January 30, 2014
From wiscnews.com: “Welders wanted: Employers with jobs struggle to fill them” – By Peter Rebhahn – It’s a familiar story: An economy still shell-shocked from the Great Recession of 2008-09 has left businesses downsizing and workers scrambling for a dwindling supply of low-paying jobs without benefits.
But what if the story isn’t as true as we think?
“We lose a lot of business because we do not have enough people to staff our shop,” said Larry Willer, operations manager for W.M. Sprinkman Corp. in Elroy.
Sprinkman needs more welders. In fact, Willer said, the welder shortage is one of the biggest problems the company faces.
Willer said the welder shortage has persisted for years in spite of starting hourly pay “in the teens,” plenty of overtime opportunity and a full benefit package that includes vacation time and health insurance.
“We’re looking to expand our night shift and we would probably hire in the neighborhood of anywhere from 10 to 15 welders if we could find qualified people,” Willer said.
That would be a big staff increase at Sprinkman, a manufacturer of stainless steel tanks for the dairy, food and beverage industry. It now employs 56 people – about two-thirds of them welders.
The company, which Willer said has benefitted from the microbrewing boom within the beer industry, serves customers nationwide from its 14,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in downtown Elroy.
Sprinkman’s customers include Fortune 500 giants such as Coca Cola and the Campbell Soup Company, as well as many smaller companies such as Capital Brewery in Madison.
The welder shortage is not Sprinkman’s problem alone.
At Walker Stainless Equipment in New Lisbon, Human Resources Manager Nancy Jacques said the “Welders Wanted” sign has occupied a prominent spot on the lawn at the front of the company headquarters for years. They’re looking to fill 20 vacant welder positions right now.
“It’s hard to find associates who are interested in the trade or who have any skill in welding,” Jacques said.
Walker, which also makes stainless steel equipment for customers nationwide, is Juneau County’s biggest manufacturing employer, with more than 500 workers in New Lisbon and at another facility in Elroy. About 225 of the company’s employees in Juneau County are welders, Jacques said. Like Sprinkman, business at Walker is good. Jacques said it’s frustrating to leave jobs unfilled.
“Walker’s market continues to expand,” Jacques said. “Therefore, the need for experienced welders increases also.”
Last week, the Juneau County Board of Supervisors took official notice of the problem when it passed a resolution that asked Western Technical College to “provide the necessary leadership, teachers, technical assistance, and monetary support for the establishment of the type of welding courses needed by Juneau County manufacturers at the New Lisbon High School.”
In fact, talks between officials from the technical college and New Lisbon schools are already well underway.
New Lisbon schools Superintendent Dennis Birr said the high school teaches a welding class. He said he’s “solidly behind” allowing the technical college use of the school’s welding laboratory. Talks with technical college officials about a sharing arrangement have been going on for more than a year, he added.
“The school’s perspective has been that we have a welding lab and we’d be happy to let it be used to help more people get the welding skills that help local employers,” Birr said.
The high school’s welding lab accommodates about a dozen students. Birr said the welding class attracts a mix of students – some who are merely curious and others who think they might like a career in welding. But even the career-minded students at New Lisbon are still only high school students who, unlike college students, haven’t necessarily made up their minds to pursue a career in welding.
The problem is meeting the increased immediate demands of industry. Training welders to step from a classroom and into a real-world job at a manufacturer like Sprinkman or Walker would require an expensive upgrade to the high school’s facility. That’s an expenditure Birr said the district isn’t interested in making because the existing facility meets its limited needs.
“The people who would be taking this class aren’t our students,” Birr said.
Patti Balacek, director of business and industry services for Western Technical College, said the hope is to copy in New Lisbon the success of a similar high school-technical college link-up in Black River Falls.
“It’s been an incredible boon for everyone, but it also was a year and a half of a lot of work, a lot of fundraising,” Balacek said.
In Black River Falls, Jackson County and the Black River Falls School District came up with $80,000 to create the Welding Skills Institute at the high school. The Ho Chunk Nation, which provided Jackson County’s $50,000 contribution, played a key role in the Black River Falls funding. The Black River Falls School District contributed the other $30,000.
Other partners in Black River Falls included the Department of Corrections, Jackson County Circuit Court and the state Department of Corrections.
“If we were to proceed with New Lisbon, it will take a great deal of commitment from a number of partners,” Balacek said. “I respect that the Juneau County board would like Western to provide some of the leadership, but it was only successful in Black River Falls because other people made a significant contribution to making this happen.”
She said she awaits word of a grant application that could allow expansion of the college’s welding training. But right now the technical college doesn’t have the money for an upgrade to the New Lisbon High School welding lab, said Balacek, who added she has also discussed the issue with Mauston school officials.
One of the problems educators face, Balacek said, is getting high school students to understand that manufacturing jobs are no longer the dirty, noisy and dangerous occupations they once were.
“The view of manufacturing is something we have to help young people understand has changed, and can lead to a very viable and financially sound career move for many people,” Balacek said.
Willer said a few of Sprinkman’s welders live outside Juneau County, but attracting welders from distant areas runs up hard against a fact of life that all manufacturers face.
“People generally do not relocate for a shop job, so it limits us to people within a reasonable driving distance of our shop,” Willer said.
Willer said Sprinkman gets many job applications but the “vast majority” of applicants have no skills. They don’t understand that precision welding is exacting work that can’t be learned on the job in a week.
“These guys are fabricators,” Willer said with a nod toward workers on Sprinkman’s shop floor. “We don’t call them welders. We call them fabricators.”
Willer said company officials are considering taking matters into their own hands.
