the curve.

“We are constantly talking to companies, and they are very good about telling us what the new trends are. The college is very good at keeping up with that,” says Jeff Sullivan, associate dean of manufacturing.

A case in point is the waterjet cutter, which uses a high pressure fine stream of water to cut metal in fine detail.

“It’s cutting using the erosion process instead of heat, so you don’t get the heat-affected areas you do from heat cutting,” says Walter Quaschnick, head of the welding program. Intense heat can affect the properties of the metal being cut.

“And because we use water, we can cut through other things like ceramic, wood and rubber,” Quaschnick continues. “It’s a unique type of cutting process.”

One of the biggest applications is in cutting stainless steel, which is susceptible to rusting if cut with a torch. One local company, Midwest Stainless in Menomonie, uses a waterjet and appreciates that CVTC manufacturing graduates are familiar with this technology.

CVTC’s strategy works two ways. Students are better prepared to enter the workforce by having training on the latest equipment, and the fact that trained workers are available encourages industry to modernize. It’s how education can drive economic development.

Also new at CVTC this year is a Haas VM-2 unit in the machine tool area. Sullivan notes it is capable of a 1,000-rpm spindle speed. “If you make an analogy, it would be like a standard computer compared to a high-speed computer,” Sullivan said.

Examples of such high-technology capability at CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center area abound:

  • The welding program has a computer interface so students can evaluate their techniques with a computer program.
  • The machine tool program has the capability of micro-machining.
  • The industrial mechanic program has an assembly line simulator in which students can troubleshoot problems.
  • The nanoengineering technology program has a Class 100 cleanroom, unique in the state.

CVTC’s manufacturing technology is so sophisticated that the college receives requests from private industry to use it, which is possible through the college’s Equipment Access Program.

Chippewa Valley Technical College campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west-central Wisconsin. It is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.

 

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Alliance works to change state’s manufacturing image, increase education” – When Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s 44-foot mobile CNC lab made an appearance at Bonduel High School, the pieces fell into place for junior Race McClone.

McClone, 16, is planning a career in manufacturing. If he becomes a mechanical engineer and welder as he proposes, it will be another in an increasing number of successes for NEW Manufacturing Alliance, NWTC and other supporters of manufacturing.

October is Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin, and that’s more than just another in a rotisserie of months with special names. Indiana and Wisconsin regularly trade positions as the top manufacturing states in the nation. Statewide, 16.1 percent of Wisconsin jobs are manufacturing related. In the 14-county NEW North region, one in every four jobs is in manufacturing.

“That is one of the largest concentrations of manufacturing in the country,” said Ann Franz, NEW Manufacturing Alliance coordinator.

The Alliance was founded in 2006 to foster collaboration between manufacturers and educators in the promotion of manufacturing and development of a future workforce.

The Manufacturing Institute, affiliated with the National Association of Manufacturers, says that workforce is growing older at a greater rate than the economy as a whole, and the lack of qualified workers is beginning to impact manufacturers’ ability to compete in the global market. It says schools are not equipping students with the appropriate skills and in the necessary disciplines to contribute to the manufacturing economy.

The Institute says U.S. schools are not producing enough engineers, and the manufacturing workforce is growing older and is not as well educated as other sectors.

The Alliance is working to change that in Northeastern Wisconsin. It arranges tours of manufacturing plants — it sponsored 11 visits for students and teachers in October — and sends manufacturing representatives into classrooms. It is developing manufacturing-related math problems for use in middle schools, provided $20,000 in college scholarships last year, publishes a magazine, produces videos and hosts the annual Manufacturing First Expo & Conference, to which 200 students are invited.

Franz’s salary is paid by the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, which also helped pay for creation of NWTC’s Computer Integrated Manufacturing mobile lab. Much of the rest of the work is done by volunteers on five Alliance task forces.

Manufacturing jobs pay well, but an enduring image of workers standing on assembly lines doing the same things over and over again is discouraging to digital-age students, not to mention their parents. It doesn’t help that the image is totally inaccurate.

