March 7, 2014
From weau.com: “Walker attends Manufacturing Show at Chippewa Valley Technical College” – How technology is used in manufacturing was the major focus of a show at CVTC Thursday.
The manufacturing show featured more than 20 companies and a number of programs at the college. It also included a junkyard battle competition where area high school students showcased their talents.
Governor Scott Walker was at the event to see all the college had to offer. He said it’s great to have the connection between the technical college and area high schools to show younger students the opportunities available after graduation.
“It’s amazing to see the things they make, really incredible work, and its great to see all the high schoolers coming by to see the oppourtunities in manufacturing,” said Governor Scott Walker.
More than 40 regional manufacturing businesses were also at the event to talk to guests about career opportunities.
From northlandsnewscenter.com: “Businesses in Wis. eligible for $15 million in grants to close skills gap” – Wisconsin businesses are now eligible to apply for a grant to help close the workforce skills gap.
The Fast Forward worker training grant program is providing $15 million worth of funding to help businesses address the need for skilled workers.
On Tuesday, Shelly Harkins from the State Department of Workforce Development spoke about the program at Wisconsin Indian Head Technical College in Superior.
The grants enable businesses to deliver customized training to workers and local job seekers.
Bob Meyer, president of WITC, says this new program will help address the shortage of skilled labor which many businesses in the state are facing.
“It has been estimated that if we can match the right skills and talent with vacant jobs, we can actually reduce unemployment by 2.5 percent in the Minnesota, Wisconsin region,” said Meyer.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the program into law last March.
Walker is proposing to add another $34 million to the program.
So far, two rounds of grants have been given out.
In round one, $2.6 million was awarded to 32 grantees in the targeted training sector.
Almost half of the grants partnered with a technical college to provide training in their area.
In round two, $7.5 million will be awarded to seven areas of Wisconsin.
March 3, 2014
From leadertelegram.com: “Manufacturing in the spotlight” — A group of high school students stood wide-eyed as a Chippewa Valley Technical College student dropped a metal ball that seemed to defy gravity as it fell through a simple copper tube. It fell slowly through the tube as if moving in molasses, never touching the sides.
The demonstration of electromagnetic forces took place in the Nano Engineering Technology area of CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center last March at the annual Manufacturing Show, which returns for a third year Thursday.
That simple ball-and-tube trick will have to take a distant back seat to other high-end demonstrations this year. For instance, CVTC now has equipment that uses streams of water under extremely high pressure to cut metal in precise detail, without the harmful effects heat-based metal cutting can leave behind.
Manufacturing Show demonstrations also will include a three-dimensional printer that doesn’t use ink. Instead, it produces, layer after layer, at high speed, a 3-D plastic model of items drawn up with paper and numbers.
“It gives us an ability to replicate a concept or design, showing the working parts,” said CVTC Associate Dean of Manufacturing Jeff Sullivan. “The printers are being used a lot in the medical field.”
New machine tool program equipment that will be on display is capable of speeds up to 12,000 rpm. “The purpose of the high speed is higher accuracy and tighter tolerances,” Sullivan said.
And the purpose of students working on such a machine is to prepare them for the kind of equipment being used in the industry today, important given the prevalence of the machine tool industry in the Eau Claire area.
Welcome to the world of modern manufacturing. People who still picture manufacturing as taking place in dark, dingy places with low-skilled workers doing simple repetitive work will have their minds changed by attending the show, people affiliated with the event said.
“The entire show will present a good overview of manufacturing careers in western Wisconsin,” said Roger Stanford, CVTC vice president of instruction. “We have a great diversity of manufacturing companies in this area, many of them producing products that are getting attention worldwide. Attendees can learn more about these companies at the Manufacturing Show and how CVTC prepares workers for lucrative careers in manufacturing.”
About 20 manufacturing companies will have displays about their role in their industries and in the Chippewa Valley economy. They will use the show to recruit new workers as well.
Joining those companies will be representatives of CVTC’s manufacturing programs: electromechanical technology, industrial mechanic, industrial mechanical technician, machine tooling technics, welding and welding fabrication. Some of the physical science programs, such as nano engineering technology, manufacturing engineering technologist and industrial engineering technician also will be involved.
Students play a vital role in the show. As part of regular course work, they have constructed and programmed robotic equipment that performs such tasks as playing a guitar, making a golf putt or resetting bowling pins.
Area high school students also will be heavily involved in this year’s show. Back again will be the Junkyard Battle, in which high school welding students will compete with their creations made of scrap metal. Last year the contest featured student-made sculptures of their school mascots. This year’s show will feature several more competitions.
Machine tool students will compete in the Amazing Maze event, creating complicated mazes in competition for the best design. Engineering students will use computer-aided design programs to draw up plans for devices. The top design will be reproduced on the 3D printer.
In the electromechanical area, students will create robots that work through a maze without human intervention. The industrial mechanics program is working on a competition involving development of miniature cannons.
“We are reaching out to our K-12 school district partners to develop agreements and programs that expose younger students to manufacturing and prepare high school students for entry into CVTC’s manufacturing programs,” Sullivan said.
The event has been well-attended by the general public since its inception, and area school districts take advantage by using it as an educational experience for students. Some parents bring their children who are starting to think about careers.
The show offers plenty for attendees to do, such as trying out simulators, watching robotic welders, learning what local manufacturers are producing and witnessing student creativity.
From news8000.com: “Could be a shortage of manufacturing workers in Wisconsin” — Skilled workers may be hard to come by in the state of Wisconsin over the next 20 years. The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation was in La Crosse Tuesday to highlight its 20-year plan to combat the issue.
Western Technical College is one of 16 stops the Manufacturing Commerce Foundation is making in Wisconsin. Technical colleges play a big role in giving students the education needed to become skilled employees in manufacturing.
With the baby-boomer generation coming to retirement age, there could be a higher number of job openings in Wisconsin.
“Well this is an aging state. We expect about 800,000 additional people in this state over the next 30 years but 95 percent of those are going to be over the age of 65,” Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation President, Jim Morgan said.
According to the Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation, skilled laborers are a dying breed.
“We’ve got some challenges coming down the road around talent attraction, around business competitiveness, that we’ve really got to start that conversation right now,” Morgan said.
The WMC Foundation wants to establish a 20-year plan called Future Wisconsin.
“The things that were outlined here today are trying to get people to think more about manufacturing careers as viable options,” Western Technical College President Lee Rasch said.
Schools like Western Technical College are big contributors to the plan.
“We’re key players because we do a couple things. We work very closely with area manufacturers, we have an existing network, we provide a lot of education and training for the next generation of the workforce in manufacturing and we also represent this region,” Rasch said.
Training the next generation may be tough. The WMC Foundation says keeping that age group in Wisconsin is not easy.
“Unless we do something to keep our young people here and figure out a way to attract more people here we’re not going to have the people available for the jobs that we’re going to have,” Morgan said.
The president of Western said he was glad that the foundation stopped in La Crosse. It allowed for more of the manufacturers in our area to take part in the discussion.
The Wisconsin Manufacturing Commerce Foundation will be working with colleges and universities throughout the year.
February 26, 2014
From wxow.com: “WMC Foundation looks into 20-year strategic plan for Wis.” – LA CROSSE – With the baby boomers retiring, Wisconsin will soon lose it’s largest group of workers.
The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation is looking for ways to replace them.
WMC Foundation President Jim Morgan traveled to Western Technical College Tuesday to find out where there is a job shortage in La Crosse, and discuss ways to train students to fill those positions.
