From “Future looking bright for graduating CVTC students hoping to get a job” — CVTC graduate Joseph Kriese wears love for the Green Bay Packers on his hat and on his shirt — all together with his graduation gown. There is a reason behind it.

“I’m real excited to start,” Kriese said about a new job he was just hired for.

He is getting ready to move to Green Bay and is taking up a position with the Green Bay Packers.

“It was definitely a dream offer; I never thought a 2 year degree would bring me this far,” he said.

He will be working maintenance, HVAC, plumbing and fixing up all the odds and ends to help make sure you enjoy Packers games.

It is a job he found online and one he never thought he would get. Four interviews later he got an offer.

“I don’t think anything could stop me now, I feel good about it,” he said.

Career experts we talked with say the 432 students who graduated from CVTC on Friday night should feel very good about their future. Beth Mathison with Manpower says they will be in high demand.

“A lot of employers are actually standing in line to attract those new grads and they’re begging them to come and work for them at their office,” she said.

She says high-skilled jobs are in high demand.

“There are some companies that specifically do internships with those candidates a year before graduation so they can get them interested in coming to work for them,” she said.

Margo Keys, VP of Student Services at CVTC, says healthcare and manufacturing are hot fields right now. She says colleges like CVTC have built up their programs to meet the demand.

“What we see is more mobility with our students and certainly the classroom has changed significantly with the higher tech,” Keys said.

Whether it is the programs, the need for workers or a combination thereof, the bottom line is students getting two-year degrees are getting jobs.

Past surveys show 90% of CVTC’s graduating classes are employed by January. 89% work in Wisconsin.

In the end Joseph Kriese got out of his program what he wanted: a ticket to work for the Packers.

“It’s just as good as a four-year degree; I mean I landed my job with a two-year degree,” he said.

From “Ten questions everyone should ask when choosing a college” — By Mike Lanser, president Lakeshore Technical College – Choosing a college has always been an important decision and there are more options than ever before. Working adults may be adding a multitude of online learning choices to their consideration list, while high school seniors and their parents might be thinking about campus safety and student life.

These are important considerations, but I’d like to offer you a list of 10 questions to ask when choosing your college. The answers to these questions not only affect where you start college, but where you will end — which for most people is a successful and rewarding career.

1. Is the college accredited?

Accreditation ensures that the institution adheres to rigorous standards of quality, process improvement and excellence which must be evidenced through documentation and on-site visits by the accrediting body. Lakeshore Technical College is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, which is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. To find out if the college you’re considering is accredited, visit

2. Is the education or credential you’re pursuing valued by potential employers? Ask for job placement rates.

You want to be sure your hard work and investment in college pays off. One indication that employers value the education you’re paying for is to find out about graduates’ job placement. LTC conducts a job placement survey of graduates each year. Last year, 4 out of 5 LTC grads were hired in 6 months or less following graduation.

3. What are the pass rates for students taking certification exams?

Many career-targeted programs promise that they will prepare you for licensure exams. Be sure to ask for pass rates from students who have taken the program previously. It can be good indicator of the program’s quality of instruction. At LTC, our students exceed the national average pass rates for certification exams by 15%.

4. What are the qualifications of the faculty, or better yet, can you meet them?

The quality of your learning experience is in your instructors’ hands. Do they have real-world experience in the area that they’re teaching. Are they certified instructors? Meeting your instructors is also a great way to enhance your understanding about the degree program you’re pursuing as well as your ultimate career goal. LTC instructors have worked in the fields they’re teaching and they welcome the opportunity to talk with students considering our college.

5. Is the program you’re considering offering college credit?

Many colleges offer both credit and non-credit offerings. Be sure to note whether you will earn college credit or not and whether your completion or credential earned will be recognized by potential employers.

6. What is the cost per credit?

Credits are a great way to compare apples to apples. If you’re paying $50 more for every credit, your college expense can really add up. Worse, if you’re not earning credit for the education you’re receiving you’ll want to consider how that could affect your future employment or education plans.

7. What kind of support will the college offer to help you succeed in meeting your educational and career goals?

You might have had areas in high school which challenged you, or maybe you’ve been out of school for a long time. Neither should be reasons for not pursuing your college degree, particularly if your college has services to help you be successful. LTC offers a wide range of free student success services ranging from peer tutors and support groups to academic counseling and career placement services.

8. Will you have the ability to build on your education to help you advance in your career?

Learning is life-long and many employers recognize this through employee tuition reimbursement programs. Keep this possibility in mind when you select a college because you may decide to continue your education after being on-the-job for a number of years. LTC has agreements with over 30 colleges and universities, including Silver Lake, Lakeland, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay so our graduates can continue to grow in their careers.

9. Is the college providing good value for your investment?

In addition to cost per credit comparisons, take a look at other expenses related to your education. Room & board if you’ll live on-campus, how many years it will take to complete your program, and the availability of financial aid and scholarships.

