From postcrescent.com: “Fox Valley Technical College creates body farm for research” — Fans of the CBS drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” undoubtedly will take interest in Fox Valley Technical College’s latest venture: the creation of a cold-weather body farm.

A body farm is an outdoor research facility where forensic scientists place animal carcasses and donated human cadavers in various settings — in the open air, in a shallow grave or in a sleeping bag — to study the decomposition of bodies by digestive enzymes, bacteria, insects and scavengers.

The information can help determine the time and circumstances of death, which detectives can use to validate or refute alibis given by suspects in a crime.

Body farms are in operation in Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, but the FVTC facility will be among the best suited to study the decomposition process in the extreme cold.

Joe LeFevre, chairman of FVTC’s Forensic Science Department, said researchers might conduct experiments on how subzero temperatures mummify body tissue, whether insects inside a chest cavity can tolerate freezing, or whether scavengers like coyotes and foxes lose interest in a frozen body.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions as to what happens to (bodies) after death,” LeFevre said.

The two-acre body farm will be built as part of FVTC’s $34.8 million Public Safety Training Center on County BB at the south end of the Outagamie County Airport in Greenville. Voters approved construction of the training center in April 2012 as part of a $66.5 million referendum.

The body farm, labeled a “forensic field training” site by FVTC, will be located along the west edge of the property. It lies south of FVTC’s “clandestine grave site” area, where instructors will use animal carcasses and cadavers to train forensic scientists, police officers and police dogs to locate buried remains.

Location worries

A resident living on the east side of the airport has serious concerns with the body farm, which is scheduled to open in mid-2015.

“Are we going to have excess flies now?” Tina LeFebre asked. “Is it going to smell now when the wind blows our way? What about if somebody wants to sell their house and potential buyers find out about that? Wouldn’t they go, ‘Eww’?”

LeFebre said most of her neighbors probably don’t know about FVTC’s plans. The body farm and grave site area were not publicized as part of the referendum.

Apprehension over the body farm is one of the reasons so few of them exist, LeFevre said.

“Not a lot of people want to deal with this topic,” he said. “This is not a happy topic.”

FVTC, though, considers its site to be ideal for a body farm. For starters, it’s connected to FVTC, which is known to law enforcement agencies across the country. It’s also isolated from the public by natural topography.

“This area works perfectly because there’s such limited access to it,” LeFevre said. “You can’t get to this area without being either on airport land or our land.”

FVTC will guard the site with a 10-foot-high fence to prevent curiosity seekers and thieves from entering the facility. The fence will be topped with barbed wire and screened with privacy slats.

LeFevre said nearby residents wouldn’t smell odors from decomposing carcasses and cadavers.

“The prevailing winds will keep them more toward the airport, toward the runway where nobody is, or if they are, they’re in an airplane whipping past at a couple hundred miles an hour, so they’re not going to get that whiff,” he said.

Research facility

FVTC plans to work with a forensic anthropologist at a research institution like the University of Wisconsin or the University of Tennessee to conduct experiments and publish the findings.

“We’d be spearheading the experiments, but we’d be partnering with another school, which would probably do some of the experimental design,” LeFevre said. “There’s a lot that goes into research.”

The body farm will be modeled after the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, started by forensic anthropologist Bill Bass. The Tennessee body farm is located a few miles from downtown Knoxville.

FVTC will start its experiments with pig carcasses to ensure its practices and security measures are sound before moving to human cadavers. Pigs have body proportions and organ placements similar to humans.

LeFevre said UW-Platteville has done a few short-term experiments with pig carcasses, but it hasn’t published studies.

The FVTC body farm will consist primarily of grassland, but researchers might place a body in a shed, in a car or in an above-ground swimming pool to analyze how the variables affect decomposition. They also might replicate suicide scenarios for study.

While the farm will be primarily a research facility, FVTC will document its experiments with photographs for use in its instructional programs. FVTC has 187 students working toward an associate degree in forensic science.

Student access to the body farm will be limited to guided walking tours.

“They still need to get that odor of death,” LeFevre said. “They still need to see, in the field, what scavenger activity actually does to a body.”

The body farm also will further FVTC’s continuing-education program for law enforcement professionals. LeFevre said the CSI skills taught by FVTC will help not only police from east-central Wisconsin, but from Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul and beyond.

“We’d be bringing their expertise up to the next level,” he said. “Right now, we’re just teaching them the theoretical and showing them some photos from a crime scene. With this, we can show them a real decomposing body.”

Cadaver donations

LeFevre said he’s already fielded inquiries from people who want to donate their remains to the body farm. For some, it’s less morbid than having their bodies dissected by the medical community.

“They watch ‘CSI’ and know the way they want to go,” LeFevre said.

Deb Krsnich, a retired Appleton police sergeant, said she would consider donating her body. Before she knew about the FVTC body farm, she thought of sending her arms and legs to a facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for use in training cadaver dogs.

Leaving her body to forensic anthropology poses no ick factor for Krsnich.

“I’m not there,” she said. “Because of my Christian beliefs, that’s a body I don’t need any longer, and I’d be doing a service.”

Krsnich, 57, said the only issue with donating her body might be that local researchers, instructors and students recognize her from her police career or from FoxTal, her Black Creek training center for police dogs and their handlers.

“I’m hoping by the time that happens, there’s not too many people who are going to be utilizing the facility who go, ‘Oh, that’s Deb!’” she said.

LeFevre said FVTC will treat cadavers with respect. “This is still somebody’s loved one,” he said.

From fdlreporter.com: “Professional attire offered free to local collegians” — College students living on a budget now have an opportunity to dress the part when they apply for jobs.

The Revolving Career Closet will be open to all area college students two days only: From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 31, and Tuesday, April 1, in Room 109 at Moraine Park Technical College.

The closet will offer free professional business attire to students who present a college identification card. Clothing such as suits and ties, sport coats, dress shirts, dresses, blazers, blouses and dress pants will be available in all sizes.

The innovative project was developed by five members of Leadership Fond du Lac, a community based program offered through the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce.

The group timed the opening of the closet so students planning to attend MPTC’s April 16 Job Fair can dress appropriately. The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Team member Patty Breister, a supervisor at Charter Communications, said the group was looking for a project that would benefit the community and identified there was a need for students in the area to dress more professionally when they went for job interviews.

Back in August 2013, the Leadership Fond du Lac team started brainstorming ideas and contacted key people at Marian University, MPTC and University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac to find out how they group could reach out to students.

“We also spoke to area businesses and surveyed about 15-20 business leaders. They told us that this was definitely something that was needed,” Breister said. “Students need more education on how to come prepared for a job interview.”

More and more young people are applying for jobs dressed in casual jeans and T-shirts, Breister said. The group felt that if it could provide free dress clothes to students it would improve their chances of being hired and teach them how to better promote themselves.

Society Insurance loved the idea so much its employees held an internal clothing drive. Marian University also sponsored a clothing drive.

“We have a large room that is filling with donations — more each day,” Breister said.

Another team member, Caron Daugherty, dean of general education at MPTC, said although the “pop-up” closet will only be offered for two days the intent is to bring it back annually.

“Even people coming in for interviews at the college level, I have seen some not wearing the appropriate dress,” Daugherty said. “And it’s so important to make that first good impression.”

The plan is to have career counselors from the area colleges available at the Revolving Career Closet to counsel students on how they should dress.

“I have heard counselors say that you should dress one step above the position you are applying for. For example, if it is an entry level position, you should dress at the management level,” Daugherty said. “Even if it were a cook position, I would not wear jeans and a polo shirt.”

Mary Hatlen, academic advisor at Marian University, said the collaboration between the three campuses underscores what can be achieved when the focus is on helping all students down the road of success.

Next year Marian will host a job fair and the Revolving Career Closet.

“It takes a team effort to ensure the sustainability of this project moving forward and we are excited about that,” she said.

Other members of the Leadership Fond du Lac Team are Marcus Butts, CitizensFirst Credit Union; Travis Van Dyn Hoven, American Family Insurance; and Sue Toll, from Aurora HealthCare.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Conversation: Apprenticeship program needs business partners” — By Rich RymanPress-Gazette Media talks to business leaders in its weekly conversation feature. This week, Lisa Schmelzer of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce discusses the chamber’s Youth Apprenticeship Program.

The program is in its 20th year in Brown County.

