From “Gateway president showcases programs at U.S. conference” — By Aaron Knapp – RACINE — Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht spoke alongside Chelsea Clinton and Melanne Verveer, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, at a United Nations-sponsored conference in New York City on Tuesday about how to expand women’s access to education.

In this and another conference on Monday, Albrecht discussed Gateway’s programs and efforts to get women educated for careers, especially in fields typically dominated by men.

“I was proud to be able to showcase some of our programs and at least acknowledge the fact that in any community around the world, whether it’s right here in Racine or if it’s overseas somewhere, there’s more that we can do to help young girls find opportunities and create greater points of access,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

Albrecht was the primary speaker in the IDEAGEN Summit on Monday and led a discussion of about 60 industry CEOs on broadening opportunities for women to be educated.

The U.N. summit on Tuesday, “Turning Inspiration into Action: Next Steps for the Private Sector to Empower Women Globally,” gathered political, business and educational leaders to discuss how to give women greater access to education around the world, said

Albrecht, who represented the American Association of Community Colleges.

Although Gateway has more women enrolled than men, Albrecht said school programs are focused on getting women into historically masculine career fields.

“Recognition by being invited to different events like this one I think help validate that we’re doing some positive things for our community and for our students,” he said.


From “Implementing a DIY fix to the skills gap” — Snap-on, a publicly traded designer and manufacturer of tools, equipment and systems solutions, was founded in 1920. Since then, the Kenosha, Wisc., company has survived the Great Depression, the Great Recession and an ongoing labor gap in the mechanical trades that has hounded other firms. So how has the S&P 500 company – with an estimated worth of more than $2.5 billion – managed when others are struggling to fill key technical positions?

“This is not a new thing,” says Frederick Brookhouse, Snap-on’s business and education partnership manager. “I’ve been in these conversations for 30 years. It’s really been driven by a very rapid growth of technology, which is not slowing down. If anything, it’s increasing.” Technical education, he says, is not keeping pace.

“I don’t blame education, I blame the politicians,” he says.

Brookhouse says the problems relating to insufficient numbers of skilled laborers are systemic, ongoing and societal, and they go all the way back to at least the middle-school age. Mechanical education has lost its curb appeal. Too many parents, he says, are of the mindset that “I’m not going to fund technical education because I want my child to be a doctor. Well, they can’t all be doctors. And frankly, they don’t [all] want to be doctors.”

Young learners need to be taught that “technical, skilled people are valuable and they have good jobs.” That’s a message that has been lost recently, and without that drive, education institutions won’t have the students to turn into tomorrow’s machinists, designers and skilled laborers. Community colleges and technical schools, Brookhouse says, have to create an attractive, up-to-the-minute modern environment, and for that, they need help.

“We actually have, as a corporation, taken this on as a part of our responsibility to … assist in the process of training,” Brookhouse says.

Each company, each industry, is largely responsible for its own workforce, Brookhouse says, and “[employers] need to engage and take some responsibility and not just turn their backs on this.”

Partnering with educators

Brookhouse and Snap-on, at least, have one advantage in their Wisconsin location. The state’s 16 technical colleges see 88% of graduates employed within six months of getting their degree. Seventy-one percent of technical college graduates from the Badger State take six months or less to find employment in the same field for which they got their degree. Perhaps most worth noting: 86% of employed graduates found their job in Wisconsin.

Bryan Albrecht, president of the state’s Gateway Technical College, would say those numbers benefit Wisconsin employers because Wisconsin employers helped make them happen. Speaking at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., recently, Albrecht said “building that conversation around what expectations are” for an area’s population to turn into a viable workforce “is critical.” In short: Reach out to local community colleges and secondary education centers and tell them how to turn their students into your hires.

“Oftentimes, we don’t have the right information about what skills are required for [what jobs are actually available,]” Albrecht said. “So that conversation has to happen between our employers and our schools.”

Sixty percent of the available jobs, he said, require some kind of post-high-school education and “the identification of what those credentials are and how they align with the expectations of the industry is what community colleges are designed and working toward.” Albrecht called the skill gap a local problem and encouraged local solutions between industry and educational institutions.