The foundation will use that information to create a 20-year strategic plan for the state, called “Future Wisconsin.”
“And we’re trying to look at a couple of key areas like talent attraction, business competitiveness, globalization, entrepreneurship. The types of things that I think if we’re going to be successful in 20 years, we’ve got to start planning for now,” Morgan said.
There’s already a need for welders and machinists, he added.
The WMC Foundation will be meeting with 16 technical colleges, along with other schools, businesses and commerce associations for input.
February 25, 2014
From fox6now.com: “Increasing demand for apprenticeships as aging workers retire” – Want to get paid to go to school? With an apprenticeship — you can do just that! Through an apprenticeship, an individual has access to on-the-job training and related classroom instruction. A participating employer teaches the skills of the trade on the job. The classroom instruction is theoretical and practical knowledge pertaining to the given trade. It’s an option more and more students in Wisconsin are taking — with the growing need for skilled manufacturing workers in the state.
“The student works 32 hours a week and goes to class eight hours a week, but they’re paid for 40 hours a week,” Debbie Davidson with Gateway Technical College said.
In a nutshell, that’s how an apprenticeship works. Students get hands-on and in-classroom training in a service, construction or industrial field. Typically, the programs run anywhere from three to five years.
“Apprenticeship is really unique in that you start with an employer with a need and match them with an individual to go through the training,” Davidson said.
Officials with Gateway Technical College say the demand for apprenticeship opportunities has grown, as has the number of students enrolling in programs at the school.
“In 2012, we had a total of 49 apprentices. Then, a year later, we had 80 apprentices. Now we have 140,” Davidson said.
“We’ve already started plans on four brand new programs coming up and we know that we’re going to be doubling our numbers within a very short time,” Wisconsin Apprentice Training Representative Sandy Briezman said.
So what’s driving the renewed interest in apprenticeships? We’re told it’s a skills gap, fueled at least in part by soon-to-retire workers.
“The skills gap that we’re seeing now is what was projected even before the downturn in 2009 because people were planning to retire at that point. They stayed a little bit longer, but they kept aging, so now we’re seeing people are actually at that point of retirement and companies are seeing that we need to fill that gap — and before our people leave and retire how can we utilize them to train that next generation of worker?” Davidson said.
Davidson says the late 90s were really kind of the high point for apprenticeship programs.
The Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards says statewide, there were more than 15,000 apprentices in 2001. By 2012, they had dropped to about 9,700.
February 25, 2014
From wnflam.com: “Shortage of qualified manufacturing, construction workers” – As the economy improves, many parts of Wisconsin are in need of qualified builders and skilled manufacturing employees. Those companies often look to the state’s apprenticeship program to fill their needs — but the apprenticeship pool has gotten smaller. State officials said there were almost 9,800 apprenticeships in the various building trades last year — down from almost 16,000 in 2001.
The Wisconsin State Journal said it has become more of a challenge to get young people to consider apprenticeships, despite the need for skilled workers. Madison electrical contractor Mike Pohlman said his company does a lot of outreach to schools — and some schools don’t seem to want to direct students to the building trades. Madison College apprenticeship manager Jim Cook the situation has improved in Dane County because of a recent construction boom. He says the demand for apprentice services has not been this strong since World War Two.
February 24, 2014
From madison.com: “As trades rebound, demand for apprentices grows” — By Dennis Punzel – If Donald Trump hosted “Apprentice Wisconsin,” he’d have to change his catchphrase from “You’re fired” to “You’re hired.”
As the economy slowly pulls out of its funk, the dormant construction industry is starting to experience a revival. And as construction cranes sprout up in the skyline, the demand for skilled workers across the spectrum of construction trades also is ascending.
“The problem the last several years has been a shortage of work for contractors in the construction industry,” said Wayne Belanger of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin. “Now, it’s a shortage of workers. It’s critical.”
And when construction companies need skilled workers, they turn to the state’s venerable apprenticeship program to fill the void.
Wisconsin’s apprenticeship program, founded in 1911, was the first of its kind in the nation and led to the creation of the state’s technical school system.
“Wisconsin apprenticeship is still considered the leading model in the country,” said Jim Cook, apprenticeship manager at Madison Area Technical College. “In Wisconsin, everybody is at the table — employers, colleges, state government, labor organizations, employer associations.
“Apprenticeship here has survived all the economic and social upheavals of the last century. And because it’s done that, it’s going to survive for a long time.”
The most recent economic downturn, however, did take a toll on the system. As construction projects dried up, many firms had trouble finding jobs for their established journeyman workers and had no need to take on apprentices.
ABC’s apprentice numbers around the state plummeted from around 1,200 in 2006 to just a few hundred. The group sponsors apprenticeships in 12 trades, including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).
“I don’t want to even think about how low it was,” Belanger said. “We’re back to 850 now. We’re on the rebound. It seems like there’s a pent-up demand, and people are putting projects together again.
“The trouble is that a lot of people in the trades have either retired or gone on to something else, and they’re not coming back. That leaves a huge void pretty much at all levels because they haven’t hired new people in the last five years.”
Statewide, the number of apprentices in all trades has dropped from 15,767 in 2001 to 9,793 in 2013, according to the state Department of Workforce Development Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (DWD-BAS). In the construction trades, the numbers have fallen from 8,890 in 2001 to 4,843 last year.
Belanger said the recovery has yet to hit many parts of the state, but that Madison is booming and the Fox Valley and Milwaukee are showing signs of life.
“In Dane County, there’s going to be a construction boom this year,” said Cook, noting that apprenticeships are up about 10 percent with 600 in the program at MATC. “The drive right now for economic development is fever pitch. The only other time we’ve seen this was around World War II, where you had this incredible need and a skilled worker shortage.”
One of the biggest challenges is convincing young people to look into apprenticeships after being pointed toward the four-year college route most of their lives.
“We do a lot of outreach to schools around the area and have more success at some than others,” said Mike Pohlman, president of Nickles Electric. “Some schools don’t seem to want to point kids to the trades.
“We certainly don’t dissuade kids from going to college. We always tell them the trades are another option after you graduate. We’re open to getting a kid into our program that has a four-year college degree.”
One who took that route is Pohlman’s son, Kaleb. After graduating from Marshall High School, he studied electrical engineering at UW-Milwaukee for two years before transferring to UW-Madison, where he earned a degree in civil engineering in 2009.
But with the job market dried up, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue an electrical apprenticeship. He’s finishing up the fifth year of the program and just took the state exam with the hope of gaining journeyman status.
“They’re both gratifying,” Kaleb Pohlman, 28, said of his dual accomplishments. “When I got done with college I was like, ‘Wow, I did it.’ It was a long time and a lot of hard work and when I got done I felt great. Learning this and getting through this apprenticeship is just as much, if not more gratifying.
“I feel like I can do almost anything in the electrical trade. I can bend that conduit, I can run that wire, I can put that piece of switch gear up. You start feeling like you can do anything.”
Kaleb Pohlman’s goal is to use both parts of his education by working about five years in the field and then moving into project management.
“I went to school for a reason, and I did this for a reason,” he said. “I’ve put myself in a pretty unique situation that I think makes me a little more valuable.
“There’s a need for people who can do this stuff. In the next couple years as the baby boomers start retiring, the workforce is going to drop like crazy. There’s not as many people who do trades. That should bode well for people of my generation. If people want to do this, there should be a future in it.”
Apprenticeships, of course, are nothing new, as they date back to the middle ages. Ben Franklin was a printing apprentice; Henry Ford a machinist apprentice.