“We have gotten to the point where we are also looking at developing our own welding course and training people for the work we have available,” Willer said. “We can provide, I feel, good-paying jobs with benefits and a future – if they have the skills.”
January 9, 2014
From channel3000.com: “Madison College works to close job training gap” — A survey of 341 Wisconsin CEOs reveals a growing concern about finding enough skilled employees to fill job vacancies and facilitate growth.
January 6, 2014
From yourdailyglobe.com: “Nicolet College names welding student of the year” – Three weeks after starting Nicolet College’s welding program, Chad Lawfer, of Minocqua, was ready to quit.
Learning the tig welding process was proving to be more than a challenge.
“I have to say, there was one point where I had just had it,” Lawfer said. “I was ready to walk.”
But he didn’t, digging deep to persevere.
On Dec. 17, Lawfer was named Nicolet’s Welding Student of the Year.
“Lawfer definitely deserves it,” welding instructor Warren Krause said. “He could have taken the easy way out and just quit, but he didn’t. He stuck with it and one day everything just clicked for him and he was able to do all of welds.”
Not only was he able to do the welds, he did them to a very high standard, earning straight As.
As good of a student as he is technically and academically, he also has other talents called soft skills which employers seek out, according to Chuck Kopp, adjunct welding instructor.
“Lawfer always comes in with a positive attitude and is always willing to help other students,” Kopp said. “He has a strong work ethic, knows how to communicate well, and is just a great guy to be around. Manufacturers today want new employees with these traits and skills.”
Lawfer said his instructors deserve the credit for his success. “They’ve just been fantastic,” he said. “They take the time to work with you until you really understand what they are teaching. I owe it all to them.”
December 26, 2013
From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC’s welding program helps inmates find work after incarceration” – School may not be in session at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior, but learning through WITC’s welding program is still sparking.
The welding room at WITC was filled with the bright flicker of flames as people on probation, parole, or currently incarcerated, took advantage of the Accelerated Welding Program being offered through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Employment Program.
“We’ve been doing these for about five or six years,” said welding instructor Dan Wilkinson.
Years of teaching valuable skills that can make all the difference in the lives of participating inmates.
“It’s great that they’re giving us an opportunity to learn something, because a lot of us don’t have skills,” said Matthew Sanford, an inmate at the Gordon Correctional Facility.
The intense learning program involves many different styles of welding, to prepare inmates for possible careers after the completion of their sentence.
“We’ll bring these guys in for three weeks and there’s an employer at the end of it that’s agreed to interview them… so that’s the big piece of this program… that there’s an opportunity,” said Wilkinson.
…an opportunity that is paying off for many.
49% of the program’s 59 past participants are now working in the area either in a welding capacity or as a general laborer.
“A lot of us never had the opportunity for this and the fact that they’re giving us the opportunity means so much,” said Sanford.
Accelerated Welding Programs like these are among the most successful community corrections employment programs in the state, providing the spark for success after incarceration.
The current welding class is the fifth Accelerated Welding Program that WITC, NW-CEP, and Wisconsin DOC have partnered on.
December 23, 2013
From host.madison.com: “Northeast Wisconsin Technical College plays key role for Marinette Marine” – MARINETTE – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is playing a key role in preparing workers for the Marinette Marine shipyard.
The school operates the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center, where workers are taught a variety of skills including welding and electrical work, as well as leadership, communications and conflict resolution skills. In the last two years, more than 1,800 students have gone through the training center.
The facility is within walking distance of the shipyard and includes computer labs, classrooms and shops, one filled with welding booths, another with electrical components like those used on the littoral combat ship (LCS). There are also programs for pipe fitters and metal fabricators.
“We were written right into the LCS contract because they needed to show that they had the ability to train thousands of people,” said Brian Lancour, coordinator of the training center. “We’ve become experts on the shipyard.”
Aaron Short, 26, a native of Escanaba, Mich., had been working as a welder at Miller Tractor Supply in Green Bay and in June applied to work at the shipyard. He started in October and began welding training at NWTC. He makes $16.50 an hour compared to the $11.50 he was making at Miller. But he’s also in a more physically demanding job, performing welding tasks while on his knees, crouched down or in some cases using mirrors to weld in tight spots.
“It’s nothing like I’ve ever done before,” said Short, who will soon be married. “It’s definitely testing my skills and getting me better at a lot of things.”
Wade Smoot, 41, of Madison, is a Lancaster High School graduate who most recently was an iron worker for a Stoughton company that did work on Camp Randall and at Epic Systems in Verona. He was attracted to the shipyard by the pay, benefits and community.
“I just wanted something different and this is really neat to build ships,” said Smoot, who was learning how to weld aluminum.
December 9, 2013
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Local high school girls learn about male-dominated fields” – More than 50 girls from nine central Wisconsin highschools learned Friday what it would be like to be welders, mechanical designers, machinists and other professionals in the manufacturing and technical fields.
They were taking part in a program called Females in Technology & Trades at Northcentral Technical College. The idea was to expose the girls to professions that are in what have been traditionally male-dominated fields to ensure that they know of all the career opportunities available to them.
The program was organized by Laurie Schulz, a mechanical design instructor at NTC. Schulz worked as a designer for years and said she had no problems working in a male-dominated field, but not all young women know that such careers are even possible.
The F.I.T.T. program, Schulz said, was meant to change that by both exposing the girls to all of the programs NTC has to offer and giving them a chance to do some hands-on activities, such as welding.
Maddy Krueger and Katherine Russell, both juniors at Tomahawk High School, participated in the program to find out what they might do after graduation.