Conor Smyth, director of strategic partnerships and external relations for the Wisconsin Technical College System, says that “for taxpayers” the 86% of alums who stay in-state is hugely important: “In these austere times, people are very concerned about that return on investment.” Smyth says “employers who have direct input on the program” can all but tailor their required education niches. “The colleges have the ability to create local certificates, and those don’t require any approval process at the state level,” Smyth says. “So if any employer comes to them and says, ‘You’ve got this class over here and that one over there, and what I need you to do is pull those into a package,’ the college can do that and award a certificate for it, so they can respond real-time to employer demands.”

And healthy business-education partnerships aren’t just for entry-level positions, he says. Skills require upgrading, and local community colleges are a solid venue for it – sometimes all you have to do is ask.

“Because when you talk about a skills mismatch or a skills shortage, part of the solution to that is taking the workers who are doing a great job and succession planning with them, finding a way to move them up within the organization,” says Smyth.

Schools want employed graduates; employers want educated job applicants. There’s no shortage of ways for employers to get involved with the process, from as touch-and-go as school visits to as involved as providing the equipment and training for a college’s classroom and even helping design the curriculum. Albrecht sees the effort as one that well-serves local populations, but Brookhouse, after “engaging with education for Snap-on for more than 20 years,” wants employers to start thinking bigger.

“Don’t go out individually to each institution, but collaborate with institutions like the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Career and Technical Education, or the one we helped start, the NC3, or the National Coalition of Certification Centers, where it’s school leaders and their staff working collaboratively so there’s a standard,” says Brookhouse. “What should happen here is a dozen or 20 companies should come together and join Snap-on, at the highest level, so the CEOs can be champions and speak the same language and collectively change the perception of technical education in the United States, and its value.”


From “NWTC student named 2013 New Century Scholar” — Sacha Turner, a Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Accounting student, has been named one of nation’s 2013 New Century Scholars for her outstanding grades, leadership and campus activities.

Turner is one of 50 community college students from the United States, Canada, and the Federated States of Micronesia receiving a total of $100,000 in scholarships. The New Century Scholars Program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Phi Theta Kappa, and the American Association of Community Colleges.

Turner will receive a $2,000 scholarship and a plaque, which will be presented at American Association of College Presidents (AACC) Convention in San Francisco in April. She graduates from NWTC this May with an associate degree in Accounting and a certificate in Software. She also received a certificate in Business Operations in December of 2011. Next year, she plans to continue her education, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies from the University of Wisconsin System.

“I wouldn’t have had this opportunity had I not had the support of my advisors, instructors and fellow classmates, “ said Turner.  “Everyone here has contributed to help me earn this. It’s an amazing opportunity to represent NWTC as a New Century Scholar.”

As a mother to three young and active daughters, Turner finds the time to balance a demanding academic schedule, 4.0 grade point average and leadership positions in several college organizations. She serves as vice president of leadership for Phi Theta Kappa, as well as the vice president for NWTC’s Student Senate.

Her decision to come to NWTC came after years of doing accounting for small businesses. She realized getting her degree – and continuing her professional development through campus activities -could lead to a better life for her family and fellow classmates.

“I had always wanted to go back to school to be able to able to provide for my family, “ said Turner. “By being involved in these organizations, I’m held accountable. We strive to make differences for the entire student body. Getting to know all of the different people on campus is rewarding.”

“It’s all been so very worth it.”

Only one student from each state is chosen as a New Century Scholar. This is the second year in a row the Wisconsin recipient came from NWTC.  Port Lor, of Green Bay, was chosen for the honor last year. 

From “It’s strange being older than your teachers!” — Baby boomers are coming here to further their education or start a career. Not having grown up in the high tech age, vital skills are being sought to keep them at par with the current workforce. Educational dreams are being fulfilled as a wave of boomers head back to college – at MATC. The timing couldn’t be better.

There are 76 million boomers; post World War II babies born between 1946 and 1964. Many unsure of what Social Security or Medicare holds for them, laid off, widowed, divorced, displaced; they are improving their future with an education, and technical colleges are a great way for them to quickly gain skills or a new career.

