From wisbusiness.com: “Edgerton and Milton High School students to get sneak peak for new Advanced Manufacturing Training Center” – Some 240 high school students – 90 from Edgerton High School and 150 from Milton High School – will receive a sneak preview of Blackhawk Technical College’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center in Milton this Wednesday as part of an encompassing tour of Blackhawk’s facilities and manufacturing programs.

Milton students will get the first taste of their new neighbor starting at 8:30 a.m. After the 90-minute tour, the Milton students will head to Blackhawk’s Central Campus, where they will have the opportunity to learn about eight of the school’s Advanced Manufacturing programs.

The Edgerton students will reverse that route, first heading to the Central Campus in the morning, before heading to the Advanced Manufacturing Center at 12:30 p.m. for an afternoon tour.

Students from all four years of high school will be represented at the event.

Phase one of the Advanced Manufacturing Center is set to open in August for the fall semester of the 2014-2015 school year. The second phase of the facility will be completed in the summer of 2015.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to highlight our programs and how they will fit in at the new facility,’’ said Barrett Bell, Blackhawk’s Director of Enrollment Services. “In addition, these two schools and their students will get first hand exposure to the variety of our Advanced Manufacturing programs and the new facility.’’

While at the new Milton Campus facility, students will spend 25 minutes in three sessions – a tour of the building, an admissions seminar and a panel discussion on the Advanced Manufacturing programs.

While at Blackhawk’s Central Campus, students will have the opportunity to investigate current facilities for one of two tracks of programs.

The first track covers a new Blackhawk program — Manufacturing Information Technology Specialist – plus Automated Systems, HVAC-R and Computer Numeric Control Technician.

The second track will introduce students to programs in Industrial Maintenance, Welding, Mechanical Design and Electrical Power Distribution.

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 controldesign.com: “ABB enables students to utilize latest technology in lab” — ABB Inc. recently donated eight democases from a new DTC product line to Waukesha County Technical College’s Automation Technology Program, which will enable students to utilize the latest technology in lab work and applications.

With hands-on access to newer technologies, it is believed that the utility of learning will be accelerated in both the school and workplace environments.

Delivery of the democases, “enables us to upgrade our labs – and gives students enhanced hands-on training with the latest available drives technology,” said Jesse Stuller, automation instructor and supporter of industry-academic support programs at WCTC. “Our goal is to provide the highest quality education to our students. Our partnership with industry provides the avenue to accomplish that goal.”

The drives democases donated are from the new ACS880 high performance DTC product line.

“These units provide a simple, yet comprehensive, all-in-one solution that is specialized for training and learning,” said Dennis Miller, ABB Sr. Technical Instructor, who arranged the donation. “The democases facilitate a complete application simulation.”

Miller also said the older democases feature older technology and have been in use for over 15 years, making the upgrade current with the latest technology ABB offers end users and keeps the Automation Technologies Program up to date.

Self-contained Labs

The donated drives are extremely user friendly and ideal for students to use.  Students will be able to program and test them as they become familiar with drive technology for the first time.

The drive is connected to a small motor and has an external input/output control panel wired to the analog inputs, digital inputs, digital outputs and analog outputs.

Students can fully simulate use of controls for any given application, and spin the motor like in a real application. The democase’s user friendly properties is said to aid in the learning process, even in the areas of serial communications and PC interfacing. The whole gamut of applications can be simulated from basic speed-control to more complex torque-control applications. They are ideal for facilitating learning with parameter adjustments and incorporating drives into electronics projects/applications.

The drives also offer networking capability to DeviceNet and other communication module protocols, so students can see and understand how computers are used in industrial environments. Programming and monitoring of the drive can be accomplished via specific PC or Drive software.

Students will program the drives and operate motors that simulate real-world installations and loads.

Beyond an introduction to the technology, students will have an opportunity to drill into the equipment’s performance characteristics in order to understand what control features they will be able to access, modify and offer customers in the workplace. This shortens the distance between experience in school and the workplace. The ACS880 democase can be used to teach and illustrate “complete” motor control.

