Tech college expands to meet skills gap

April 29, 2013

From fox11online.com: “Tech school expands to meet skills gap” — The training labs at Lakeshore Technical College have been booked solid, up to 18 hours a day, and the waiting lists are nearly 30 people deep.

“The waiting list for example, machine tool and especially our welding program, are such that we can have a program filled and before the start of the program, we already have almost the next program filled,” explained Executive Dean of Manufacturing Richard Hoerth.

With a changing job market, some employers have been dealing with what they call a skills gap.

They say they are willing to hire, but can’t find qualified people to fill the spots.

And it seems more people are beginning to understand the gap in skilled labor in the state. And so the college decided there’s only one way to address the growing need and interest, expand.

The more than $6 million project includes doubling the size of LTC’s Flexible Training Arena and modernizing the Trade and Industry building.

The expansion project is one of the largest of its kind for the nearly century old school. Officials expect the expansion will increase the number of graduates by 50 each year.

“The manufacturing sector in Manitowoc County and the lakeshore in general is extremely important. It’s about 37% of our employment,” explained Connie Loden, Executive Director of the Manitowoc County Economic Development Corporation.

Economic development officials feel the expansion is coming at the right time, but the skills gap stretches beyond Wisconsin.

According to an annual survey by ManpowerGroup, skilled trades was the hardest job to fill last year in the U.S, and it’s topped the charts since 2010.

“As the economy grows, we’re part of that solution and our employers need a skilled workforce to grow and that’s where we come in, is working with them and working with the students in the area,” explained LTC President Michael Lanser.

The college plans to break ground on the project in June. Officials say grants, loans and private investments will cover the costs.

In addition to this milestone, the college will celebrate its 100th anniversary on May 8th.

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