Nels Lawrence, technology education instructor at Kaukauna High School, said plant tours dispel notions of manufacturing as “dumb, dull and dirty.”

Northeast Wisconsin Chambers Coalition’s 2012-13 Fox Valley Wage & Benefits Study found that intermediate-level electrical engineers in Brown County earned an average $62,766 per year and electrical engineers at Fox Valley companies earned an average annual wage of $71,109. Again, the number of responding companies was not large (six in one case, seven in the other) and the respondents were self-selected. The average wage for senior electrical engineers was $91,028.

“One employer said to me, ‘You want to recruit kids. Take a look at what’s parked out in are parking lot,’” Lawrence said.

Franz and Lawrence said manufacturers are desperate to grow the workforce.

“More and more human resources directors are contacting me directly, looking to contact 16- and 17-year-olds,” Lawrence said. “If I had more students, I could find more openings.”

Franz said the increase in engagement between employers and schools is significant. Schools are calling the alliance — a 180-degree turnaround from seven years ago — and asking how they can partner.

As a sign of progress, Franz said NWTC graduated 19 welders in 2000, 28 welders in 2005 and 119 welders in 2010. It has more than 200 people enrolled in welding classes now, and last year enrollment in its manufacturing classes was up 19 percent.

Welding is just a tiny slice of manufacturing jobs, though in considerable demand in the region. Surveys by NWTC also identified electrical engineers, among others, in high demand.

“The message is resonating,” Franz said. “NWTC graduates more manufacturing degree holders than any other technical college in the state.”

Bonduel High School’s McClone had taken computer-aided-design and civil engineering classes in tech ed, but the arrival of NWTC’s mobile lab took his interest to a new level. The school also has a new welding lab.

“I’m really interested in the CNC program. If Bonduel didn’t have the trailer here, I probably wouldn’t have known about the CNC at all,” he said, talking on his cellphone from the lab.

He said Bonduel’s tech ed teachers themselves are enthusiastic about manufacturing, and promotional efforts are beginning to make an impact.

“People are starting to see this as a great opportunity,” he said. “There are all kinds of jobs. It can be pretty much anything.”

 

From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC receives grant to expand welding program” – Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College recently acquired a grant to bulk up its welding program.

The money is being used to buy new equipment and get students to work more quickly.

WITC in Superior was one college of 16 to receive part of a 14.9 million dollar grant that was recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant. The grant is intended to assist students entering into the welding field. WITC has already put some of the money to good use.

The grant was also used to purchase welding equipment, including a robotic welder and to expand the college’s capacity to provide short–term training to meet immediate needs of employers.
The expansion will grow the adult manufacturing career pathways program.

“What it allows us to do is block our classes, which was really actually a pretty smooth transition for the welding program because we already teach that way, where one class builds on the class before it,” said Welding Instructor Aleasha Hladilek.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has funded 55 percent of the career pathways project which totals just over 600–thousand dollars. The program supports dislocated workers.

“Going back to school, it’s given me a future for me and my kids, where I can go out and get a decent paying job.” said Student Jacob Hochstetler.

WITC hopes to train more than 25–hundred students during the next two years and connect them to manufacturing business.

 

From wbay.com: “Middle School Girls Take on “Man’s Work” – Green Bay - Middle school girls got the chance Tuesday to learn about welding and robotics at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

It’s called “Women at Work,” and it’s an effort to get more young women interested in typically male-dominated fields.

More than 100 girls from middle schools in the area spent the morning learning about trades like welding with a simulator.

“It gives feedback electronically to the instructor and to the student. It’s actually mechanical movement, so they get that effect,” NWTC welding instructor Jon Russell explained.

In another session, the students use robots to learn about animation.

“We took a robot and we were picking up garbage and deciding if it was trash or recyclable,” Bayview Middle School student Madelyn Jorgensen described.

The goal is to give young women the opportunity to explore careers in these types of trades which typically attract men.

The girls also had the chance to meet with employers to learn about the different trades.

“There are lots of job opportunities for these women in these different trades areas. They’re able to get paid pretty well at some really hands-on type jobs that are really kind of fun,” Angie Arneson, a technology and engineering teacher in Denmark Middle School said.

According to NWTC, only three to five percent of students in the welding program are women.

But these students say they’re inspired by Tuesday’s workshop.

“Girls can definitely do these jobs. Girls have better hand-eye coordination I’ve heard. So things like welding where you have to be very specific would probably be better for girls,” Denmark Middle School student Ellie Babiash said.

 

From thenorthwestern.com: “Robotic welding program brings Walker to FVTC” – Learning to weld is normally a hands-on experience, but 14 Fox Valley Technical College students are taking a very hands-off approach to a new course.

Fox Valley Tech has introduced a course in robotic welding at its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center on Oshkosh’s south side this semester as it responds to changing demands of area manufacturers.

The new program, and the eight robots mounted with MIG welding guns, caught the attention of Gov. Scott Walker, who toured the manufacturing campus Tuesday afternoon.

“We can compete with anybody in the world, anywhere around the world, but we’re not going to compete the way we used to,” Walker said. “Advanced manufacturing means people who have multiple skills that can be applied using not only crafts they’ve learned here, but also all the technology that goes with it.”

FVTC Metal Fabrication and Welding Instructor Ben Cebery said the college was able to use a portion of a three-year, $3 million Advanced Manufacturing Pathways Plus grant the U.S. Department of Labor awarded FVTC earlier this year to develop the robotic welding course’s curriculum.

“We’re seeing more automation in manufacturing,” Cebery said. “Surveys with local companies suggested it was a good idea for students to be exposed to automation. This program prepares students for what we’re seeing and the demands of industry.”

Jay Manufacturing CEO Matt Jameson said the company has six robotic welding stations and a lot more manual welding stations at its west side fabrication shop. He said the company has hired several welders recently, and needs to hire as many as 20 more. He said the company views robotic welding training as a definite plus.

“The more versatile a person is, the more we can do with them,” Jameson said. “If they know manual and robotic welding, that’s just a bonus. In addition, the people we have interviewed who tested well almost all had some form of technical college training.”

Joe Serio, of Menominee Falls, and Austin Kopplin, of Oshkosh, both said they’re excited to learn how to program the robots and get them to execute precision welds. Serio said he knows welders are in high demand, but learning more advanced skills like computer programming is vital to finding a good job.

“Usually, we don’t get to deal with computers much while welding, but there’s always someone who needs to run the robot in case something happens,” Serio said. “This comes easy and it’s a pretty nice skill to learn.”

Kopplin said he’s been impressed by the amount of programming required to get the robots to work and the precision with which they execute commands.

“It’s consistent and perfect every time,” Kopplin said. “You get jittery welding for six hours at a time, but these things can run all night.”

Cebery said the college reached out to companies who said students need to be familiar with robotic welding and asked them to provide one or two robots they use. He said Ariens Co., in Brillion, and Muza Metal Products, in Oshkosh, are just two of the companies that stepped up to help out.

“Getting eight robots on the floor would have cost an astounding amount of money,” Cebery said. “Finding another way was vital. Fortunately, we were able to find a way via donations and gifted equipment that exposes students to the different types of robotic welders. They get to learn on each of them.”

From antigodailyjournal.com: “NTC to offer manufacturing tech degree” – Northcentral Technical College will begin offering a new manufacturing technician technical diploma in the fall, and the Antigo campus will be one of two locations to host the program.

Instructor Mike Parizek works with student Dylan Zimmerman in Northcentral Technical College’s machine tool lab.

This one-year (29-31 credits) technical diploma is designed to prepare students for a variety of entry-level careers within the manufacturing sector. The new program incorporates portions of NTC’s machine tool operation technical diploma and welding technical diploma in order to give students a well-rounded education and make them more marketable to potential employers.

According to a survey conducted by the technical college, area manufacturers are placing an increased focus on hiring employees who have cross training in both the machine tool and welding areas.

“After conducting the survey and meeting with business leaders in our area, it became clear that many local companies are in need of employees with diverse skill sets,” Larry Kind, dean of NTC’s Antigo campus, said. “The manufacturing technician technical diploma is an ideal fit in that sense, as students gain valuable training in two high-demand areas.”

