From wisopinion.com: “A vision for 21st century tech colleges” — By Rebecca Kleefisch – We should celebrate our sons and daughters who become nursing assistants and machinists just as much as those who become lawyers and doctors. That was my message this weekend at Waukesha County Technical College’s commencement ceremony, when hundreds of students walked across the stage and stepped into new careers and new opportunities.

Governor Walker said the same thing this past January in his State of the State address. He and I know that the twin drivers of our state’s economy are manufacturing and agriculture. Both of those industries rely heavily on technical colleges for expertise and employees. A strong Wisconsin economy needs strong tech colleges in every part of the state, staffed by top-notch teachers and filled with cutting-edge technology. Our tech colleges are a good investment for students, a good partner for employers, and a good value for taxpayers.

The students graduating from WCTC are entering into careers offering the promise of prosperity. An associate’s degree graduate in Aircraft Electronics can get jobs with a starting salary of $47,000. A one-year technical diploma in brick-laying and masonry leads to jobs with a median starting salary of almost $43,000. A dental hygiene grad starts with a salary just shy of $50,000. In fact, for the past 15 years, the tech colleges have placed at least 86 percent of their graduates into jobs within six months of graduation. In other words, tech colleges are equipping our workers with the skills they need to get the high-paying jobs they want and the economy offers.

One reason these jobs pay so well is because our Wisconsin employers are actively searching for employees with the skills and experience to fill jobs across our economy, especially in our agriculture, health care, and manufacturing sectors. It’s vitally important that technical colleges gear their services to the jobs available in their communities today and in the future. That’s why I was so impressed by the Fab Lab at Gateway Tech, for instance, which offers itself as a resource to students, faculty, and local manufacturers to try new ideas and products.

Tech colleges need to stay connected to both the community and to the state as a whole. The Governor’s Blueprint for Prosperity, which invested the state’s $911 million surplus, included $406 million in property tax relief through the tech colleges. At Madison Area Technical College, for instance, state funding jumped from 10 percent to nearly half of MATC’s budget. With the property tax caps in place, that will drop MATC’s local tax levy by almost half, saving the owner of an average Madison home about $200.

We need to continue investing in our technical colleges because of the crucial role they play in our communities and our economy. For instance, given all the technical advances discovered by our tech college staff and students, I’d like to see new programs that help commercialize these innovations as new products and processes for use in business.

My address at WCTC on Saturday was my 37th stop at a technical college since taking office. All those visits reflect the high priority that Governor Walker and I place on our tech colleges. Commencement provides each of us, as friends, family, and neighbors of the graduates, an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and to appreciate their new careers building a stronger Wisconsin.

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From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “MSTC graduates prepared with more than just industry skills” — MARSHFIELD — For Jasmin Jurgensen, Thursday not only marked the end of a 18-month-long educational experience, but also a the beginning of a new chapter.

The 21-year-old Marshfield native said she was relieved to have graduated with an associate’s degree in business management from Mid-State Technical College, and she looks forward to the next step in her life.

“It feels really good, like I accomplished something,” said Jurgensen, who currently works as a receptionist and night auditor at Hotel Marshfield. It took her only 18 months to graduate, an unusual feat for a business management degree, she said, taking 18 credits each semester.

Jurgensen’s parents, grandmother and her 3-year-old son were there to support her.

She is one of 142 students across Mid-State’s three campuses who graduated Thursday. A total of 29 students graduated from the Marshfield campus Thursday night at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center.

Many of those who graduated Thursday already have jobs, said Connie Willfahrt, vice president of Student Affairs & Information Technology.

“We’re seeing more and more students preparing their application materials earlier than in the past,” Willfahrt said. “Students (are) taking a more proactive approach sooner.”

It’s a trend college officials attribute, in part, to a more difficult job climate but also a greater emphasis in so-called “soft skills,” such as communication, trust-building and teamwork, just to name a few, Willfahrt said.

“They’re really recognizing the need to put forth what I call the total package,” she said. “I really attribute the bulk of that to our faculty and how they have incorporated it into our curriculum in a way that is heard by our students.”

Employers, too, are looking for workers who know more than just the basics of their specialized industry, Willfahrt said.

“Employers really emphasize the need for … problem solvers, punctual, team-oriented (workers),” she said. “That’s been a key factor in some of the changes that our faculty have made.”

 

From journaltimes.com: “Gateway Technical College awarded initial accreditation of business programs” — The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs Associate Degree Board of Commissioners has awarded Gateway Technical College initial accreditation of its business programs, the first technical college in Wisconsin to receive that designation.

The national accreditation means Gateway Technical College programs, curriculum and staff members meet the rigorous standards set by the ACBSP, and put the learning opportunities on par with four-year colleges in Wisconsin and throughout the nation.

“This accreditation is a validation that our program is now on an even higher level than in the past,” said Gateway Technical College associate dean of business Manoj Babu. “It’s a tribute to our business and information technology team.

“It means our programs are enhanced, our effectiveness in teaching is increased and our students receive the optimal training at our college. Businesses look for this accreditation as they interview applicants, and our graduates will have an increased opportunity to be hired because of it.”

Four-year colleges also look for this accreditation when forging transfer agreements with technical colleges, which may open doors to even more opportunities for this in the future.

“Gateway Technical College has shown their commitment to teaching excellence and to the process of quality improvement by participating in the accreditation process,” said ACBSP director of accreditation Steve Parscale, who will present the Certificate of Initial Accreditation at the ACBSP Annual Conference in Chicago on June 29.