Q. What is the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Apprenticeship program?

A. The Youth Apprenticeship program is a statewide school-to-work initiative offered by the state Department of Workforce Development designed specifically for high school students. It integrates academic and technical instruction with paid, mentored work experience at an area business. The program is facilitated for 10 area school districts in and around Brown County by the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

Q. How many youth are participating?

A. Of the 94 students we have participating in the program, we secured training site placements for 46, with many more students eagerly waiting to begin their on-the job training.

The breakdown of participants by school district is:

Ashwaubenon, 10; Howard-Suamico, 12; De Pere, eight; Denmark, eight; Green Bay, 26; Luxemburg-Casco, six; Pulaski, 11; Seymour, six; West De Pere, five, and Wrightstown, two.

Q. In which jobs are apprenticeships available? What determines availability?

A. The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Youth Apprenticeship program offers nine high-demand career areas with more than 40 career pathways.

Program areas, identified as high demand by the state Department of Workforce Development include:

• Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources, Animal Basics, Large Animal/Herd, Vet Assistant, Plant Basics, Crops, Greenhouse, Landscaping, Water Resources

• Arts, A/V Technology & Communications – Printing, Graphics

• Financial Services – Accounting, Banking, Insurance

• Health Science – Nursing Assistant, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy, Ambulatory/Support Services (dietary, laboratory, imaging, optometry or physical therapy), Medical

•  OfficeHospitality, Lodging, & Tourism – Dining, Kitchen, Front Desk, Housekeeping, Travel/Tours, Grounds & Maintenance, Meetings & Events, Marketing & Sales, Management

• Information Technology – IT General, Hardware, Software

• Manufacturing – Assembly & Packaging, Manufacturing Processes, Machining, Operations Management, Welding, Equipment Maintenance

• STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) – Engineering Drafting, Mechanical Design, Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering

• Transportation, Distribution & Logistics – Auto Collision, Auto Technology, Logistics/Supply Chain Management

Q. What are the programs greatest needs?

A. The program is in immediate need of more Brown County area businesses tfor on-the-job training in many of the program areas, especially health, auto tech/collision, STEM, finance and welding areas

Q. Have you had to turn students away because of a lack of employers?

A. The program doesn’t turn students away; students start their industry-related classes at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in anticipation of the job placement. However, students who are not placed in an on-the-job training position are missing the most important and crucial components of the program: the opportunity to start building valuable employability and industry skills.

Q. Anything you’d like to add that we did not cover?

A. With the projected workforce shrinkage due to the anticipated “Silver Tsunami,” — the large number of Baby Boomers reaching retirement — the Youth Apprenticeship program can be part of the solution. We bring goal-oriented youth into workplaces and industry paths and create highly skilled workers to fill businesses’ employment pipeline. Students in the program now may be the full-time employees businesses hire down the road.

If you’d like to learn how participating in Youth Apprenticeship may serve as a pipeline to your future work force, please contact Lisa Schmelzer, Youth Apprenticeship program manager, at (920) 593-3411 or lschmelzer@titletown.org. More information on the program is available at www.titletown.org/YA.

From PriceCountyDaily.com: “NTC, partners open students’ eyes to local careers” –– The Phillips Campus of Northcentral Technical College (NTC) is once again teaming up with community partners to put on a series of events aimed at helping local youngsters at different points in their educational path explore career options available to them right here at home.

First up was Campus Visit Day, which invited local high school students to the Phillips NTC campus for an exploration of occupations and coursework offered at NTC in support of those career fields Wednesday, March 26. Event organizers were expecting around 200 students to come in from across Price County and Butternut for the visit.

A smaller scale version of the event made its debut last year. This time around the visit was expanded to include more academic disciplines and such hands-on features as simulators brought in by NTC’s health division and activities in the welding and electromechanical area of programming.

Ahead of the event, Campus Dean Bobbi Damrow explained that most visiting students would come from the sophomore grade level. Older students, in particular seniors, tend to already be set on a career path by this point in the school year, Damrow said. “So we wanted to give those sophomores kind of an early exploration experience.”

Instructors from Wausau were brought in to answer any questions students had about a specific field of study or the outlook for a particular career path. Next in the event line-up is the Price County Career Symposium, coming to the Chequamegon School District’s Park Falls campus Thursday, March 27 beginning at 5 p.m. The event is open to Price County middle school and high school students and parents of youth in those age groups.

“It’s really important that not only the students attend but that they bring a parent, adult friend or guardian in with them just so they have that support and when they want to go back and talk about that field, they have someone to talk to in their personal life.”

NTC and some of its partners, including local school districts and Northwest Wisconsin CEP (Concentrated Employment Program), Inc., introduced the event last year as an avenue for helping students discover local opportunities in the manufacturing field, nicknamed “Gold Collar” careers due to the increasing demand for a more advanced technological skillset within the occupational area. This year healthcare, or “White Coat,” employment offerings are also being spotlighted at the event due to the high demand for candidates in the career field, Damrow explained.

Students and parents will be able to explore displays set up by local representatives of the manufacturing and healthcare fields between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Attendants will have the chance to ask those professional such questions as the types of career opportunities offered at their business, competencies and skills required to clinch a job in the career field, classes students should be taking in high school and what they can do to further their exploration of those occupations, Damrow said.

The event is also set to feature panel discussions and Q and A sessions led by a sampling of local employees and employers drawn from the healthcare and manufacturing fields.  The “Gold Collar” discussion runs from 5:30-6 p.m., and the “White Coat” group takes center stage from 6-6:30 p.m.

“So, the Career Symposium is kind of one outlet that allows our high school students to connect with local business and industry,” Damrow said, adding that of course, those who have a hand in the event would be glad to see local students pursue some of the occupations highlighted there and one day, come back to work in Price County.

The last program in the event series is geared at a younger group on the age spectrum – area students from grades 5-8. Get S.M.A.R.T. (Science & Math Activities using Real-world Thinking) will be connecting students in that age range with their choice of two hands-on activities at the Phillips Campus of NTC Saturday, April 5 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Each student needs to be accompanied by a parent or guardian at the event.

Damrow explained that the event, which was open to 20 youngsters in its debut at the Phillips campus last year, has been expanded to include two new activity offerings in order to accommodate more student participants.

Projects in welding and electronics will be back alongside a new IT Media session giving students the chance to produce their own music video and a new Mini Medic tutorial guiding students through basic life-saving skills.

“We hope that this will inspire our middle school students to actually take an active approach to early career exploration,” Damrow said.

A little over half of the 48 slots open to area students were already filled as of March 24. Anyone who’d like to be a part of the event is encouraged to call the Phillips campus at (715) 339-4555 – the sooner the better as spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It’s just overall a really fun day for the students,” Damrow said.

There is a $15 charge per student attending the event to help cover program expenses. That fee secures students lunch, their completed projects, a T-shirt and door prizes as well as lunch for their adult companion. The Price County Economic Development Association stepped up as co-sponsor for Get S.M.A.R.T., helping to cover the cost of program materials.

“They see the importance in giving these experiences to the students at a young age,” Damrow said.

Those kind of community partnerships are really what NTC is all about, with the school needing to work with representatives of local industry and education in order to “create a pipeline” that puts future employees to work in Price County, as Damrow explained.

She noted that one major goal of these types of events is to make such vital connections with businesses and industry.

Damrow said, “We have some fantastic career opportunities here in Price County, so having the partners that we have, business and industry and the Price County Economic Development Association, is critical to the success of the events.”

She emphasized that community members are also welcome to stop by events in the NTC calendar and discover what they are all about.

From Wisconsin State Farmer: “Program highlights National Ag Day” — FENNIMORE ––  In a pristine machine shop that included many tractors in the process of being rebuilt, a distinguished group of speakers highlighted National Ag Day at Southwest Tech in Fennimore Tuesday, March 25. The Dean of Industry, Trades and Agriculture programs at Southwest Tech Derek Dachelet said he was pleased that system officials asked his school to host the event in honor of National Agriculture Day.

Local voters approved a referendum in 2008 to build the new Ag Power center where the program was held. Agriculture is a huge part of the economy in the technical college’s district, he said. In honor of the school’s special relationship with Case IH, a huge red combine served as the backdrop for the speakers who lined up to talk about the importance of agriculture in Wisconsin. The whole event was the brainchild of dairy farmer Becky Levzow, who is the farmer representative on the technical college board. She saw that other sectors of the economy – manufacturing, health care — were continually being recognized for their importance so she suggested the event to highlight Ag Day.