The state program offers apprenticeships in three broadly defined areas — construction trades, industrial/manufacturing trades and service trades.
Unlike their college-bound brethren, who frequently build up huge debts going to school, apprentices earn while they learn. Employer sponsors are required to pay their apprentices, starting at half the journeyman worker rate for that trade, with scheduled raises as they continue through the program.
Apprenticeships last three to five years with apprentices spending about 90 percent of the time on the job and 10 percent in the classroom. In addition to paying apprentices, many sponsors will also pick up all or part of the costs of tuition and books for the classroom part of the deal.
Upon completion of the apprenticeship and any licensing requirements, the apprentice receives a state certificate and a journeyman license and goes to work for the sponsoring firm. The construction trades tend to pay the highest, with the base pay for a construction worker at just under $33 per hour.
“It’s a great program,” said Greg Jones, CEO of Dave Jones Inc. “As a plumber, after a five-year program you can be making $70,000 a year with no student debt.”
Jones, 32, completed his apprenticeship in 2004. His father, Dave Jones, also went through the apprenticeship program and founded the company in 1977. The company now has 220 employees and 34 apprentices.
Phil Klahn, 23, got a head start on the five-year apprenticeship he is now finishing up when he started working at Dave Jones Plumbing part-time through a school-work program at Oregon High School.
“The trades were something I was always looking into,” Klahn said. “I wanted to work with my hands. I didn’t really think I could sit behind a desk my entire life.”
Klahn said that, like most high school graduates, he felt the pressure to go to college, but the work-study program opened his eyes to other options. And unlike many of his former classmates, he’s finishing his education with no student loans.
“I was lucky because I knew right away this was what I wanted to do,” said Klahn, who hopes to someday become a project manager or field superintendent. “Everybody thinks that plumbing is backed-up sewers and leaky faucets and leaky pipes. There is a service end to it, but right now I’m working on a 12-story apartment building in downtown Madison. There’s a lot more to it than people understand.”
Klahn’s advice to young people pondering their future?
“I just say keep your mind open to the apprenticeship program,” he said. “It might not be for everybody, but I tell people to at least look into it.”
Mike Pohlman of Nickles Electric thinks that message is spreading, and he emphasizes that the trades are actively recruiting a diverse workforce.
“This whole industry is changing,” said Pohlman, who began his apprenticeship in 1979 and rose through the ranks to become company president. “People are understanding that the trades are a pretty good option these days.
“Our city’s going to keep growing, and we’re going to need people to build it.”
February 17, 2014
From postcrescent.com: “Algoma Wolf Tech takes real life into the classroom” – ALGOMA — Manufacturing has a home in Algoma. Precision Machine, Olson Fabrication, Algoma Hardwoods and WS Packaging Group are among companies that make things in the Kewaunee County community.
So, too, is Algoma Wolf Tech, a relatively new manufacturing company housed in the tech ed classrooms of Algoma High School.
“I pretty strongly believe that kids have to make something of substance to understand the process that goes into things,” said Nick Cochart, principal of the school since 2011 and godfather of Wolf Tech.
Eleva-Strum School District’s Cardinal Manufacturing south of Eau Claire, which started in 2007, established the model for in-school manufacturing. Wolf Tech followed suit, and Bay Link Manufacturing, a creation of the Green Bay School District, will launch in the fall.
Other schools are considering similar programs, said Mark Weber, dean of Trades & Engineering Technologies at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, which is assisting many schools in establishing manufacturing-related programs.
Wolf Tech is not a seat-of-the-pants, we’ve got a saw and a few welders affair. Its equipment includes two CNC milling machines, a CNC wood router, state-of-the-art table saws and, later this month, a CNC lathe.
“We are not making widgets. We are making stuff in industry that people are using every day,” Cochart said.
Algoma School District invested more than $250,000 in Wolf Tech and tech ed, but it’s not alone in supporting the program. The CNC metal lathe is courtesy of NWTC. Algoma, which is a certified Haas Automation Inc. technical training center, will provide its facilities for public classes in CNC training and in return get the $70,000 lathe free of charge.
“Those machines have opened the door to so many things,” Cochart said.
Working with their hands
Sophomore Austin Stoller, 15, is hoping the lathe will open the door to a career as a gunsmith. He’s also fond of welding.
“I like working with my hands and making stuff. I don’t like sitting in a classroom all day,” Stoller said. “It’s just not my thing.”
Stoller is the kind of student that the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance and, increasingly, educators are trying to accommodate by providing options to a four-year college degree.
“There are so many opportunities for kids now,” Cochart said. “If they just follow their passion, there’s not just good jobs, there’s great jobs.”
Tech ed instructors Matt Abel and Russ Nockerts can teach students how to operate the machines, but that’s not really the point.
“I try to teach kids useful employability skills,” Abel said. “It’s not running a machine. It’s how is this going to affect the consumer? How’s this going to affect people down the chain?”
That’s an approach seconded and abetted by Jamie Spitzer, owner of Precision Machine, to say nothing of most manufacturing employers. It’s the so-called soft skills — problem solving, communications, teamwork, high-quality work — that employers are looking for.
“We are actually asking you to contribute. We are asking you to use your mind more and your back less,” Spitzer said. “It’s crazy how you can hire someone for their hard skills, but most likely fire them for their soft skills.”
Algoma High School and Precision Machine were each honored last fall during N.E.W. Manufacturing Alliance’s Excellence in Manufacturing/K-12 Partnership Awards. The school and the company work closely. The goal is to produce employable manufacturing workers, of course, but it’s also about students’ aspirations.
“I was one of those kids at one time,” Spitzer said. “Not everyone wants to go to a four-year school and it’s a great thing when kids can do things with their hands.”
Work has to be perfect
Precision Machine serves clients in the aerospace and timber industries, among others, and has contracted Wolf Tech for parts. They are basic pieces, but require a professional level of quality. If the product doesn’t measure up, someone from Precision Machine makes the trek around the block to the high school to explain why.
“It’s got to be perfect,” Nockerts said.
The students have to deal directly with customers, which Cochart said provides a learning moment, again, focused on those soft skills.
Abel and Nockerts are nontraditional teachers in that they have business backgrounds. Able has a degree in construction management from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
“They have to have skills sets that can cut across multiple disciplines,” Cochart said. “I think they have some of the most engaging classroom activities.”
About 70 of Algoma’s 250 students are in tech ed classes. Of those, 15 are in Wolf Tech, which requires after-school participation.
“My core group are sophomores right now. From that group, it’s grown,” Able said. “They talk to their friends; ‘Hey, this is cool stuff.’ I have kids who just want to be down here. They don’t even have a class.”
Students ‘actually learning’
Cochart said what they are doing requires a different approach to teaching. Abel said it may seem like chaos at times, though it’s not.
“Each student is on a different path,” Abel said. “Everybody is working at their own speed, trying something out and actually learning.”
Other teachers are getting involved as well, Abel said.
“Our core teachers are realizing how it relates and, for example, bringing the math into here,” he said. “In machining, we use a lot of trigonometry and some students can’t even pass algebra. They don’t even know they are doing it.”
Wolf Tech is one or two customers away from being self-sustaining, Cochart said.
Among its customers is Algoma Long-Term Care nursing home, for which it is providing new cabinets. Junior Kevin Sperber, 17, designed them and CTI Hospitality of Algoma manufactured the pieces.
“This is actually going to be used by people every day,” Sperber said, explaining what sets the project apart from traditional “shop.”