10. How long has the college been in operation?

You want your college degree, diploma or certificate to lead to job. While not a guarantee for your personal success, you can be assured a college has the commitment and resources to help you succeed when they have a proven history of doing so. LTC is proud to be celebrating a century of educating students for high-demand, local careers.

By answering these ten questions you’ll be armed with good information about the colleges you’re considering and ultimately which one will be the best fit for you to achieve your education and career goals.

From  Filling the skilled worker gap — DOOR COUNTY — Consider this: according to the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturers Alliance, one out of every two northeastern Wisconsin manufacturing companies is going to have trouble finding skilled workers in 2012.

Meanwhile, Door County’s unemployment rate for June 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, remains at 8.1 percent. While that’s a full point lower than the county’s unemployment rate this time last year, it’s still much higher than the 5 percent or less the county was seeing in summers before 2009.

There are workers who need jobs, and there are jobs that need workers. They just don’t seem to be finding each other.

“It starts at the national level, and it’s a repeating theme right down to the local level,” says Jerry Murphy, executive director of New North, Inc. “There are skills and training missing, most of which have to do with secondary degrees.”

New North is a marketing and economic development organization that monitors and links businesses in 18 counties throughout northeastern Wisconsin, including Door County.

Murphy says the businesses New North works with recognize the problem they’re facing and are getting involved to find a solution.

“What I think is unique about northeastern Wisconsin is the very genuine, very sincere partnership…between education and business institutions,” he says. “There’s a ready acceptance on the part of the business community that they have to be involved.”

In Door County, schools and businesses have struck up a couple of initiatives designed to train a new skilled labor workforce.

Building a Better Workforce

About 50 high school students from Door and Kewaunee counties have participated in the Door-Kewaunee Business and Education Partnership’s (DKBEP) annual home construction program, which is currently in its sixth year.

According to Tara LeClair, DKBEP business and education manager, almost 60 percent of those students have gone on to some sort of trade-related program at Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC).

“Our big focus is on high school kids, encouraging them and training them,” says LeClair.

DKBEP also offers a high school Certified Nursing Assistant Program, a Youth Co-op Program where students can ‘try on’ a career for a semester, and schedules tours so students can see what goes on inside area businesses.

“The biggest challenge in shaping students’ perceptions is in, say, manufacturing,” says LeClair. “Lots of students view those jobs as dark, dirty, dingy jobs, but that’s not true. A lot of tours we schedule with schools open kids’ eyes.”

Something relatively new to the area is the Computer Numeric Control (CNC) Mobile Lab that has been travelling from school to school in the region since last September, allowing students to practice running computer-operated equipment and earn NWTC credit from the comfort of their own schools.

The purchase and operation of the lab was made possible through a partnership between DKEBP, NWTC, area high schools, and local businesses like N.E.W Industries, a CNC production company in Sturgeon Bay.

N.E.W President and C.E.O. Chris Moore says he currently has 200 workers on staff, and he’s perennially looking for 10 to 12 more people to fill open positions. He’s hopeful new projects like the mobile lab will help revive interest in manufacturing careers.

“The biggest challenge anybody in this business faces right now is finding enough qualified people for our workforce,” says Moore. “Everybody recognizes the fact that, especially at the high school level, students don’t have an interest.”

Sturgeon Bay Schools Superintendent Joe Stutting, whose students are involved in both the home construction and mobile lab projects, says he’s looking for ways to revive that interest and show students they don’t necessarily need to attend a traditional college to have a great career.

“The notion that to have a successful career you need a four-year degree is something we’ve been battling for awhile,” he says. “The truth is you just need to get something. We’re looking to see how we can align with the technical college and to see what we can do to help kids down that pathway sooner.”

Training Today’s Workers for Tomorrow

But it’s not just the workforce of the future that needs training. According to Murphy, workers already in the job market need to retrain themselves, so they, too, can claim unfilled jobs.

“I don’t think the job market is static. If it was people could wait out the storm,” he says. “The demands on the workforce are very dynamic, and you have to be investing in yourself.”

According to Melissa Emery, associate director at the Door County Job Center, about 300 displaced workers in the county have taken advantage of federal Workforce Investment Act funds, which can be used to provide training for high-demand occupations in fields such as medical care, welding, and CNC operation.

“We work with a case manager and work on getting them into NWTC usually,” says Emery.

Some resources are also available for businesses seeking to make sure their current workforce’s skills don’t become obsolete.

Sheila Curtin, who works in Corporate Training at NWTC, says the Washington Island Ferry Line and Heat Treat Furnaces, Inc. (HTF) have both recently received Workforce Advancement Training grants from the state, which provided funding for on-the-job training.

“For the ferry line, we did training in welding and marine diesel,” says Curtin. “HTF was computer design and modeling. They secured a contract and needed to upscale their business.”