Benefits of Using Drives

The benefits of using drives also include teaching energy consumption to the students.  This fact is becoming more and more useful as the world becomes more energy conscious.

The Adjustable Speed Drives (ASDs) are drives that can be used in any application where mechanical equipment is powered by motors. They provide extremely precise electrical motor control, allowing motor speeds to be ramped up or down, or maintained. Utilizing only the energy required rather than having the motor run at constant, fixed speed saves an excess of energy.

The ability to manipulate motor control helps motor users realize 25 – 70 percent energy savings, according to ABB experts. Using an AC drive also prolongs the operation of small motors and reduces wear and tear in installations.

From htrnews.com: “Mini-choppers take shape at area schools” – By Phillip Bock – Motorcycles are taking shape in metal shop classrooms across Manitowoc County as students work toward a Friday deadline to complete their bikes in time for a late-April motorcycle show.

This year five schools are participating in the mini-chopper program, which provides students with real life experience and promotes careers in manufacturing as they build mini choppers as part of their academic curriculum. The project is a collaborative effort by the Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County, The Chamber of Manitowoc County, local high schools, Lakeshore Technical College, and sponsorship by area business.

“Some of the benefits of the mini-chopper program is that students get to work with area manufacturing and area businesses to not only design, but fabricate, construct, and stay within budget, a complete mini-chopper,” Ryan Zimmerman, a technical education instructor at Lincoln High School said.

Students at Lincoln are creating two mini-choppers this year, small-sized motorcycles that incorporate sponsorship logos into their designs. The students are creating one bike for Lincoln, which incorporates theschool’s colors and the iconic tower into the design, and a second bike for the Manitowoc Public School District.

“We figure out how we want it to look, paint colors and things like that,” Lincoln student Logan Newberg said. “This year we bent and cut the whole frame.”

Students start from scratch and first sketch out a design on paper or in a computer assisted design (CAD) program. At Lincoln, students first built a mock-up of the bike using plastic PVC piping before building the steel frame.

“The entire machine was challenging once they left the plastic design stage,” said Gerald Neuberger, a technical education instructor at Lincoln. “We practiced welding and cutting, but it just isn’t the same as when you have to get a perfect fit.”

McKinley gets in on design

Students at McKinley Academy in Manitowoc built their own bike this year — a first for the school. Without fabrication facilities on-site, students partnered with LTC welding instructor Mitchell Schmidt and used the college’s facilities to fabricate their bike.

“When we first started, the students said they wanted to be completely different and did not want it to look like a typical mini- chopper,” Schmidt said. “One thing they didn’t realize was how much work would go into finish it, but the more you struggle the more you learn.”

The McKinley bike is certainly unique. Students created single-sided axles for the front spoke and rear-swing arm, utilized a bicycle tire and golf cart wheel, and combined elements of dirt bikes, such as a kick-start, to give the bike a truly one-of-a-kind look.

“Originally the gas tank was not as big as we thought it would be, but we decided to leave it and I think it is looking pretty good with how it is turning out,” student Miles Schreiber said.

Students in Two Rivers, Valders and Mishicot are also creating bikes, which are set to be unveiled during an annual Northeastern Wisconsin Charity Motorcycle Show on April 25.

Production is completed under tight deadlines and, in addition to time management, students learn skills such as team work, budgeting, and engineering design.

“I enjoy being able to be a part of something bigger than myself and working with somebody to make a product that works,” Courtney Spangenberg, a senior at Lincoln, said.

Local manufacturing companies help fund the program, provide parts, and assist with other tasks, such as painting and chroming the bikes.

Students will be putting the finishing touches on their bikes over the next week as the unveiling deadline rapidly approaches.

“A lot of after-school hours have been spent getting this thing done,” Zimmerman said. “Getting things done on deadline was definitely a challenge this year.”

From bizopinion.com: “Demand for IT skills signals next advance in modern manufacturing” – By Jennifer Sereno — Wisconsin has been staking its claim as a center of skilled manufacturing since the 1860s. And Blackhawk Technical College intends to help the state build on that legacy for generations to come with a groundbreaking program to develop the new workforce skills Wisconsin manufacturers need to remain competitive in the global economy.