Sperber is interested in design or engineering as a career. He expects to attend NWTC, but is undecided about whether to get a four-year degree.
“I was a little interested my freshman year. I had no idea what I was going to go into, then I got interested in all of this,” he said.
There are immediate benefits, including college credits while still in high school.
“For the past two years, Precision Machine pretty much offered jobs to anyone on the machining side,” Able said.
The goal is for Wolf Tech to be a completely student-run business, from front office to factory floor. Getting students to run the machines has been the easy part, so far, but manufacturing includes jobs well beyond the factory floor. Abel said Wolf Tech needs accountants, salespeople and more.
“When we started this, I said we are four years out from hitting full stride,” Cochart said. “Some of our most talented kids are freshmen and sophomores. I’d love to see a kid start his own business within a business. I think it’s right there.”
February 14, 2014
From leadertelegram.com: “Candidate tours tech: Democrat running for governor discusses worker education, jobs” – By Joe Knight Leader-Telegram staff – Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said Thursday she supports a proposal by her opponent, Gov. Scott Walker, to spend $35 million to help the state’s technical colleges provide additional training for high-demand jobs.
She also supports the governor’s initiative to find work for people with developmental disabilities.
However, Burke said the proposal would require future funding for technical colleges to keep those efforts ongoing.
Burke spoke briefly with reporters during a tour of high-tech industrial programs at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Gateway Campus. She criticized Walker for cutting $71 million from technical colleges in the first budget he oversaw as governor “just at the time when our technical colleges needed a boost.”
At the time Walker said budget cuts were needed because of a $3 billion state budget shortfall.
Burke said the types of high-tech manufacturing skills being taught at CVTC would help the middle class and would help grow the state’s economy. She spent time speaking with CVTC students, asking them about their career aspirations.
Jamie Rasmussen, a 35-year-old CVTC welding student, said more funding for CVTC programs will help more of them receive the training they need to find jobs.
Asked whether the process she observed Thursday could help build bicycles, Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive and a former commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, said she wasn’t sure but noted Trek works closely with technical colleges in southern Wisconsin.
February 12, 2014
From jsonline.com: “Eaton expanding, upgrading its Cooper Power Systems plants in Waukesha” — Every time someone turns on a light or fires up their office computer, there’s a good chance that a Cooper Power Systems electrical transformer or another of the company’s products was part of the process.
Since 2012, Cooper has been part of Eaton Corp., a power management company with $22 billion in sales in 2013.
Eaton, based in Dublin, Ireland, has 102,000 employees and sells products in more than 175 countries. This week, the company said it was expanding and upgrading its Cooper Power Systems plants in Waukesha that make electrical equipment including power transformers and voltage regulators.
The $54 million project will create up to 200 jobs over the next two years, according to Eaton, as the company expands its Badger Drive plant and upgrades its North St. and Lincoln Ave. plants.
“The reason we are investing in the expansion in our facilities is to help meet the growing demand we are seeing, not only from our utility customers, but also from the commercial and industrial customer base,” said Clayton Tychkowsky, president of the Cooper Power Systems division.
Eaton has a wide range of products including truck transmissions, aircraft fuel systems and electrical systems.
Last week, the company said its fourth-quarter revenue rose 28%, boosted by higher demand for electrical products and systems.
Electrical product sales jumped 57% to $1.8 billion in the recent quarter ended Dec. 31.
Demand picked up in multiple areas including data processing centers, commercial construction and the oil and gas industry.
“One thing all those fields have in common is they require products to help transmit power to a usable point in their electrical system,” Tychkowsky said.
Eaton also stands to benefit from an increase in residential construction because the utility companies that provide power to homes use Cooper products.
“We see long-term potential growth for the products we manufacture here, which is why we feel this is a good investment,” Tychkowsky said about the plant expansion and upgrades.
Last April, Eaton announced it was cutting nearly two-thirds of its 260 jobs in Pewaukee.
The reductions included 130 production and 33 salaried positions as the company said it was moving molded rubber manufacturing from Pewaukee to a plant in Querétaro, Mexico, this year.
The job cuts were unrelated to the Waukesha plants, and the Pewaukee employees will get first preference in the Waukesha hiring, according to Eaton.
As part of the hiring, the company has partnered with Waukesha County Technical College to provide job training.
“We are taking a proactive approach as opposed to sitting back and waiting for talent to be available for us,” Tychkowsky said.
The expansion on Badger Drive will include 55,000 square feet of new manufacturing space.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is providing up to $1.36 million in tax credits for the expansion and plant upgrades, which are tied to the new jobs.
“Retention of sound businesses like this is something we all need to pay attention to. There are other opportunities in the nation for a company like Eaton to move out of state,” said Reed Hall, WEDC secretary and chief executive officer.
Wisconsin also benefits from the electrical products, according to Hall.
“Safe, reliable electrical power is critical to growth. It’s like broadband. There are a couple of things businesses absolutely have to have to consider expanding in our state,” Hall said.
January 31, 2014
From chippewa.com: “Manufacturing still drives area, state economy” – by Ross Evavold – This question was once posed to me: Where would Wisconsin be without manufacturing?
It’s basically a rhetorical one, since the answer is quite obvious. Consider these facts:
- Wisconsin leads the entire U.S. in manufacturing jobs per capita.
- Ten percent of the state’s pool of workers 16 and over are employed in manufacturing. That’s twice the national average.
- Manufacturing is the state’s single largest employment sector.
- We have more than 9,000 manufacturers in the state, and more than 400,000 workers in that area.
- All but one of Wisconsin’s 37 largest industries are in manufacturing.
- It provides jobs for a majority of Wisconsin workers who do not have a college degree.
So as you can see, manufacturing is still the driver of the Badger state’s economy, for now and the foreseeable future.
Manufacturing is responsible for about 20 percent of the gross state product, and that figure translates to roughly the same percentage in the Chippewa Valley.
Our heavy reliance on manufacturing also comes with some risks. Wisconsin has many fewer manufacturing jobs than it did in 2000, but it has also retained more jobs than other manufacturing-heavy states, while manufacturing has also weathered the Great Recession of our lifetimes better than other job sectors.
Not that there won’t be challenges. Charlie Walker, director of the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation, said that in trying to stay ahead of the curve, this area has been very proactive in identifying long-range issues that will impact growth.
He cited three major criteria for this area’s manufacturing success: the talent level of the workforce; accessibility to the marketplace through rail and highway infrastructure; and reliability of power. Walker says we stack up well in all three categories.
The Chippewa Valley also ranks well when it comes to advanced manufacturing, encompassing the high-tech assembly industry like the one we feature on the cover.
SGI has roots here dating back to when Silicon Graphics bought Cray Research in the mid-’90s. And now Jabil Circuits will become the latest worldwide player to land here, with its purchase of SGI’s manufacturing facility.
Jabil’s success story is impressive: Since its start nearly 50 years ago in Detroit, the company has expanded relentlessly through acquisitions and by evolving to serve numerous industries. In 2012 it ranked 157th in Fortune magazine’s list of the 500 most admired companies.
Oh, and SGI is very much sticking around here, as so many other related businesses have also done once they come to the area. TTM Technologies still produces circuit boards with about 1,000 workers in Chippewa Falls, and Cray, Inc., just installed and filled more supercomputer orders than any quarter in its history, sending its stock price soaring.
They have all found workers in this area to be among the best in the nation, which supports Walker’s contention as to the talent level.
Helping produce those workers with specific skill sets for our manufacturing companies are UW-Stout and Chippewa Valley Technical College, which have forged relationships with many area firms. The schools have been so successful that some graduates have actually had to turn down job offers.