“This accreditation is evidence that Gateway Technical College is committed to providing the highest quality business education for their students.”

Babu said accreditation has been a longtime goal of the business program, but that work was ramped up when businesses began asking for even more verification of the ways Gateway Technical College provides quality education.

“Accreditation gives us that high value, that we are doing what we say we are doing,” he said. “And it’s ongoing — accreditation doesn’t end here. It begins here, to retain the accreditation, we need to consistently improve and provide the best education we can to our students.”

Established in 1988, ACBSP is the only organization offering specialized business accreditation for all degree levels, from associate to baccalaureate to doctoral degree programs. ACBSP accreditation certifies that the teaching and learning processes within the business school at Gateway Technical College meet the rigorous educational standards established by ACBSP. For more information on ACBSP, go to http://www.acbsp.org.

 

From fdlreporter.com: “Moraine Park recognizes Ballweg’s efforts to gain additional financial aid” — Moraine Park Technical College recently recognized Wisconsin State Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) for her leadership efforts to secure an additional $2 million in financial aid funds for the Wisconsin Technical College System.

The funds will come from the Wisconsin Higher Education Grants (WHEG) programs and will be available to students during the 2013-15 school years. The additional funds allocated will help to compensate for the shortfall that left over 50,000 eligible students without financial aid.

“This is a great start, but we have a lot more to do to ensure that financial aid is available to eligible students,” Ballweg said. “I urge others to continue to stress the importance of financial aid and help others realize this is a smart investment.”

During the presentation, Richard Zimman, Moraine Park Technical College District Board chairperson, said that in the next decade 54 percent of Wisconsin’s jobs will require a technical education. “Wisconsin’s technical colleges are an essential asset for our state’s future,” Zimman said. “Moraine Park commends Representative Ballweg for her leadership in preparing our state for the future.”

Moraine Park Technical College was established in 1912 and is one of 16 technical college districts that make up the Wisconsin Technical College System. With campuses in Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and West Bend, Moraine Park offers more than 100 associate of applied science degrees, technical diplomas, apprenticeships and certificates delivered in a variety of formats – classroom, online and blended.

 

From bizjournals.com: “Some WCTC grads getting full credit in Concordia bachelor’s programs” — Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon and Waukesha County Technical College have signed agreements that will allow some WCTC graduates to receive credit in related bachelor’s degree programs at Concordia.

The so-called articulation agreements cover graduates of WCTC’s supervisory management or human resources management associate of applied science degree programs. Grads will receive full transfer of all credits when enrolling in Concordia’s bachelor of arts in business management or bachelor of arts in human resource management degree programs.

Students can complete Concordia courses either online or during evenings at the CUW-Waukesha Center, N14 W23777 Stone Ridge Drive in Waukesha. The coursework could be completed in approximately two years.

 

From starjournalnow.com: “Nicolet College students who transferred early to UW-Madison can now get Nicolet associate degree” — Nicolet College students who transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison before completing all of the requirements for a two-year associate degree now have a way to finish the Nicolet associate degree while attending UW-Madison.

Officials from both campuses recently signed a reverse credit transfer agreement that gives students the opportunity to receive a Nicolet associate of arts or associate of science degree once they complete required courses at UW-Madison.

“We found that many students were transferring to UW-Madison before they had completed all of the required courses for a Nicolet associate degree,” Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster said. “What this agreement does is give students the opportunity to transfer their UW-Madison credits back to Nicolet and receive a Nicolet associate degree once all course requirements are met. This way they will have a recognized college credential as they continue working toward their bachelor’s degree.”

The agreement applies to students who transfer a minimum of 16 Nicolet credits to UW-Madison and have completed at least 15 credits at UW-Madison. The agreement applies to all new students as well as to those already attending UW-Madison.

Nicolet’s University Transfer Liberal Arts program is the largest academic program at the college, with more than 400 students enrolled every year. The program offers three different degrees: associate of arts, associate of science, and an associate of science with a natural resources emphasis.

In all, Nicolet has more than 70 transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities. These include with all University of Wisconsin campuses and many private institutions, and a special agreement with UW-Madison that guarantees admission to Nicolet students who have at least 54 credits and at least a B average.

For more information about the reverse transfer agreement or other aspects of the University Transfer Liberal Arts program, contact the Nicolet College Welcome Center at 715-365-4493, 800-544-3039, ext. 4493; TDD 715-365-4448.

From bizjournals.com: “MATC launching water technician certificate through Water Council, MAWIB partnership” — By Jeff Engel – Milwaukee Area Technical College will offer a water technician certificate to serve increased demand for water industry professionals, according to a Wednesday press release.

The program was developed in partnership with Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board and The Water Council, which is officially opening its Global Water Center in Walker’s Point Thursday.

The certificate requires 17 to 19 credits and courses also count toward MATC’s environmental health and water quality technology associate degree and other related associate degrees and technical diplomas.

“Having a strong educational foundation for future professionals is essential for the continued growth of this industry,” said MATC president Michael Burke. “MATC is committed to providing the education and training area residents need to secure employment in water careers.”

The Water Council aims to establish the Milwaukee region as the world hub for freshwater research, economic development and education.

The program was developed through a $1 million grant to MAWIB from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.

“Together, we worked with more than 50 water-related industry employers for input as to the fundamental skills needed to enter into water industry jobs,” said MAWIB president and CEO Donald Sykes. “We are pleased that this industry-recognized credential, in one of the most promising employment sectors, will serve as a foundation to water industry careers.”

 

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