While some of the state’s earliest skilled manufacturing businesses emerged in Milwaukee — steam engine producer Allis Co. (later Allis Chalmers) was founded in 1861 — manufacturers in Rock County were not far behind.

Thanks to the arrival of rail lines in the 1850s as well as the proximity to Chicago, Rock County’s  starting with an iron works, a paper mill and agricultural equipment producers. Parker Pen Co. which ultimately became a global pen manufacturer, was founded in Janesville in 1888.

More recently, Rock County has weathered a number of manufacturing-related challenges, including closure of General Motors assembly plant. However, manufacturing remains the county’s third-largest source of employment, accounting for some 14 percent of jobs, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.

Blackhawk Technical College plays an important role in maintaining the region’s skilled manufacturing leadership. With locations in Janesville, Beloit and Monroe, the technical college offers more than 75 programs that can lead to associate degrees, technical diplomas, certificates and apprenticeships in fields such as business, manufacturing, health sciences, computers and more.

Those offerings will expand in an important way this fall when Blackhawk launches a two-year program that trains students as information technology specialists for advanced manufacturing jobs. The program will complement the technical college’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center, the first phase of which is scheduled to open in Milton this fall.

“The face of manufacturing is changing nationally, regionally and locally,” says Gary Kohn, Blackhawk’s marketing and communications manager. “Modernization is critical for survival. And what’s happening with respect to modernization is improved techniques in the plants – new quality management systems, robotics, other intelligent systems.”

In the modern manufacturing environment, skilled workers are needed for more than just operating the increasingly complex machines, Kohn says. They need to be able to integrate, program and fix the machines, as well.

Today’s manufacturing equipment is being linked together through sophisticated computer networks and operated from remote workstations. Kohn says the shift to this new, lean environment puts a premium on workers skilled in information technology with knowledge of both hardware and software.

College officials are quick to credit regional business and community leaders who serve on various advisory groups for identifying the need for such cutting-edge training. Among them is SSI Technologies of Janesville, a privately held company that designs and manufactures sensors, sensor-based monitoring systems, digital gauges and powdered-metal components for automotive and industrial applications.

“Our instructors are constantly getting feedback and seeking input” from industry, workers and community members, Kohn says. “We’ve heard about the need from our community advisory groups … This is going to be a program that should really gain a lot of traction because these jobs are applicable in so many areas.”

In developing new educational offerings that align with the emerging needs of the manufacturing sector, Blackhawk Technical College is bettering opportunities for its students while building workforce capacity for the future. If history shows anything, Kohn says, it’s that manufacturers and workers need to be adaptable.

“We use that word ‘adaptability’ with a lot of our programs,” he says. “We want our welders to be familiar with precision machining and we want our industrial mechanics to be able to weld. Our HVAC students don’t just fix air conditioning units; sometimes they have to build things requiring machining.”

If Wisconsin is to maintain its heritage as a global center of skilled manufacturing in the New Economy, advanced training such as the manufacturing information technology program offered by Blackhawk Technical College will be key.

From lacrossetribune.com: “WTCS Board recognizes D&S as ‘Futuremakers Partner’ — The Wisconsin Technical College System Board recently awarded its Futuremakers Partner award to D&S Manufacturing of Black River Falls.

The award recognizes the unique and dynamic partnerships between Wisconsin’s technical colleges and their employer partners.

D&S Manufacturing, specializing in metal fabrication of large-scale components and assemblies, is a long-time partner with Western Technical College. While its main campus is in La Crosse, Western also serves communities throughout the region, including Black River Falls.

“It was an honor to receive this award, and particularly fitting that company president Mike Dougherty and the Dougherty family were specifically recognized for their outstanding support and long-term commitment to Western,” said John Barkley, D&S vice president and general manager.

“Many of our employee owners have taken advantage of and benefited from the educational opportunities that Western offers. We look forward to continuing our support of Western and the opportunities it provides to our community and region.”