“I think this is really interesting,” Krueger said. “I’m in a shop class at school, and I’m interested in mechanical comprehension and design. So I thought that would interesting to learn.”
Russell wants to become a materials sciences engineer, designing materials that can do new things.
“There’s a need for more women in engineering fields, so I wanted to learn more about that. And I’ve never welded before, so I’m really nervous,” Russell said. “I really learned a lot today about what NTC had to offer. I didn’t know we had an engineering and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) school so close as Wausau.”
The program was beneficial for female students, Schulz said, so that “they can see what types of options are out there for them that are nontraditional, compared to what they may normally do.”
November 20, 2013
From antigodailyjournal.com: “Dr. Lori Weyers, who heads NTC, complimentary in board address” – The Langlade County Board of Supervisors couldn’t have asked for a more complimentary guest at its November meeting today.
Dr. Lori Weyers, who heads the sprawling Northcentral Technical College, paid a visit and with her staff, explained what is happening at the college, improvements, advances being made and across the system, all with student success in mind.
Targeting the Antigo campus, she explained there are currently 1,700 students enrolled, which is one in every nine people living here. Last year there were 87 graduates, with many students going on to employment but more are continuing their education at campuses across Wisconsin and Michigan to start their university careers as juniors.
“We have partnered,” she said, telling the board that the NTC program has worked with universities to meet requirements for the students from the eight campuses accepted as juniors.
Larry Kind, dean of the campus in Antigo, outlined the gains being made at the local site and the advances that the wood technology facility has brought to the education program. Those changes also include a nursing program.
The NTC representatives who accompanied her explained there are jobs for the graduates of the two-year program, noting the information technology and welding programs as attractive fields for employment.
Weyers said the partnership with NTC and the Langlade County Board on the wood technology center is working well, and established a guideline for programs that have continued.
“You were the first,” she said, noting that the supervisors here worked with the college on construction of the wood technology facilities.
“You were the leader,” she added, “without you we may have not had these other things happen.”
The presentation by Weyers and her staff brought applause from the board.
October 15, 2013
From northlandsnewscenter.com: “WITC receives grant to expand welding program” – Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College recently acquired a grant to bulk up its welding program.
The money is being used to buy new equipment and get students to work more quickly.
WITC in Superior was one college of 16 to receive part of a 14.9 million dollar grant that was recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant. The grant is intended to assist students entering into the welding field. WITC has already put some of the money to good use.
The grant was also used to purchase welding equipment, including a robotic welder and to expand the college’s capacity to provide short–term training to meet immediate needs of employers.
The expansion will grow the adult manufacturing career pathways program.
“What it allows us to do is block our classes, which was really actually a pretty smooth transition for the welding program because we already teach that way, where one class builds on the class before it,” said Welding Instructor Aleasha Hladilek.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has funded 55 percent of the career pathways project which totals just over 600–thousand dollars. The program supports dislocated workers.
“Going back to school, it’s given me a future for me and my kids, where I can go out and get a decent paying job.” said Student Jacob Hochstetler.
WITC hopes to train more than 25–hundred students during the next two years and connect them to manufacturing business.
October 4, 2013
From wbay.com: “Middle School Girls Take on “Man’s Work” – Green Bay - Middle school girls got the chance Tuesday to learn about welding and robotics at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
It’s called “Women at Work,” and it’s an effort to get more young women interested in typically male-dominated fields.
More than 100 girls from middle schools in the area spent the morning learning about trades like welding with a simulator.
“It gives feedback electronically to the instructor and to the student. It’s actually mechanical movement, so they get that effect,” NWTC welding instructor Jon Russell explained.
In another session, the students use robots to learn about animation.
“We took a robot and we were picking up garbage and deciding if it was trash or recyclable,” Bayview Middle School student Madelyn Jorgensen described.
The goal is to give young women the opportunity to explore careers in these types of trades which typically attract men.
The girls also had the chance to meet with employers to learn about the different trades.
“There are lots of job opportunities for these women in these different trades areas. They’re able to get paid pretty well at some really hands-on type jobs that are really kind of fun,” Angie Arneson, a technology and engineering teacher in Denmark Middle School said.
According to NWTC, only three to five percent of students in the welding program are women.
But these students say they’re inspired by Tuesday’s workshop.
“Girls can definitely do these jobs. Girls have better hand-eye coordination I’ve heard. So things like welding where you have to be very specific would probably be better for girls,” Denmark Middle School student Ellie Babiash said.
October 1, 2013
From fox6now.com: “Gateway Technical College program helping dislocated, underemployed” — Welding bootcamp developed with employer cooperation and based on employer expectations. View video from Fox6now.com
September 25, 2013
From thenorthwestern.com: “Robotic welding program brings Walker to FVTC” – Learning to weld is normally a hands-on experience, but 14 Fox Valley Technical College students are taking a very hands-off approach to a new course.
Fox Valley Tech has introduced a course in robotic welding at its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center on Oshkosh’s south side this semester as it responds to changing demands of area manufacturers.
The new program, and the eight robots mounted with MIG welding guns, caught the attention of Gov. Scott Walker, who toured the manufacturing campus Tuesday afternoon.
“We can compete with anybody in the world, anywhere around the world, but we’re not going to compete the way we used to,” Walker said. “Advanced manufacturing means people who have multiple skills that can be applied using not only crafts they’ve learned here, but also all the technology that goes with it.”
FVTC Metal Fabrication and Welding Instructor Ben Cebery said the college was able to use a portion of a three-year, $3 million Advanced Manufacturing Pathways Plus grant the U.S. Department of Labor awarded FVTC earlier this year to develop the robotic welding course’s curriculum.
