From gmtoday.com: “$1.7 million grant slashes wait lists for popular WCTC programs” — PEWAUKEE – Waukesha County Technical College will now be able to slash wait lists and offer more class sections, thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin Fast Forward program.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was on hand at WCTC’s Industrial building Wednesday to present the technical college with a $1.7 million award, which will be used to help train students for high-demand positions.

“There is a skills gap in Wisconsin and WCTC seeks every day to build a bridge over that skills gap – today you have some construction money,” Kleefisch said. “It is through investments like these that Wisconsin will address the skills gap today and in the years to come.”

The Fast Forward program is part of the Blueprint for Prosperity initiative which Gov. Scott Walker signed into law last year. In total, $35.4 million will be allocated by Fast Forward into worker training programs focusing on reducing wait lists, collaborative projects between high schools and colleges, and enhancing employment opportunities for disabled workers.

These grant dollars will significantly impact the journey of our students pursuing high-demand programs … and in turn benefit our local economy,” WCTC Interim President Kaylen Betzig said. “We are pleased and honored that the governor recognizes WCTC’s work as an important and valuable investment.”

The grant will be administered by the Department of Workforce Development and will go toward training as many as 168 students in the fields of welding, computer numerical control (CNC), transportation and early childhood education.

Betzig said that the funds will not only permit more students to enter these high-demand programs, but will also go toward hiring more professors and purchasing more supplies and equipment for student use.

“It is huge,” she said. “We have lots of programs – yes we can shift money – but other programs have needs too. It takes resources in order to do this and it takes resources in order to expand and offer more sections so we can get more people into the funnel.”

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Skilled trades, health care jobs among hottest in Oshkosh area” — OSHKOSH — Manufacturing technology, skilled trades and health care positions are among the hottest job prospects in the Oshkosh area, local workforce development leaders say.

In a time when jobs still are hard to come by — especially for those without specialized training — there is hope for applicants who are seeking employment in some of the high-demand sectors and know where to find the necessary training for those positions.

“We’re definitely seeing manufacturing jobs still hiring,” said Brian Covey, communications director for Forward Service Corp., which runs the Winnebago County W-2 program and serves low-income families in the region. “Through W-2, what we’re seeing is a lot of care-giving (jobs).”

For example, certified nursing assistants or in-home caregivers are among the most in-demand positions, as well as construction jobs, especially with the upcoming reconstruction of a bridge along U.S. 41, Covey said.

According to state Department of Workforce Development statistics for the third quarter of 2013, the top industries by employment in Winnebago County were food services and drinking places, transportation equipment manufacturing, papermaking, administrative and support services, and educational services.

The county experienced a non-adjusted unemployment rate of 5.1 percent in December, compared to 5.8 percent statewide and 6.5 percent nationally, according to the most recent DWD estimates.

“In the manufacturing environment, a lot has changed since the baby boomers first entered the job market,” said Paul Stelter, CEO of the Neenah-based Fox Valley Workforce Development Board. “Those jobs require a lot more technical skills. As a result, the people who are looking to enter into the manufacturing industry today need at least at technical college education.

“Manufacturing isn’t that dark, dirty place that you associate with manufacturing plants of 50 years ago.”

According to data compiled from the 2012 and 2013 Fox Valley Technical College graduate employment research reports, the top job markets in the region include criminal justice and law enforcement as well as agri-business and science technology.

Also among the top industry sectors are nursing assistant, marketing, administrative professionals, electromechanical technology and welders, all of which are offered at FVTC locations in Oshkosh, said Chris Jossart, media relations manager for Fox Valley Technical College. He said welding, wood manufacturing, aviation, marketing and medical technology also are in high demand.

The system has campuses in Grand Chute and Oshkosh; regional centers in Chilton, Clintonville, Waupaca and Wautoma; and training centers in Appleton, Oshkosh and Neenah. In addition to job-specific training — much of which is offered through FVTC — many local employers are looking for workers with soft skills, such as time management, teamwork, flexibility and the ability to learn on the job.

“Employers are looking for the best fit, and the best fit includes not only the technical part but also the person’s ability to show up on time, to work well with others, to be a contributing member of the team, and all those are contributors to hiring a person,” Stelterhe said.

Nearly 16,000 people in the Oshkosh-Neenah area work in production occupations, followed by about 13,000 in office and administrative support and about 7,000 in sales and related occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Transportation and material moving, food preparation and serving, and health care practitioners and technical occupations round out the rest of the industries that employ more than 5,000 people each.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Information technology, nursing head list of local jobs” — WAUSAU — Information technology is on the A-list of in-demand jobs in Marathon County right now.

Laurie Borowicz, vice president of student services at Northcentral Technical College, says the college is doing its best to keep up with demand for positions in the IT field.

“We could take 50 more students in IT tomorrow if we could find them,” Borowicz said. “That’s probably our issue right now, is finding people, getting people into these high-demand programs.”

The technical college is trying to make it easier for students to take the IT track by offering more courses in the evenings and online, she said.

Jim Warsaw, economic development director for Marathon County Development Corp., said there’s a growing concentration of IT and technology-related businesses in the Wausau area and those employers currently can’t openings.

“NTC doubled their graduating class in IT and it still isn’t enough to keep up with demand,” Warsaw said.

In addition to IT, Warsaw said, other popular positions in the area include welding, skilled trades, manufacturing, health care, sales and nursing.

Most job activity, he said, is with companies that were prepared to come out of the recession when things turned around, most of which are larger employers.

“Small businesses are still trying to cope with the recession’s impact on their cash flows and equity positions,” Warsaw said.

The job of certified nursing assistant, or CNA, is big right now, according to Marathon County Job Center W2 job developer David Cruz.

One reason for that growth is that it’s easier to get started in a certified nursing course than in a registered nursing program, Cruz said.

Overall, the unemployment picture has improved in Marathon County over the past year.

The most recent figures from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development show the December 2013 unemployment rate for Marathon County at 5.7 percent. That’s nearly a full percentage point better than the 6.6 percent registered in December 2012.

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