From wkow.com: “Waiting lists at tech colleges to shrink thanks to $35 million grant” — Waiting lists at technical colleges across Wisconsin are shrinking thanks to a $35 dollar boost.

Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch stopped by Madison College on Tuesday to announce the school be will receiving $5 million as part of the Wisconsin Fast Forward: Blueprint for Prosperity Initiative.

The money will be used to get more students into programs and courses in high-demand fields.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch says, “In Wisconsin today there are about 67,000 open jobs, yet we still have folks that are unemployed, there’s a skills mismatch. We need to make sure the folks that are seeking employment have the skills that job creators who are offering that employment will require in order to hire someone.”

Madison College says the $5 million grant will allow them to train an additional 934 students.

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From lacrossetribune.com: “Western nabs $1.6 million workforce grant” — by Patrick Anderson – Western Technical College will receive $1,564,229 in workforce development funding to bolster its welding and medical assistant programs, according to an announcement today from Wisconsin officials.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and the state’s top jobs official toured Western’s new South Side welding facility to mark the occasion, part of a two-week tour of Wisconsin by lawmakers as they publicize more than $28 million in tech college grants.

The Weaver Building at 2860 S. 21st Place was still under construction as Kleefisch toured the former Trane facility with Western President Lee Rasch and Reggie Newson, secretary of the state’s Department of Workforce Development. Weaver will temporarily house Western’s welding classes when it opens this fall, while workers begin construction on a $32.6 million addition to the campus technology building.

Funding from the Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant program should allow Western to take 192 students off wait lists and teach them skills they need to find jobs with state and regional employers, Kleefisch said.

”Technical colleges help us triage the skills gap issue we have in Wisconsin,” Kleefisch said. “Our skills gap issue is very, very pressing.”

From gmtoday.com: “WCTC to offer program for high-in-demand careers” — PEWAUKEE – Waukesha County Technical College will offer a new program this fall with training opportunities for high-in-demand careers in information technology.

The Network Enterprise Administrator-INTERFACE Accelerated Pathway program is designed for veterans, their spouses and students eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance programs, Workforce Investment Act programs, and Workforce Development Vocational Rehabilitation programs. It will also be offered to unemployed individuals and qualified adults seeking the next career step.

The program could potentially help fill the skills gap by offering a special pathway for network enterprise administrator-cyber security education, according to a WCTC press release.

Network enterprise administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operations and security of computer networks that are a critical part of almost every organization, and the program will provide students with the skills and experience to support current industry technology implementations.

The program will consist of multiple credential opportunities in certificate form, including enterprise support technician, IT network support specialist, storage and virtualization administrator, and IT security administrator – all leading toward the final credential, the technical diploma.

“The program’s greatest benefits lie in the additional services of in-class tutors to support students throughout the accelerated/hybrid courses, and the four semesters of work-based service learning projects integrated into the curriculum,” said Danielle Hoffman, WCTC’s IT skills and placement coordinator.

“Embedded industry-recognized certificates earned each semester lead to possible job opportunities. Combined with enhanced job search assistance, we expect many students will be working in their chosen field well before graduation.”

Hoffman said INTERFACE is a two-year program and students will earn the certificates along the way, one certificate for each semester. She said the program is designed for students to complete all four semesters, but expects some students will find careers after receiving certificates in their desired field.

The program is funded through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant program, which provided a $23.1 million grant to be shared among Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges.

From journaltimes.com: “Gateway campuses receive Fast Forward – Blueprint grants” — Gateway Technical College Racine and Kenosha campuses are among recipients of the 2014 Wisconsin Fast Forward-Blueprint for Prosperity High School Pupil Grant Awards. The intent to award total is $149,512.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development secretary Reggie Newson announced Department of Workforce Development’s intent to award 30 grants totaling $2.1 million to develop or expand creative programs that prepare high school pupils for the workforce or postsecondary education through training in high-demand fields. The grants cover training for up to 949 high school pupils and could involve employment at up to 153 employers.

The investment is part of Gov. Scott Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity, a comprehensive agenda to provide tax relief and invest in worker training to move Wisconsin along a path to prosperity. The plan includes $35.4 million to expand the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker-training program into three key areas, including increasing industry-recognized certifications in high-demand fields for high school students; reducing wait lists in high-demand fields at Wisconsin technical colleges; and enhancing employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

The Department of Workforce Development worked with the state Department of Public Instruction to develop grant criteria and issue a grant program announcement in March for up to $1.5 million in potential awards. Applications had to include at least one business or business organization in collaboration with school districts, educational partners and/or technical colleges.

