From fdlreporter.com: “Moraine Park gets $1.2 million state grant” — An additional 126 students will be able to attend Moraine Park Technical College programs designed to fill high-demand career fields.

MPTC received a $1,217,997 grant Wednesday under the Wisconsin Fast Forward: Blueprint for Prosperity Initiative to train students to fill what employers say is a growing job gap.

Lt. Gov. Kleefisch and Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson made a stop at the Fond du Lac MPTC campus Wednesday to announce the local portion of the grant.

“This is an incredible, bipartisan effort,” Kleefisch said. “At any given time there are between 45,000 and 70,000 open jobs in the state because they need more skilled workers.”

State Sen. Rick Gudex, R-Fond du Lac, said he helped pass the legislation and was in attendance along with State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-Campbellsport, and County Executive Allen Buechel.

“It’s good to see this program working and I knew that it would work,” Gudex said, stating he saw the need through his years working in the field of economic development.

Technical colleges submitted initial lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year.There is a waiting list to get into several programs at MPTC, said Joann Hall, Dean of Economic Workforce Development. The grant will funnel money into high-demand areas such as mechatronics, medical coding, tool and die apprenticeships, and CNC training offered from a mobile unit to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

It will also provide short-term training for industrial maintenance, robotic welding, automation and general production assembly.

“These are the fields employers are telling us they can’t find people for,” Hall said.

The grant will be used to provide more faculty, facilities, equipment, supplies and curriculum development, she said.

“We know the integral role Moraine Park Technical College and all of Wisconsin’s technical colleges play in keeping Wisconsin’s economy strong,” said MPTC President Sheila Ruhland. “Our training gets workers into the workforce quickly and keeps them in the workforce, ensuring we will continue to keep moving Wisconsin forward.”

Representatives from grant partners Aurora Heath Care and Mercury Marine were also in attendance as the group toured MPTC’s integrated manufacturing center. Both Fond du Lac businesses helped the college frame some of the programs and wrote letters of support to help obtain funding.

The legislation provided more than $35 million in additional funding for all 16 technical colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System to help train nearly 5,000 people.

The awards are part of Gov. Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity initiative to move Wisconsin’s working families along a path toward greater prosperity and independence, according to a news release from Kleefisch’s office.

“The investment we are making in Moraine Park Technical College under Gov. Walker’s leadership will enhance opportunities for working families in the Fond du Lac region and help employers find the workers they need,” Kleefisch said.

The DWD will administer the grants, which will add capacity to 100 programs in key industry sectors such as manufacturing, health care, transportation, construction and architecture, and education.

“With this announcement, the State of Wisconsin is giving workers the chance to increase their skills and move into a new job or a better job,” Newson said.

Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training programs will focus on three areas:

  • Reduction of waiting lists at Wisconsin technical colleges for high-demand fields.
  • Collaborative projects between high schools, technical colleges, businesses, and other partners to increase opportunities for high school students to earn industry-recognized credentials.
  • Enhancing the employment opportunities of workers with disabilities.

Walker signed 2013 Act 139 into law in March as part of the initiative following strong bipartisan support of the State Legislature. In May, DWD awarded more than $2.1 million in grants to train high school students in school-to-work programs and is currently seeking grant applications with up to $1 million available to train workers with disabilities.

Funds cannot be used for financial aid, tuition or capital improvements.

 

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From wiscnews.com: “Portage High grad takes 4th in nation in precision machining” — By Jen McCoy – Nate Schmudlach broke the mold, which is a good thing considering he’s highly skilled at precision machining.

The 20-year-old has an easy-going personality yet an intense drive toward an apprenticeship this fall in plastic injection molding. He’s being courted by a couple of machine shops and with his credentials more are likely to show interest.

In April, the 2012 Portage High School graduate took gold at the state’s post-secondary SkillsUSA championship in precision machining. Last month, he placed fourth in the same category at the national SkillsUSA Competition in Kansas City. The previous year, he placed seventh.

“My goal was I wanted to be in the top three, but getting fourth will go on my resume,” Schmudlach said. It’s not bad for his ego either, he said with a laugh.

Three vans from Madison College took students and instructors to the five-day competition. Schmudlach was accompanied by J.R. Colvin, a metrology instructor who worked closely with him to prepare, but at competition it’s all about the student’s skills without guidance.

The skilled trades convention and competition take the top state qualifiers and have them pit their abilities against each other in a best of the best test. The skilled areas range from aviation maintenance technology and welding to technical drafting and cabinetmaking.

Earlier this year, Schmudlach graduated from Madison College-Truax for machine tool and is employed/mentored at Isthmus Engineering & Manufacturing in Madison.