“We’re seeing more automation in manufacturing,” Cebery said. “Surveys with local companies suggested it was a good idea for students to be exposed to automation. This program prepares students for what we’re seeing and the demands of industry.”
Jay Manufacturing CEO Matt Jameson said the company has six robotic welding stations and a lot more manual welding stations at its west side fabrication shop. He said the company has hired several welders recently, and needs to hire as many as 20 more. He said the company views robotic welding training as a definite plus.
“The more versatile a person is, the more we can do with them,” Jameson said. “If they know manual and robotic welding, that’s just a bonus. In addition, the people we have interviewed who tested well almost all had some form of technical college training.”
Joe Serio, of Menominee Falls, and Austin Kopplin, of Oshkosh, both said they’re excited to learn how to program the robots and get them to execute precision welds. Serio said he knows welders are in high demand, but learning more advanced skills like computer programming is vital to finding a good job.
“Usually, we don’t get to deal with computers much while welding, but there’s always someone who needs to run the robot in case something happens,” Serio said. “This comes easy and it’s a pretty nice skill to learn.”
Kopplin said he’s been impressed by the amount of programming required to get the robots to work and the precision with which they execute commands.
“It’s consistent and perfect every time,” Kopplin said. “You get jittery welding for six hours at a time, but these things can run all night.”
Cebery said the college reached out to companies who said students need to be familiar with robotic welding and asked them to provide one or two robots they use. He said Ariens Co., in Brillion, and Muza Metal Products, in Oshkosh, are just two of the companies that stepped up to help out.
“Getting eight robots on the floor would have cost an astounding amount of money,” Cebery said. “Finding another way was vital. Fortunately, we were able to find a way via donations and gifted equipment that exposes students to the different types of robotic welders. They get to learn on each of them.”
August 20, 2013
From antigodailyjournal.com: “NTC to offer manufacturing tech degree” – Northcentral Technical College will begin offering a new manufacturing technician technical diploma in the fall, and the Antigo campus will be one of two locations to host the program.
Instructor Mike Parizek works with student Dylan Zimmerman in Northcentral Technical College’s machine tool lab.
This one-year (29-31 credits) technical diploma is designed to prepare students for a variety of entry-level careers within the manufacturing sector. The new program incorporates portions of NTC’s machine tool operation technical diploma and welding technical diploma in order to give students a well-rounded education and make them more marketable to potential employers.
According to a survey conducted by the technical college, area manufacturers are placing an increased focus on hiring employees who have cross training in both the machine tool and welding areas.
“After conducting the survey and meeting with business leaders in our area, it became clear that many local companies are in need of employees with diverse skill sets,” Larry Kind, dean of NTC’s Antigo campus, said. “The manufacturing technician technical diploma is an ideal fit in that sense, as students gain valuable training in two high-demand areas.”
Throughout the course of the program, students will learn to use a drill press, power saw, elementary lathe, mills and pedestal grinders in the machine tool courses. The welding courses will provide a solid foundation for a single manual process.
For more information or to register, call the NTC Antigo campus at 715 623-7601 or visit http://www.ntc.edu.
From prweb.com: “Apache partners with Moraine College to develop skilled trades” – Moraine Park Technical College in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is helping to develop skilled worker assets in the area by offering Welding Boot Camps. These Boot Camps are entry-level welding courses with on-site welding practice and supervision at Apache. The Boot Camps are part of the manufacturing skills academies funded by the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation and the Department of Labor TAA CCCT Grant. The program helps build a skilled welder pool for area manufacturers, including Apache.
During the program, students are required to complete eight hours per week of welding practice which is conducted at Apache under supervision of Apache’s welding mentors and floor supervisor as well as the instructor. Apache was proud to host several students last month in the Boot Camp Welding Program.
The on-site hands-on welding at Apache helps the students experience a real manufacturing environment with access to different types of equipment, different shapes and thicknesses of stainless steel and TIG welding processes.
A large part of the tuition is funded by the grant, with a small investment from the student. The student investment is refunded if they are selected for an internship.
With an ASME rated welding team, Apache continually promotes training and education in welding, fabrication and over-all manufacturing.
Founded in 1975, Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation consists of five groups: Large Tanks, Portable Vessels, Contract Manufacturing, Carbon Steel and Mepaco. The Mepaco group manufactures food processing equipment. Apache is an employee-owned company and a subsidiary of Dexter Apache Holdings, Inc.
July 12, 2013
From wjjq.com: “Nicolet teams with Oldenburg to improve welding” – Nicolet College is teaming with an area heavy equipment manufacturer to improve both student and worker skills training.
The technical college has recently expanded its welding program and has hired some of the top welders from Oldenburg Group in Rhinelander to teach additional class sections on a part-time basis.
Meanwhile, to advance the skills of workers at Oldenburg, a Nicolet instructor travels there to teach advanced blueprint reading.
Brigitte Parsons, dean of Trade and Industry at Nicolet noted the benefits of hiring instructors with private industry experience saying, “Each one brings their own unique set of skills to the classroom…(exposing students) to a wide range of talents which will make them that much more well-rounded when they enter the workforce.”
Oldenburg Lake Shore plant manager Scott Sedlacek says the arrangement advances the skill set of their current workers and potential future employees.
Milwaukee-based Oldenburg recently was awarded a $40 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build a variety of major components for Navy ships. They have 11 facilities in North America and other countries.
Nicolet has started an accelerated Welding program that gives students the opportunity to complete the traditional one-year diploma program in as little as seven months.