In presenting the award, WTCS Board president Drew Petersen noted that D&S was a driving force in establishing the Jackson County Welding Skills Institute, a unique partnership formed with Western and other partners to meet the growing need for trained welders in the Black River Falls area. Without that support, Petersen noted, the initiative would not have been possible. The company has also funded scholarships at Western over many years, and provided tuition assistance for its employee owners.

“D&S Manufacturing is a true partner,” said Lee Rasch, president of Western Technical College. “Members of both their management and production staff serve on our program advisory committees. We value their support and honest feedback, which helps to ensure that our educational programming is relevant and responsive to the communities we serve.”

From wkow.com: “New Ingenuity Center hopes to connect unemployed workers with manufacturing jobs” – The Ingenuity Center at Madison Area Technical College is the 8th and final building renovation as part of the 2010 referendum. The center has been open since the beginning of Fall semester, but on Wednesday afternoon college officials held a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony.

The ceremony itself showcased the overall goal of the new center. Instead of simply cutting a ribbon with a pair of scissors, the ceremony ended with a student-programmed robot cutting a poly cord. College officials say the poly cord symbolized the more than 50 programs that use the Ingenuity Center to teach classes. Nearly every program uses the material in some shape or form.

“It is 62,000 square feet of lab and classroom space dedicated to advancing Wisconsin manufacturing,” Interim Dean of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology Denise Reimer says.

Business analysts say manufacturing is a growing sector in many parts of the country, one that is experiencing a major gap in employment. Openings are available, but managers are having a tough time finding skilled workers to fill them. They’re workers like single mother of four Rose Appleton.

“I’m excited about what I can learn and what I can do,” Appleton says. “The robotics program and the fact that I will be able to work with metal and program a machine. To do so is just pheonomenal.”

After working many years in retail, Appleton found herself unemployed about two years ago. Through a grant she was able to take manufacturing classes and found herself a new job at Evco Plastics.

“Initially they declined me because I didn’t have the manufacturing skills. Once they found out I had the manufacturing certificate I was eligible to start at Evco,” Appleton says.

Not only is the center giving students new opportunities, it’s also causing increases in enrollment. This Spring college officials saw a 6% increase over last year, with signs pointing to more growth ahead.

“This is the answer, is bringing individuals here to give them those job ready skills so that they can go into the manufacturing environment,” Reimer says.

College officials say more than 50 programs will use the center to teach their classes. The space is used for a variety of programs, from automotive to biotechnology.

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. Please visit madisoncollege.edu/aset-open-house for more information and to RSVP.

 

From biztimes.com: “ABB makes equipment donation to WCTC” — The ABB Group in New Berlin has donated eight new motor drives democases to Waukesha County Technical College’s Automation Technologies/Electronics Laboratory.

The donation from the Zurich-based power and automation technology company “enables us to upgrade our labs and gives students enhanced hands-on training with the latest available drives technology,” said Jesse Stuller, automation instructor at WCTC. “Our goal is to provide the highest quality education to our students. Our partnership with industry provides the avenue to accomplish that goal.”

The donation “values into tens of thousands of dollars,” said Ken Graber, ABB spokesman, but the specific dollar amount is not being disclosed.

The drives democases are from the new ACS880 high performance DTC product line.

“These units provide a simple, yet comprehensive, all-in-one solution that is specialized for training and learning,” said Dennis Miller, ABB senior technical instructor, who arranged the donation. “The democases facilitate a complete application simulation.”

Democases from the company that feature older technology have been in use over the past 15 years, Miller said, and the upgrade keeps the Automation Technologies Program current with latest technology that ABB offers end users.

In a press release ABB said, “Because the drives are extremely easy to use, they are ideal for students to use, program and test, as they become familiar with drive technology for the first time. The drive is connected to a small motor and has an external input/output control panel wired to the analog inputs, digital inputs, digital outputs and analog outputs. Students can simulate, fully, use of controls for any given application, and spin the motor just as it would work in a real application. The democase is extremely user friendly, which certainly aids the learning process. The whole gamut of applications can be simulated, from very basic speed-control applications to more complex torque-control applications.”

