Nicolet gets $750,000 to develop manufacturing maintenance program

July 24, 2012

From “Nicolet gets $750,000 to develop manufacturing maintenance program” — Manufacturing skills training will get a huge boost in the Northwoods thanks to a $750,000 grant awarded to Nicolet College. The grant will allow the college to further develop the specific training necessary to help fill available jobs at partner businesses with advanced manufacturing needs.

“A healthy manufacturing sector is key to a strong Northwoods economy,” said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster. “Nicolet will use these funds to develop training programs that will give residents the skills necessary to secure manufacturing maintenance jobs. In doing so, manufacturers will get the trained workforce they need to be successful and area residents will have the skills they need for family-sustaining employment.”

Nicolet has already developed classes for a short-term training Industrial Maintenance Fundamentals certificate. The grant funds will allow the college to build on this certificate and develop more advanced training that will result in a one-year technical diploma and ultimately a two-year manufacturing maintenance associate degree.

Burmaster encouraged anyone interested in starting down this academic track to begin taking the certificate-level classes this fall. “The sequence will be structured so that certificate classes ladder right into the diploma program and the diploma-level classes then laddering directly into the two-year associate degree program,” she explained.

Nicolet applied for these grant funds and did so in partnership with five large area manufacturers. They are Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc., HyPro, Inc., Packaging Corporation of America-Tomahawk Mill, Printpack, Inc., and the Wausau Paper Corporation-Rhinelander Mill.

“Every one of these manufacturers worked with the college on this because they need skilled employees,” Burmaster added. “The jobs are out there.”

Under the partnership, the manufacturers will work closely with Nicolet to ensure the skills taught in the college’s labs and classrooms are an exact match to what are needed in the workplace.

A recent wage survey by the Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation found that manufacturing maintenance jobs in the Northwoods today pay an average of about $35,000 a year.

Nicolet was one of the five technical colleges in the state to share in the $3.8 million awarded by the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, a private, non-profit organization. The foundation created this pilot grant to address the gap between Wisconsin’s workforce needs and its available workers. Currently, “middle-skill” occupations, or those positions that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree, represent 50 percent of Wisconsin’s workforce needs, with advanced manufacturing occupations among the fastest growing. Meanwhile, only 39 percent of Wisconsin residents between the ages of 25 and 64 meet these education criteria.

“The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation is committed to ensuring that postsecondary education prepares students for immediate employment, while creating a stronger connection between that education and employers,” said Foundation Chair Richard D. George. “When capacity to provide the right skillset to workers is increased at the technical college level, the result is more well-trained workers prepared for on-the-job success. It’s a win-win for Wisconsin—our families and our workforce.”

For more information about Nicolet’s Industrial Maintenance Fundamentals certificate, call the Nicolet Welcome Center at (715) 365-4493 or (800) 544-3039, ext. 4493, or visit


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