The Department of Workforce Development’s Office of Skills Development is administering the grant program. The school-to-work programs will kick off during the 2014-15 academic year.

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Mid-State enrollment projected to increase for first time in 3 years” — GRAND RAPIDS — After three years of steadily declining enrollment, Mid-State Technical College’s student body is slowly ticking upward.

This upcoming academic year will be the first time the college has projected an increase in student body population since the 2010-11 year. The school expects enrollment will rise 3.5 percent to 2,144 full-time equivalent students in 2014-15 from 2,070 in 2013-14.

Vice President of Student Affairs Mandy Lang attributed this year’s increase in students to the opening of the new Stevens Point campus and its new and expanded course offerings. She said the three-year enrollment decline was due to the economy.

“When the economy gets better, there can be a drop in enrollment for colleges,” Lang said.

After the recession hit in 2008 and layoffs became more common in central Wisconsin, MSTC saw enrollment increase as dislocated workers decided to return to school and acquire new skills. Government funding for dislocated worker training also increased during this time, Lang said. However, as the effects of the recession mitigated, the school’s numbers steadily declined from 2011 to 2014.

Still, these trends in enrollment are not unique to MSTC. According to the Wisconsin Technical College System’s 2011-13 Biennial Report, all Wisconsin technical colleges saw a decrease in full-time equivalent students from the 2009-10 academic school year to the 2011-12 year. Across the technical college system, there was a 3.9 percent drop in enrollment from 2009-10 to 2011-12, totaling a decrease of 3,175 students.

Conor Smyth, director of strategic partnerships and external relations at WTCS, said enrollment rates in the state’s technical colleges were the highest in the system’s history during the recession. The tendency for people to return to college during times of economic hardship is a historic trend, he said. Likewise, when the economy gets better, people tend to go back to work. This phenomena, he said, explains the subsequent decline in enrollment.

“There’s a preference for work and earning money,” Smyth said.

Katie Felch, director of public relations and marketing at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, also noted the economy’s role in determining enrollment at NTC. Since 2006-07, Felch said NTC’s enrollment increased by 50 percent and in 2012, it was recognized as the 21st fastest-growing community college in the nation by Community College Week. This past May, NTC graduated its largest class ever.

This year, NTC’s enrollment is down 8 percent, but Felch expects it to rebound.

“We saw a big bubble due to dislocated workers,” Felch said.

However, the recession isn’t the only factor influencing enrollment. MSTC’s pool of potential students is much smaller because of its district’s demographics.

According to MSTC’s calculations in its 2014-15 budget, residents in the school’s district are significantly older than the national average. Compared to the national average, there are 16 percent more people per capita who are older than 50. Combine this with the fact that MSTC’s district has only grown 1 percent in population since 2001 and it puts MSTC at a notable disadvantage in enrolling students. For context, Wisconsin’s population has grown 7 percent and the U.S.’s has grown 11 percent since 2001.

Another cause for concern in technical college enrollment is the diminishing number of students in high school. Smyth said the total number of high school graduates is expected to decrease in the next decade and with fewer students enrolled in high school, it is likely to impact enrollment at all colleges.

However, the technical colleges are especially starting to notice.

“There are just fewer students in the pipeline,” Felch said. “So we’re working to attract those students.”

But, as Smyth said, recruitment for students is especially hard for technical colleges because of their constant battle with a “four-year bias.” High school students, in particular, might feel more pressured by their peers, parents and school counselors to enroll in a four-year university even though their academic interest might be better aligned with a technical college.

Still, Smyth admits that breaking this bias is especially hard.

“We’re trying to get people to think along the lines of, ‘What do you want to do?’ rather than, ‘Where do you want to go?’” Smyth said.

In addition, student financial aid is growing harder to attain because of government regulations, further hindering student enrollment. Although technical colleges might be more affordable than a four-year university, Smyth said the number of students eligible for state-funded, need-based financial aid far outpaces the sufficient funds available to them.

At MSTC, Lang said the declining accessibility of financial aid is impacting the number of students it enrolls.

