From “Walker touts $35 million plan to bolster technical education” — Legislation signed earlier this week by Gov. Scott Walker allocates $35.4 million to help fund the education of the next generation of workers in Wisconsin.

Walker was at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Tuesday discussing the funding designed to bolster technical education at the college and primary education level.

“It’s all about training more the skills needed to fill the jobs today and the ones that will be coming up in the next couple of years, and this is the place to make that happen,” he said.

Walker said Northeast Wisconsin Technical College beefed up its training on computer numeric control machines after the Northeastern Manufacturing Alliance reported a need for CNC operators.

“We want to help campuses like this, and across the state, do more of that in the future,” Walker said. “We’ll also use a portion of this money to help school districts across the state get additional resources to partner for dual enrollment so young people get credit in both the high schools and technical colleges.”

This was Walker’s second stop in the Green Bay area in as many days, and he’s been a frequent visitor to the area in the past month stopping at a number of area businesses to talk about the importance of manufacturing to the state and the need to train skilled workers for immediate and future needs.

A portion of the money will also be used to help employers identify the skill sets disabled residents in the state bring to the workplace.

“The baby boom generation is at, or near, retirement and when that happens there is going to be this huge amount of openings and we’re going to need more skilled workers .. and more people working, period,” he said. “We can’t afford to have anyone who wants to work not be able to work.”

The money is appropriated through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Wisconsin Fast Forward program.

“We put $15 million in the budget there to do customized worker training, this additional money will be on top of that,” Walker said. “They’ll work directly with technical college campuses… to say, ‘What do you need? Where are your shortages?”

From “Senior year as bridge to a career” — PEWAUKEE – If more high school students were like Bradley Servidas, things would be easier for Trace-A-Matic President Thorsten Wienss.

Gov. Scott Walker, right, talks with dual-enrollment student Ian Weiberg of Eagle during a tour of the Waukesha County Technical College CNC machining lab.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Servidas is a senior at Brookfield Central High School and is also in Waukesha County Technical College’s Dual Enrollment Academy as a member of the Tool and Die/CNC cohort. He said the program is a great way to start a career and it has been fun to make new friends and do something that not every high school senior gets to do.

“It’s more hands-on than I thought,” he said. “I love it. This is what I want to do when I grow up.”

For Wienss, the president of a machining company, the problem is that not everyone shares Servidas’ desire to pursue a career in his industry. He told a crowd at WCTC on Tuesday that most parents believe their son or daughter must go to a four-year college or university.

“We’re driving our kids in the wrong direction,” he said, adding that there are already too many lawyers stuck working as bartenders.

He said that when his company tries to recruit people, it is difficult to find potential employees with the necessary educational level. The problem is commonly referred to as the skills gap.

The crowd Wienss was speaking to wasn’t just any gathering. Gov. Scott Walker was on hand, along with Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson, WCTC President Barbara Prindiville, officials from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, school superintendents, lawmakers and other officials.

They were all there for the official launch of the Dual Enrollment Academy, a yearlong pilot program permitting high school seniors to receive credit from the technical college and their schools at the same time. To be eligible, students must have a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average, be on track to graduate and meet college entrance requirements.

The program has cohorts in tool and die/CNC, welding/fabrication and IT networking, all industries the schools identified as high-demand areas.  Students spend the majority of their day at WCTC during both semesters, and depending on the program could earn an industry certificate by the time they graduate high school.

Two school districts, Elmbrook and Waukesha, were involved in the initial development of the program. The Arrowhead, New Berlin, Pewaukee, Sussex Hamilton and West Allis school districts, along with Light House Academy, have since joined in the collaboration.

From “Program to train high school students for high-demand fields launched” — Village of Pewaukee — High school seniors from seven area school districts are earning their high school diploma while also learning skills for high-demand fields under a program launched at Waukesha County Technical College.

The yearlong pilot of Waukesha County Technical College’s Dual Enrollment Academy started this fall with 40 high school seniors. The program offers manufacturing-related skills training in welding and metal fabrication, tool and die, and information technology.

Each of the three programs has eight to 18 students who spend a majority of their school days at WCTC, while also completing high school requirements.

