NTC graduation offers optimism

December 16, 2013

From wausaudailyherald.com: “NTC graduation offers optimism” — WAUSAU — Bettina Peters was shocked when she was laid off just over two years ago as a receptionist for a clinic that helped people with mental illness and alcohol and other drug addictions.

“I was pretty shaken because I was good at what I was doing,” Peters said. “You lose your confidence, you lose your positive outlook.”

Her outlook didn’t improve after she sent out 50 resumes and basically heard nothing back from employers. That’s when the 34-year-old from Marathon decided she needed to take an even more proactive approach to her future, and enrolled in Northcentral Technical College, NTC, to study human services with a specialty in alcohol and other drug addictions.

Peters was among 230 students who received their degrees and certificates at Saturday’s NTC graduation ceremony. She plans to continue her studies at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, eventually aiming for a master’s degree that will allow her to be a clinical social worker for patients with mental illnesses and addictions.

Her accomplishments have changed everything. “It kind of built me back up,” she said. Now she’s looking forward with confidence and optimism.

Optimism could have been the theme of Saturday’s ceremony. Although final numbers haven’t officially been tallied, many graduates already have jobs lined up, school officials said. That’s good news for them, but it also is good news for everybody, because it can be interpreted as a sign of a recovering economy.

Nearly 90 percent of students who graduated from NTC in 2012 have either found jobs or are continuing their educations, according to a survey, said Suzi Mathias, NTC’s director of transfer and placement.

That’s about the same employment rate reported by students who graduated in 2008. But the numbers took a dip in 2009 — 86 percent — and 2010, 87 percent, before rising back up to about 90 percent in 2011.

But Mathias said the difference now is that employers are coming to NTC looking for graduates to hire more often than in the past.

“For example, the business and IT, and also tech and trades, those areas seem to be booming,” Mathias said. “It’s a very positive sign.”

Even one of the economic sectors hardest hit by the recession — the construction industry — is showing signs of growth, said Jeff Musson, an NTC instructor of architecture and sustainable design.

The years between 2008 and 2012 “have been very hard on the construction industry. There were not many jobs and many actually left the industry to pursue other fields. Something totally unexpected started happening in January of 2013,” Musson said. “We started getting requests to hire our graduates.”

Between 2008 and 2012, NTC’s employment website had almost no ads for employers seeking construction workers, Musson said. This year, there have been more than 180 postings.

Peters knows that it won’t be easy for her meet her goals, but she’s got a positive determination. “I really built that confidence,” she said. “I feel like I’m much better prepared to get out there and take credit for the things I can do.”




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