“I’m a jack-of-all-trades there, that’s what I want to be (in this profession),” Schmudlach said. “I have a desire to learn machining like no other. Sure, I may not know the most at the beginning, but by the end I’ll be better than anybody that’s initially better than me.”

At nationals, precision machining had 23 contestants demonstrate manual machining skills and knowledge areas including operation of manual milling machines, lathes, drill presses, and surface grinders. Contestants needed to demonstrate knowledge in hands-on testing with a lathe and mill, take two written tests, be versed in technical math and the ability to communicate verbally using proper industry terminology during an interview.

This was Schmudlach’s last year at the competition since he graduated unless he returns to school for a different trade, like carpentry. His family lives in Endeavor and Schmudlach is eager to be employed this fall when he’s done with his apprenticeship at Isthmus.

“You always need the drive and strive to do more, which I’ve had my whole life,” he said.

From wisbusiness.com: BTC Partners with multiple public and private entities to offer additional CNC machine operator training — JANESVILLE, WI – The Business and Community Development Division (BCD) of Blackhawk Technical College has teamed with several Wisconsin interests and EigerLab of Rockford for a six-week CNC Machine Operator training program for 10 unemployed or underemployed participants in BTC’s district.

The program, which began June 23rd at the Career and Technical Education facility at Beloit Memorial High School, represents a collaborative effort between BCD, the Southwest Wisconsin Development Board, Beloit Memorial High School, Community Action, Manpower Government Solutions and other public and private entities.

EigerLab, respected in the region for its Fast Track development programs in collaboration with education, business and government, developed the curriculum for the training program.

“Development of our TechWorks CNC curriculum was guided by our employer advisory council and provides an intense six-week CNC training program and national credential,’’ said Dan Cataldi, executive director of EigerLab.

“In the last three years, we have produced over 200 credentialed CNC machine operators for regional employers and are excited to be partnering with Blackhawk Technical College to do the same for Southern Wisconsin.”

The program entails critical job readiness and soft skill training in addition to technical training in shop math, blueprint reading, GD&T (Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing), and CNC machining.

Participants who complete the program will receive industry recognized National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credentials in CNC Machining and in Measurement, Material and Safety.

Participants who qualified for this training have undergone extensive testing in Work Keys assessments for reading, math and research skills, plus background checks and drug screening.

BCD would like to thank Tricia Conway at the AT&T Foundation, Greater Beloit Area Chamber of Commerce, area employers Blackhawk Transport, Cotta Transmission, DuPont, Fairbanks Morse and Regal Beloit, plus Wisconsin representatives Deb Kolste, Amy Loudenbeck and Janis Ringhand for their guidance, feedback and support during the development stage of the project.

For additional information on this or any of BCD’s customized training programs and workshops for business and industry, please contact Doug Holmes, BTC Training and Consulting Services Manager at 608-743-4597 or dholmes9@blackhawk.edu, or visit our website at www.blackhawk.edu/bcd.

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Three MSTC students place in statewide skills contest” — Three Mid-State Technical College, or MSTC, students placed in the top three in the respective events at the 41st annual State SkillsUSA Secondary Leadership & Skills Conference, a showcase of career and technical education students. Competitions were held April 29 and 30 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

SkillsUSA, a national nonprofit organization, describes itself as “a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce.” A total of eight students from MSTC’s SkillsUSA chapter participated in four events: Hunter Johnson and Aaron Kaczmarek competed in Automotive Service; Mark Cannon, Colin Reffner, and Troy Sobish participated in Precision Machining; Michael Demski and Quinton Kluck competed in CNC Milling; and Tyler Weinfurter participated in Welding.

Kaczmarek finished in first place in Automotive Service, and has qualified to travel to Kansas City, Missouri, to compete in the National Leadership & Skills Conference in June. Reffner and Kluck each placed third in the respective competitions.

MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, offers more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates. Student-focused and community-based, MSTC serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin with campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams.

From chippewa.com: “Workers in demand” — EAU CLAIRE — As a student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC) Machine Tooling Technics program, Eric Weining of Menomonie has a valuable set of skills for potential employers. Unfortunately, it was probably too late for the employers at the CVTC Spring Career Fair Wednesday, April 9, to entice him.

Weining will not graduate from the program until December, but that didn’t stop him from getting a job at Phillips Plastics in Menomonie. He started about four weeks ago.

“I work in the tool room as a mold machine technician,” Weining said. He heard about a job opening there and had some contacts in the company, but his plans to finish his degree at CVTC was key. “That was motivation for them. They had been looking to hire a student from CVTC for their program.”

Starting early

In a sign of improving economic times, participation in the CVTC Spring Career Fair was up once again, and the message to employers was clear: Start your recruitment efforts early, as skilled workers are in high demand.