July 3, 2013
From wjfw.com: “Prepare for an increased demand in welding and fabricating jobs” – Looking for a new career? There’s one job in huge demand in Northern Wisconsin: Welding. To help fill those jobs Nicolet college is working with the Oldenburg Group and expanding their welding program.
Nicolet College’s Dean of Trade and Industry Brigitte Parsons says Wisconsin manufacturers are highly competitive in the world market. They’re getting more contracts, and need more workers.
“We’re seeing continued growth in this industry sector and an increased number of jobs in welding and fabricating and machine tooling,” said Parsons. Oldenburg Group, specifically, will be looking for more welders and fabricators to keep up with demand. “They just got a contract but they haven’t begun employing people yet. So right now is a good time to start thinking about if that’s a job that you might be interested in getting. Now’s a good time to get the skills,” says Parsons.
Nicolet College in Rhinelander offers a 9-month program for welding. They work closely with local leaders in industry like Oldenburg Group, so they’re teaching exactly what employers want you to know. Some of Oldenburg’s employees even teach part-time at Nicolet.
July 1, 2013
From leadertelegram.com: “Summer work helps shape careers” – Lucas Nash and Julian Fogeltanz would both like to work someday in an environment-related job, and they hope their time at Chippewa Valley Technical College this summer will help with that endeavor.
On a recent bright, sunny day Nash, of Chippewa Falls, and Fogeltanz, of Menomonie, were on the grass outside the CVTC Business Education Center setting up equipment to determine the best location and angle for solar panels. The next day they assembled model windmills to see how wind energy can be converted to electricity.
The activities were part of summer jobs for the young men, who are taking part in the Workforce Resource Summer Youth Employment program. Administering funds from a federal grant, Workforce Resource hires young people from low-income families for summer jobs around the community. Part of the job includes attending classes at CVTC for a couple of weeks to explore long-term career options.
The career exploration segment focuses on four areas: blueprint reading, alternative energy, industrial mechanics and electromechanical engineering, according to Ginger Dutton, program coordinator from the Chippewa Falls Workforce Resource office.
“Our hope is for CVTC to provide some basic exploration in manufacturing,” Dutton said.
Fogeltanz, a Menomonie High School student, appreciated his experience.
“The energy stuff is kind of cool,” he said. “At least we’re getting outside. My career path is going to be environmental. I’d like to be a (state Department of Natural Resources) warden.”
Nash said he learned valuable information as part of the program.
“We were talking about different kinds of energy – fossil fuels, water, wind energy,” said Nash, who graduated from Chippewa Falls High School in May and will attend Fox Valley Technical College in the fall, where he plans to study to be a natural resources technician. “It gives me something else to think about.”
Cody Henrichs of Menomonie discovered an area of interest when he got a chance to work on one of CVTC’s high-tech welding simulators. He said he’d like to be a welder someday.
“We’re going through geothermal, wind and solar – both solar PV (photovoltaic) and solar thermal. They get to do some hands-on, setting up solar panels and taking temperature readings,” said CVTC instructor Steve Gutsch, who taught the energy and blueprint reading classes.
The content touches on career areas like construction, HVAC and energy, Gutsch said. “It gives them some idea of what’s out there.”
Dutton said the program has been around for about 25 years, dating back to when Workforce Resource was known as the Private Industry Council. The program is funded through the federal Workforce Investment Act. Youth ages 14 to 21 qualify through family income guidelines.
Those selected kick off the program with a picnic an orientation in a park, and the first part of their summer employment involves the CVTC portion, which is handled like a job. Workers are to show up on time, apply themselves, and complete tasks they’re given.
“They are learning work maturity skills as well while at CVTC,” Dutton said.
After two weeks at CVTC, the group is split up into various work locations throughout the Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie areas. They work at both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Dutton noted Hope Gospel Mission’s Bargain Center as one location where program participants might work.
June 21, 2013
From jsonline.com: “Opinion: A partnership to fill jobs” – An article June 9 by the Journal Sentinel’s John Schmid provided an overview of the debate among researchers about the existence and extent of a skills gap in Wisconsin (“Program’s new approach to skills gap? Talk to employers”). However, the debate misses the immediate need to focus on a tangible solution. With area manufacturers working together with technical schools, we have an opportunity to begin that process.
We are in a manufacturing-rich region poised for growth. That growth is being squeezed by an increasing demand for advanced skills and an impending demographic shift that will mean too few workers to fill the void left by retirees. Time is of the essence to focus on action. Our ability to train, attract and retain talent to career pathways in manufacturing is simply critical to this region.
The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s Manufacturing Careers Partnership is a collaborative effort in the truest sense of the word. We share a common mission: to give people the skills they need to fill jobs and create a pipeline of talent now and in the future. The only way we can accomplish our mission is to have educational institutions, workforce development agencies and employers at the same table, talking — in detail — about their needs. And that’s exactly what we are doing.
Our first project, Welding 101, is designed to create a baseline of common skill requirements for entry-level welders among a significant number of employers and to improve manufacturers’ ability to attract and retain talent. To date, more than 50 companies have participated in a survey that asks, in great detail, what employers need from their welders on day one. As more employers complete the survey, we can move with confidence toward aligning course competencies across the region’s technical colleges.
We are pleased to be working in alignment with our manufacturers and our technical colleges: Gateway, Milwaukee Area, Moraine Park and Waukesha County, as well as the Wisconsin State Technical College System on this project. Together, we can give an individual employee the skills to succeed in a welding position and give employers a starting point for building a manufacturing career pathway.