Decades ago, people 50 and over wouldn’t even dream of going to college or working at a job after they hit 65. Not so today- they are an untapped market with tremendous potential, “The number of students ages 50 to 64 increased 17 percent nationwide between fall 2007 and fall 2009,” according to the latest data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and, “An increasing number of people ages 50 and up are headed to community college — 388,000 were enrolled nationwide in fall 2009,” the most recent data available from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

The Wisconsin Technical College System report #VE215310 affirms that those 50 and over are responding to the call of further education. The following are four area technical colleges with their corresponding percentage of boomer admissions: MATC – 9.2%, Gateway – 10.2%, Moraine Park – 18.6%, and Waukesha – 20%. A productive 15 to 20 more years in the workforce after graduation is not unrealistic, and many who have stayed home to raise their families want to get out to begin their postponed careers.

Walter Lanier of the Counseling and Advising Center, who heads up the Diversity Council which meets twice a month said, “While age has not really been discussed (at the meetings), age diversity is well represented.” Diversity is not only ethnicity, religion, or race, it is also age. Older students bring a wealth of life experience and motivation to help younger students to succeed. They enrich any campus.

Due to a major accident and divorce, “Jay,” a 53-year- old full-time student in the Human Services program at the Downtown Milwaukee campus needed to change his field. He considered MATC because of its “reputation, cost, convenience, and diversity.” A Pell grant is paying all of his expenses and he even got a refund. Jay said, “I would feel uncomfortable without the diversity….I feel at home here.”
Douglas Koput, 49, is in the Electronic Technology program at the Downtown Milwaukee campus.  He was laid off from his job and needed additional skills. Convenience of the college made his decision to attend here, and also received help from a Pell grant. He was nervous at first and started with just two classes, and after getting an A in both, he had the confidence to continue. His advice to prospective boomers, “Start out slow to be sure.”
Having her job move out of the country and becoming a dislocated worker, “Mary,” 53, receives full tuition through a program with unemployment. She is in the Medical Administrative Specialist program at the West Allis campus and attends full time. She finds the professors “great” and does not feel intimidated by the younger students. Her advice, “Don’t be afraid, you are never too old to learn something.”
Underpaid and underappreciated in his current job, A.D. Owens, 49, wanted something better. He is attending full time in the Teacher Education program downtown.  “MATC had the program I wanted,” said Owens. He was “tired of just having a job,” he wanted “a career.” A Pell grant helps pay his tuition, and he is very proud to be on the Dean’s List. After the initial insecurities, he was confident in his abilities and wants other boomers to know that, “This is the time to go. Make the decision and come to MATC.”
There is probably a boomer in one or more of your classes – encourage them, learn from them, give a smile to let them know that this is their college too.

From “Shoring up the gap between workers, available jobs” — When it comes to bridging the gap between available workers and available jobs, one thing is certain: it’s complicated.

“What the problem is depends on who you ask,” said Ray Suarez, a senior correspondent at PBS who moderated a panel on Wednesday that kicked off an afternoon of roundtables that included leaders from community colleges, business and industry, government and other stakeholders.

Suarez noted some parties blame K-12 for not instilling the right academic skills in students, while others point at employers, who have pulled away from providing training for their workers. Another faction cites higher education for not analyzing more closely the specific workforce needs in their communities.

The panelists agreed that it’s a mix of all the above. Jim Ryan, president and CEO of W.W. Grainger, said companies used to provide the training to upgrade their workers’ skills. That’s now a dying practice.

However, it’s crucial for businesses to find ways to ensure that their workers are upgrading their skills in order to be competitive, Ryan said. Not filling available positions costs companies in the long run through overtime and other related expenses. Add impending retirements to the mix and the problem magnifies.

“This is a matter of competitive survival,” Ryan said.

For companies such as Grainger, part of the solution has been to work more closely with community colleges. To foster more interest in technical jobs and to develop a pipeline of skilled workers—for its own workforce as well as for its suppliers and vendors—Grainger runs a scholarship program and sponsors Trades in Focus, an initiative of the American Association of Community Colleges to raise awareness of career opportunities in the industrial trades.

What exactly is needed?

Community colleges also must do a better job of working with local businesses and industry to determine what skills are needed for available jobs, said Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College (GTC) in Wisconsin. That means maintaining a constant dialogue to ensure colleges can adjust their curricula and training programs.

