Tech colleges prepare students for manufacturing jobs

June 1, 2012

From wjfw.com: “Manufacturers Looking To Hire, Local Technical Colleges Hope To Prepare Students” —  Rhinelander – If you’re out of work, it’s tough finding a job.

A job search is a job in itself.

However, business leaders say one type of company is hiring – manufacturers.

The problem is many companies can’t find qualified workers to fill the jobs. The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation is hosting listening sessions at local technical colleges throughout Wisconsin.

The foundation is hoping to spread the word about exciting careers in manufacturing across Wisconsin.

“In my job hunts I kept seeing welding, welding, welding,” Nicolet student David Hansen says. “So I said ‘hey, I’m going to school for welding.”

Hansen just completed Nicolet College’s Welding program. He wants to find a job with the chance to move up.

“Start off with welding,” Hansen says. “It’s got a great starting wage compared to other jobs. From the sounds of it, in talking with other people who are further along in their career you can move up fairly quickly in welding.”

Jim Morgan is the president of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce foundation. He’s encouraged by comments like Hansen’s.

“A lot of those offerings are right here at the technical colleges,” Morgan says. “I think we really owe it to those 16-year-olds to make sure they understand all of the occupations that are available so if they want to be a welder, be a CNC operator. First of all they have to know those occupations exist, and secondly they need to know where to go to get those skills.”

Morgan says there’s a level of ignorance when it comes to manufacturing.

“We haven’t told the story very well,” Morgan explains. “Unless we actually get people in there to see what’s going on, they have a vision of manufacturing that’s probably 40 or 45 years old. These are high-tech companies, they’re clean, well lit, they’re good jobs, they’re exciting, you do different things everyday”

That’s why Warren Krause’s welding class at Nicolet teaches students more than just welding skills.

“In industry now-a-days, they’re looking for people with soft skills,” Krause says. “Being able to just weld in this day and age isn’t good enough. They want people to be able to communicate with customers. Be able to learn new technology, be able to take on tasks.”

And Morgan agrees many manufacturers are optimistic about future growth.

“This generation more than any other is the expectation is the whole package. You’ve got to have the work ethic, you’ve got to be able to communicate with people, you have to have the technical skill, you really have to have everything.”

Thanks to his training, Hansen says he’s confident he has it.

“I’m very confident I’m going to get a job. It’s going to happen.”

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