Getting clear on what we, as technical colleges can teach, and we as employers, can then train, lays out a progressive and practical path to solving one of our region’s most pressing needs. We recognize that this project is a starting point. Workforce challenges are complex and the issues impacting the entire talent pipeline will not be solved with a single approach. But much like an entry-level position, we need to tackle Welding 101 and gain some experience and tangible success.
How you can help: if you are an employer of welders, please take the Welding 101 survey at www.mmac.org.
This op-ed was signed by Bryan Albrecht, president, Gateway Technical College; Dave Biddle, manager of technical services, Joy Global (MCP co-chair); Michael Burke, president, Milwaukee Area Technical College; Shelley Jurewicz, vice-president for economic development, MMAC/Milwaukee 7; David Mitchell, president, Monarch (MCP co-chair); Barbara Prindiville, president, Waukesha County Technical College; and Sheila Ruhland, president, Moraine Park Technical College.
June 14, 2013
From brookfield-wi.patch.com: “WCTC’s Career Quest designed for middle school students” – Waukesha County Technical College will host Career Quest, an opportunity for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students to get a closer look at what skills and qualifications are needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
The three-day summer exploration will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 6, 7 and 8, at WCTC’s main campus in Pewaukee.
Middle school students will be introduced to a variety of careers – including those in Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Metal Fabrication/Welding, Cosmetology and many more — and learn about the education and training needed for those jobs. Cost of the event is $100 per student. Sessions run from at 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; lunch and snacks will be provided. Registration ends June 28, and the sessions will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited!
From the options below, students can choose two career sessions to explore: • Future of Nursing (Nursing) • What’s Up, Doc? (Medical Assistant) • Authorized Personnel Only! (Surgical Technology) • To Protect and Serve — CSI style (Criminal Justice) • Emergency! (Firefighting/EMT) • Fuse it Together (Metal Fabrication/Welding) • Precision Parts (CNC Manufacturing) • Explore Robotics (Automation Systems Technology) • Baking Quest (Baking/Pastry) • Culinary Quest (Culinary Management) • The Art of Play (Early Childhood) • Spa Day (Cosmetology)
For details on career sessions, to learn more about Career Quest and to register, visit http://www.wctc.edu/career-quest. For questions, contact John Pritchett, Career Quest coordinator, at 262.695.7847 or email@example.com.
June 12, 2013
From gazettextra.com: “Tech Knowledge College shifting focus to high school students” – ROCK TOWNSHIP — Tech Knowledge College will be reborn this summer, but this time it’s for disadvantaged high school students rather than middle-schoolers.
The pre-college summer program at Blackhawk Technical College’s central campus gave middle-schoolers a hands-on feel for programs the campus offered. It continued for many years but died as part of belt-tightening measures in 2012. The new program will have the same name, but it will focus on sharpening high school students’ math and English skills so they can do well on college-entrance exams and become better prepared for college, said Stephanie Williams, student engagement coordinator.
National studies have shown that upwards of 60 percent of high school graduates who enter community colleges need remedial classes before they can take college-level courses in math and English.
At Blackhawk Technical College, 57.7 percent of the 2012 high school graduates who enrolled last fall needed remedial coursework in writing, as determined by entrance tests. Of those same students, 45.7 percent needed remediation in math and 33.7 percent in reading. Tech Knowledge College would benefit any student that plans on attending any college or university, Williams said.
The program, funded through the state Department of Public Instruction, will be able to take 80 students, divided into two sessions, Williams said. Tech Knowledge College Camp will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the weeks of July 8-12 and July 22-26. The program is free to students entering ninth, 10, 11th or 12th grades this fall and who meet household income guidelines.
Campers also will be able to explore two of five Blackhawk Technical College program options. They can choose from culinary arts, health care, information technology, welding and public safety.
Students will begin the camp with a test so they know where they need to improve, Williams said. The program is open to any income-eligible high school student in the college’s district, which comprises most of Rock and Green counties. Free bus transportation will be provided each day from Beloit Memorial, Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker high schools. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Program availability will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis until each camp is filled.
April 23, 2013
From reliableplant.com: “Welding Boot Camp creates skilled workers” – There’s a boot camp taking place in Fond du Lac, Wis. – one that doesn’t require boot shining, marching and bivouacs, though you do have to wear a helmet and other gear and follow instructions.
This particular group of “recruits” is firing welding torches. Along with Brenner Tank LLC of Fond du Lac, Moraine Park Technical College developed a Welding Boot Camp to train individuals for entry-level work in the welding profession. The first eight-week camp began June 18 and ran through August 15; a second seven-week round will start in September. All participants earn four college credits that articulate into Moraine Park’s welding program.
“Brenner Tank formed the partnership with Moraine Park in an effort to maintain our competitive edge,” said Dawn Marie Polakoski, PHR, Brenner Tank’s human resources manager. “ Moraine Park’s custom training program is providing the skilled welders we need to support our continued growth. As a local manufacturer, we are very pleased with the creation of the Welding Boot Camp.”
While built in conjunction with Brenner Tank, the program was designed with the broader purpose of helping manufacturers address a serious shortage of skilled welders and is open to any manufacturing employer who may have similar workforce development needs. The program works to connect energetic, dedicated individuals with a sincere interest in a welding career with employers by helping those individuals develop the foundational skills needed to be successful. Ten candidates were selected by Brenner Tank for the first boot camp. Their ages varied but their passion for welding is the same.
Sara Buechel, 18, of New Holstein, Wis., applied because she enjoys welding and wanted to get further education in the profession. Joel Grier of Fond du Lac, also 18, also wanted to learn more about welding and be able to get a good job. Daniel O’Connor, 36, of Fond du Lac sees the Welding Boot Camp as an opportunity to better himself and have a shot at a new career move. And, the camp is a chance to expand job opportunities at Brenner for Forrest Brunet, 42, of North Fond du Lac.