The Automation Technology Program at WCTC began in 2006. The Associate Degree program contains industrial technologies such as robotics, PLCs and drives.

The Zurich, Switzerland-based ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 150,000 people worldwide, roughly 500 of whom are in Wisconsin.

From wisbusiness.com: “Blackhawk Technical College: To offer new Manufacturing Information Technology program” – Blackhawk Technical College is taking the next step into the future of advanced manufacturing with a new two-year program aimed at training students as information technology specialists in a manufacturing setting.

The program, which begins in September for the 2014-2015 school year, will provide hands-on training with the computer hardware and software that is increasingly needed to keep manufacturing systems operating at peak efficiency.

“The curriculum is being created to train students in the application of computer applications and networking of the intelligent systems now finding their way to the factory floor,’’ said Dr. Tom Eckert, president of Blackhawk Technical College. “Increasingly, machines will be networked, programmed and controlled from remote stations throughout the factory, and a specialist, familiar with the manufacturing environment, will be needed to connect, monitor and repair these computer networks.’’

The new course of study is a perfect fit for BTC’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center, which is scheduled to open next fall in Milton. The Manufacturing Information Technology Specialist program will begin next fall at BTC’s Central Campus and then move to the Advanced Manufacturing Center for the fall semester of the 2015-16 school year.

“The face of manufacturing at the national, regional and local level has changed from what existed only a few years ago,’’ Dr. Eckert noted in a paper on the Advanced Manufacturing Center.

“Manufacturers, in order to stay competitive, have modernized with process improvement techniques, quality management systems and increased automation (robotics and other “intelligent” systems). Manufacturers report that such modernization is critical in order to stay competitive at the global level—an environment that is increasingly lean, automated and technical.’’

Ed Scoville, an instructor in the Computer Service Technician program, is the lead instructor in the new program.

“We are looking to deliver an IT program for the manufacturing environment,’’ Scoville explained. “It will bridge the gap between industrial maintenance and information technology.’’

A diploma will be earned after completing 63 credits that includes nine credits in the general education curriculum. Scoville said there are openings for as many as 17 students this fall.

For more information, Scoville may be reached at escoville1@blackhawk.edu or (608) 757-7645.

Registration for fall classes will begin in May. Additional information also may be obtained through the BTC Admissions Department at (608) 743-4463 or the Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation Division at (608) 757-7628.

From automationworld.com: “D&S Manufacturing lauded for supporting industrial education” — The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) board recently bestowed the Futuremakers Partner Award on D&S Manufacturing of Black River Falls, Wis.

D&S Manufacturing Vice President and General Manager John Barkley, and Human Resources Manager Sherri Hein accepted the award.

The WTCS Board honored D&S Manufacturing for their broad based support and longstanding partnership with Western Technical College. In his presentation, Drew Petersen, WTCS board president, highlighted the role D&S has played “as a driving force in establishing the Jackson County Welding Skills Institute, which serves to provide training for welders in the Black River Falls area.”

Petersen added that without the support of D&S, the initiative would not have been possible. Additionally, D&S has a long history of providing funding for scholarships.

D&S Manufacturing is an employee-owned company that custom manufactures large-scale components, assemblies and complete weldments for customers including Caterpillar, Oshkosh Corp., Parkson, The Trane Company and CNH.

D&S’s plate-metal fabrication processes include machining, laser, high definition plasma and oxy-fuel cutting, and manual and robotic welding. The company also provides liquid spray painting, powder coating, shot blasting, assembly and testing services.

Barkley said, “Many of our employee owners have taken advantage of and benefited from the educational opportunities that Western offers. We look forward to continuing our support of Western and the opportunities it provides to our community and region.”

D&S employee owners serve on WTCS advisory committees to provide support and feedback to ensure relevant, responsive programming for the community.

D&S also is committed to providing leadership throughout the community, said Barkley. It will continue its lab partnership with Black River Falls High School, where it provides financial support, equipment and supplies to encourage students to pursue a career in welding.

