September 24, 2013
From thecountrytoday.com: “Career exploration: Ag education council considers new website plan” — MADISON — Wisconsin’s Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council is heading in a new direction with its efforts to recruit potential workers for the state’s agricultural industry.
At a Sept. 17 meeting, WAEWDC members discussed a plan to transition from its “WhyAg” website that links qualified job candidates with companies that have employment needs to an online Career Pathways Initiative being developed by Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.
The career pathways website is designed to help middle and high school students, parents and displaced workers explore potential career end points for their educational efforts. It will be a resource for young people and displaced workers as they determine what type of education they need for jobs in the broad field of agriculture.
The website would include links to agriculture career exploration, higher education opportunities and job placement/wage data.
The WAEWDC was created by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2008 to help provide a qualified workforce to support the state’s agricultural industry. It has been struggling to stay financially afloat since no state money was allocated to fund the effort when the council was created.
Council vice chairman Corey Kuchta said Al Herrman, a past WAEWDC chairman and current council executive director, has been organizing a fundraising campaign to help fund future council efforts. Herrman is working on a volunteer basis.
“In October he’s going to start to do some mailings to ask people who have contributed to the council in the past for future contributions,” Kuchta said. “The money is needed to fund all of the council efforts.”
Lori Weyers, Northcentral Technical College president, said the career pathways website will outline the steps in the career decision-making process.
“Where do I want to go and how do I get there,” she said. “Students will be able to see what jobs are at the end of the path for them and how much those jobs pay.”
Katie Felch, director of marketing and public relations at NTC, described the website as a “one-stop shop to see all the things that are available.”
People visiting the website would be able to review a wide variety of agricultural job opportunities and investigate what type of school might be best for them to get the training they need for the job they want.
Council members discussed the possibility of selling advertising on the website to employers who are in need of agricultural workers.
Although NTC officials developed the website, Weyers said it could be customized to include information from all of the various technical colleges and universities in Wisconsin.
“Even though we developed this template, this is not about NTC,” Weyers said. “We did this on our own time as an in-kind donation to the council. We want to share it — you can use it and you can have it.”
WAEWDC members discussed on what server the website would be housed and who would pay for maintaining and updating it.
Weyers said she would come back to the next council meeting in December with information on how much it would cost to host the website on NTC servers. Council members said employer sponsorships could help pay for the service.
Each technical college and university listed on the website would be responsible for keeping its information current, Weyers said.
Randy Zogbaum, agriculture and natural resources consultant for the Wisconsin Technical College System, said he would take the concept to deans of the technical college system and ask for funds to help support the project.
Council members said the career pathways website could be an extension of what the council has been working on with its WhyAg initiative.
“I think this will be a great transition from WhyAg,” Kuchta said.
Kuchta said the difference with the career pathways website will be that people will be able to do everything from explore career opportunities to find a path to get there and see how much money they can make.
“This is why we exist as a council — to create an opportunity to build that pipeline for jobs and to connect workers and employers,” council member Liz Henry said.
Mike Compton, dean of the UW-Platteville School of Agriculture, said he is looking forward to sending the school’s agricultural ambassadors out to high schools with the career pathways website in their tool belt.
Council members said the new website would not compete with but be a complement to the Wisconsin Job Center website recently developed by the Department of Workforce Development. The website has a page devoted to agriculture.
On a related note, Wisconsin FFA Adviser Jeff Hicken said the National FFA Organization is collecting job and career data on an Ag Career Network. The effort is directed at helping students develop profiles, resumes and portfolios before they leave high school.
Paul Larson, an agriculture instructor in the Freedom School District, has agreed to continue as chairman of the council for the next year, Kuchta said.
April 23, 2013
From superiortelegram.com: “Tours increase tech college program awareness” — Registration is open for participation in a statewide collaborative that allows K-12 educators to earn graduate credits for increasing their awareness of Wisconsin Technical College System programs and services during the week of June 17-21.
Teachers, counselors and administrators participating in the week-long tours visit a different technical college each day for hands-on learning about the programs and services available to students and career options available to graduates. Tour participants complete an action plan for disseminating what they’ve learned, and earn three graduate credits from Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wis.