Brenner Tank interns are paid to train three days per week at the welding lab on Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus under the instruction of adjunct faculty member Jonathan Thill. For the remaining two days of the week, they work at Brenner, where they apply the skills they learn in the classroom. Tuition is employer-paid. The Brenner Tank interns who successfully complete the program are given priority consideration for a permanent position with Brenner.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with Brenner Tank,” said Kathy Schlieve, Moraine Park economic and workforce development sales representative. “They have been instrumental in helping Moraine Park develop this program and are actively working with area high schools to educate students about career opportunities in manufacturing. Welding interns who successfully complete the boot camp are filling open or new positions and are earning a better wage. Moraine Park’s goal is to provide the type of rapid response that companies need to develop and maintain a competitive advantage and grow their business, and the Welding Boot Camp delivers on that goal.”
Polakoski concurs, “This program is a win-win that meets our needs as an employer but also helps the individuals being trained to begin earning a good wage while developing lifelong career skills that they can build on for future career advancement.”
With additional training, the opportunities that exist for these individuals abound.
“Manufacturing has become very high-tech and offers a variety of career opportunities,” said Marcia Arndt, Moraine Park dean of manufacturing technology. “The future workforce has to be technologically savvy to handle the competitive climate of the global market. In addition to technical skills, employers are looking for people who can problem-solve, work in teams and adapt to change quickly. Moraine Park’s manufacturing program helps individuals develop these skills for future success.”
For more information about upcoming welding boot camps in Fond du Lac, call Moraine Park at 920-924-3449 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 11, 2013
From lacrossetribune.com: “Welding institute launching bigger lab” – A local initiative to train skilled welders has received monetary boosts and will have a bigger lab and more participants when its first regular session begins next month.
The Welding Skills Institute is using a combined $80,000 it received from Jackson County and the Black River Falls School District to expand its BRF High School-based lab and, in turn, welcome more participants.
The initiative, started last year in an effort to fill a growing local need for skilled welders, will begin its first regular session May 13 with nearly double the number of participants it had in each of its two pilot sessions.
“I’m super excited about it,” said BRF High School Principal Tom Chambers, who helped launch the institute. “I think it’s a great example of collaboration between the school, county, businesses and the community.
“The project is, by far, the biggest collaborative project I’ve worked on.”
The effort to launch the Welding Skills Institute began when Nelson Global Products welding engineer Paul Schulz approached Chambers to use high school welding lab space to test new company applicants.
That push showed there weren’t many qualified applicants for welding jobs in the area, and soon representatives from local businesses, Western Technical College, Jackson County Treatment Court and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections began collaborating to launch the institute to fill the local need.
The institute trains participants in basic wire feed welding skills through welding, blueprint reading and math curriculum that are necessary for jobs at manufacturing companies like Nelson Global Products and D&S Manufacturing.
“I think it’s an excellent start. It’s a real short-term, high-intensity program that hopefully someday will expand into longer terms and more technical topics,” said Schulz, who will accept a 2013 Business Friends of Education award from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for Nelson’s work on the institute.
“I think we’re off to a really excellent start.”
The Welding Skills Institute received $50,000 in Ho-Chunk Nation funds through Jackson County last fall and $30,000 from the BRF School District to allow it to update the lab. Nelson and D&S Manufacturing also have donated materials and equipment throughout the program’s tenure.
Work on the BRF High School technical education classrooms spurred by the monetary contributions has allowed the institute to expand from seven welding booths to 13, which are about one-third bigger than their original size.
That will allow more students to enroll in the first regular 10-week session next month, including five spots for high school students interested in higher-level welding, three spots for Ho-Chunk Nation participants and the rest for Jackson County Treatment Court participants and placements through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
Officials hope to hold four 10-week sessions a year now that the expansion is taking place and the pilot period is complete. They are pursuing a grant to create a mobile classroom equipped for computerized numerical control training, a skill in demand and a natural extension of basic welding, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lister said.
They also hope the institute will remain a presence in the community for the indefinite future.
“I’ve been impressed with the collaborative effort by Western Technical College, (the Department of Corrections), principal Tom Chambers at Black River Falls High School, as well as the willingness of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors and the Black River Falls School Board to fund substantial expansions and improvements of the welding institute,” said Lister, who also assisted in the program’s launch.
Chambers said community collaboration has been an integral part of the program and commended the work of Nelson, D&S and other local entities.
He said it’s appropriate Nelson was recognized through the Department of Public Instruction award.
“Nelson has been very supportive of the whole process,” Chambers said. “They’ve been good partners to work with.”
April 10, 2013
From jsonline.com: “Few employers show up to recruit MATC students” – Employers who have said there’s a shortage of welders in Wisconsin – and that it’s serious enough to threaten their business prospects – didn’t turn out in large numbers Tuesday for a Milwaukee Area Technical College job fair that could have introduced them to 50 job candidates.
Eight companies attended the event at the college’s campus in Oak Creek, which was intended to help recent and upcoming welding program graduates find employment.
For years, companies have lamented a lack of welders, especially for work that requires a high level of skill and knowledge. In some cases, they’ve said, the shortage has created production bottlenecks at their manufacturing plants.
MATC has ramped up its welding programs to help address the need, and college officials said they expected more businesses to be at the job fair.
“I think there is some fair criticism” for employers who complain about a shortage but didn’t show up for the fair, said David Dull, president and CEO of Allis-Roller LLC, a metal fabricator in Franklin that was at the event.