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

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

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

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

Q. How many youth are participating?

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

The breakdown of participants by school district is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Financial Services – Accounting, Banking, Insurance

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

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

• Information Technology – IT General, Hardware, Software

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

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

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

Q. What are the programs greatest needs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Success story

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

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

The 2012 drought hampered plans for hiring last year.

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

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

Wages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From lacrossetribune.com: “Lincoln students get creative with junkyard sculpture in welding contest” — Lincoln High School students are too creative to weld a sculpture of just any old fish out of scrap metal for the Chippewa Valley Technical College Manufacturing Show’s Junkyard Battle welding contest.

“I came up with the idea of the fish body,” said senior Nicki Danielson. “I just thought an angler fish would be awesome.”

But that wasn’t all. They had it in a tank of water, set up a system by which it could be raised from the tank by turning a wheel, had a spout of water coming out of its mouth through use of a pump system and integrated a little game with prizes. The effort was good enough to win second place, with another angler fish sculpture from Fall Creek taking first. The Lincoln team took first place at last year’s show.

Lincoln High School had a strong showing at the manufacturing show, with over 40 students coming in attendance. The students and other participants and visitors to the show experienced just how interesting and fun manufacturing can be. Area high school students were heavily involved in this year’s show. Besides the Junkyard Battle, students created complicated mazes in the machine tooling technics contest, and in electromechanical technology, students built robots to navigate a simple maze as fast as possible.

Visitors were able to don masks and try their hands at welding under the watch and with assistance from a CVTC student or instructor. People saw automated machines that could play guitar, set up bowling pins and make a golf putt – all designed and created by CVTC students. The chair on the flight simulator moved with the banking of the plane on the screen. In the nano engineering technology area, students demonstrated the properties of liquid nitrogen.

Nearly 40 companies from around the Chippewa Valley set up displays to show their company’s role in area manufacturing, and to recruit future employees.

“In the Chippewa Valley, close to 40,000 people make their living in manufacturing,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker in opening the show along with Gov. Scott Walker. “Ninety-one percent of our graduates have jobs within six months, 89 percent are right in the state of Wisconsin, and 70 percent are in northwest Wisconsin.”

A major purpose of the show was to present the modern face of manufacturing.

“If you go in our shops, they’re bright, they’re clean, they’re automated, and it takes a high skill level to operate the equipment,” said associate dean of manufacturing Jeff Sullivan.

To many of the young people attending, there was just a lot of fun stuff to do, like race robots and show off their junkyard fish sculptures.

The Lincoln team’s sculpture incorporated concepts of metal working, making it an educational piece as well. The tank of water, for example, can serve as a common welding shop tool.

“You can put a piece of metal you just welded in the fish’s mouth and lower it down to cool it. It’s called a quench tank,” Danielson said.

“We made a prototype of the sculpture out of cardboard,” said team member Edwin Ramos. “Nicki was the lead welder in putting her dream together.”

Team member Daniel Brown brought a lot of the junk used to make the sculpture.

“I got a lot of used junk trucks sitting around. I had an old fuel pump from a Chevy truck and an old fuel line, and wired it all up,” he said, explaining how he made the pump system for the spout of water.

Ramos explained another part of the process.

“We used an old water boiler, band saw blades, a weight bench, and a chain for the hook,” he said.

Many students in Scot Kelly’s principles of engineering class helped on the sculpture.

While many high school students took part in competitions, many students and members of the public came to learn more about opportunities in manufacturing. Jonathan Hurd, 23, of Fall Creek was eyeing up a new career by visiting the various program areas.

“I’m interested in electromechanical technology, but I’d love to learn it all,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I came, to get a feel for it all.”

Becky Larson of Eau Claire came with her husband and their son, Nick, who is in eighth grade. “I wanted to see what opportunities are out there for a job, and so many of the jobs that are coming up are going to be in manufacturing,” she said.

Larson, a middle school counselor, was also picking up information for her students who are beginning to think about careers.

“Electromechanical technology was fun with all the projects they do, like the ‘Smoke on the Water,’ one that played guitar by itself,” said Nick Larson.