The event was intended to shine a spotlight on the importance of agriculture in the state economy but also to remind people that technical colleges have the ability to train the workers that are going to be needed to move agriculture forward into the future, said Conor Smyth, who helped organize the event on behalf of the state’s 16 technical colleges. Morna Foy, president of the Technical College System, agreed with Levzow, that agriculture is one of the key sectors of Wisconsin’s economy and was enthusiastic about hosting the Ag Day event at a key school in the system. Levzow, who is a partner in a 180-cow dairy near Rio, said careers in agriculture are important not only for students who graduate from programs like those at Southwest Tech, they are crucially important for employers.

Gov. Scott Walker told the audience that Wisconsin’s nearly $60 billion agriculture industry, and its leadership in many commodity areas, is something to highlight on National Agriculture Day. “Agriculture is a vital industry in Wisconsin’s economy, and we are very fortunate to have strong partnerships between our state’s technical college system and the agricultural community,” Walker said. “We are also phasing in the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit to allow job creators in this industry to grow and expand and invest in their operations.” Walker signed legislation creating the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit in 2011. This credit took effect in tax year 2013, and increases in four steps to 7.5 percent in tax year 2016 and beyond. The credit, he said, makes Wisconsin a more competitive place to grow manufacturing and agriculture businesses and jobs. Wisconsin’s 1.27 million dairy cows produce over 27 billion pounds of milk and the state hopes to increase that to 30 billion by 2020, Walker said. “We’ve got to keep up with demand.” One-quarter of the nation’s cheese and half of all the country’s specialty cheese is made here, he added. The state also leads in cranberry and ginseng production and is near the top in potato and other vegetable production.

Trade missions and new technologies will help the state expand its export capacity and keep up with new developments in agriculture. Trade specialists from other countries are always interested in our technology and in the education of future leaders in our industry, he said. To keep agriculture a large and growing part of the state’s economy “we’ve got to have people with expertise and knowledge.”

Wisconsin’s 66th Alice in Dairyland, Kristin Olson, said she is a fifth-generation dairy girl and will have traveled 40,000 miles to promote agriculture during her tenure as Alice. One of the messages she carries all over the state is that “we are all impacted by agriculture. We all eat,” she said.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said that with corn and cows on the state quarter “folks understand we are pretty invested in agriculture” in Wisconsin. “The state has a tremendous reputation and agriculture is one of our two economic drivers. It is a historic and future industry here.” There is only one industry that has to be represented on the state’s technical college board and that is agriculture, said system president Morna Foy. (Levzow is that representative.) “We want to make sure our commitment to agriculture is not forgotten,” Foy said.

Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Ben Brancel told the crowd that everybody should celebrate agriculture every day they eat a meal. “It’s kind of in everybody’s life,” he said. In the early part of the 20th century there were predictions of mass starvation, but yields and productivity in the last half of that century more than made up for the growth in the nation’s and the world’s population. Science and technology pushed food production forward to the point where there were surpluses. Today some of the challenges in agriculture involve having enough trained people to do the work that needs to be done. There are 354,000 people directly employed in the state in agricultural activities, he said. When Brancel was state agriculture secretary in the 1990s there were a few trade missions but in his second tenure at DATCP there isn’t a week that goes by when there isn’t some interaction with someone from another part of the world. State agricultural exports were up 9 percent in 2013 to a total of $3.2 billion. Dairy products, including whey are a big part of that export picture, Brancel said. “Whey used to be a huge problem; it was a waste product. Now it’s one of our largest export commodities. “The Wisconsin Agribusiness Council had identified 400 separate type jobs related to agriculture that are available to people here in Wisconsin,” Brancel said.
“And another pretty important statistic – four out of four people eat.”

Southwest Technical College has several programs targeted towards agriculture, including the Agribusiness/Science Technology Program, Farm Business and Production Management, the Agricultural Power and Equipment Technician Program, and Dairy Herd Management.

From fox11online.com: “Suicide awareness display at NWTC” — GREEN BAY – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College wants people to talk more about college suicides.

A Send Silence Packing display was put up Wednesday. 1,100 backpacks were laid out to represent the estimated 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year.

Some included stories about the people behind the numbers.

Organizers say while talking about suicide can be uncomfortable, it must be done.

“It’s something we really haven’t talked enough about. You know, if we’re not talking about it, then people aren’t getting hooked up with a lot of the resources that could help them you know make some different choices and get them the help that they need,” said Paul Valencic, NWTC mental health counselor.

The national nonprofit Active Minds presented the display. Organizers say NWTC students are working to open their own chapter on campus.

From biztimes.com: “Stritch, WCTC form credit transfer partnership” — Fox Point-based Cardinal Stritch University and Waukesha-based Waukesha County Technical College have formed a credit transfer agreement for students studying digital media.

The agreement is meant to encourage WCTC students who earn an associate of applied science degree in graphic design to continue their development in Stritch’s new bachelor of arts in digital media program.

Starting in May, new WCTC graphic design associate’s degree holders can apply up to 69 credits toward the Stritch bachelor’s degree.

“Our students are showing increasing interest in transfer opportunities to four-year universities so they can continue their education and climb their career ladder,” said Denine Rood, WCTC vice president of Learning. “We’re committed to providing them with seamless credit transfer to premier partner institutions like Stritch.”

The agreement has formed a cooperative relationship between the schools, which will help both to better accommodate transfer students.

The B.A. in digital media aims to ready students for careers in media and digital arts, including social media, website design and print design.

“The digital media program prepares students for successful careers in a variety of emerging fields,” said Dan Scholz, dean of Cardinal Stritch’s College of Arts and Sciences. “We are thrilled that this new relationship with Waukesha County Technical College will allow its graduates the ability to further hone and develop their skills in our new bachelor’s program.”

From wausaudailyherald.com: “NTC to compete for $1 million Aspen Institute prize” — WAUSAU — The Aspen Institute has named Northcentral Technical College as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million in prize funds, according to an NTC news release.

The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C., and Aspen, Colo., identified the top 150 community colleges through an assessment of institutional performance, improvement and equity on student retention and completion measures.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of the top 150 community colleges nationwide,” said Lori Weyers, NTC president. “This is a tribute to our excellent faculty and staff who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to our students and their success.”

The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

From postcrescent.com: “Fox Valley Celiacs bringing in gluten-free chef for demonstrations” — Rebecca Reilly used to skip school to stay home and cook.

“That was the time Julia Child and Graham Kerr were on television, and I was in a family where we did all the cooking,” the Massachusetts chef said. “My mother had three girls, and we were responsible for cooking because she was working, too.”

As an adult, the kitchen remained a safe haven for Reilly.

“The world was safe as long as I had my apron on,” she said.

Reilly is a classically French-trained chef with more than 20 years in signature cafés and high-end kitchens as head chef, sous chef, pastry chef and menu consultant. She also is nationally recognized as a gluten-free chef, instructor, author and food coach.

The latter is the result of learning in the mid-’90s that she, her daughter and her son all have celiac disease.

Fox Valley Celiacs support group has partnered with the Fox Valley Technical College culinary arts program to bring Reilly, author of the bestselling cookbook, “Gluten Free Baking,” to Appleton on April 5. Reilly will teach gluten-free breads and desserts from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and gluten-free homemade pasta and simple meals from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Each session is $10.

Culinary arts students from FVTC will offer a gluten-free lunch between sessions for $8. Vendor booths offering gluten-free products in their stores will provide information, coupons and samples.

“The board of the Fox Valley Celiac Support Group is thrilled to be hosting chef Rebecca here in Appleton,” board member Rebecca Mailand said. “By partnering with Fox Valley Technical College culinary arts program, we were able to make this a reality. Festival Foods has been a huge help as well by providing us with the ingredients chef Rebecca will use during her sessions. In addition, Festival Foods as well as Happy Bellies Bake Shop, the Free Market and Bulk Priced Foods will have vendor booths at the event.”

For Reilly, learning about celiac disease started with her son, now 22.

“My son was very sickly,” she said. “As a 5-year-old he couldn’t even walk across a basketball (court) without someone picking up and carrying him. And he couldn’t breathe. He was an emotional, physical mess.”

While allergy prick tests showed no sensitivity to gluten, blood work did.

Feeding her son gluten-free foods transformed not only his life, it also helped Reilly’s irritable bowel and made her daughter’s migraine headaches disappear.