At the end of the school year, the students will receive industry-recognized “workplace certificates” in addition to a high school diploma, so they can either seek employment immediately or continue honing their skills in college. They will earn 20 to 24 college credits, depending on the program.

A seminar before they graduate also will teach them résumé writing, interviewing, personal branding, portfolio creation and other industry-specific steps to secure a job.

State and technical college officials said Tuesday at an official announcement of the program that they hope to expand the dual enrollment program to other school districts and technical colleges across Wisconsin.

Waukesha County is a logical trailblazer because it has one of the highest concentrations of manufacturing businesses in the state, they said.

The state Department of Workforce Development and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. each contributed $77,576 toward instructional costs for the pilot. Waukesha County Technical College contributed about $235,000 toward the pilot program.

There currently is no cost to the students beyond their transportation to WCTC, and the technical college doesn’t intend for there to be a cost to students in the future, according to a WCTC spokeswoman.

“This example illustrates the future pathway for workforce development,” Lee Swindall, vice president for business and industry development with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., said during a news conference at WCTC.

Swindall said he believes it will be “a highly effective” model that’s mutually beneficial to high school students with a passion for this type of work, and manufacturers seeking qualified workers to either maintain or expand their operations in Wisconsin.

Participating schools

School districts participating in the program include Waukesha, Arrowhead, Elmbrook, New Berlin, Pewaukee, Hamilton and West Allis-West Milwaukee, along with the Light House Academy for home-schooled students.

Brookfield-based Trace-A-Matic has committed to offering 10 jobs to tool and die students when they complete the program, and an additional stipend based on their grade point average.

Trace-A-Matic President Thorsten Wienss said during the news conference Tuesday that selling parents on the idea of technical training instead of a four-year university degree is difficult.

“Today, parents believe my child is college-bound and I’ll be driven nuts if they don’t go to college,” Wienss said. “We’re driving our kids in the wrong direction.”

Students who choose technical fields can contribute to society sooner than their four-year college counterparts, and buy homes by the time they’re 26 or 27, rather than be faced with $60,000 to $70,000 in college loan debt, Wienss said.

Master craftsmen and craftswomen deserve the same respect and recognition as doctors and lawyers, Gov. Scott Walker said. They are key to the nation’s economic recovery, as businesses will only grow if they have the workforce talent to sustain them, he said.

“I am convinced the state that gets out front of this will lead the recovery of the economy,” said Walker, who attended the Tuesday news conference at WCTC. “We’re going to be able to attract more businesses to grow here and to come here.”

Industry involved

Area industry leaders played a key role in developing the criteria for the new workplace certificates. They also are involved with classroom presentations and with providing job-shadowing opportunities, industry tours and internships.

To be chosen for WCTC’s Dual Enrollment Academy, students had to be high school seniors with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher, be on track to graduate from high school and meet college entrance and program requirements.

Students also were tested to make sure they have the fundamental math skills to succeed in the technical fields.

Manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin pay an average $52,000 a year, and have about half the turnover rate of other jobs, Walker said.

The fastest growing segment of technical college enrollment is students with four-year degrees who realize the job market is strongest for those with technical skills, the governor said.


From “Jefferson High health occupations class gives dual credit with MATC” — JEFFERSON — Longtime Jefferson High School teacher Carolyn Behrens started the Jefferson High School health occupations class several years ago as a pipeline to the Certified Nursing Assistant program.

The program has expanded since teacher Kimberly Hart-Shatswell took it over eight years ago, and now Hart-Shatswell has teamed up with Madison Area Technical College to offer the course for dual credit for both the high school and MATC.

In addition, Hart-Shatswell is putting together a new course on medical terminology that will be offered next semester as an advanced standing class, and she’s working on a dual-credit ar rangement for that class as well.

The teacher said that when she found out about the opportunity to enter into a dual-credit arrangement with MATC, known as Madison College, she signed up for summer training and submitted her course profile, to make sure it meets MATC’s requirements.

Jefferson High School junior Jessica Milbrath said that the dual credit course will help set her on her way in her chosen career.

Born two months premature, she always has been interested in healthcare and decided at a fairly young age that she wanted to help others as others had helped give her a healthy start in life.

“I want to be an OB nurse,” the student said. “I already volunteer at the hospital, which I’ve done for the past three years now.”