“We are pleased to participate with the Tours of Excellence program,” said WITC President Bob Meyer. “There are some incredible career opportunities available through WITC and across the Wisconsin Technical College System that are also extremely affordable.”
Tours are planned regionally to allow for broad participation in the north, central and southern part of the state. The north section includes visits to WITC-Ashland, Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, Northcentral Technical College in Wausau Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids and Nicolet Area Technical College in Rhinelander. Space is limited to 30 individuals per section.
“This event is a great way to network with K-12 educators from throughout the state,” said Dan Miller.
For information or online registration, go to http://www.fvtc.edu/wtcstour.
March 26, 2013
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Educators can tour tech college programs” — Local kindergarten through grade 12 educators will have the opportunity to tour Mid-State Technical College and four other technical colleges during the week of June 17 to 21.
Registration has begun for a statewide collaborative offering graduate credit for increasing awareness of Wisconsin Technical College System, or WTCS, programs and services.
Teachers, counselors and administrators participating in the week-long Tours of Excellence visit a different technical college each day for hands-on learning about the programs and services available to students, as well as the 21st century career options that await WTCS graduates. Tour participants complete an action plan for disseminating what they’ve learned, and will earn 3 graduate credits from Marian University in Fond du Lac.
The tours are planned on a regional basis to allow for broad participation with local partners. Tours are broken into north, central and south sections, and space is limited to 30 individuals per section.
A participant of the 2012 Tour of Excellence said, “I feel much more prepared to share the opportunities for jobs and associate degrees that the technical colleges offer, as well as suggesting programs I feel my students would excel in.”
“Participants complete the tours with 3 graduate credits and an increased understanding of the great career and entrepreneurship opportunities available through MSTC and other WTCS programs,” said new student specialist Lana Mallek.
Additional information and online registration is available at www.fvtc.edu/wtcstour.
March 11, 2013
From madison.com: “UW-MATC reverse transfer agreement to be signed Monday” — Madison Area Technical College and UW-Madison are entering into a unique partnership that will allow MATC students who transfer to UW-Madison a chance to complete their associate degree with university credits.
Each year, hundreds of students begin their studies at MATC then transfer to UW-Madison. Some earn a bachelor degree. Others complete the 64 credits needed for an MATC associate degree.
But a third group earn at least 64 credits but never receive a degree because they enter a four-year program but drop out before completing it.
Under the “reverse transfer” agreement to be announced Monday, MATC students who earn 30 or more credits and then transfer to UW-Madison, can apply their UW credits back to automatically complete their MATC degree.
“An associate degree is recognized in the marketplace as a degree that may command a higher wage than somebody who just had some college and hadn’t finished anything. So that’s one advantage,” said Terry Webb, provost of MATC, also known as Madison College.
Getting the associate degree also could help motivate transfer students to complete their bachelor’s degree, he said.
Nationwide, there are just a few similar agreements, said MATC spokesman Cary Heyer.
“It’s a relatively new concept,” he said. “Certainly it’s going to pick up. It is unusual to the extent that it’s a two-year community college that’s partnering with a four-year comprehensive research institution.”
Webb referred to the “reverse transfer” language as “kind of a term of art,” which may not “be descriptive of what actually happens.”
“What it means is that instead of the traditional route where our students are transferring credits to UW-Madison, now our students are transferring credits from the university back to Madison College,” he said.
Webb said that last year nearly 800 MATC students transferred to the UW-Madison.
Additionally, last year and in previous years, an average of 200 students who completed an associate degree at MATC transferred to a 4-year college. While the majority go to UW-Madison, others go to UW-Whitewater, UW- Milwaukee and other schools, Webb said.
A signing ceremony for the agreement is scheduled for Monday morning at the Truax campus.
March 11, 2013
From postcrescent.com: “Paul Freiberg: We need all sorts of workers” — Several years ago, after my car skidded into a ditch during a snowstorm, I called the auto club for roadside assistance. After a short wait, a mechanic drove out in a wrecker. He knew his trade and he pulled my car from the side of the road.