Our winter issue also takes a look at why Five Star Plastics in Eau Claire’s Sky Park Industrial Center is undertaking its second large expansion in five years, and Nanospark, a young spinoff company in Altoona with a bright future.
A key area with manufacturers is often exports, and Momentum West, an economic development group representing 10 area counties, is expanding its horizons this year by going beyond our borders. It is targeting two international trade shows with hopes of landing businesses for this area.
January 30, 2014
From wiscnews.com: “Welders wanted: Employers with jobs struggle to fill them” – By Peter Rebhahn – It’s a familiar story: An economy still shell-shocked from the Great Recession of 2008-09 has left businesses downsizing and workers scrambling for a dwindling supply of low-paying jobs without benefits.
But what if the story isn’t as true as we think?
“We lose a lot of business because we do not have enough people to staff our shop,” said Larry Willer, operations manager for W.M. Sprinkman Corp. in Elroy.
Sprinkman needs more welders. In fact, Willer said, the welder shortage is one of the biggest problems the company faces.
Willer said the welder shortage has persisted for years in spite of starting hourly pay “in the teens,” plenty of overtime opportunity and a full benefit package that includes vacation time and health insurance.
“We’re looking to expand our night shift and we would probably hire in the neighborhood of anywhere from 10 to 15 welders if we could find qualified people,” Willer said.
That would be a big staff increase at Sprinkman, a manufacturer of stainless steel tanks for the dairy, food and beverage industry. It now employs 56 people – about two-thirds of them welders.
The company, which Willer said has benefitted from the microbrewing boom within the beer industry, serves customers nationwide from its 14,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in downtown Elroy.
Sprinkman’s customers include Fortune 500 giants such as Coca Cola and the Campbell Soup Company, as well as many smaller companies such as Capital Brewery in Madison.
The welder shortage is not Sprinkman’s problem alone.
At Walker Stainless Equipment in New Lisbon, Human Resources Manager Nancy Jacques said the “Welders Wanted” sign has occupied a prominent spot on the lawn at the front of the company headquarters for years. They’re looking to fill 20 vacant welder positions right now.
“It’s hard to find associates who are interested in the trade or who have any skill in welding,” Jacques said.
Walker, which also makes stainless steel equipment for customers nationwide, is Juneau County’s biggest manufacturing employer, with more than 500 workers in New Lisbon and at another facility in Elroy. About 225 of the company’s employees in Juneau County are welders, Jacques said. Like Sprinkman, business at Walker is good. Jacques said it’s frustrating to leave jobs unfilled.
“Walker’s market continues to expand,” Jacques said. “Therefore, the need for experienced welders increases also.”
Last week, the Juneau County Board of Supervisors took official notice of the problem when it passed a resolution that asked Western Technical College to “provide the necessary leadership, teachers, technical assistance, and monetary support for the establishment of the type of welding courses needed by Juneau County manufacturers at the New Lisbon High School.”
In fact, talks between officials from the technical college and New Lisbon schools are already well underway.
New Lisbon schools Superintendent Dennis Birr said the high school teaches a welding class. He said he’s “solidly behind” allowing the technical college use of the school’s welding laboratory. Talks with technical college officials about a sharing arrangement have been going on for more than a year, he added.
“The school’s perspective has been that we have a welding lab and we’d be happy to let it be used to help more people get the welding skills that help local employers,” Birr said.
The high school’s welding lab accommodates about a dozen students. Birr said the welding class attracts a mix of students – some who are merely curious and others who think they might like a career in welding. But even the career-minded students at New Lisbon are still only high school students who, unlike college students, haven’t necessarily made up their minds to pursue a career in welding.
The problem is meeting the increased immediate demands of industry. Training welders to step from a classroom and into a real-world job at a manufacturer like Sprinkman or Walker would require an expensive upgrade to the high school’s facility. That’s an expenditure Birr said the district isn’t interested in making because the existing facility meets its limited needs.
“The people who would be taking this class aren’t our students,” Birr said.
Patti Balacek, director of business and industry services for Western Technical College, said the hope is to copy in New Lisbon the success of a similar high school-technical college link-up in Black River Falls.
“It’s been an incredible boon for everyone, but it also was a year and a half of a lot of work, a lot of fundraising,” Balacek said.
In Black River Falls, Jackson County and the Black River Falls School District came up with $80,000 to create the Welding Skills Institute at the high school. The Ho Chunk Nation, which provided Jackson County’s $50,000 contribution, played a key role in the Black River Falls funding. The Black River Falls School District contributed the other $30,000.
Other partners in Black River Falls included the Department of Corrections, Jackson County Circuit Court and the state Department of Corrections.
“If we were to proceed with New Lisbon, it will take a great deal of commitment from a number of partners,” Balacek said. “I respect that the Juneau County board would like Western to provide some of the leadership, but it was only successful in Black River Falls because other people made a significant contribution to making this happen.”
She said she awaits word of a grant application that could allow expansion of the college’s welding training. But right now the technical college doesn’t have the money for an upgrade to the New Lisbon High School welding lab, said Balacek, who added she has also discussed the issue with Mauston school officials.
One of the problems educators face, Balacek said, is getting high school students to understand that manufacturing jobs are no longer the dirty, noisy and dangerous occupations they once were.
“The view of manufacturing is something we have to help young people understand has changed, and can lead to a very viable and financially sound career move for many people,” Balacek said.
Willer said a few of Sprinkman’s welders live outside Juneau County, but attracting welders from distant areas runs up hard against a fact of life that all manufacturers face.
“People generally do not relocate for a shop job, so it limits us to people within a reasonable driving distance of our shop,” Willer said.
Willer said Sprinkman gets many job applications but the “vast majority” of applicants have no skills. They don’t understand that precision welding is exacting work that can’t be learned on the job in a week.
“These guys are fabricators,” Willer said with a nod toward workers on Sprinkman’s shop floor. “We don’t call them welders. We call them fabricators.”
Willer said company officials are considering taking matters into their own hands.
“We have gotten to the point where we are also looking at developing our own welding course and training people for the work we have available,” Willer said. “We can provide, I feel, good-paying jobs with benefits and a future – if they have the skills.”
January 29, 2014
From woodworkingnetwork.com: “Teaching Wood Students Success at Fox Valley Tech” – By Matt Schumake -With each lesson in the Wood Manufacturing Technology program at Fox Valley Technical College, students routinely pull out calipers to check their work.
The goal: “To develop their sense of precision,” says instructor Mark Lorge. And paired with the students’ broad understanding of secondary wood processing, it creates a well-rounded knowledge base, which Lorge says is essential for a career in the industry.
An alumnus of the program, Lorge graduated in 1983 and went on to work with production and millwork companies such as Morgan Products Ltd., Elipticon Wood Products and Valley Planing Mill. Last year, Lorge celebrated his 20th year of instruction at Fox Valley Technical College.
Associate instructor Glenn Koerner leads the program with Lorge. Also a graduate, Koerner returned to Fox Valley Tech after more than 14,000 hours of industry experience.
The Wood Manufacturing Technology program is housed at Fox Valley Tech’s S.J. Spanbauer Center in Oshkosh, WI. There, Lorge and Koerner work with approximately 20 students each year, guiding them through five nine-week units of instruction.
“Some students come in with no prior understanding,” Lorge says. During the first nine weeks, they are introduced to the groundwork of every project — planning. They learn to read blueprints, prepare a parts list and production estimate. They also learn basic machining and wood identification.
