Governor asks for help marketing manufacturing jobs

March 5, 2012

From caledonia.patch.com: “Governor Walker at Recine Metal-Fab, Asks for Help Marketing Manufacturing Jobs to Young People” — Wages at Racine Metal-Fab are higher than the minimum requirements under the tax credit program. According to Dean Popek, chief financial officer at Racine Metal-Fab (RMF), wages for new employees hired under the tax credit program must start at a minimum of $10.85 per hour, which is 1-1/2 times the current minimum wage. Hourly wages at Racine Metal-Fab are higher than the $10.85, depending on the position and current skill set of the individual employee.

“Starting pay at RMF is dependent upon the position and skills required,” he told Patch via email. “Our starting wage is higher than this rate but, again, it depends upon the position and skills required.”

RMF sets its wages to be competitive with similar-sized companies in Southeast Wisconsin and Racine County, taking into account, too, the skills required for their workforce, Popek added.

Employee wage increases are largely determined by the individual and how that person works to improve and add to their skill set. Popek said RMF utilizes a merit-based performance review and adjusts wages to coincide with workers moving up the scale even when those benchmarks don’t line up with annual performance reviews.

“Employees’ wages are adjusted at the time they become proficient at the next step in the skills matrix,” he said. “That may or may not coincide with a performance appraisal.”

More, Racine Metal-Fab offers a full benefit package that includes medical and dental insurance, 401 (k) and paid time off.

Original Story: After moving into a new facility in the Grandview Business Park this past January, Racine Metal-Fab is adding 25 jobs to its work force there.

Gov. Scott Walker was on hand Friday to make the announcement and to tout how state initiatives are helping small and mid-size manufacturers add 10, 15, 25 jobs at a time, building toward the 250,000 jobs Walker promised when he was elected in November 2010.

“It sends a positive message to other companies who might be reluctant,” he said. “I’m thrilled about the state’s role in adding these 25 jobs and providing opportunities for families.”

Company President Scott Lucas said the business will be eligible for a $100,000 tax credit if the new employees are still around a five years after being hired. That’s about $4,000 for each of the 25 new hires. He said the money will be used to invest in employee training.

“We have special demands with the work we do here,” Lucas said. “So we do need people with the base courses in math and science, but then we develop specific skills on the job like specialty welding and operating and setting up the machines.”

Racine Metal-Fab works with a variety of metals, including high purity aluminum, to create parts like reflectors for sports lights for LEDs from partners like Cree/Ruud Lighting. There are Racine Metal-Fab reflectors in the big lights at Lambeau Field and Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Cree/Ruud is one of our major partners,” he said. “Their expansion is part of the reason we need to expand.”

Walker says with Wisconsin leading nearly every other state in manufacturing jobs, he needs help promoting the career possibilities to young people. During every discussion or listening session he has with businesses around the state, he added, the number one concern is that jobs are available but the workers lack the skills to come in even at entry level.

“The tech schools like Gateway and MATC (Milwaukee Area Technical College) have the courses, but students just aren’t taking them,” Walker said. “We have to market to younger people that manufacturing jobs and careers are available, and, in fact, are some of the highest paying jobs we have in Wisconsin.”

He’s hoping that recently passed bills that he expects to sign soon, like those that created new technical education diplomas and Wisconsin WINS program will usher more residents into skilled manufacturing jobs around the state.

The tech ed diploma allows high school students to take technical courses and participate in internships for credit while still having to fulfill core high school class requirements.

Wisconsin WINS matches unemployed individuals with businesses, providing a $75 stipend when the unemployed take a position with a company and is trained for six weeks. During the training period, the workers still collect unemployment and should have full-time jobs when they complete the program. Both bills were either authored or co-authored by state Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).

Wanggaard echoed Walker’s assertion that the laws and programs coming out of Madison are working.

“These jobs here at Racine Metal-Fab are just another example of how what we’re doing is helping businesses expand and getting more people back to work,” he said.

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