Often, there is a communication breakdown between colleges, employers and job seekers, Albrecht said. Companies indicate they need entry-level workers, but what that means varies among companies, he said. One company may be looking for employees with good soft skills and a degree, while another company may be looking for industry certification and several years of work experience.

People looking for work also get confused. A laid-off machinist may wonder why he or she can’t get a job as a machinist with a manufacturer in a neighboring town, but they may not know what upgraded skills are required for that job or how to acquire them, Albrecht said.

Yonnie Leung, senior manager for workforce development at Pacific Gas & Electric(PG&E), said that managers responsible for hiring employees must get involved with colleges to convey what they need in a workforce. She gave this analogy: “You can’t expect your vendors to provide you a product without them knowing what the specs are.”

In 2008, PG&E created a training program in connection with community colleges, universities, workforce training boards and other organizations to provide training for entry-level jobs. About 71 percent of graduates from the program find work either at PG&E or in the industry as utility workers, apprentice electricians, gas service representatives, materials handlers and underground technicians.

As with Grainger, providing the training is crucial for PG&E—42 percent of its workforce (about 10,000 workers) is at retirement age or approaching it, Leung said. And it’s not just an issue for PG&E. By 2015, nearly half of the utility industry’s skilled workforce will need to be replaced because of retirement or attrition.

Bringing in K-12

Better connections with K-12 were also discussed. A concern for many businesses is the lack of presenting vocational and technical jobs as viable careers. Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania, said schools have been on a downward track over the last 20 years in providing students with opportunities to learn about technical careers. He noted that highly praised programs created in the 1990s, such as school-to-work initiatives, sputtered out by the end of the decade and have not returned. At the time, there was an assumption that the jobs of the future would require higher degrees and trade jobs would fade away or be sent overseas.

“We made some policy mistakes,” Cappelli said.

However, there are movements across the U.S. to tie K-12 with trade careers. Many community colleges have stepped up to help prepare high school students for college-level work and to think about careers through programs such as dual enrollment and career academies, which often include the trades, Albrecht said.

The panel and following roundtables were the first event of the Partnership in Practice discussion series. It was sponsored by Grainger and the Aspen Institute.

From “Green Genome Awards to recognize outstanding college sustainability, training efforts” — As part of an expanding national effort to support sustainability practices, programs, and training at the nation’s more than 1,100 community colleges, five exemplary community colleges will be presented the first-ever Green Genome Awards at a national community college summit hosted Oct. 2 and 3 by Gateway Technical College in Racine, Wis. Awards will be presented at 8:00 a.m. Oct. 3 in the Conference Center.

The awards are part of a larger Green Genome initiative created by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and its Sustainability Education and Economic Development Center (SEED). In the past two years, more than 460 community colleges representing over 3 million students have joined AACC’s SEED Center, pledging leadership in sustainability education and training and reaping the benefits.

Winning colleges will each receive $8,000 plus a set of state-of-the-art tools and horticulture equipment from awards sponsor Snap-on.

“AACC is thrilled to recognize colleges that have not only prepared a skilled clean technology workforce, but have also become change agents in regional efforts to develop a green and sustainable economy,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC President and CEO. “Through the SEED Center, AACC is providing college senior administrators, faculty, and staff an important roadmap to connect and integrate campus sustainability practices, green technical workforce development, education and economic development.”

The winning colleges recognized for their achievements within the four categories include:

  • Butte College, California (Governance)
  • Central Carolina Community College, North Carolina (Program Design & Delivery)
  • Delta College, Michigan (Community Engagement)
  • Hillsborough Community College, Florida (Overall)
  • West Virginia University at Parkersburg (Strategic Partnerships)

Todd Cohen, SEED Center Director and Dr. Bryan Albrecht, chair of AACC’s Presidents’ Sustainability Task Force and president of Gateway Technical College will present the awards at this week’s community college summit, Building Sustainable Industry-College Partnerships.

Wisconsin-based Snap-on Inc. has been a strong supporter of the kinds of community college/industry collaborations the Green Genome Awards recognize. “Snap-on continues to look for innovative workforce development initiatives, including those that ultimately contribute to the sustainability of communities. We are proud to partner with AACC’s SEED Center to sponsor these Green Genome Awards and to have played a role in developing the national framework behind it,” said Scott Broman, Global Business Development Director, Snap-On, Inc.