The second block further develops students’ understanding of material, terminology, tooling and processes. They are introduced to an advanced level of setup and operation on woodworking machines, and demonstrate their psychomotor and cognitive competency of the process through a series of operation exercises.
It is during the third block that students become familiar with basic cabinetmaking processes. They design doors and drawers, build jigs and fixtures, and process materials to create laminate countertops. Cabinets completed in the program have been donated to Habitat for Humanity.
After approximately 36 weeks, students learn the principles of veneering, advanced machine joinery and CNC routing.
Through a partnership with Komo Machinery, the Wood Manufacturing Technology program has been provided with a VR510 Mach 1 S router, software for 21 seats and upgrades of RouterCIM and two seats of AutoNEST applications to operate the machinery.
“Most students embrace the CNC technology with enthusiasm,” Lorge says. By writing G-code, programming the router, setting tools, developing multiple tool programs and creating a gasketed fixture, students gain an understanding of the machine and its capabilities.
With these skills, the hiring rate for students is currently at 100 percent, Lorge says; over the past five years, the program has witnessed a 94 percent employment rate for graduates.
“A company needs employees who possess technical ability and a good work ethic — good training is one of the keys to success,” says Len Riebau, owner of Wisconsin-based WDL, and a member of the Fox Valley Tech advisory board. Industry feedback also has helped the program stay successful and relevant to today’s needs, he adds.
Currently, Lorge and Koerner are in the process of revising the curriculum for web-based delivery and to require tablet access for each student by August 2014. The two also are working with high schools on a curriculum with transferable credit to Fox Valley Tech, and to develop a basic-skills certificate program for students who cannot commit to the year-long program.
Under Lorge’s and Koerner’s direction, Fox Valley Technical College’s Wood Manufacturing Technology program already has received notice for its efforts. Not only is the school a past recipient of the “Educator of the Year Award” by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association, but its students frequently receive awards from the Association of Woodworking and Furniture Suppliers.
January 20, 2014
From gmtoday.com: “Apprenticeship program numbers increase in Wisconsin” – MADISON – As companies and workers realize the value of apprenticeship program, the involvement in them is increasing, reports Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson.
“Wisconsin’s economy is improving, employers are hiring and increasingly taking advantage of our Wisconsin Apprenticeship program so that workers have the right skills,” Newson said in a statement. “The unemployed and underemployed also see this proven on-the-job training program as one way to get a good job. The numbers last year show it. We saw growth in all three major trade sectors, construction, manufacturing and services, the best we’ve growth we’ve seen in three years.”
According to the DWD, new apprentice contracts in 2013 increased by 31 percent compared to 2012 and by 56 percent compared to three years ago. The increases by trade sectors were:
•Construction – new apprentices, 1,570, the biggest increase, 51 percent compared to 2012 new contracts and 73 percent compared to new contracts three years ago.
•Industrial/manufacturing – new apprentices, 581, a 9 percent increase compared to the 2012 new contracts and 75 percent compared to new contracts in 2010.
•Service – new apprentices, 1,199, a 22 percent increase compared to the 2012 new contracts and a 29 percent increase compared to 2010 figure.
The 26th Biennial Apprenticeship Conference, The Apprenticeship Solution: Meeting the Workforce Challenge will be held Jan. 26 to Jan. 28 in Wisconsin Dells and will include a special Apprentice Expo for high school students. The conference program includes nationally recognized speakers Anirban Basu, president and CEO of SAGE Policy Group and Mark Breslin, founder and CEO of Breslin Strategies. Dan Ariens, president and CEO of the Ariens Company will also speak at the conference, co-sponsored by DWD and the Wisconsin Apprenticeship Advisory Council.
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Walker focuses on jobs during Stratford stop” – STRATFORD — Personal income growth in Wisconsin in 2013 shows more people across the state are working, but job statistics could improve with worker training and encouraging more young people to enter the manufacturing workforce, Gov. Scott Walker said during a visit to A&B Process Systems on Wednesday.
“I hear so many businesses say not only do we have positions open, but we’ve got business waiting … if only we could fill the positions we have,” Walker said.
He said the roughly 50,000 jobs currently posted on the Job Center of Wisconsin website indicate a skills gap in the state.
Walker said he put $100 million of the current state budget toward workforce training, including short-term training and investments in technical colleges, to prepare workers for manufacturing, information technology and health care careers.
“Each of those key industries has the ability to hire more people if we have enough people with the skills to fill the positions,” he said.
Walker said parents and guidance counselors who encourage young people to consider careers in manufacturing will play a role in filling open positions.
“Guidance counselors still have the mindset you have to have a four-year college degree to have a good career, and that’s just not true,” Walker said. He said manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin pay an average of about $52,000 a year, are more likely to offer benefits and have higher retention rates than many other jobs.
Companies such as A&B Process Systems often work with the same customers, but manufacturing different equipment for those customers keeps the job interesting, he said.
Walker said state investment of $6.4 billion in infrastructure and tax incentives for businesses such as A&B Process Systems to invest in capital also will encourage job growth.
A&B Process Systems, which designs, fabricates and installs equipment and accessories for processing liquids, celebrated 40 years in business in 2013. The company employs 425 people, and annual sales exceed $100 million.
Paul Kinate, CEO of A&B Process Systems, credited the company’s success to dedicated employees, the leadership of founder Ajay Hilgemann and a commitment to customer service.
“Our employees are dedicated, innovative, embrace technology and automation and strive to improve every day,” he said.
Kinate called Walker a friend to business who has made a difference in Wisconsin’s economic growth.
Walker will deliver his annual State of the State address Jan. 22. He said he will address jobs, as well as property tax cuts and changes to the state income withholding tax, which will put more money in employers’ and workers’ hands.
January 9, 2014
From channel3000.com: “Madison College works to close job training gap” — A survey of 341 Wisconsin CEOs reveals a growing concern about finding enough skilled employees to fill job vacancies and facilitate growth.
January 7, 2014
From biztimes.com: “State program to boost worker training: $15 million in grants available to businesses” – The need to improve worker training in Wisconsin is so significant that even Democrats and Republicans are in agreement. It’s a rare occurrence lately for the Wisconsin State Senate to pass a bill unanimously with bipartisan support. But the Wisconsin Fast Forward bill became that rare occurrence last March when all 33 Wisconsin senators and 94 of 98 state Assembly representatives voted to approve the workforce initiative.
Gov. Scott Walker and Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development Reggie Newson at a recent press event for Wisconsin Fast Forward at Northcentral Technical College.
The legislation was the first to pass in Gov. Walker’s $100 million workforce agenda over the 2013-15 biennial budget period, passing even before the budget did.
“(Wisconsin Fast Forward) is the cornerstone of the state’s workforce investment strategy,” said Reggie Newson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
“It’s the most proactive and most aggressive investment in worker training that I can remember,” said Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College.
Wisconsin Fast Forward is a $15 million worker training grant program and it’s kicking into gear in 2014.
“The ultimate goal is to develop talent to fill existing jobs and create new ones,” Newson said.
Applications for the first round of worker training grants were due in mid-December, and DWD – and its new Office of Skills Development that was also created as a part of the Fast Forward initiative – is currently in the process of evaluating those grants, which are set to be announced in January.
The first round of grants amounts to $2.7 million, and focuses on worker training in three areas – manufacturing, construction and customer service.
Scott Jansen, director of the Office of Skills Development, said $400,000 of the grant money will go to customer service, $300,000 to small manufacturers (with less than 50 full-time employees), $1 million to manufacturers of any size and the remainder will go toward construction. The grants are set to be announced in late January, and the earliest training grant implementations could be up and running as soon as March 2014, Jansen said.
