From “Wisconsin Covenant Foundation helps bridge skills gap for workers and employers” — Today the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, Inc., recognized the first cohort of highly-skilled graduates to complete a 15-week Computer Numeric Control Machinist (CNC) Manufacturing Skills Academy, or boot camp, at Moraine Park Technical College. In July 2012, the Foundation awarded Moraine Park a $705,647 Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grant to establish Manufacturing Skills Academies for machine operation.

In six short months, Moraine Park moved from grant award to first graduating class — providing students with the specific training necessary to access job opportunities. Moraine Park collaborated with the following partnering businesses: Amerequip Corporation; Brenner Tank LLC; John Crane Orion; Mid-States Aluminum Corporation; Burgess Norton; Mayville Engineering; Metalcraft of Mayville-West Bend; Reich Tool and Design; Signicast; and Wyman Gordon Mayville Die & Tool. Graduates earned a CNC Operator Certificate, with options to connect to additional diplomas and certificates. The first 15-week boot camp at Moraine Park produced 12 graduates, with half securing jobs prior to graduation.

The Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grant was created by the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, Inc., a private, non-profit organization, to close the gap between Wisconsin’s workforce needs and its available workers, uniting businesses and technical colleges to fill jobs. Currently, “middle-skill” occupations, or those positions that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree, represent 50 percent of Wisconsin’s workforce needs. Advanced manufacturing occupations are among the fastest growing middle-skill opportunities.

“The Wisconsin Covenant Foundation funds the productive collaboration of partnerships between higher education and private industry. We are committed to helping improve career pathways to provide specialized instruction and real-world training to bridge the skills gap for workers and employers,” said Foundation Board Chair Richard D. George.

Moraine Park was one of five Wisconsin technical colleges to share a three-year, $3.8 million Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Grant from the Foundation. At Moraine Park, funds helped support the significant investment in equipment, supplies, and specialized instruction needed to provide CNC training. The grant also allowed Moraine Park to invest in innovative education, informed by partner businesses that took a hands-on role in the development of program design and curricula. Moraine Park has high expectations for its second boot camp in February with additional opportunities available for students pursuing a CNC Operator Certificate.

“The future is bright for technical colleges, job seekers, and employers in Wisconsin’s advanced manufacturing sector as we work toward meeting the present and future workforce and job creation needs of the state,” added George. “We look forward to evaluating the results of the grants and assessing their impact on our students and employers.”

To learn more about the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation’s commitment to forging public-private partnerships in support of postsecondary education, please contact Amy Kerwin at 608-246-1785.

About the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, Inc. A private, non-profit organization, the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, Inc., seeks to foster coordinated public and private investments in postsecondary education, increasingly a requirement for family-sustaining occupations. The Foundation was created in 2007 with a $40 million lead gift from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and Affiliates. Initiatives include helping disadvantaged Wisconsin Covenant Scholars pay for education beyond high school and strengthening the connection between Wisconsin’s technical colleges and employers.

About Moraine Park Technical College Moraine Park was established in 1912 and is one of 16 technical college districts that make up the Wisconsin Technical College System. Moraine Park has campuses in Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac, and West Bend, and regional centers in Hartford and Ripon.



From “Laura gets a preview of the CNC Boot Camp” — Laura Langemo is live from Moraine Park Technical College with details on a hands-on program that will send its students down a new career path.

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From “Inmates receive hands-on career guidance” — OSHKOSH – These tech school instructors from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College took their classroom on the road. But Friday’s demonstration was a little different. The students are all inmates.

“This right here opens a whole other door for me,” said inmate Brad Porter, who said he’d been incarcerated since 1992 for attempted homicide, and could soon be released.

This mobile CNC machinist demonstration unit usually makes stops at high schools and other community events. But through a partnership with the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, it came to the Oshkosh Correctional Institute.

“There are four things that research shows make a difference when guys get out. It’s housing, employment, treatment and support, so the employment piece is very vital,” said Jim Golembeski, the director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board.

The Department of Corrections says when people leave correctional institutions it can be hard to find a job. But the key is having direction and having some training.“They have a better chance of succeeding if they are employed,” said Warden Judy Smith.The Department of Corrections says it costs $30,000 a year to house an inmate.

So, helping them find their way before re-entry through programs like this…could save taxpayers money.

“It’s given them some hope because a lot have a very tough road ahead of them,” said Smith.

After sitting in the seminar, inmates say the future looks less bleak.

“It’s still kind of reeling in my mind because there is so much available to me, it changes the direction I was planning on going in,” said Porter.

Porter described that he had been in prison since he was 18. Now nearly 40, he’s looking for a way to find a good career and start over.

Inmates we spoke with say the dream they now have of one day designing fashioning these metal parts could keep them out from behind these tall metal fences.

This week was the first session at any of the local correctional institutions for the mobile technical training unit. Next week, it will be visiting a women’s correctional facility outside of Fond du Lac.

From “Help wanted: Even with high unemployment, factories struggle to find skilled labor” –

Editor’s note: This was a Special Report print-exclusive story that ran Sunday and is now available to online readers.

Inside J.L. French’s two fast-growing Sheboygan manufacturing plants, company leaders have encountered a confounding problem in a time of persistently high unemployment — finding skilled workers.

The auto-parts company is investing $18 million to upgrade and expand its local operations after signing a major production deal with Ford Motor Co.

But month after month, multiple job openings go unfilled, despite a countywide unemployment rate above 7 percent as of August.

“We’ve been beating the bushes and promoting our open trades positions for months. We use every opportunity we can think of to promote these jobs,” said Tim Kellner, the company’s human resources vice president. “It’s been quite a challenge.”

Throughout Wisconsin, manufacturers are hiring again, but finding a dearth of qualified applicants.

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