Approximately 2,000 people attended the show, including Walker, who noted in opening remarks to an audience mostly of high school students that the Wisconsin flag displays the tools of manufacturing.

“It’s part of our heritage and our history, and it’s part of our future,” Walker said. “Manufacturing is leading our state’s economic recovery, and we need to encourage the next generation of workers by educating everyone about the great, family-supporting jobs available. These students are the future of our workforce; and by providing quality, highly technical training, we are setting them up for success and securing Wisconsin’s place among the top manufacturers in the country.”

From fdlreporter.com: “Skilled worker shortage drives partnerships between business, education” – By Laurie Ritger – A local business leader is stressing the need for communication and collaboration between industry and educators — especially as a shortage of skilled workers looms.

“This is a heavy manufacturing area. We may be one of the heaviest in the state and maybe the nation. Let’s support that,” said Jim Wessing, president and co-founder of Kondex Corp. in Lomira. “There are great jobs and a great future in manufacturing.”

Wessing warned, however, of a looming shortage of skilled employees during an appearance Tuesday at Business, Industry and Education Day 2014 at Marian University’s Stayer Center. Approximately 150 educators and business people turned out for the event, a program of the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce.

Projections show that there will be 17,000 to 19,000 unfilled jobs in the greater Fond du Lac area by 2025, according to Joe Reitemeier, president and CEO of the Association of Commerce.

Perception vs. reality

Wessing was part of a panel that included Lomira School District technology education teacher Jon Marx and Lomira High School Principal Deb Janke. They discussed a business and education partnership success story that began several years ago with a Project Grill competition that pairs businesses with a school.

Marx explained how the tech-ed program has grown in the past several years and how Kondex has helped with equipment and financial support. Marx, who once taught part-time and had 55 students, now is full-time and instructs more than 100 students at the middle and high school levels.

Some of his former students are working toward degrees at technical colleges and engineering schools.

Wessing said manufacturing has a reputation as a “dark and dirty and dangerous” profession. The reality, he said, is that it is very clean and high-tech with the advent of robotics, high-speed cameras and computers.

Wages can be very high. Wessing said educators and business leaders need to connect with parents of students who are considering their career paths to explain options and show them realities of the work world.

Options

Reitemeier said nearly all parents of incoming high school sophomores expect their children to attend college, but a year later only half of the students will take a college entrance exam. That leaves half of a graduating class to make plans for technical college or immediate entry into the workforce.

Janke said a Career Fair was held at Kondex that exposed students to careers in many fields, including manufacturing, human resources and sales. She said the school also is trying to work with other key employers in the community, including Michels Corp. and Quad/Graphics. Staff are visiting employers so educators and counselors are aware of available businesses and career opportunities.

“We’re interested, at the school level, how can we (prepare) better employees for you?” Janke said about the partnership between business and schools. She said students need to be exposed to careers and the tools and equipment they may be using. Girls that have an interest in math and science need to enter engineering and manufacturing fields.

Wessing said 85 percent of his employees are from within a 35-mile radius of Fond du Lac. Kondex is a product design and manufacturing partner for agriculture, lawn and turf, and other areas, producing custom-designed metal components.

National speakers for BIE Day included Kimberly Green of Rockville, Md., who has worked the past 18 years on federal policy impacting career and technical education; and Patrick McGaughey, an international speaker from Idaho with a background in broadcasting and business association management who led a two-part workshop: “Business + Education = Education, Development: How Education Closes the Deal.”

The connections established between business representatives and educators during BIE Day are intended to help the partners develop solutions to economic and community issues — including the expected skilled labor shortage facing Fond du Lac.

From fox6now.com: “Veteran settles into his dream job after switching careers” – Getting a job with nothing but a high school diploma can be difficult. Starting a career without a high school diploma can be nearly impossible. That’s the challenge many of our military members face when they leave the service — but one veteran was able to turn his Army experience into opportunity.

“Ever since I was 10 years old, my grandpa brought me to my uncle’s welding shop, and after seeing that atmosphere, you know, guys welding, grinding metal, flames — it just seemed like a really cool job to do and I was like ‘man, I want to do that,’” Jeremy Jurkiewicz said.