She said her experience working at the hospital has only solidified her desire to work in healthcare, particularly in obstetrics.

“I have a lot of fun up there and I have met some great people through the hospital,” Milbrath said.

The junior said it’s good to be able to get some of the prerequisites for her future studies out of the way while still in high school, “and it’s still free through the local school district.”

Next year, she said, she plans to take medical terminology and enter Certified Nursing Assistant training. From there, she hopes to go on to nursing school.

Senior Amanda Watts said she hopes to become a nurse as well, with the idea of eventually entering pediatrics.

She said the dual-credit course is boosting her resume while she’s still in high school and she knows if she continues with MATC or the University of Wisconsin System, she will already have credits in her chosen field.

Right now, she’s looking at attending Rasmussen College in Wausau, so she’s not sure how credits obtained in high school would transfer to that program, but it should at least give her a background in the basics.

“I always kind of wanted to be a doctor, since about second grade,” she said.

She noted that the class has given students valuable hands-on experience, as well as a lot of information about the field. For some, she said, that’s led them to decide to go in a different direction, but the class has strengthened her feeling that she wants to enter medicine.

Watts, too, hopes to take the medical terminology class next semester and to enter Certified Nursing Assistant training as a first step toward working in the medical field.

Hart-Shatswell said that she proposed the new medical terminology class last year. Now that Jefferson High School has a Latin program, she thought her new class, in combination with the anatomy and physiology class the school already offers, would be a good fit for students planning to enter the medical field.

“The school board and administration have been really supportive of these efforts,” Hart-Shatswell said.

The teacher is in her eighth year at Jefferson High School. She actually worked as a pharmacy technician for 15 years before entering education. She said healthcare is an important field, and people with medical training at any level are always in demand.

“There are a wide variety of jobs available in the field, and not all of them involve direct patient care,” she said, listing medical illustrators, biomedical engineers, hospital architects and pharmacists as other options.

“What we’re doing here at Jefferson High School is giving students a good background to enter one of these fields, and even if they choose to go in another direction, they’re getting good information,” she said.

“Health is always going to be part of people’s lives.”

From  “Youth Options gives students college opportunity” — Public high school juniors and seniors can take courses at approved post-secondary schools through the Youth Options program, simultaneously earning high school and post-secondary credits. Once the student’s request is approved by both the public school district, and the post-secondary school, the district will pay for the cost of tuition, books, materials and for a portion of transportation costs. All students are responsible for providing their own transportation, and all grades are included in the high school transcript. Students who fail the course or drop out must reimburse the school district.

Youth Options was created in 1991 by the Wisconsin state Legislature and is administered by the Department of Public Instruction and public school districts. Last spring, my daughter, Catie, a student in the Appleton Area School District, applied for this program. I want to share what we learned with you.

Application deadlines are very important to remember. Oct. 1 is the deadline for the spring semester. For the fall 2014 semester, the deadline is March 1. Students must file an application with their public school district. The application form is available from guidance counselors or online from DPI at

Another important thing to remember is the word “comparable.” If a post-secondary course is deemed 80 percent comparable to a high school course, the school district won’t approve the application. Students may apply independently to the post-secondary school, but must pay for their own costs. Students who earn a passing grade can apply to the school district for high school credit.

Students who want to take a course through the Youth Options program must prove the post-secondary course is not 80 percent comparable to an existing school district course. Catie applied to take a British Writers course at Lawrence University. AASD offers a high school British Literature class. We obtained copies of the curriculum for that course and the syllabus for the Lawrence course. We then asked her Advanced Placement English teacher for his opinion. He said no comparable AASD courses existed.

We asked the British Writers professor at Lawrence to compare the high school course curriculum with her course syllabus. She reviewed the documents with her department chairperson and their Youth Options administrator. They concluded that their course was not comparable to the AASD course. The school district approved Catie’s Youth Options application.

After a school district approves a Youth Options application, students must apply to the post-secondary school where the desired course is taught. Lawrence University provisionally approved Catie’s application.

Generally, private schools have more limitations regarding Youth Options than public post-secondary schools. Make sure you know what the limitations are before you apply.