“My son was a gift. I look at him as my gift to heal all three of us,” she said.

Reilly said she loves teaching people how to make flexible and delicious breads and pizza and more with alternative grains.

“People go, ‘Oh, my god. I can do this. I can have pumpernickel. I can have focaccia. I can have, I can have, I can have,’” she said. “When people take my class, it transforms their lives. … I am not about recipes. I’m about teaching you how to make it.”

From newrichmond-news.com: “Lt. Gov. Kleenfisch visits NR businesses” — Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch spent the day in New Richmond last Wednesday keeping company with local business people at a breakfast meeting and during tours of WITC and three local manufacturers.

On the lieutenant governor’s itinerary were a Business Breakfast at WITC with 50 area business owners, a tour of WITC and visits with Wisconsin Lighting, Antlers by Klaus and Phillips-Medisize.

At the Business Breakfast, which was sponsored by WITC, the City of New Richmond and the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce, Kleefisch talked about tax reform and Gov. Scott Walker’s “Blueprint to Prosperity” he unveiled during his State of the State Address earlier this year.

“Everyone in Wisconsin who pays taxes is going to see tremendous tax relief based on that,” Kleefisch said. “If you add it all up, between the $58 for the income tax relief, the $101 of property tax relief, the $57.90 per month people are going to get from withholding changes, that’s about $681 for the average Wisconsin family when you add it all up in April. That’s a big deal.”

Kleefisch’s New Richmond visit was part of a tour to spread the word about the tax relief Walker has brought to Wisconsinites, and how much more can be done.

“After the blueprint is signed into law, the governor will have signed about $2 billion of tax relief into law,” Kleefisch said. “It’s extraordinary and people are thankful for it, but we want to do more, because we know taxpayers know what to do with their money better than government ever could.”

Part of the tour was also meant to solicit ideas from business people around the state, Kleefisch said. And the Business Breakfast was a good opportunity for her to hear directly from those business owners. She said she is urging people to come to tax reform roundtable sessions and also to visit taxreform.wi.gov.

After the Business Breakfast, Kleefisch took a tour of the WITC campus with WITC Senior Director Larry Gee and Campus Administrator Joe Huftel.

Next, Kleefisch and her entourage — including New Richmond Mayor Fred Horne, City Administrator Mike Darrow and Community Development Director Beth Thompson — toured a couple of businesses in the city’s former WeTEC building.

Todd Loehr, owner of Wisconsin Lighting, told the lieutenant governor about the history of his company and showed her the ins and outs of his custom lampshade manufacturing process that takes online orders from around the country.

Loehr also took Kleefisch to another business in the building that not too many people know about: Antlers by Klaus.

Antlers by Klaus touts itself as the largest antler replicating company in the nation with more than 250 replicas. The company meticulously creates each replica to appear just as the original set of antlers and each set is painted by hand in a space inside the former WeTEC building.

Owner Klaus Lebrecht told Kleefisch his company’s story from how he got his start to how he got his work into some of the biggest sporting goods chain stores in the United States.

Before leaving town, Kleefisch reminisced about one of her earliest trips to western Wisconsin.

“I love New Richmond,” Kleefisch said. “St. Croix County was one of the first counties I ever campaigned in during my very first week on the trail back in 2010. So, I have very fond memories of being here, but I think the memories I’m building today are even fonder still, because we are talking about the growth potential of a community that is really on the cusp of something special.”

From fdlreporter.com: “Green Bay hiring reflects statewide needs” — GREEN BAY — Job openings in Green Bay reflect those statewide, with truck drivers, customer service and sales representatives, and registered nurses in greatest demand.

“The top positions are almost identical,” said Jeffrey Sachse, economist with the state Department of Workforce Development. “The only thing that pops up is more welder openings than CNC openings, because of the nature of the work.”

Welders have been in demand in the region for several years. Green Bay, Marinette and Sturgeon Bay have a lot of fabrication and shipbuilding companies that require welders.

Sachse said that more than anytime during the last three years, hiring is up across the board. All industries are looking for new workers. Much of that is driven by the increasing flood of baby boomer retirements. Many boomers put off retiring during the 2007-09 recession and its aftermath when retirement funds took a hit, but now are making the move.

Construction jobs have grown the most in the region, driven by the U.S. 41, Schreiber Foods and Lambeau Field projects.

“The greatest concentration is on the Highway 41 corridor,” Sachse said.

Construction jobs increased by 7 percent in 2013.

“That’s twice the industry average,” Sachse said. “Those are per-recessionary growth numbers, and it’s more than twice the growth of any industry over that same period.”

The demand for health care workers is growing as baby boomers age and health care systems add facilities and bring older ones up to date.

In addition to nurses, the Green Bay area has openings for nursing assistants, medical and health services managers and personal care aides.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay has waiting lists for its health care programs, though not as long as they once were, and it ramped up its manufacturing programs to add weekend and evening classes.

“Some of our graduates six months out are making $36,000 a year as welders. Electromechanical technology graduates are making $50,000,” said Jennifer Pigeon, manager of career services at NWTC.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: Fond du Lac job searchers enjoy diverse options” — FOND DU LAC — Job seekers are enjoying an uptick in employment opportunities in the Fond du Lac area.

Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce president and CEO Joe Reitemeier says the area is seeing a definite shift in momentum since the first quarter of the year.

“Coming out of the recession we were a little bit behind in gaining any traction in opportunities for employment,” Reitemeier said. “In recent months we’ve literally seen dozens of companies aggressively seeking new employees.”

While large manufacturers in the area — Mercury Marine and Alliance Laundry Systems — have undergone expansions and added to their employee base, Reitemeier says job opportunities are available across a wide spectrum including manufacturing, food service, agriculture production, financial services, insurance and health care.

“Virtually every kind of job is being marketed right now,” he said. “However, one piece consistent within all the job openings is the requirement for advanced skill sets. Those people who are available for work are going to have to come with a skill set that is desired by the employer.”

Top employers in the Fond du Lac area include Brunswick, Agnesian, Alliance Laundry Systems and the Fond du Lac School District.

Success story

Kondex Corp. in Lomira, which produces engineered cutting and high-wear components for the agriculture industry and beyond, has enjoyed job growth over the past year.

Since Kondex moved to its new plant in 2007, the company has grown its employee base by 50 percent — to 280 employees, said Mike Frydryk, vice president of human resources and organizational development.

The 2012 drought hampered plans for hiring last year.

“The drought had a lag effect on our business in 2013,” Frydryk explained. “However, as we plan ahead we do expect 2014 to bring continued growth from what we are expecting from our customer base.”

While Kondex offers entry-level positions in packaging and assembly starting at $10 and $11 an hour, the manufacturer also recruits for positions requiring specific capabilities, education and experience including machine operators, welders and engineers.

Wages

Reitemeier said most of the jobs available in the Fond du Lac area fall in the $11 to $13 an hour starting range.

“We’re not really talking about minimum wage positions but positions starting at a considerably higher level. But again, those jobs require skills,” he said.

Many companies offer on-the-job training programs while others provide tuition reimbursement for employees willing to seek additional training, Reitemeier said.

“Moraine Park Technical College offers a wealth of opportunities for developing specific skills in much of the employment arenas that we’re seeing. Oftentimes those programs are available to employees where the employer will actually pay for the instruction,” Reitemeier. “Advanced degrees at institutions like MPTC or a four-year college and experience are needed for the advanced positions being offered out there.”

Late last year, Fond du Lac’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics released in December 2013.

“Even with a 5 percent unemployment rate we’re virtually experiencing full employment right now,” Reitemeier said. “We’re going to have to figure out creative ways to find the qualified applicants for the positions out there.”

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Skilled trades, health care jobs among hottest in Oshkosh area” — OSHKOSH — Manufacturing technology, skilled trades and health care positions are among the hottest job prospects in the Oshkosh area, local workforce development leaders say.

In a time when jobs still are hard to come by — especially for those without specialized training — there is hope for applicants who are seeking employment in some of the high-demand sectors and know where to find the necessary training for those positions.

“We’re definitely seeing manufacturing jobs still hiring,” said Brian Covey, communications director for Forward Service Corp., which runs the Winnebago County W-2 program and serves low-income families in the region. “Through W-2, what we’re seeing is a lot of care-giving (jobs).”