Throughout the course of the program, students will learn to use a drill press, power saw, elementary lathe, mills and pedestal grinders in the machine tool courses. The welding courses will provide a solid foundation for a single manual process.

For more information or to register, call the NTC Antigo campus at 715 623-7601 or visit http://www.ntc.edu.

From wqow.com: “CVTC receives national grant for mobile lab” – Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) has been awarded a three-year grant of nearly $800,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for development of a mobile manufacturing training laboratory to reach out to students in rural school districts and to help close the manufacturing skills gap.

The goals of the project are to prepare and recruit students into manufacturing careers, provide students with increased opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school, and provide more trained workers for manufacturers.

With the grant funds, CVTC will develop a mobile manufacturing training laboratory in partnership with Realityworks, an Eau Claire company that develops learning products that provide real-world simulations. Among the company’s products are a welding simulator and the RealCare Baby infant care simulator.

Realityworks will work with CVTC to develop a portion of the mobile laboratory equipment and curriculum. Manufacturing program faculty at CVTC will develop simulation training curriculum for use in high schools. The mobile laboratory will then be taken to the rural school districts to provide hands-on learning for students and professional development for teachers. Students will be able to complete manufacturing skills training while still in high school, earning college credit, saving them money, and helping them transition into the workforce earlier. That will help area manufacturers in their search for skilled labor.

The school districts of Alma Center-Lincoln, Eleva-Strum, Greenwood, Neillsville and Owen-Withee have partnered with CVTC for the initial integration of the curriculum into their high schools, but all schools in CVTC’s 11-county district could ultimately benefit.

Several CVTC programs will be involved in the development of the project, including Machine Tooling Technics, Welding and Electromechanical Technology. The mobile lab curriculum will include machining, welding, automation, precision measurement, applied mathematics and engineering design.

NSP has awarded CVTC $198,005 for the project, effective August 1. Contingent on the availability of funds, NSF expects to continue to fund the project with awards of $299,735 in 2014 and $299,558 in 2015 for a total grant of $797,298.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for CVTC to reach out to underserved students in the district, and to help manufacturers find the skilled workers they need. We’re going to take the advanced training right to the students in the rural school districts, who will be able to earn college credits and develop the skills they need to succeed,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker.

“We are very pleased to be working with Realityworks on this project. They are experts in creation of simulation technology and will also work with our outstanding manufacturing faculty to develop the curriculum to go with the laboratory. This is an exciting partnership that will benefit students and manufacturers in the CVTC district,” Barker continued.

Development of the mobile laboratory will begin this fall with the first visits to school districts expected in the 2014-2015 school year.

Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.

 

From prweb.com: “Apache partners with Moraine College to develop skilled trades” – Moraine Park Technical College in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is helping to develop skilled worker assets in the area by offering Welding Boot Camps. These Boot Camps are entry-level welding courses with on-site welding practice and supervision at Apache. The Boot Camps are part of the manufacturing skills academies funded by the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation and the Department of Labor TAA CCCT Grant. The program helps build a skilled welder pool for area manufacturers, including Apache.

During the program, students are required to complete eight hours per week of welding practice which is conducted at Apache under supervision of Apache’s welding mentors and floor supervisor as well as the instructor. Apache was proud to host several students last month in the Boot Camp Welding Program.

The on-site hands-on welding at Apache helps the students experience a real manufacturing environment with access to different types of equipment, different shapes and thicknesses of stainless steel and TIG welding processes.

A large part of the tuition is funded by the grant, with a small investment from the student. The student investment is refunded if they are selected for an internship.

With an ASME rated welding team, Apache continually promotes training and education in welding, fabrication and over-all manufacturing.

Founded in 1975, Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation consists of five groups: Large Tanks, Portable Vessels, Contract Manufacturing, Carbon Steel and Mepaco. The Mepaco group manufactures food processing equipment. Apache is an employee-owned company and a subsidiary of Dexter Apache Holdings, Inc.

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