Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges an International Leader in Building Gold-Collar Careers

August 17, 2012

From wispolitics.com: “Wisconsin technical college officials meet with Chinese educators regarding ‘gold-collar careers’” — MADISON — Wisconsin’s technical colleges’ success in aligning technical education and manufacturing careers was the focus of an international delegation in Washington, D.C. last week. Experts from three states – Wisconsin, California, and New York – were invited by the U.S. Department of Education to meet with Chinese officials interested in American approaches to involving business and industry leaders in the development of education programs. Wisconsin leaders focused on the technical colleges’ approach to developing “gold-collar careers,” which offer rewarding opportunities in high-tech manufacturing to those with a passion for pushing the limits of machining, electronics, IT, and other technologies.

Wisconsin’s representatives were Jim Mackey, the Wisconsin Technical College System’s manufacturing program expert, and Dan Conroy, Vice President of Human Resources for the Nexen Group, a leading manufacturer in northwestern Wisconsin and a close partner of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. “Chinese manufacturers are facing some of the same challenges we are, including worker preparation and closing skills gaps,” said Mackey. “We had a great response from everyone involved.”

This was the second time that U.S. and Chinese officials convened on the topic of career and technical education, with the focus of this session on the unique and critical role Wisconsin employers play in developing the curriculum for each education or training program. “Knowing both Jim and Dan well, I guarantee that this was a productive exchange, and one that really showcased the great work being accomplished by all of our colleges in delivering manufacturing programs that truly reflect the needs of employers,” said Mark Tyler, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board.

Local and regional employers serve on advisory committees for each technical college program. These committees rely on the employers’ expertise to ensure that courses and programs are aggressively modified to consistently reflect current industry practices. The employers also provide valuable local labor market insights, which allow the colleges to be confident that program graduates will find employment upon graduation. Roughly 90 percent of Wisconsin technical college graduates are placed in jobs within six months of graduation. This latest recognition of the high-quality education and training programs offered by the technical colleges comes as the state tightens its focus on job creation and positioning for Wisconsin’s employers to be even more globally competitive.



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