“It has been a factor (in enrollment) over the past few years,” Lang said about financial aid. “Those regulations do continue to tighten.”

Lang said MSTC anticipates a “moderate growth” in student body population during the next few years but would not speak to whether maintaining a steadily increasing enrollment was a high priority for MSTC. Instead, she emphasized student success as one of MSTC’s largest priorities.

From jsonline.com: “Program brings classes to Granville Business Improvement District workers” —Manufacturers and other companies in the Granville Business Improvement District on Milwaukee’s northwest side were discussing their workforce needs last fall when the conversation moved beyond the jobs they wanted to fill.

They started talking about the workers they already had, and the skills they needed to become better employees and have a chance to advance in their companies.

One need was identified very quickly: computer skills.

“That was huge. People lack computer skills,” said Mary Hoehne, executive director of the business district. “Then another one was customer service. And another was entry-level supervision for first-time supervisors. And then basic manufacturing things, like manufacturing math, manufacturing blueprint reading — the kind of things you don’t learn if you’re a history major and you land a job with a manufacturer.”

Rather than just encourage employees to develop skills on their own or send them off to technical school, the business improvement district decided to bring the training to the workers.

The business improvement district and Milwaukee Area Technical College worked together to obtain a $15,000 Workforce Advancement Training grant. That allowed MATC and the district to set up a program in which MATC instructors would come out to the area to offer training in 2- to 21/2-hour sessions near the end of the workday.

The Incumbent Workforce Training Program classes, which are free to participants and companies, began at the end of April. Among the courses in the initial program:

■ Computer skills, which includes training in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access.

■ Technical skills, including separate courses in blueprint reading, machine trades math, technical communications and metallurgy.

■ Customer services skills, intended to help employees better communicate and serve customers.

■ Supervision skills, a course designed for the employee who is almost ready to be promoted to a supervisory or management position or who recently received a promotion.

Two of the courses are being held in a conference room at Busch Precision Inc. at 8200 Faulkner Road, while other locations are the Milwaukee Job Corps offices at 6665 N. 60th St. and the business improvement district offices at 7817 W. Brown Deer Road.

Mike Mallwitz, president of Busch Precision, said he believes “education is lifelong” and important to maintaining a strong local workforce.

“A lot of money goes into education to help people get jobs. But how do you keep them in those jobs? Well, you give them a little education — not years of it, but doses of skills they’re lacking so they can keep ascending,” Mallwitz said.

As better-trained employees are promoted, it opens up entry-level jobs.

“This is a great way to keep the workforce going,” Mallwitz said.

Doug Smith, the manager of a Walgreens store in the Granville area, said some of his employees are enrolled in the customer service and supervisor classes.

“When I saw these classes, I thought this was just perfect for my employees,” Smith said. “It gives them the step up, especially if they are trying to move into that supervisor role. It lets them know ahead of time exactly what they need.”

Susan Paprcka, the director of marketing for Busch Precision, was among those attending the class on blueprint reading.

“To me, this is so valuable in terms of growing manufacturing and the ‘skills gap’ everybody talks about,” she said. “People like myself, who haven’t been in this industry, this makes me want to stay in the industry when they offer professional development and learning kinds of opportunities.”

The classes are held in the late afternoon on a workday once a week, typically 3 or 3:30 p.m. About 80 Granville-area workers are enrolled in the program’s inaugural sessions. Participants come from manufacturers, insurers, retailers and other companies that are members of the Granville Business Improvement District.

“We are hoping this does open doors for people to get promoted,” Hoehne said. “That’s the hope of the grant — that people will get promoted and it will open doors.”

From htrnews.com: “District, college awarded grants” — MISHICOT – The Mishicot School District and Lakeshore Technical College were awarded grants from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to develop or expand creative programs that prepare high school students for the workforce or post-secondary education through training in high-demand fields.

The investment is part of Governor Scott Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity, a comprehensive agenda to provide tax relief and invest in worker training to move Wisconsin along a path to prosperity.

The Mishicot School District was awarded $87,384 to launch an initiative to further opportunities for students in the areas of manufacturing and welding.

LTC was awarded $32,064 for its CNA program, $19,444 for its hospitality program, and $13,629 for its safety program.

DWD’s Office of Skills Development is administering the grant program. The school-to-work programs will kick off during the 2014-15 academic year.

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