Walker, officials mark launch of WCTC Dual Enrollment Academy

October 31, 2013

From gmtoday.com: “Senior year as bridge to a career” — PEWAUKEE – If more high school students were like Bradley Servidas, things would be easier for Trace-A-Matic President Thorsten Wienss.

Gov. Scott Walker, right, talks with dual-enrollment student Ian Weiberg of Eagle during a tour of the Waukesha County Technical College CNC machining lab.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Servidas is a senior at Brookfield Central High School and is also in Waukesha County Technical College’s Dual Enrollment Academy as a member of the Tool and Die/CNC cohort. He said the program is a great way to start a career and it has been fun to make new friends and do something that not every high school senior gets to do.

“It’s more hands-on than I thought,” he said. “I love it. This is what I want to do when I grow up.”

For Wienss, the president of a machining company, the problem is that not everyone shares Servidas’ desire to pursue a career in his industry. He told a crowd at WCTC on Tuesday that most parents believe their son or daughter must go to a four-year college or university.

“We’re driving our kids in the wrong direction,” he said, adding that there are already too many lawyers stuck working as bartenders.

He said that when his company tries to recruit people, it is difficult to find potential employees with the necessary educational level. The problem is commonly referred to as the skills gap.

The crowd Wienss was speaking to wasn’t just any gathering. Gov. Scott Walker was on hand, along with Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson, WCTC President Barbara Prindiville, officials from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, school superintendents, lawmakers and other officials.

They were all there for the official launch of the Dual Enrollment Academy, a yearlong pilot program permitting high school seniors to receive credit from the technical college and their schools at the same time. To be eligible, students must have a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average, be on track to graduate and meet college entrance requirements.

The program has cohorts in tool and die/CNC, welding/fabrication and IT networking, all industries the schools identified as high-demand areas.  Students spend the majority of their day at WCTC during both semesters, and depending on the program could earn an industry certificate by the time they graduate high school.

Two school districts, Elmbrook and Waukesha, were involved in the initial development of the program. The Arrowhead, New Berlin, Pewaukee, Sussex Hamilton and West Allis school districts, along with Light House Academy, have since joined in the collaboration.

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