For example, certified nursing assistants or in-home caregivers are among the most in-demand positions, as well as construction jobs, especially with the upcoming reconstruction of a bridge along U.S. 41, Covey said.

According to state Department of Workforce Development statistics for the third quarter of 2013, the top industries by employment in Winnebago County were food services and drinking places, transportation equipment manufacturing, papermaking, administrative and support services, and educational services.

The county experienced a non-adjusted unemployment rate of 5.1 percent in December, compared to 5.8 percent statewide and 6.5 percent nationally, according to the most recent DWD estimates.

“In the manufacturing environment, a lot has changed since the baby boomers first entered the job market,” said Paul Stelter, CEO of the Neenah-based Fox Valley Workforce Development Board. “Those jobs require a lot more technical skills. As a result, the people who are looking to enter into the manufacturing industry today need at least at technical college education.

“Manufacturing isn’t that dark, dirty place that you associate with manufacturing plants of 50 years ago.”

According to data compiled from the 2012 and 2013 Fox Valley Technical College graduate employment research reports, the top job markets in the region include criminal justice and law enforcement as well as agri-business and science technology.

Also among the top industry sectors are nursing assistant, marketing, administrative professionals, electromechanical technology and welders, all of which are offered at FVTC locations in Oshkosh, said Chris Jossart, media relations manager for Fox Valley Technical College. He said welding, wood manufacturing, aviation, marketing and medical technology also are in high demand.

The system has campuses in Grand Chute and Oshkosh; regional centers in Chilton, Clintonville, Waupaca and Wautoma; and training centers in Appleton, Oshkosh and Neenah. In addition to job-specific training — much of which is offered through FVTC — many local employers are looking for workers with soft skills, such as time management, teamwork, flexibility and the ability to learn on the job.

“Employers are looking for the best fit, and the best fit includes not only the technical part but also the person’s ability to show up on time, to work well with others, to be a contributing member of the team, and all those are contributors to hiring a person,” Stelterhe said.

Nearly 16,000 people in the Oshkosh-Neenah area work in production occupations, followed by about 13,000 in office and administrative support and about 7,000 in sales and related occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Transportation and material moving, food preparation and serving, and health care practitioners and technical occupations round out the rest of the industries that employ more than 5,000 people each.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Information technology, nursing head list of local jobs” — WAUSAU — Information technology is on the A-list of in-demand jobs in Marathon County right now.

Laurie Borowicz, vice president of student services at Northcentral Technical College, says the college is doing its best to keep up with demand for positions in the IT field.

“We could take 50 more students in IT tomorrow if we could find them,” Borowicz said. “That’s probably our issue right now, is finding people, getting people into these high-demand programs.”

The technical college is trying to make it easier for students to take the IT track by offering more courses in the evenings and online, she said.

Jim Warsaw, economic development director for Marathon County Development Corp., said there’s a growing concentration of IT and technology-related businesses in the Wausau area and those employers currently can’t openings.

“NTC doubled their graduating class in IT and it still isn’t enough to keep up with demand,” Warsaw said.

In addition to IT, Warsaw said, other popular positions in the area include welding, skilled trades, manufacturing, health care, sales and nursing.

Most job activity, he said, is with companies that were prepared to come out of the recession when things turned around, most of which are larger employers.

“Small businesses are still trying to cope with the recession’s impact on their cash flows and equity positions,” Warsaw said.

The job of certified nursing assistant, or CNA, is big right now, according to Marathon County Job Center W2 job developer David Cruz.

One reason for that growth is that it’s easier to get started in a certified nursing course than in a registered nursing program, Cruz said.

Overall, the unemployment picture has improved in Marathon County over the past year.

The most recent figures from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development show the December 2013 unemployment rate for Marathon County at 5.7 percent. That’s nearly a full percentage point better than the 6.6 percent registered in December 2012.

From journaltimes.com: “Gateway offering optometry assistant programs” — RACINE – Starting later this spring, students at Gateway Technical College will be able to begin training to become an optometry or ophthalmologist assistant thanks to a federal Affordable Care Act grant.

Gateway received a five-year $10 million grant in 2010 to help pay for health programs and help students going into health related fields, said Stacia Thompson, the project director for Gateway’s Health Profession Opportunity Program.

It’s largely gone to pay for support services for Gateway students going into health fields. That included tuition assistance, tutoring, job search assistance and transportation and child care assistance.

The idea of the grant was to help prepare and train students for the growing health care industry, Thompson said.

Recently area optometry and ophthalmology professionals indicated the need for more training to help assistants learn how to use new equipment, Thompson said. Currently the closest place to receive the training is Milwaukee, she said.

“A lot of things the college does are employer driven,” Thompson said. “The local workforce came to us and said there was a need and we saw we had to respond to that need.”

Through the federal grant, Gateway was able to purchase approximately $103,000 in equipment to start offering the program at Gateway’s Racine campus, she said.

That includes equipment that checks for glaucoma, tells what prescription glasses are currently, and helps determine lens prescriptions.

The grant is also paying for the instructor for the first class and books for the first class, Thompson said, although she did not have the cost breakdown for those.

They already have a limited group of 15 students who are in the process of registering for the classes starting in May, but it will be open to the public as a whole in the fall semester, Thompson said

To complete the certificate program students must complete four classes, adding up to 13 credits.

From swnews4u.com: “Boscobel High School offers course options for college-bound students” — By Tricia Hill – Boscobel High School faculty have been working on helping their students in grades 9-12 prepare for college by giving students the opportunity to participate in transcripted, articulated and Advance Placement (AP) courses. Currently, they are offering 14 credits of transcripted courses, which means they can be added to their college transcripts; six credits of college board-certified courses and three credits of articulated courses.

“We encourage our students to take these courses,” said guidance counselor Rhonda Scallon.

The transcripted courses include Accounting, Computer Applications, Speech, Vocational English, and Theme Writing. This is the first year that Theme Writing and Speech have been an option for seniors to take as transcripted courses. The students are encouraged to take these courses not only by the faculty, but also by some of the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College faculty.

“When a student decides to take the course, faculty from Southwest Tech come and talk to the students so they have an idea on what to expect,” Scallon said.

Once a student enters into the transcripted courses, they will be taking a course that they can add to their college transcripts. However, if a student starts taking a transcripted course and their grade seems to be dropping, they have the opportunity to not continue it as a transcripted course, but they must remain taking the course at the high school.

There is currently only one option available to students interested in taking an articulated course, which is a Southwest Tech math course. Students can only use the credits earned by taking this class if they plan to attend Southwest Tech. When taking an articulated course, the student earns a certificate of completion instead of credits added to their college transcript. However, in order to earn the certificate, the student has to earn a B or higher at the completion of the course.

Boscobel also offers some AP courses to their students, such as AP Biology and Advanced Urban History. Boscobel hopes to some day add AP Psychology to the list. Come this May, Boscobel will have nine of their students partaking in the AP exam so see what they have learned.

“The students in AP classes are working during the summer on course work,” Scallon said.

Having these options for Boscobel High School students is a great asset if students take advantage of the situation, according to Scallon. If the students participate and work hard in these programs, they will be given a head start at courses that will be expected of them in college, get a taste of college AP work, see how rigorous the class work can be, and best of all, the classes are free for the students if they take them while in high school.

“As of right now there are no disadvantages to the programs,” Scallon said. “I feel we are setting up the ground work with other colleges by having our students take part in these programs.”

Some students may have concerns if the college they plan to attend will accept credits from Southwest Tech. So the teachers have introduced them to a website called Transfer Wizard, where the students are able to go and see if their college accepts credits from Southwest Tech.

From ricelakeonline.com: “Work ethic, character issues are problems for employers” — There isn’t a lack of jobs in Barron County. There’s a lack of employable people.

That was the theme of the Barron County Workforce Skills Conference, which gathered business, education and community leaders together to discuss local workforce issues Monday, March 17 at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
The problem, often called a skills gap, is only expected to worsen as baby boomers retire.

In Northwest Wisconsin there are now more people who are 65 than who are 18. That ratio is expected to broaden for the next decade or more.

The results of a survey of 46 Barron County employers were presented at the conference. Many reported a lack of qualified applicants for jobs.

“Businesses are looking to add or recruit people they can’t find,” said Beth Mathison of Manpower Eau Claire.

The skills most needed according to respondents were in customer service, general maintenance, office skills, computer/technical skills, skilled trades, banking/accounting, sales, welding and machining.

In predicting future needs, employees with general office, robotics and masonry skills were mentioned the most.

But it was a lack of basic or “soft” skills that got people talking.

Survey respondents made such comments as “don’t seem to have a strong work ethic,” “nobody wants to talk anymore; they want to email/text everything” and “lack of interpersonal skills is appalling.”

Conference attendee Dane Deutsch, owner of a gymnastics center and IT company, said, “I’ve never fired one person for a tech skill. It has always been a character issue.”

Another attendee said, “If you gave me a choice, I’ll take the person with the critical skills. I can teach the tech skills.”

The survey showed the biggest soft skill deficiencies, in order, were ability to organize and use information, integrity/honesty, speaking, creativity, customer service, reading, writing and problem solving.

In regard to improving the workforce, soft skills was rated ‘most important’ by more than 50% of respondents, followed by occupational skills, specific competencies and educational skills.

Respondents said the most important soft skills, in order by percentage, were attendance/punctuality, initiative/motivation, integrity/honesty, productivity, teamwork and customer service.

Education
Barron School District Superintendant Craig Broeren said soft skills are emphasized in the school system, but home environment is also key to what kind of adult a student becomes.

Some survey respondents suggested the next generation of workers doesn’t have the right attitude toward work and finding work and aren’t being prepared accordingly in schools.

But Chetek-Weyerhaeuser High School principal Larry Zeman said the average adult would not fare well in the advanced placement calculus or chemistry classes students are taking now.

“What kids know now far surpasses anything I knew when I graduated in 1981,” he said.

But even that may not be enough to guarantee career success.

“The last time we hired someone with just a high school diploma was 10 years ago,” said Dan Conroy, an executive at Nexen Group, an advanced manufacturer with a site in Webster.

Conroy said 70% of Nexen employees have a 2-year degree and can get a starting wage of nearly $20 an hour and work up to $35 an hour.

“We’re successful because we’ve gone high-tech, have well-educated employees and pay well,” he said.

Zeman agreed a 2-year degree is a good option for many students.

“We’ve made a concerted effort in out school district to not fool kids into 4 years or nothing else,” he said.

Zeman also said his district is investing $250,000 to upgrade technical education equipment and offer more welding and machine tool classes in a partnership with local technical colleges.

The school district is also trying to build connections with local businesses to create more learning opportunities.

Jim Woods, representing Wisconsin Voices from the Classroom, presented the results of a survey of 1,973 state teachers, 80% of which said there should be more interaction between schools and business.

The survey also showed 67% of responding teachers believe the educational system is on the “wrong track.” Many also said schools do not have enough money to educate students well, and many feel unappreciated as teachers.
“It is a population who thinks they’re not getting enough support from the general public,” said Woods.

But he also said the survey also showed many teachers, particularly younger ones, are willing to change to better student education.
“The only way we’re going to get there is having more discussions like this,” said Woods.

Skill Survey
The survey was conducted by the Barron County Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the Rice Lake Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

The survey was distributed through other chamber of commerce groups, the BCEDC website, meetings, individual requests and business newsletters.
Most respondents, in order by percentage, were in the manufacturing, construction, health and community services, hotel/restaurant/entertainment or retail and sales industries.

Nearly 75% of respondents had been in business more than 20 years. About 80% had experienced increased or unchanged sales from 2012-2013. About one-third planned to add employees in 2013.

 

From journaltimes.com: “Walker promotes Wisconsin Fast Forward program at SC Johnson iMet Center” — STURTEVANT — A $35 million increase in worker training will help schools such as Gateway Technical College get more people into in-demand programs, Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday.

Walker appeared at the SC Johnson iMET Center, 2320 Renaissance Blvd., to promote the increase becoming law Monday. Much of the money, which will go into a training program called Wisconsin Fast Forward, is geared toward grants for technical colleges.

The grants will allow colleges to “buy down” long waiting lists for its programs, Walker said.

“We can make sure there’s no excuse for employers who need folks,” Walker said. “If there’s any waiting list in any of those areas, we’re going to put the money through the Wisconsin Fast Forward program to help each of our individual campuses.”

The move ensures the state does not take a “one-size-fits-all” approach — one area of the state may need high-skilled welders, while another may need mechanics, Walker said. Officials want to work with each campus to address its specific needs, he said.

The $35 million also will go toward expanding programs for employers to hire more people with disabilities, as well as collaborative projects between school districts, tech colleges and businesses.

The measure passed the Legislature with broad bipartisan support. Gateway President Bryan Albrecht praised the increase, calling it “an investment in our students.”

“It’s going to make a big difference in our communities so that we can provide the workforce that they need,” Albrecht said.

The state’s focus is not only on filling existing jobs, but on future jobs created through new economic development, Walker said. Wisconsin will see many retirements in the coming years and needs to prepare other workers to fill those roles, he said.

Walker predicted the state will eventually turn its attention from creating jobs to filling jobs.

“We’re going to need more bodies,” he said. “It’s my firm belief that we can’t afford to have anyone who is able and willing to work sitting on the wayside.”

In comments to reporters after the speech, Walker touted recent company expansions into Racine and Kenosha counties, including Meijer’s plans to open a distribution center in Pleasant Prairie and a future Amazon.com facility in Kenosha.

Those are “good signs for southeastern Wisconsin” and will help address unemployment in the region, he said.

He also said the state’s tax climate and focus on growing companies organically helps sway out-of-state companies into expanding into Wisconsin.

“That should show companies, whether they’re coming from Illinois or Minnesota or anywhere else, that we’re not just the short-term romance,” Walker said. “We’re a long-term commitment with businesses that want to grow and create jobs here.”

From beloitdailynews.com: “Walker signs plan at BTC” — By Shaun Zinck – Gov. Scott Walker signed a $35 million bill at Blackhawk Technical College on Monday morning to help fund technical college programs and train more workers in advanced manufacturing.

Walker said the bill would affect three areas in the state: bring down the waiting lists on high-demand areas of studies at technical colleges; offer more opportunities for college and high school partnerships for dual credits; and help people with disabilities find jobs in Wisconsin.

“We go out on campuses and we see what’s happening,” Walker said. “We see the relevance we talked about that are connecting not only students, but employers here in Janesville and in Rock County and all over the state of Wisconsin.”

Morna Foy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System, said technical colleges in Wisconsin focus on the opportunities for students to train in specialized skills, and it also helps employers have access to those workers to stay competitive in the marketplace.

“This new prosperity grant will provide another tool for technical colleges to provide help with that purpose and mission to make Wisconsin the greatest economic engine in the world,” she said.

The bill appropriates the funds to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, which will then grant the money to the technical colleges in the state. Walker said the grants are not just workforce development, but economic development, by helping technical colleges “buy down” waiting lists for popular manufacturing programs.

“You hear time and time again from employers that, ‘Not only do I need help filling that high-skilled welder, CNC operator, machinist … but I actually have the capacity to add more work if I can fill the positions I have,’” the governor said. “So it’s not just about workforce development, it’s about opening the door so our employers can create more jobs going forward.”

The partnerships between technical colleges and school districts are also very valuable, Walker said. He brought up his recent tour to the Beloit Memorial High School Technical Education Programming Space.

“It was a great example when you see the technology incorporated on campus right there at a high school,” Walker said. “One of the exciting things we were seeing is young people that are not only excited about what they are learning, but earning credits for high school graduation, and then have that apply to going on to pursuing the rest of what they need for their career at a technical college.”

Helping people with disabilities find employment is also important because no one can “be on the sidelines,” Walker said.

“With this bill we are setting money aside to expand programs like Project Search, which helps young people with disabilities start to explore what their abilities are, and plug them into those as they transition from high school to the workplace,” he said. “We want to help employers find the unique abilities of people who are otherwise identified as having disabilities. This is not a charity program. This is to find their unique abilities so you have an asset for the employer and the employee. It’s a win-win.”

All three parts will help the economy in Wisconsin grow, Walker said.

“By filling key positions, and helping companies know that when they choose to expand and grow here in the State of Wisconsin, they are going to have a steady, strong supply of well-trained, well-prepared, well-educated, hardworking employees that will make them prosperous for many years to come,” he said.

After the bill signing Walker spoke to the media, and when asked, he declined to answer detailed questions about whether he was aware a secret email system existed in the Milwaukee County executive’s office when he held the position, or whether he personally used that system.

“I’ve pointed out the district attorney spent multiple years looking at that and chose to end the report last March,” he said. “I don’t really need to go through and examine all the details. I’m not going to go through things of the past. The district attorney looked at it and chose not to act on anyone else and I think it speaks for itself.”

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Walker touts $35 million plan to bolster technical education” — Legislation signed earlier this week by Gov. Scott Walker allocates $35.4 million to help fund the education of the next generation of workers in Wisconsin.

Walker was at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Tuesday discussing the funding designed to bolster technical education at the college and primary education level.

“It’s all about training more the skills needed to fill the jobs today and the ones that will be coming up in the next couple of years, and this is the place to make that happen,” he said.

Walker said Northeast Wisconsin Technical College beefed up its training on computer numeric control machines after the Northeastern Manufacturing Alliance reported a need for CNC operators.

“We want to help campuses like this, and across the state, do more of that in the future,” Walker said. “We’ll also use a portion of this money to help school districts across the state get additional resources to partner for dual enrollment so young people get credit in both the high schools and technical colleges.”

This was Walker’s second stop in the Green Bay area in as many days, and he’s been a frequent visitor to the area in the past month stopping at a number of area businesses to talk about the importance of manufacturing to the state and the need to train skilled workers for immediate and future needs.

A portion of the money will also be used to help employers identify the skill sets disabled residents in the state bring to the workplace.

“The baby boom generation is at, or near, retirement and when that happens there is going to be this huge amount of openings and we’re going to need more skilled workers .. and more people working, period,” he said. “We can’t afford to have anyone who wants to work not be able to work.”

The money is appropriated through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Wisconsin Fast Forward program.

“We put $15 million in the budget there to do customized worker training, this additional money will be on top of that,” Walker said. “They’ll work directly with technical college campuses… to say, ‘What do you need? Where are your shortages?”

From jsonline.com: “MATC’s culinary programs expand, benefitting students and public” — By Nancy J. Stohs – The culinary programs at Milwaukee Area Technical College have undergone major changes in the last couple of years, and the hungry public is as much a beneficiary as the students.

When the student-run Cuisine restaurant relocated in fall of 2012 to the first floor of the school’s main downtown campus, that opened up space on the sixth floor to add a second culinary skills lab and an international foods lab, both of which opened this past fall.

That made two things possible: the addition of four course requirements to the culinary arts curriculum — regional American cuisine, European/Mediterranean cuisine, Asian cuisine, and South and Central American cuisine — and to eliminate the program’s waiting list.

“In the past, we could take 35 new students a semester, or about 70 a year,” said Richard Busalacchi, associate dean of hospitality and food manufacturing programs at MATC. “Last fall we took in about 75 students and this spring 86 students.

“Anybody who applied to the culinary arts program got in.”

The baking and pastry arts program, similarly, nearly doubled its enrollment after a new baking and chocolate lab opened last fall on the first floor. Typically, 50 students would be admitted each year; this year, it was 80.

And that’s where the hungry public comes in. The new baking lab feeds a new student-run venue, the 6th Street Cafe, located across the hall from Cuisine. Opened last fall serving coffee and breakfast, it added lunch this semester.

That was based on a recommendation from the program’s advisory committee.

In order to stay competitive, “the bakeries we knew once upon a time that just did doughnuts and cookies and cakes have evolved,” Busalacchi explained. So while the students do learn how to bake, “they also end up with a solid skill set for the café operation.”

Soups ($2 cup, $3 bowl), salads ($4.95 to $6.95), sandwiches ($6 or $6.94), plus various coffee drinks, pastries, cold beverages and seven flavors of ice cream and sorbet are on the cafe’s menu, which changes slightly every few weeks.

Everything in the cafe is made from scratch, including the breads for sandwiches and the sorbets and ice creams, and — as in Cuisine — ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible.

Last week I sampled a zesty Oaxacan black bean soup, a flavorful spinach salad with walnuts, pears, chevre, grapes and balsamic vinaigrette and an applewood smoked ham and aged cheddar sandwich. Oh, and a couple of couldn’t-resist desserts sold in the adjoining 6th Street Bakery.

Like Cuisine, the cafe is open most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters. Café hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (lunch service starts at 11:30). The café will close for the semester around the first week of May; Cuisine the second or third week.

Cuisine takes reservations (free through Open Table), while the cafe, which seats up to about 70 in two dining rooms and which also offers carryout, is walk-up service.

So far, promotion of the cafe has been internal word of mouth only.

Operating the 6th Street Cafe is the capstone class for the two-year baking and pastry arts program, just as operating Cuisine restaurant is the final course for culinary arts students. Graduation and job-hunting are next.

In addition to these two programs, MATC also added a two-year culinary management program about a year ago.

And where will all of these graduates find jobs?

Busalacchi isn’t worried. Statistics show that more than 800 new food service jobs — cooks, chefs, bakers and managers — are added annually within a 50-mile radius of downtown Milwaukee.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant and foodservice industry is the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer, employing more than 13 million people, or 10% of the U.S. workforce.

What’s next?

The school is hoping to have Cuisine restaurant open for business some evenings in the spring of 2015 and that summer, Busalacchi said.

As for major changes, “we’re done for a while.”

From lacrossetribune.com: “Walker promotes worker training; signs $35.4 million bill” — Gordon Murphy is still mastering his new trade, but on Monday he gave Wisconsin’s governor a quick lesson on operating a computer-controlled tool mill.

Murphy, a 29-year-old machinist and welder, is one of a dozen students enrolled in the machine tool operation program at Western Technical College, where Gov. Scott Walker stopped on a tour promoting new worker training bill.

The bill, which Walker signed into law Monday, will provide $35.4 million for worker training at places like WTC.

The Republican governor, seeking a second term this fall, touted the state’s falling unemployment rate — down to 6.1 percent in January, the lowest jobless rate since November 2008.

“More people are working, more employers are hiring and personal income is up,” he said. “We want that trend to continue. But one of the things we hear time and time and time and time again from employers is that one of the things they’re looking for to grow — not just to fill positions, but to grow — is even more well-trained, well-prepared, skilled employees.

Walker said spending on worker training will not only help fill job openings, but it also will attract more employers.

Western President Lee Rasch said the region’s greatest demand now is for welders, information technology specialists and behind the scenes workers in health care administration.

Electromechanical workers, who maintain the sophisticated machines used by workers like Murphy, are also in demand, Rasch said, though there aren’t necessarily waiting lists for any of those programs because of a lack of public awareness.

The new Wisconsin Fast Forward funds are designed to help technical colleges work through backlogs, give high school students access to vocational training and enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Rasch said WTC has submitted a $1.9 million proposal, which he said would be used to fund one-year certificate training rather than degree-based programs that would require ongoing funding.

That could mean training for 180 to 190 potential workers, he said.

Walker said the state should focus on advanced manufacturing in order to recapture some of the manufacturing jobs that were outsourced to China and Mexico in the 1990s.

“That’s why it’s so important for people, whether they’re coming right out of high school or coming back to support a new career, for them to have spots available in our technical colleges,” he said, “because they’re teaching them cutting-edge technology.”

Murphy said he landed a job at Chart a couple of years ago after starting the program at Western. He returned to school this year in hopes of landing a better job in the company’s tool room.

If successful, Murphy said he’ll be earning 15 to 20 percent more.

“It’ll pay for itself the first year on the job,” he said.

From htrnews.com: “Lakeshore Technical College offers non-traditional occupation exploration classes” — CLEVELAND — Lakeshore Technical College will be offering the opportunity to explore non-traditional occupation opportunities through free, 16-hour exploration classes. NTO exploration classes are designed to give women the opportunity to experience “hands-on learning” in fields that have traditionally had few females in their ranks and that may offer higher pay and greater satisfaction. Four different exploration classes will be offered in the manufacturing field.

Introduction to Machine Tool Skills will be held from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 7, 14, 21 and 28 Participants will learn about career opportunities in the machine tool field, the terms and skills used in machine tool, workplace safety and tools, hands-on introduction to the operation of the following machines: drill press, milling machines, lathes, saws and CNC.

Introduction to Industrial Maintenance Skills will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. April 22 and 29 and May 6 and 13 Participants will learn about workplace safety and tools, the terms and skills used in industrial maintenance, career opportunities in the industrial maintenance field and an introduction to math, precision measurements, blueprint reading, hand and power tools, mechanical fasteners, pumps, PVC pipe and copper tubing, motor wiring and more.