Accompanying the awards is the release of a report entitled, The Community College Green Genome Framework: Integrating Sustainability and Clean Technology Programs into the Institution’s DNA. This free tool for colleges details the new Green Genome framework, paths for success, and offers profiles of the winning colleges. The framework was developed by a national advisory panel made up of senior leaders at the US Department of Energy, industry, national associations and over 50 community colleges plus extensive review of existing college programs.

The report also includes a self-assessment tool designed for colleges to quickly gauge, along a series of 47 green institutional competencies, how well they may be leading these initiatives today—and where to prioritize enhancements in the future.

AACC’s SEED Center is funded by the Kresge Foundation. “Initiatives like SEED are working to leverage the talents at America’s community colleges to build the new, clean economy with career paths for all students,” said Bill Moses, Program Director, Education. “The Kresge Foundation is pleased to support AACC and the innovative SEED colleges that are leading these efforts.”

Download the Green Genome Report,

About SEED AACC’s Sustainability Education & Economic Development Initiative, SEED, advances sustainability and green workforce development practices at community colleges by sharing innovative models and FREE resources to increase the capacity of college leaders, faculty, and staff to build the green economy. The SEED Initiative was created in partnership with ecoAmerica and has received support from the Kresge, Flora Family, and Surdna Foundations and corporate partners Bahco/Snap-on and Pearson Higher Education.

About the American Association of Community Colleges Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is the leading advocacy organization representing more than to 1,100 community, junior and technical colleges nationwide. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, enrolling 13.4 million credit and non-credit students each year.

About Snap-on Snap-on Incorporated is a leading global innovator, manufacturer and marketer of tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions for professional users performing critical tasks. Founded in 1920, Snap-on is a $2.9 billion, S&P 500 company headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

From “Gateway president serves on 50 boards” — Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht has joined his 50th board.

“I’m supposed to start saying no now,” Albrecht said, laughing.

Gateway announced last week that Albrecht had been appointed chair of the American Association of Community Colleges’ Sustainability Education and Economic Development Task Force. The position, to advance sustainability and environmental curriculum, brings the number of regional, state and national boards Albrecht serves on to 50.

He acknowledged it’s a lot but said they’re all related to Gateway, which means the college isn’t hurt by his attention getting pulled in so many different directions.

“Gateway Technical College does not suffer. I would hope people would see just the opposite,” Albrecht said, explaining he’s always connected to Gateway in person, by iPhone or via iPad. “My role is to be that liaison between our college and our community.”

Because of the myriad boards that boast Albrecht as a member, Gateway has state and national ties, and the college has increased opportunities for grants. Plus Albrecht can bring good ideas back to Gateway and can tailor Gateway’s offerings to meet community needs, he said.

“Everything has a correlation along the way, whether it’s working with early, elementary, middle, high school or adult learners,” he said.

The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha Board allows Albrecht to support youth who are future Gateway students or whose parents may attend the college. The National Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Board helps Albrecht connect Gateway to new industry advances. Workforce development boards let Albrecht and Gateway help dislocated workers.

And that’s just to name a few.

With all these boards, Albrecht said he doesn’t just lend his name; he actually participates.

“He’s one of my most active board members,” said Wally Graffen, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm. He is not afraid to think outside the box.”

For example, Graffen said, Albrecht helped bring culinary arts, GED classes and dental screenings to a newer Boys & Girls Club location at 1330 52nd St. in Kenosha.

When Albrecht can’t attend a meeting in person — which is bound to happen when you serve on 50 boards — he’ll conference call in or send a Gateway representative in his place. He’ll also read the minutes and offer some comments, he said.

Between his board and college duties, Albrecht said he works 15 to 17 hours a day. When asked how much sleep he gets, Albrecht laughed before replying, “Not enough.”

“There could be an event I would go to every night of the week,” he said, adding he usually has three to five board meetings a week.

His schedule last week showed he had 13 board-related events Monday to Saturday, from meetings to forums and recognitions.

But it’s all by choice and all of the boards are volunteer, Albrecht said.

“I don’t want the article to feel like I’m feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “I choose to lead our college by community engagement.”

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