A key aspect of Wisconsin Fast Forward, Jansen said, is the program’s requirement to hire the employees being trained.
“We don’t just want to throw public money at additional training,” Jansen said. “We want (businesses) to be able to make the hire at the end of the program.”
Jansen said businesses applying for these grants must prove a commitment to hire.
Newson said that with this program using “demand-driven” requirements, it is focusing on “underemployed, unemployed and incumbent workers.”
The $12 million that remains after the first round will be allocated each quarter, as the DWD will announce a new round every three to four months until June 2015, Newson said.
The Office of Skills Development is currently analyzing which occupations and sectors to focus on for the program’s second round, which will be announced in late January, Jansen said.
Wisconsin Fast Forward is built to be an inclusive, collaborative process, Jansen said, with input and expertise from strategic partners, including the Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant Evaluation Committee, which includes panel members from the DWD, the Wisconsin Technical College System, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, as well as the employers applying for the grants.
“This whole process allows us to be nimble and flexible to be able to meet employers’ needs and incentivize and develop talent in high demand areas of the state,” Newson said. “It also does something impactful that goes along with what the governor wants to do, which is aligning education, workforce development and economic development to create an economic development outcome.”
Newson said the Wisconsin Fast Forward grant programs will be “employer-driven,” “demand-driven” and “customized based on their specific needs.”
In the grant applications themselves, Jansen said, “employers need to identify what the curriculum is, and they’re the ones writing the curriculum.”
“Wisconsin Fast Forward is based on models from other states – Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Minnesota – creating a demand-driven program that employers can access…to do customized worker training to be able to meet the skills gap,” Newson said.
Pat O’Brien, president of the Milwaukee Development Corporation and the Milwaukee 7, said there’s been a lot of discussion on the issue of the skills gap, noting that many companies complain that they can’t find employees while at the same time the unemployment rate is 7 to 8 percent, and higher for people of color. It is a challenge to the region, he said, with companies getting pickier to compete in a world economy and lower-skills jobs going to Mexico and overseas.
Albrecht said the issue of a “skills gap” is more of a moving target because of rapid changes in new technology.
“There is a skills gap, but there is probably a larger skills mismatch, where (current) skills may not align with new skills that are necessary,” he said, giving automated manufacturing and other computer-related skills as examples. “That second-tier skills training is where we see the gap. The effort now is to close a higher-level skills gap.”
“We need to make sure people are wired into the jobs of the future,” O’Brien said.
The Office of Skills Development was created as a part of this initiative to oversee the grants and programs and to be a collaborative, convening force to align the efforts of the state’s education, workforce development and economic development, Newson said.
“It’s been a very good resource because it provides a communication network,” Albrecht said. “The Office of Skills Development pulled several offices together so it can have a greater impact on the dollars that are invested.”
O’Brien said Jansen, who’s most recent job before becoming the director of the Office of Skills Development was with the Greater Milwaukee Committee, is the right person to be leading this initiative, citing previous workforce development initiatives with the GMC.
“I have a lot of faith in Scott Jansen,” O’Brien said. “He’s been a cornerstone of this project. I really respect Reggie (Newson) for putting this together.”
Jansen said the office currently has four employees, and completes tasks like writing administration rules, designing the grant process, building the website (Wisconsinfastforward.com), marketing the initiative, managing the grant application process and auditing the training program.
It was through the new office’s efforts that DWD was able to identify construction, manufacturing and customer service as the fields for the first round of grants.
“We saw from our strategic partners, from technical colleges and from our employer inquiry that those three are in high demand right now,” Jansen said.
“This is all strategic,” Newson said. “At the Job Center of Wisconsin website, there is somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 available jobs listed at any given time. At any one point in time, there’s between 100,000 and 150,000 jobs going unfilled in the state of Wisconsin. These programs will help us fill those jobs.”
Jansen said that 1,200 to 1,400 customer service jobs are available on the Job Center’s website on a weekly basis.
“Customer service is the number one requested job position in the state,” Newson said.
Any specific connections from this program to the Milwaukee area remain to be seen, but Jansen said there have been many applicants within the Milwaukee area for Fast Forward grants, and that there will be a regional focus.
“You’ll see in grant program announcements that employers will validate request with places like the M7,” said Jansen. “(They) need to validate that those are legitimate skill needs.”
Jansen said one area in Milwaukee where a need for skills development has been identified is in automated manufacturing.
“Population-wise, we’re 36 percent of the state in the M7 region, and we’re 38 to 40 percent of the state’s gross product,” O’Brien said. “On any measure, we’re 35-40 percent of the state’s economy. Any program the state does that’s statewide has a big impact on us. On average, (the Milwaukee 7 region) should get 35 to 40 percent of those dollars.”
Albrecht said his greatest hope for the program is for it to put people back to work.
“In southeastern Wisconsin, with new job areas coming to be available – like the 2,100 new jobs in Kenosha County – we’re going to have to find a way to invest in training to meet that demand,” he said.
December 23, 2013
From wjjq.com: “Nicolet offering new Electromechanical Technology Degree” – Continuing to work with area manufacturers, Nicolet College has announced a new degree in Electromechanical Technology.
The new associate degree focuses on the electronics and computers that control the systems to operate a production line. The college surveyed area employers such as Printpack, Foster and Smith and PCA to gauge demand for the skill set.
Brigette Kumbier, dean of Trade and Industry at Nicolet says the manufactures were excited to hear the college was looking at starting the program and strongly supported Nicolet in the effort.
Graduates with the degree are able to install, troubleshoot, repair and upgrade electronic and computer-controlled mechanical systems.
This raises the number of manufacturing credentials at Nicolet to 12, ranging from certificates to associate degrees. Often credits earned in the certificate programs can also be applied to the degree programs.
Classes in the new Electromechanical Technology program are expected to start in the Fall Semester of 2014.
December 23, 2013
From host.madison.com: “Northeast Wisconsin Technical College plays key role for Marinette Marine” – MARINETTE – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is playing a key role in preparing workers for the Marinette Marine shipyard.
The school operates the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center, where workers are taught a variety of skills including welding and electrical work, as well as leadership, communications and conflict resolution skills. In the last two years, more than 1,800 students have gone through the training center.
The facility is within walking distance of the shipyard and includes computer labs, classrooms and shops, one filled with welding booths, another with electrical components like those used on the littoral combat ship (LCS). There are also programs for pipe fitters and metal fabricators.
“We were written right into the LCS contract because they needed to show that they had the ability to train thousands of people,” said Brian Lancour, coordinator of the training center. “We’ve become experts on the shipyard.”
Aaron Short, 26, a native of Escanaba, Mich., had been working as a welder at Miller Tractor Supply in Green Bay and in June applied to work at the shipyard. He started in October and began welding training at NWTC. He makes $16.50 an hour compared to the $11.50 he was making at Miller. But he’s also in a more physically demanding job, performing welding tasks while on his knees, crouched down or in some cases using mirrors to weld in tight spots.
“It’s nothing like I’ve ever done before,” said Short, who will soon be married. “It’s definitely testing my skills and getting me better at a lot of things.”
Wade Smoot, 41, of Madison, is a Lancaster High School graduate who most recently was an iron worker for a Stoughton company that did work on Camp Randall and at Epic Systems in Verona. He was attracted to the shipyard by the pay, benefits and community.
“I just wanted something different and this is really neat to build ships,” said Smoot, who was learning how to weld aluminum.