Before students are allowed to take the British Writers class at Lawrence, they must first earn a score of 4 or higher on the AP English exam. Also, students will not be admitted if the class is full, a fact that won’t be known until the first day of class.

Dale Hanson, AASD’s director of career and technical education & instructional technology, helped us develop a backup plan. Catie met with the Lawrence professor and so far, it’s likely she’ll be allowed in the class.

According to Hanson, AASD students typically take courses at three area colleges — Fox Valley Technical College, Lawrence University and the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley. Annually, about 100 AASD students apply to take post-secondary courses through the Youth Options program and about 70 percent are approved by the district.

Hanson said Youth Options gives students the opportunity to support their academic and career plans when high school is no longer able to do so. This includes students who are not college-bound, but who seek technical or other training that the high school doesn’t provide. He recommends students and parents start learning about the Youth Options program as early as possible — no later than the semester prior before filing an application.

Start with your high school guidance counselor, who can provide you with advice, information and application forms. There is a wealth of information available online, such as through the DPI, Fox Valley Technical College or AASD.

Remember, Youth Options is available to all public high school juniors and seniors, even if you aren’t headed for college or are unsure. If your plan is a career in the technical trades, this program is available to you. Talk to your guidance counselor and high school teachers. Contact the post-secondary school of your choice for more information. Local colleges all have staff members working with Youth Options.


From “More Northwoods students earn Nicolet College credits while in high school” — Northwoods high school students are increasingly taking advantage of the chance to earn college credits while still in high school through Nicolet College.

The fastest-growing and increasingly popular option is through Nicolet’s transcripted credit classes, which has seen enrollment jump 75 percent in the past four years. Currently, 461 area high school juniors and seniors are on track to earn college credits in the 2012-13 academic year. The program started between Nicolet and Rhinelander and Elcho high schools in 2009 with 264 students.

“This is a fantastic way for high school students to get a jump start on their college education,” said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster. “We’re very excited with the success of the program and expect it to grow in the future as more Northwoods high school students take advantage of this valuable opportunity. By taking transcripted credit classes, students can shorten the amount of time they are in college. This allows them to enter the workforce sooner and also typically save money on what they pay for a college education.”

Credits earned count toward both their high school diploma and college degree. These college-level courses are taught right in the high schools by instructors who meet specific certification requirements, said Teri Phalin, PK-16 coordinator and Career Coach at Nicolet. Currently, Nicolet offers transcripted credit classes in business, accounting, welding, automotive technology, and medical assistant, and recently added classes in the University Transfer program, she explained.
Statewide, more than 21,000 high school students take dual credit classes through the 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS).

To celebrate this success, Gov. Scott Walker declared Tuesday, April 30, as Dual Credit Day in Wisconsin. WTCS President Morna Foy and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers commemorated the day at a special event at Lomira High School, the site of the first dual credit career prep program.

“These partnerships not only ensure that the students know what to expect in college,” Foy said, “but the college credits they earn can also result in cost savings and an accelerated career path.”

With an estimated 65 percent of available jobs over the next 10 years requiring skills provided by technical education, the state’s economy depends on students being college- and career-ready upon high school graduation.

“We need every child to graduate from high school prepared for success in college or career,” said Evers. “Dual credit programs allow kids to earn college credit at their high schools with no cost to their families, all while gaining valuable skills that serve local communities and businesses well.”

From ” High School Students Take Advantage of Tech School Credits” — High School Students here in the Northwoods are increasingly getting jump starts on their college careers.

According to Nicolet College, the fastest growing and popular option is through their transcripted credit classes.

The program has seen enrollment jump 75 percent in the past four years. Currently, 461 area high school juniors and seniors are on track to earn college credits this academic year. The program started in 2009 between Nicolet and Rhinelander and Elcho high schools.

The credits earned count towards both a high school diploma and a college degree. The college-level courses are taught in the participating high schools, and range from business and accounting to welding and automotive technology.

In fact to celebrate this growing trend in the entire state, Governor Scott Walker recently named April 30 Dual Credit Day.

Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster summed it up by saying, “This is a fantastic way for high school students to get a jump start on their college education.” She expects the program to grow in the future as more students take advantage of the opportunity.

Statewide, more than 21,000 high school students take Dual Credit classes through the 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS).

%d bloggers like this: