From “State grant to help train 45 welders” — Milwaukee contract manufacturer Super Steel LLC has teamed up with Milwaukee Area Technical College and staffing agency Aerotek to attain a grant for training new welders.

The state Workforce Advancement Training Grant will provide $45,000 to MATC to train employees with basic welding experience in a week-long class to prepare them for entry level positions at Super Steel. Wauwatosa staffing agency Aerotek will help find qualified candidates among its clients.

The grant allows for up to 45 welders to receive additional training through a 40-hour, one week course. Candidates for positions at Super Steel who are a good fit for the job and have potential will be referred to the course, said Dirk Smith, chief operating officer.

“Within 40 hours, if you have basic weld skills you can pick up on (American Welding Society D 1.1), which is the entry skill level for us,” Smith said.
The grant provides an opportunity for both the underqualified employee and Super Steel, he said.

“In the past we’ve just turned them away,” Smith said. “Typically there were others waiting in the wings to fill that void, but with the welding industry being as tight as it is you’ve got to get creative.”

Super Steel, founded in 1923, has locations at 7800 W. Tower Ave. in Milwaukee and 7900 W. Calumet in Milwaukee. The company manufactures large construction, agriculture and transportation equipment that must be welded by a certified welder, Smith said. After achieving an entry level certification, employees improve their skills through in-house welding school.

The company currently has 400 employees, and Smith hopes to hire 45 to 60 new employees by the end of the year with the help of the grant training.
Increasing demand is driving Super Steel’s growth, he said.

“Our volume is up significantly from last year—our volume is almost doubled,” Smith said. “It’s good to be a metal bender right now.”

From “FVTC relieving women’s worries” — At 24, Cassie Behrend of Oshkosh is the single mother of a 5-year-old son. Nineteen weeks into a high-risk pregnancy she lost her job as a certified nursing assistant.

“I can’t lift, push or pull,” Behrend said.

Unfortunately, the duties of a CNA include plenty of lifting, pushing and pulling.

And now, her employer is telling her she may not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

She has stress to spare.

Behrend has faced numerous hardships in her life, including a brutal rape back when she first started college. It led her to the brink of suicide, she said.

She had not learned good coping skills as a child. Back then, her way of coping with stress was to not talk about it.

Today, she is older and wiser.

She doesn’t worry about false modesty when seeking help from food pantries, thrift stores and other social agencies to help her make her way and to provide for her child. She has looked for and found ways to fill her physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

“God never gives me something I can’t handle,” Behrend said.

She has worked since the age of 15. If she finds a source to help her over a rough spot, she will accept it.

One recent gem Behrend stumbled upon came from Fox Valley Technical College, where she is enrolled studying to become an occupational therapy assistant with hopes of one day working with disabled children.


From “State proposal would let high-schoolers study vocations” — A state proposal that would allow high school seniors to receive vocational degrees instead of traditional high school diplomas has educators concerned, but others say it could help graduates succeed in the work force.

A bill before the state Legislature would allow students to skip requirements in math, science and English and instead earn vocational credits to graduate. The vocational program’s makeup would be decided by school boards, and the state Department of Public Instruction would approve any curriculum changes.

The measure, proposed by state Rep. Mark Radcliffe, D-Black River Falls, is being considered as part of special session on job creation called for by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“I would be very excited about something like this,” said James Golembeski, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, which serves 10 counties in Northeastern Wisconsin, including Brown. “Our school system is very much geared to college preparation, but only about a quarter of people in Wisconsin have a bachelor’s degree and only about a quarter of the jobs need that, so we’re giving them a lot of stuff they don’t need.”


From “Employees of local industrial companies finish MATC robotics class at Enterprise Center” — Madison Area Technical College and employees of several local industries recently wrapped up another technical course.

The latest was “Robotics for Industrial Automation Level 2,” which helped the employees learn more about industrial robots. Knowing how they work makes it more likely they’ll be able to diagnose problems in-house and, even if they can’t fix problems themselves, cut down on the amount of time outside experts must spend.

“We’re seeing the application,” said Dr. John Lalor, Economic Development Administration liaison for MATC. “We’re seeing a lot less having to outsource.”

On Oct. 19, the last day of the course, students were finishing projects that made us of FANUC robot arms and a pack of magic markers.

“We’re drawing numbers,” said Tony Montgomery, a Brakebush employee.

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From “Gateway student selected as president of statewide technical college student government” — Gateway Technical College is pleased to announce that student Rebecca Gement was elected president of Wisconsin Student Government.

Gement, Racine, is enrolled in Gateway’s Information Technology-Computer Support Specialist program as well as the Programmer/Analyst program. Gement in May graduated from Gateway’s Information Technology-Network Specialist program.  She is a member of the Gateway United Student Government where she serves as the Kenosha Campus vice president.

“I look forward to meeting with legislators to let them know how important the success our technical college system is to the state of Wisconsin’s economy,” said Gement. “Technical colleges touch on every aspect of the working class.

“They give young students the hands-on training necessary to enter the workforce with real-world skills. They give older, displaced worker students the opportunity to garner new skills in a timely fashion to return to the workforce. Finally, they also offer the opportunity for current workers to take specialized classes needed for them to continue on their career path.”

Wisconsin Student Government calls itself “a strong statewide organization that opens the lines of communication between the 16 technical college districts. WSG addresses political and other issues that affect students, faculty, the system’s financial concerns, and its existence.”

From greenbaypressgazette: “Northeastern Wisconsin finds nursing balance” — Recession and the continuing difficult economy put nursing shortages in Wisconsin on hold, but it’s a situation not expected to last.

In the meantime, there seems to be a balance in Northeastern Wisconsin between nursing graduates and available jobs.

Bellin College in Bellevue and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay each reported near 95 percent placement rates for recent graduates.

It might take a little longer to land a job, and it might not be the preferred category or work shift, but the jobs are there, said Kay Tupala, dean of Health Science at NWTC.

“We are not hit nearly as hard by the nursing shortage as you are seeing in other urban centers across the United States,” said Matt Rentmeester, vice president of development and public relations at Bellin College.

NWTC graduates about 150 students annually, Bellin College graduates 90 and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduates 70, though its most recent class had 83 graduates.

Inmates earn degrees

October 31, 2011

From “Moving forward: Stanley Prison inmates earn degrees, plaudits for work” — STANLEY – Lance Schneider didn’t want any part of the education programs at the Stanley Prison when he was sent there in 2004 on a 22 year sentence for arson.

Eventually, he changed his mind. “I settled down and realized I had to have a good education,” he said.

He passed all of his courses except one: Math. Actually, basic algebra.

So he took the course test. He flunked. He took it again. He flunked again. And again, and again.

Ten times he took the test. Ten times he flunked.

On the 11th time, he decided it was sink or swim. He studied with the help of the 10 Windy Meadows School tutors.

This time, he passed the test.

On Friday, Schneider, 33, was given a honorable mention for a 2011 Courage Award for Achievement in Correctional Setting. He received it at a graduation ceremony for 41 inmates, including Bennie Harvey, who is also 33.

Harvey has been at the Stanley Prison for five years on an armed robbery charge. He graduated from a custodial program offered by Chippewa Valley Technical College.

“It means a lot,” he said of completing the CVTC program over four months. “Today’s lessons are a stepping stone for tomorrow’s blessings.”

Eventually, after he leaves the Stanley Prison, Harvey would like to start his own business.

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