Overall, 81 private and public employers set up tables at three CVTC facilities at this year’s Spring Career Fair, up from 69 last spring and from 58 in spring 2012. The 37 employers at the Manufacturing Education Center represented an increase from 30 at the Spring 2013 Career Fair. In spring 2011, only 22 manufacturing businesses participated.

Kuss Filtration in Bloomer had never participated in the Spring Career Fair before, but it was time for the company that was spun off from Cummins Filtration to get proactive.

“Now that we’re spun off, there’s no outside support for troubleshooting equipment,” said Ben Rubenzer, manufacturing engineering manager for the company. He’s looking to expand a maintenance team of 14 at the plant that employs up to 170 workers.

“We’re looking at exploding our capabilities and our skill set internally,” Rubenzer said. “We’re looking at Electromechanical (Technology) students.”

Kuss Filtration was not the only company looking for people with the training to design, program and maintain the often automated equipment found in today’s manufacturing plants, nor was Kuss the first new employer to take part in the fair. Universal Services, a power line installation company out of Hastings, Minn.; Crown Trucks, a lift truck manufacturer from St. Paul; and Koch Pipeline were among several new Career Fair participants looking for people with such skills.

Some employers are anxious to find applicants.

Increased demand

Brad Moran at the TTM Technologies table said he has 31 maintenance workers at the Chippewa Falls plant, but he could use 40. “We’re constantly adding equipment. We’ve been on the increase the past two and half years,” Moran said.

A crowd of Machine Tooling Technics students gathered around the Riverside Machine and Engineering table, examining some of the small metal parts the company manufactures. The plant, which will be moving from Chippewa Falls into part of the Hutchinson Technology building on Eau Claire’s north side, has needs for machinists, inspectors on all shifts and calibration technicians. A sign at the table requested applicants for those jobs.

“About 90 percent of our crew is CVTC graduates. We recruit very heavily here,” said Elisia Gonsowski of the Riverside team.

Giles Nielsen of Five Star Plastics in Eau Claire was looking for Electromechanical Technology students, but also had his eyes open for people with other skills as well. On his table were two plastic prototype parts made through use of two different kinds of three-dimensional printers. CVTC recently added one of those types of printers.

“We have a rapid prototyping department,” said Nielsen. “If they know about this process and how to run these machines, it’s all the better.”

Plenty of openings

Companies tended to be quite familiar with CVTC graduates.

“We hired a CVTC student last year who is a multi-craft technician. He does a little bit of electrical and instrumentation and mechanical. He’s doing a great job for us. We’re looking to see who else is available,” said Natalie Caldarera of Koch Pipeline.

Denise Nelson of Universal Services had openings for as many as eight Electromechanical Technology technicians, four aerial linemen and a diesel mechanic – all skills taught in specific CVTC programs.

Students in the sought-after programs found a lot of interest from potential employers, but, as in Weining’s case, it was often too late – for the employers.

Electromechanical Technology student Charlie Yohnk of Bloomer has been working at Catalytic Combustion in Bloomer since September. “I plan to stay there, but I’m going around seeing what everyone else is up to,” he said.

It’s not too late for companies to spark an interest with Sam Reider, who can bring a diversity of skills. The 2007 Chippewa Falls High School graduate attended CVTC in the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology program, then served his country in Afghanistan as a diesel mechanic in the service. He’s now a CVTC Industrial Mechanics program student.

“I like fixing stuff. I want to see what’s out there after I graduate,” Reider said. He drew some early interest from Five Star Plastics, even though he’s not graduating until May 2015.

For Career Fair employers, recruitment is a long-term project.

From digitaljournal.com: “Okuma America Corporation and Madison Area Technical College partner to train the next generation of machinists and programmers” — Okuma America Corporation, a world-leader in CNC machine tool manufacturing, and Madison Area Technical College (MATC), a member of Partners in THINC, today announced their partnership to provide superior CNC education to students. The three-year partnership will deliver high quality hands-on training in service, repair, operation, programming, application and maintenance of Okuma machines as part of MATC’s machinist certificate and degree programs.

Madison Area Technical College will offer training led by NIMS certified, Level 1 instructors on Okuma CNC machines and simulators in the college’s new Ingenuity Center. In addition to providing equipment, Okuma will assist in developing content and programs that are aligned with Okuma’s workforce goals. “We’re pleased to join forces with MATC in CNC education. This partnership will provide a workforce pool to the local industry base that has the skills required to perform CNC related jobs,” said Lisa Rummel, chief financial officer at Okuma America.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies showcasing the Ingenuity Center will be held at MATC on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 3:30 p.m.

 

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.

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