From “$1.7 million grant slashes wait lists for popular WCTC programs” — PEWAUKEE – Waukesha County Technical College will now be able to slash wait lists and offer more class sections, thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Fast Forward program.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was on hand at WCTC’s Industrial building Wednesday to present the technical college with a $1.7 million award, which will be used to help train students for high-demand positions.

“There is a skills gap in Wisconsin and WCTC seeks every day to build a bridge over that skills gap – today you have some construction money,” Kleefisch said. “It is through investments like these that Wisconsin will address the skills gap today and in the years to come.”

The Fast Forward program is part of the Blueprint for Prosperity initiative which Gov. Scott Walker signed into law last year. In total, $35.4 million will be allocated by Fast Forward into worker training programs focusing on reducing wait lists, collaborative projects between high schools and colleges, and enhancing employment opportunities for disabled workers.

These grant dollars will significantly impact the journey of our students pursuing high-demand programs … and in turn benefit our local economy,” WCTC Interim President Kaylen Betzig said. “We are pleased and honored that the governor recognizes WCTC’s work as an important and valuable investment.”

The grant will be administered by the Department of Workforce Development and will go toward training as many as 168 students in the fields of welding, computer numerical control (CNC), transportation and early childhood education.

Betzig said that the funds will not only permit more students to enter these high-demand programs, but will also go toward hiring more professors and purchasing more supplies and equipment for student use.

“It is huge,” she said. “We have lots of programs – yes we can shift money – but other programs have needs too. It takes resources in order to do this and it takes resources in order to expand and offer more sections so we can get more people into the funnel.”

From “DWD awards grants to Gateway and Waukesha County Technical Colleges” — Gateway Technical College has received nearly $1.9 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funding, while Waukesha County Technical College has been allocated close to $1.7 million, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development announced today.

The two technical colleges were awarded portions of a grant initiative totaling more than $28 million that Gov. Scott Walker announced last week.

According to Walker’s announcement, Wisconsin is distributing more than $28 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to the Wisconsin Technical College System to train more than 4,900 workers.

That system encompasses 16 schools, including Gateway Technical College in Kenosha and Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee.

At Gateway Technical College, grant dollars will support the training of a maximum 756 workers in several “high-demand areas,” the DWD said. Those areas touch disciplines in manufacturing, business management, apprenticeship, education, health care and more.

At Waukesha County Technical College, up to 168 workers will benefit from grant dollars. Workers will be trained for careers in manufacturing, education and human services, and applied science fields.

Transportation, distribution and logistics training will also be covered under the grants.

“These grant dollars will significantly impact the journey of our students pursuing high-demand programs such as welding, computer numerical control (CNC), early childhood education and transportation, and in turn benefit our local economy,” said Kaylen Betzig, interim president of Waukesha County Technical College. “We are pleased and honored that the governor recognizes WCTC’s work as an important and valuable investment.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


From “Moraine Park Technical College is again offering CNC & Welding Boot Camps” — Moraine Park Technical College is combating the skilled worker shortage by launching manufacturing skills academies in a series of 15-week boot camps.

The next information/testing sessions are scheduled in August 2014 for Fall CNC Boot Camp at the Fond du Lac Campus and Welding Boot Camp at the Jackson Campus. Registration is required. Each session will include: Information, Tours, TABE Testing, and Mechanical Aptitude Testing.

From “Wigwam partners with Lakeshore Technical College to Engage Youth In Manufacturing” — Wigwam Mills, Inc. recently partnered with Lakeshore Technical College (LTC) to participate in the Sheboygan Area Youth Apprenticeship program to get more graduating adults interested and involved in careers in manufacturing.

Youth Apprenticeships offer students in high school the opportunity to explore future careers while receiving school credit and pay for the work they are performing. The Youth Apprenticeship program is limited to high school juniors and seniors and covers a wide variety of job fields such as, Health, Finance, Hospitality, Culinary, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and Manufacturing.

In addition to requiring the students to work a minimum of 450 hours on the job, they are required to take one job related class each semester at either their high school, if available, or at LTC. The student will receive college credit for any classes taken at LTC and the cost of tuition and books is covered by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce and Development. Last year, the Sheboygan Area Youth Apprenticeship program placed approximately 65 students from 11 area high schools into various career opportunities with more than 30 area companies.

For the 2014-2015 school year, Wigwam has hired one student to participate in the Youth Apprenticeship program as a Knitting Mechanic. This student will work mainly 1st shift hours during the summer and then switch to partial afternoon hours during the school year. “Our hope,” said Jerry Vogel, President at Wigwam Mills Inc., “is that this student, as well as others involved in the Sheboygan Area Youth Apprenticeship program, will develop a renewed interest in manufacturing and look to Wigwam as a career choice after graduation.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From “Mobile lab considered for marketing, training” — Gerald J. Bronkhorst, 45, of Suamico, Wis., trains students from six high schools in northeast Wisconsin in an advanced-manufacturing mobile lab – a model Rhode Island educators are considering emulating.

The Iraq War veteran decided to attend Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wis., to earn certificates in advanced manufacturing when he got back to the United States in 2006, and five years ago was hired by the college as a lab technician, he told Providence Business News in a phone interview.

For the past three years, he has worked as the mobile-lab technician with a few teachers and as many as 12 high school students at a time in the mobile lab, which travels about 50 miles within the school district and cost about $300,000, Bronkhorst said. The high schools pay about $5,000 for every two semesters of use, he said. Precise costs for the lab itself, a trailer hitched to a commercial grade pickup truck, and its operating costs were unavailable.

“If I can convince some of these kids to go out and learn a trade and get a job, that’s a huge win,” said Bronkhorst, the lab technician.

Rhode Island educators found out about a Michigan mobile lab just being implemented this summer and fall that is based on the Wisconsin model, and are actively exploring how such a vehicle might be used in connection with programs at the University of Rhode Island, the Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.

Chris Semonelli, one of several co-directors in the Newport County Mentor Co-Op, met on June 27 with URI President David M. Dooley to further the conversation. Semonelli said he focused on the collaboration between North Central Michigan College, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, and a local manufacturer, Precision Edge Surgical Products Inc. of Boyne City, Mich.


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