I reminded myself never to take people for granted. I also reminded myself that not everyone needs to go to college. A four-year college degree wouldn’t necessarily provide the skills to that young man who pulled my car from the ditch.
We often read about the importance of a college degree. We read about the skills gap — the relative scarcity of experienced workers despite a relatively high unemployment rate. There’s little doubt that we need employees with the requisite skills and education for the competitive arena.
However, we should think about what are appropriate goals for people. We live in a diverse economy and need workers with the appropriate experience to service their respective clients. Some of those skills are best learned in college; some skills are taught elsewhere.
For instance, we need workers who have the ability to solve problems with their customers, the demanding consumer. For others, a two-year technical degree would be beneficial and indeed preferable to accommodate the requirements of local businesses and trades. For some people, working one’s way up the organization makes sense. We should never forget that everyone who works contributes to the economy.
The trick is to match the skills with the job. We need baristas who can multitask during the morning rush. We need wait staff, probably one of the more demanding jobs, to serve our food in a pleasant manner. These are the valued workers who serve me coffee and food as I travel throughout the Fox Valley.
We need retail workers who understand the merchandise and help us make good decisions. We appreciate those who can tell us what style tie goes with what color shirt. We need advice from the home improvement workers and recommendations from the associates at the book store. In the same manner, we rely on those who provide other advice, such as where the fish are biting and what bait to use. Some of us may need help on what type of wine goes with a Wisconsin brat.
Moreover, we need employees who understand how to repair the computers that operate modern equipment. We need auto mechanics who can troubleshoot and diagnose our automobiles and keep our families safe. We need truck drivers who can handle 40,000-pound loads on our crowded highways.
Again, we need the varied skills necessary for our diverse economy. As such, some workers will build their respective skills working their way up through the organization. Some people will be better off taking routes such as trade schools or two-year technical colleges. Not everyone needs to go to college and, let’s face the facts — we don’t have the capacity to accommodate everyone anyway.
Let’s also agree that the experience gained in these service jobs has provided many people with the foundation for other roles in their lives. The communication and interpersonal skills we learn while serving customers are invaluable as we progress through our respective organizations.
We depend on all of these employees such as restaurant staff, store associates, shuttle drivers and so on. Despite the occasional poor service, I see many of these employees work with urgency and pride.
In short, we’re dealing with paradox. We need employees with college educations, we need skilled workers with technical expertise and we need employees with the wherewithal to provide the necessary services, such as those individuals who serve burgers, wash cars and stock shelves.
These employees are important. Let’s not take anyone for granted.
March 8, 2013
From lacrossetribune.com: “Morna Foy: Program lets students explore careers” — There was a time when a high school diploma was the ticket to many family-sustaining careers, allowing access to more than 70 percent of all jobs in 1973 according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
That is no longer the case, with the Center reporting that by 2020, 65 percent of jobs will require at least some education or skills training beyond high school.
That dramatic shift makes robust Career and Technical Education (CTE) partnerships all the more critical. These increasingly innovative collaborations allow high school students to explore career opportunities, experience the rigorous education needed to access them after high school and understand career progression potential.
CTE students often earn college credits and gain personal enrichment at the same time. Just as importantly, some students identify career fields in which they find they are not interested, saving significant time and investment after high school.
Throughout February, as part of CTE month, I had the chance to see first-hand impressive collaborations that Wisconsin’s technical colleges have with high schools throughout the state. I’m proud to support these partnerships. They consistently open doors to promising futures in agriculture, business, manufacturing, health care, marketing, information technology and engineering careers.
Wisconsin’s technical colleges provide education — and a graduate placement rate that consistently averages about 90 percent — in these and many other fields, preparing individuals for high-skill, high-wage careers.
Unfortunately, many high school students — and those they rely upon for guidance — often are unfamiliar with these opportunities.
All of us — parents, educators and employers — share responsibility for furthering career awareness and exploration. It can be as simple as helping students identify areas of ability and interest, with the help of online resources such as the Wisconsin Career Pathways website, or the Career Interest Questionnaire on the Wisconsin Technical College System website. You also might consider creating or supporting job shadowing opportunities or career days.