December 20, 2013
From wxpr.org: “Gov. Walker signs Youth Apprenticeship bill in Rhinelander” – Governor Scott Walker has signed a bill in Rhinelander that he says will help employers get more skilled workers to companies. Youth Apprenticeship integrates high school-based and work-based learning to instruct students in skills defined by Wisconsin industries. It works with local school districts and the area technical colleges.
Stopping at Nicolet College to sign the Youth Apprenticeship Walker says the bill passed both legislative chambers with just one “no” vote, showing broad bi-partisan support. The program is already in action, but the new funding enlarges the program. 1900 students went through the program last year Walker says…
“….many of our employers across the state, particularly our small and mid-sized employers would add more work but they’re a little bit resistant to do that right now until they know they can fill the positions they have for things like high-skilled welders, CNC operators, machinists, tool-and-dye operators….”
Walker says manufacturing jobs pay more, have more benefits and workers stay longer than many other jobs.
December 19, 2013
From wsau.com: “Great Lakes details Stevens Point expansion plans” – Several community leaders joined Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation in Stevens Point to announce their future growth outlook.
Governor Scott Walker says the new customer service call center in the downtown business district is a perfect fit, and welcomes the anticipated 150 total new jobs. “They’ve got over twenty people they’ve hired thus far, and when they open up things beginning in the second quarter going into April, they’ll have about fifty long-term, and they’re looking within the next two years about 150 jobs, and they’re a cross section of folks directly on the phones, answering questions about student loans to administration and oversight.”
Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation’s Marc Storch says the hiring has already begun, and they are working at a temporary site. “Currently, we’ve hired twenty staff that will be line employees, along with three supervisors, a manager, a trainer, and a H-R (human resources) person, so we’re in good shape to kick this off. We’ll be hiring twelve more people right after the holidays, and then right before we move to the permanent site, we’ll hire twenty-four more.”
After moving, Storch says they can start training groups of 12 to 24 at a time, and also start hiring some students as part time help.
Storch says the choice of Stevens Point was made easy because of the efforts of city leaders and the knowledge of the community by a couple of long-time Great Lakes staff members. “It was actually five months that we spent exploring a variety of sites across the nation. We could have had sites virtually anywhere in today’s interconnected world, but it was the fact that coming here gave us the type of people and the type of community that we wanted.”
The temporary location is the former Sears and Shopko building at Church Street and Michigan Avenue. They are remodeling the former Dunham Sports building as their new state-of-the-art customer service center. Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation works with the U.S. Department of Education and private lenders to make college a reality for students, and assist those who take out student loans.
Governor Walker says the organization has also partnered with the state in an effort to close the skills gap, by launching the Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grants. This three-year, $3.8 million grant program, focuses on skills training in the advanced manufacturing sector by fostering partnerships between the Wisconsin Technical College System and state businesses.
December 13, 2013
From huffingtonpost.com: “Community Colleges and the Manufacturing Sector” – For decades the manufacturing sector provided jobs with good wages. Today, however, the Manufacturing Institute states that 82% of manufacturers report a moderate or serious skills gap in skilled production, and 74% of manufacturers report that the skills gap has hurt their company’s ability to expand operations.
But what is most alarming is that an estimated 2.7 million U.S. manufacturing employees, nearly a fourth of the total, are 55 or over. According to a 2010 article in The Financial Times, 40% of Boeing workers, and nearly half of Rockwell Collins’ workers will be eligible for retirement by 2016. We cannot afford to have these jobs shipped overseas because we don’t have the skilled workers to fill them.
The Manufacturing Institute was one of the first organizations to address the lack of skilled workers. The Institute launched the NAM-Endorsed Skills Certification System to address the skills gap challenge and to promote a renaissance of manufacturing education across the country. What this system does is provide a set of the industry-recognized credentials that workers need to be successful in entry-level positions in any manufacturing environment.
Community colleges were among the first to embrace these new standards by creating certification programs that train students for jobs as varied as the manufacturing of orthopedic devices to repairing wind turbines. Local manufacturers began reaching out to community colleges asking them to train their future workforce. Often these students were displaced workers or had lost their jobs through outsourcing. This cohort, many over the age of 50, presented a new challenge – how to train students who hadn’t been a classroom for more than 20 years.
Partnerships between community colleges and manufacturing companies have been remarkably successful largely because they have been in the forefront of providing customized training that leads directly to a well-paying job.
For example, Siemens developed the Design Technology Program associate degree at Iowa Western Community College, providing students with the skills to “effectively translate ideas from inventors, engineers, planner and designers into visual graphic form.”
Connecticut Community College’s College of Technology developed the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, which places educators with advanced manufacturing companies for 4 week externships. These instructors received hands-on training that they then brought back to the classroom.
When St. Louis lost 10,000 jobs in the auto industry, St. Louis Community College offered training in new technologies that enabled many of the displaced workers to get jobs at Boeing assembling jets.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College worked with the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance to train skilled workers capable of producing the best ships in the world. One of the member companies was awarded a contract to build 10 Littoral Combat ships for the U.S. Navy. This contract created 1,000 news jobs, jobs that might not have come to Wisconsin if there weren’t trained workers waiting to fill them.
As the former CEO of Delco Remy International, a manufacturing company, I know first hand how vital it is to have a highly-skilled workforce. Indiana is a leader in manufacturing, and Ivy Tech, its community college system, works closely with corporations like Cummings to ensure we are providing our students with the training they need to fill jobs in the manufacturing sector. These jobs pay an average of $45,000 a year and offer opportunity for advancement.
In January, we will launch a unique academic-industry-blended 75 hour co-op Advanced Manufacturing degree program. Our students will gain valuable on-the-job experience with some of Indiana’s top manufacturing and logistics companies, working as interns two days a week. Upon graduation, they will have received training in the most current and relevant industry technology as well as having real world experience. Our goal is to have them work for the companies where they interned.
Through the generosity of Alcoa Foundation, we also recently launched “Get Skills to Work,” a program that provides free manufacturing training for veterans. Graduates will receive interviews with area manufacturers through the Tri-State Manufacturers’ Alliance. The Get Skills to Work coalition includes more than 500 manufacturers and focuses on training for veterans, translating the skills they learned in the military into manufacturing careers.
Flexibility, vision and commitment are all-important factors in working with the nation’s manufacturers. Community colleges are in the vanguard of insuring that well-paying manufacturing jobs are not shipped overseas but stay in the community.
December 9, 2013
From wausaudailyherald.com: “D.C. Everest recognizes volunteer for work at Junior High” – WESTON — Joseph Wilhelm was recognized and thanked by the D.C. Everest School Board Nov. 20 for his volunteer service at D.C. Everest Junior High.
For the past four years, Wilhelm has volunteered countless hours working with students in the technical education classes. Additionally, he served for a year on the D.C. Everest Idea Charter School Board.
Wilhelm shares knowledge and skills from his 35 years in manufacturing, engineering and management with the technical education students. He leverages industry connections by arranging guest speakers and tours; encourages female students to consider career options in industry, including arranging meetings for interested female students with local female engineers; and encourages students to participate in rich and varied learning opportunities such as plays, concerts and other district and community events to make connections with one another.
The greatest barometer of Wilhelm’s impact at the junior high is student feedback. Students like Wilhelm a great deal. They have made comments including, “He cares about us,” “He makes learning fun,” and “We learn a lot from him.”
This school year, Wilhelm is teaching at Northcentral Technical College and continuing his volunteer work at the junior high during two periods each day.