But life’s blueprint for Jurkiewicz put him on a different path out of high school. At the age of 19, he sought to wear the badge of a police officer. He started by joining the Army’s Military Police Corps.

“I enlisted to serve and deploy and just for a job,” Jurkiewicz said.

For the next three years, he experienced the life of a cop, including a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. It was during this time Jurkiewicz says he discovered policing wasn’t for him.

His love of welding was reignited when he left active service, but starting a new career from scratch is no easy task. Like many of his peers who are former military, Jurkiewicz faced a choice — jump into the job search with what experience and education he had — or retrain himself.

“If there`s something that you want to do, pursue it.  Go to school or look online, see what classes they have to offer.  Something sparks your interest, go for it. Pursue it,” Jurkiewicz said.

Jurkiewicz credits his motivation and mettle to his time in the Army. It’s that mettle which helped him to get into “Welding Boot Camp” at Gateway Technical College in Racine. He eventually graduated, and landed a job at Metalworld Incorporated.

“When they talk about a skills gap, it’s not so much the hard skills as far as finding guys that know how to weld, like to work with their hands. It’s really guys that are willing to do that five days a week on a week-to-week basis,” Metalworld Inc. President Gary Meier said.

“Anyone can get a job, but not everyone can get a career and a career that you want to do and you love doing every day.  I don’t get up every day and be like ‘oh I gotta go to work.’ I’m excited to go to work, work, learn and progress in my skills and just become the best welder and fabricator I can become,” Jurkiewicz said.

Jurkiewicz is still serving as an Army Reservist. His welding career has progressed since he last spoke with FOX6 News. He no longer works at Metalworld in Racine — after taking a job with Compo Steel Products in Milwaukee.

From beloitdailynews.com: “BTC’s manufacturing facility takes shape quickly in Milton” – By Shaun Zinck – MILTON — The new Blackhawk Technical College advanced manufacturing facility in Milton is on schedule and on budget, said college President Tom Eckert.

A year ago in February the college announced it had leased a building at 15 N. Plumb St. in Milton to house several of its advanced manufacturing programs.

Work began on half of the building in the fall with plans to move three programs by the 2014-15 academic year. Eckert said about 50,000 square feet of the 105,000-square-foot building is currently being remodeled.

“We are putting in general classroom in the front of the building for general education course. Also that is where the office complex will be located for staff,” he said. “Each of the labs will also have their own specialized classrooms.”

Once work is complete this summer, equipment will be transferred over to the building just in time for students in the welding, industrial maintenance and precision machining (CNC) to occupy that half of the building this fall. Work on the second half will continue during the academic year, Eckert said.

The other programs — heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration technician, mechanical design technology, industrial engineering technician and computer systems technology — will start holding classes in the 2015-16 academic year.

Gary Kohn, marketing and communications manager for the college, said the new space will bring all the programs closer together to allow for more collaborative projects between the students.

“So you might have a CNC student working with a welding student working with an industrial maintenance student,” he said.

Kohn said a lab station will be built as a connection between another building during the second phase of construction and renovation.

The entire renovation cost will be about $12 million, Eckert said. He said nothing unexpected has come up during the first phase of renovations.

“They did a really great job predicting exactly what it would take to do the job,” he said.

The welding program at BTC has been in high demand as of late. The college had to add a third welding section in order to increase the number of students it could admit into the program. The college currently has about 105 welding students in three different sections. The new facility will double the capacity for the programs, however, that doesn’t mean double the students just yet, Eckert said.

“We don’t know how many students (the building will hold),” he said. “We are still in decision-mode on what shifts we will have for each program.”

The college entered into a 10-year lease at the location, and can exercise two five-year renewals. Last year, the college said it would pay about $1.47 per square foot for the lease space or about $155,125 for the first year. The second year the rate increases to about $2.88 per square foot or about $302,688 per year.

Prior to choosing the Milton location the college looked into locating the facility at the Ironworks campus in Beloit. Funding the project proved too costly, Eckert said at the time.

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.

View video from weau.com

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.

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