Perhaps most importantly, you can find a way to get involved with delivering, supporting or taking advantage of the many CTE options that exist for students, or that could exist with your vision or assistance.
For more than 20 years, Wisconsin’s technical colleges have been energetically engaged in middle and high school CTE programs, with more than 90,000 students participating. But there is a need to accomplish much more. We can do that, together, by promoting career awareness and college credit options every month of the year.
January 11, 2013
From sheboyganpress.com: “Ten questions everyone should ask when choosing a college” — By Mike Lanser, president Lakeshore Technical College – Choosing a college has always been an important decision and there are more options than ever before. Working adults may be adding a multitude of online learning choices to their consideration list, while high school seniors and their parents might be thinking about campus safety and student life.
These are important considerations, but I’d like to offer you a list of 10 questions to ask when choosing your college. The answers to these questions not only affect where you start college, but where you will end — which for most people is a successful and rewarding career.
1. Is the college accredited?
Accreditation ensures that the institution adheres to rigorous standards of quality, process improvement and excellence which must be evidenced through documentation and on-site visits by the accrediting body. Lakeshore Technical College is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, which is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. To find out if the college you’re considering is accredited, visit ncahlc.org.
2. Is the education or credential you’re pursuing valued by potential employers? Ask for job placement rates.
You want to be sure your hard work and investment in college pays off. One indication that employers value the education you’re paying for is to find out about graduates’ job placement. LTC conducts a job placement survey of graduates each year. Last year, 4 out of 5 LTC grads were hired in 6 months or less following graduation.
3. What are the pass rates for students taking certification exams?
Many career-targeted programs promise that they will prepare you for licensure exams. Be sure to ask for pass rates from students who have taken the program previously. It can be good indicator of the program’s quality of instruction. At LTC, our students exceed the national average pass rates for certification exams by 15%.
4. What are the qualifications of the faculty, or better yet, can you meet them?
The quality of your learning experience is in your instructors’ hands. Do they have real-world experience in the area that they’re teaching. Are they certified instructors? Meeting your instructors is also a great way to enhance your understanding about the degree program you’re pursuing as well as your ultimate career goal. LTC instructors have worked in the fields they’re teaching and they welcome the opportunity to talk with students considering our college.
5. Is the program you’re considering offering college credit?
Many colleges offer both credit and non-credit offerings. Be sure to note whether you will earn college credit or not and whether your completion or credential earned will be recognized by potential employers.
6. What is the cost per credit?
Credits are a great way to compare apples to apples. If you’re paying $50 more for every credit, your college expense can really add up. Worse, if you’re not earning credit for the education you’re receiving you’ll want to consider how that could affect your future employment or education plans.
7. What kind of support will the college offer to help you succeed in meeting your educational and career goals?
You might have had areas in high school which challenged you, or maybe you’ve been out of school for a long time. Neither should be reasons for not pursuing your college degree, particularly if your college has services to help you be successful. LTC offers a wide range of free student success services ranging from peer tutors and support groups to academic counseling and career placement services.
8. Will you have the ability to build on your education to help you advance in your career?
Learning is life-long and many employers recognize this through employee tuition reimbursement programs. Keep this possibility in mind when you select a college because you may decide to continue your education after being on-the-job for a number of years. LTC has agreements with over 30 colleges and universities, including Silver Lake, Lakeland, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay so our graduates can continue to grow in their careers.
9. Is the college providing good value for your investment?
In addition to cost per credit comparisons, take a look at other expenses related to your education. Room & board if you’ll live on-campus, how many years it will take to complete your program, and the availability of financial aid and scholarships.
10. How long has the college been in operation?
You want your college degree, diploma or certificate to lead to job. While not a guarantee for your personal success, you can be assured a college has the commitment and resources to help you succeed when they have a proven history of doing so. LTC is proud to be celebrating a century of educating students for high-demand, local careers.
By answering these ten questions you’ll be armed with good information about the colleges you’re considering and ultimately which one will be the best fit for you to achieve your education and career goals.