“It’s easy to complain,” said Dull, who is also a MATC board member.
Some companies have started welding classes in their factories, and some have said MATC’s programs haven’t met their needs for highly specialized and demanding jobs.
“I would say it’s challenging to find skilled help,” Dull said, adding that some companies might be turned off by a job fair that doesn’t have experienced candidates for them.
Area business leaders have said the welder shortage is going to get worse as thousands of older workers retire and there aren’t enough young people willing to take their place.
“Welding is more than just grabbing a stick and going to work. There’s a lot of science and knowledge involved,” said Mike Kuehnl, manager of student employment services at MATC.
“I was hoping for more employers” at the job fair, Kuehnl said. “I can’t speak to the reasons why more didn’t show up. Maybe they don’t need people right now, and it’s quite possible we might be catching up a little bit with the demand.”
Welding has been a sensitive subject at the technical college.
A labor union, for instance, has asked the college to stop training nonunion employees who could step in as replacement workers at Caterpillar Inc.’s South Milwaukee plant in the event of a strike.
Labor officials also have questioned whether there is a welder shortage.
“If there is one, we shouldn’t have to be pulling teeth to get companies at a job fair,” said Michael Rosen, faculty union president at MATC and economics instructor at the college.
“I think some employers want to keep flooding the market with job candidates so they can keep wages down,” Rosen said. “In a market where companies are looking for welders, the only way to attract them is to pay a higher wage.”
Some research, though, suggests these shortages are real and can be expected to worsen.
Wisconsin will have fewer than half the metal manufacturing professionals it needs by 2021, according to a recent report from ManpowerGroup. Demand for these skilled tradesmen will grow by nearly 50%, but the supply will decrease about 12% as the industry gets slapped by a wave of retirements, the report said.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that two-thirds of the fastest-growing occupations from 2012 to 2018 will be in apprentice-based fields. More apprenticeships could help fill some of the skills gap. But many young adults, especially, don’t realize they could earn a good living in a manufacturing career, Dull said.
“More than half of the jobs in the state don’t require a four-year degree, but nearly 100% of the students are being told to go to college. To me, that’s the biggest disconnect,” Dull said.
But Marc Levine, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor of history, economic development and urban studies, says the skills gap is a myth.
“All of the data suggests that companies that have been crying the loudest about a shortage of skilled workers have exaggerated the claims,” said Levine, who last month published a research update titled “The Myth of the Skills Gap in Wisconsin.”
There are about 2,000 unemployed welders in Wisconsin and about 500 job openings here a year for them, according to Levine.
In Wisconsin and surrounding states, there are about 17,000 unemployed welders, he said.
Levine says the only welder shortage he’s aware of is in places like North Dakota and Wyoming, where a boom in the oil and gas industry has resulted in a widespread lack of skilled help.
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If there really were a shortage of welders here, you would expect employers to be lining up for them at the MATC job fair,” Levine said.
March 15, 2013
From wdio.com: “Empowering high school girls with welding” – While the students of Wisconsin’s Indianhead Technical College are on Spring Break, some high school girls are taking over their welding shop.
The high school students are from Denfeld High and are in the “Girls Restorative Program,” which is ultimately part of “Men as Peacekeepers.” The after-school program is about building resiliency and fostering community among young women.
As part of their program, the girls are learning the basics of welding at WITC in Superior. Holding a torch to steel isn’t something any of the girls thought they’d ever do.
“At first I didn’t want to do it because I thought it was too boyish,” said Donisha, a sophomore at Denfeld High.
But after learning the basics, the girls said they loved the process of getting their hands dirty.
“We’re strong!” said Cynthia, also a sophomore at Denfeld High.
The “Girls Restorative Program” aims to empower young women. Elena Bantle, the program’s coordinator, said working with fire and cutting apart steel is the ultimate form of female empowerment.
Bantle added that welding opens the high school girls’ eyes to a field many people consider a male-dominated skill.
“In a tangible way, you can make a lot of money welding,” said Bantle.
The girls all created their own designs of what it means to be a woman.
“I chose Lady Liberty because I think she is a person for girls to stand up for,” said Donisha.
They will then cut out their designs and weld all of their pieces together to make a large piece of artwork.
No matter the end product, Bantle said there is just one goal.
“I hope they can themselves as strong women who can do anything,” said Bantle.
March 12, 2013
From todaystmj.com: “Future welders look to Wisconsin’s new mining law for jobs” – PEWAUKEE – In the confines of a hot, cramped workspace, student Eric Defries practices his craft. Defries is studying at Waukesha County Technical College to become a welder.
“Before this, I was doing windows and doors, and everybody and their uncle thinks they can do windows and doors. That market’s flooded, but welders, that takes skill,” Defries said.
Defries—and other students may soon have their chance to prove themselves. Future welders see Wisconsin’s new mining law as a way to build a career at home, instead of leaving Wisconsin for work.
“A lot of people have moved out of the state, because there’s not enough jobs here, so it’s excellent,” said student Gary Kender.
The news means a potential boost for the hiring pool, and colleges are already taking notice. WCTC recently doubled its lab space for welders ahead of the bill becoming a law.
“We just hope that parents as well as students see these are great jobs with great career opportunities,” said Mike Shiels, dean of the college’s Industrial and Engineering Technologies division.
Though the sparks aren’t flying on any projects just yet, Defries and fellow students have high hopes and are already thinking about the years ahead.
“I’m trying to contribute to the cause. Gives me a job. Gives me benefits. Gives me something to do,” Defries explained.