Introduction to Industrial Electrical Studies will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. April 23 and 30 and May 7 and 14 Participants will learn about workplace safety and tools, the terms and skills used in industrial maintenance, career opportunities in the industrial maintenance field and an introduction to math, precision measurements, blueprint reading, hand and power tools, mechanical fasteners, pumps, PVC pipe and copper tubing, motor wiring and more.

Welding for Women will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. May 20 and 27 and May 21 and 28 Participants will learn about the terms and skills used in welding, workplace safety and tools, Gas metal arc welding, and oxyfuel/plasma cutting, fabricate a box or project of choice and career opportunities in the welding field.

Space is limited. Preregistration is required and may be completed at www.gotoltc.edu/nto or call LTC Sheboygan at (920) 208-5884 or LTC Manitowoc at (920) 683-2846 for more information.

From leadertelegram.com: “Once scrambling to attract tenants, center aimed at helping fledgeling start-ups filled” — by Andrew Dowd – After struggling to fill a third of its space with cutting-edge entrepreneurs a few years ago, Chippewa Valley Technical College’s business incubation venture now is full.

Sweeping changes made a couple of years ago — changing the facility’s name from NanoRite to the Applied Technology Center, widening its target industries and focusing on a smaller geographic area — helped it reach a mark sought since CVTC began the venture in summer 2007.

“It’s virtually 100 percent now,” said Tom Huffcutt, CVTC’s vice president of operations.

With the exception of an office housing a CVTC employee and some hours available in a shared lab space, the center is full of businesses working on a range of projects.

“We seem to have a solid portfolio with tenants,” Huffcutt said, noting many have multi-year leases.

Super Vitamin D has spent the past two years in the center developing a transdermal patch, which will help people with chronic illnesses get the bone-strengthening vitamin by absorbing it through their skin as opposed to digesting it.

Though testing and the delicate chemistry needed to put Vitamin D into a patch took longer than they’d originally thought, the company’s D3ForMe product soon will be on shelves.

“Product is just going to be reaching market by early summer,” said Carla Leuck, marketing manager for the company.

The patches are being manufactured in Miami and packaged in Minnesota, but shipping and storage operations will be based out of Eau Claire.

Super Vitamin D currently has four employees at the Applied Technology Center, but that could increase after the product launches, Leuck said.

The company had moved into the center as it was undergoing its renaissance in early 2012.

Changing scales

When the center opened in July 2007 as NanoRite, it was marketed as a microtechnology and nanotechnology incubator for high-tech entrepreneurs.

While the NanoRite image was high-tech, forward-looking and enhanced the college’s image, CVTC President Bruce Barker said last week that working on that miniature scale was mostly the territory of big businesses and universities.

“Nano is not the area for start-up businesses,” Barker said.

The economy also was a factor as entrepreneurs were having a hard time getting money from lenders that had been tight-fisted from the Great Recession.

The center’s low occupancy point — 35 percent — was in 2010, Huffcutt said. At that time, OEM Fabricators had pulled out its micromachining division and another major tenant, Resonant MicroSystems, gave notice it would be vacating.

“Our costs were exceeding our revenues,” Huffcutt said.

Built to be self-sustaining and boost the economy, NanoRite instead had needed subsidizing from CVTC’s other enterprise programs — but never took a financial toll on the college’s general fund used for teaching students.

Something had to be done — either shutting down the center that had been running a deficit or finding a way to make it work.

“We knew we had to make a change,” Barker stated.

In Fall 2011, administrators presented the CVTC Board with recommendations to change the center’s image and increase its use.

Two years ago the center widened its scope while narrowing the area it was recruiting entrepreneurs.

The center’s name emphasized nanotechnology, though the center has other capabilities, and it was changed to the Applied Technology Center to attract a broader range of start-ups.

“NanoRite was actually turning some potential customers away if they were not operating at this level,” Barker said.

NanoRite recruiting trips used to include Chicago, California and East Coast cities, but they’ve since been scaled back to grow start-ups closer to home.

“We’ve really changed our focus to west central Wisconsin,” Barker said.

“Focusing more regionally, we had more success,” Huffcutt said.

Both the center’s broader scope and smaller reach have been positive, Barker said, noting that the three newest tenants are regional businesses.

In a vacant area in the building, CVTC built a computer data center that serves the college’s needs — saving it $80,000 annually that it used to spend to rent data storage space elsewhere — and other clients. The data center serves as CVTC’s main information storage site and houses equipment for WiscNet, UW-Eau Claire, Cooperative Educational Service Agency 10 and is courting other public institutions.

In addition, there is space for other private and public entities to easily install their own equipment in the secured, climate-controlled, well-connected data center that has its own backup power generator.

The Applied Technology Center also created programs catering to entrepreneurs working on a tight budget.

Fledgling businesses that can’t yet afford machinery now can rent time on CVTC’s equipment, a program that’s already been used by a half-dozen entrepreneurs experimenting with products.

The center also expanded its options to include short-term rental agreements to help fledgling start-ups, as opposed to starting out with office leases.

Pulling through

The changes and improving economy brought the center into “good health” about two years ago, Huffcutt said.

Though the budget year is not yet over or all the costs tabulated, he said this appears to be the first time the center is running in the black.

“Now costs and revenues are in line,” he said.

The newest tenant, Heartland Business Systems with headquarters in Little Chute, signed a contract earlier this year for space in the Applied Technology Center.

Heartland had done contractor work for CVTC’s computer network and helped build the CINC network used by local institutions. Between the data center, CINC network and proximity to numerous public sector customers, Mark Koxlien, general manager for the company’s business in western Wisconsin and Minnesota, said opening an office in the Applied Technology Center was very attractive.

Eighteen Heartland employees report to the Eau Claire office, Koxlien said, though most are field engineers who usually are visiting clients.

As part of its lease agreement, Heartland Business Systems provided videoconferencing equipment to the center for its use and that of other tenants.

Other tenants also allow CVTC students to use their equipment, including precision devices used by quality control consultants Advanced Inspection Services.

“It probably saved us a quarter of million dollars in capital expense to not buy the equipment they have,” Barker said.

Having the center full of entrepreneurs also helps the college keep its instruction relevant to the job market.

“That interaction between business and our faculty has been great,” Barker said.

The boom in tenancy shows that high-tech entrepreneurship is “alive and well” in the Chippewa Valley, Barker said, in the economic recovery that followed the Great Recession.

In the coming months, CVTC plans to report the center’s job creation statistics to the Eau Claire City Council and Eau Claire County Board, both of which contributed financially to start NanoRite.

From sheboyganpress.com: “Youth apprentices find positions with local companies” — Nick Steenwyk, of Sheboygan, is a computer aided design drafter in the bathing group for Kohler Company in Kohler. Like most CAD drafters, he performs tasks such as working with Creo software to create models and drawings of whirlpools.

Unlike most CAD drafters, Nick is currently a high school student at Sheboygan Christian High School. Through the youth apprenticeship program at Lakeshore Technical College, Steenwyk began working at Kohler Company.

“The best part of my YA experience has been working in a career field I’m interested in pursuing,” Steenwyck said in a news release. “Not only am I able to pick up skills and techniques that with be invaluable in years to come, my experience has been a tremendous help in determining a career field I want to enter.”

Steenwyk is not alone in Sheboygan County when it comes to Youth Apprenticeship. The Lakeshore Technical College Youth Apprenticeship program recently completed their annual Information Nights for high school students interested in the 2014-15 Youth Apprenticeship program. For the third consecutive year, the Sheboygan County Youth Apprenticeship program is seeing large increases in both student apprentices and employer participation.

Representatives from employers like Nemak, Rockline, Blue Harbor and Wigwam also are working with students.

Youth apprenticeship offers students the opportunity to explore future careers while they are still in high school and get paid for their time working at area employers. Youth apprenticeship offers one- and two-year programs in fields like health, hotel and hospitality, culinary, finance, mechanical design, welding and manufacturing.

The Sheboygan youth apprenticeship program has grown rapidly in the past few years, from 11 students in 2010-11 to 32 students in 2011-12. The program swelled to 68 students in the current school year. It’s expected that number will rise to 85 for next school year.

For more information on the LTC youth apprenticeship program, contact Jill Preissner at 920-693-1261 or jill.preissner@gotoltc.edu.

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