The grants are competitive, and not every business is likely to receive one, but Curtin says businesses and workers must constantly monitor where they may have fallen behind and look for ways to catch up.

“For workers and companies…you need to address skill gaps to remain competitive. Because it is very competitive out there,” she says.

Workers Mean Business

Of course, the big push behind training all of these workers in Door County comes packaged with the hope they, and the businesses they work for, will stay in Door County.

“We need youth to come back here and raise families here, which will help with our business growth,” says LeClair. “We benefit a lot by the fact that businesses understand this, that they have to open their doors to kids.”

Cheryl Tieman, coordinator for NWTC’s Sturgeon Bay campus, says the community is taking a lot of the right steps toward keeping businesses in the area.

“There are a lot of things being done locally that make us a good place to locate,” she says. “The number of people graduating from high school is getting smaller, but there are professionals moving into the area.”

As for the skilled worker gap, Murphy says he’s optimistic it will close given enough time.

“I think our public resources are doing a great job and business involvement is incredible. What we need to do longer term is make sure schools, parents, and communities are on board,” he says. “These are hugely significant occupations and add a huge amount to our GDP. We need to be invested in the next generation, or we’ll lose it.”

From BizTimes:  “Tech College grads are landing jobs” — Students graduating from high school this month are making critical career path decisions that will determine their life’s arc at a time when such decisions have never been more complex or uncertain.

Many are questioning the value of a four-year college degree that will saddle them with tens of thousands of dollars of debt before they even earn their first paycheck.

Meanwhile, ManpowerGroup’s seventh-annual Talent Shortage Survey indicated that 49 percent of U.S. employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical positions within their organizations.

Something’s got to give.

For many students, a one- or two-year technical college degree is a safer bet for gainful employment.

Despite Wisconsin’s current economic challenges, a new survey of 2011 Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) graduates revealed 88 percent of graduates were employed within six months of graduation and most of them (71 percent) were employed directly in their field of study.

According to the system’s annual Graduate Follow-up Report, 86 percent of respondents indicate they are working in Wisconsin. The WTCS includes 16 technical college districts throughout Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC).

“This is a bright spot in Wisconsin’s economy,” said Dan Clancy, president of the WTCS. “Our graduates are employed within Wisconsin’s borders and are contributing to the economic recovery in our state. The results show that the curriculum aligns with industry skill needs and that employers value our graduates’ abilities.”

The technical colleges attribute their success in large part to advisory committees established in each program area. The committees are comprised of local business and industry representatives in their respective fields. They advise the colleges on various matters based on first-hand knowledge of supply and demand in addition to skills desired for today’s job market.
The median salary for all new tech graduates is $31,822, with those earning associate degrees receiving a median salary of $36,033.

The fields with the highest median starting salaries are utilities engineering technology, technical studies-journey worker, fire science, biomedical electronics, automated manufacturing systems technician and applied instrumentation and process control automation. Several program areas have median starting salaries of $60,000 or higher.

Nancy Merrill, policy advisor and federal relations officer for the WTCS, noted some of the hottest degree programs, as documented in the new report:

* 85 percent of IT-programmer/analyst graduates who responded were employed, with a median salary of $40,000.
* 100 percent of the logistics graduates who responded were employed, with a median salary of $49,000.
* 93 percent of dental hygienist graduates who responded were employed, with a median salary of $50,488.
* 96 percent of associate degree nursing graduates who responded were employed and reported a median salary of $47,836.

Among less-than-one-year and one-year technical program graduates, 89 percent of practical nursing graduates who responded indicated they were employed, with a median annual salary of $33,745 while 76 percent of air conditioning, refrigeration and heating graduates were employed with a median salary of $32,238.

“In total, as noted in the graduate follow-up report, 45 programs had graduates who reported median annual salaries of $40,000 or more approximately six months after graduation,” Merrill said. “In short, the graduate follow-up study proves that the WTCS works for both Wisconsin businesses and Wisconsin students.”

From “Local Weld Fixture Company Welcomes New Intern” — Rentapen Inc., the weld fixture specialists, located in Waukesha, hires intern from Waukesha County Technical College.

Rentapen is involved with WCTC’s Internship Program, which is an opportunity for companies to hire students for a period of time in order for the students to gain more workforce experience.

Rentapen welcomes Emily Young, a junior from WCTC as a summer intern. Young is studying Mechanical Design Technologies at WCTC. She first came to Rentapen to do a job-shadow. She shadowed one of the 3D CAD Designers to get a feeling of what Rentapen does on a daily basis.

Now she has been updating the Pro Engineer (Pro/E) library for Rentapen’s RAPid Tooling Components™ and frequent purchased parts, for instance RAPid Clamp Risers™. Young also has been learning to do production drawings and has been helping out with shipping and receiving.

“We are so pleased to have Emily join us this summer. She has a great attitude and is very intelligent. She quickly learned and used Rentapen’s Pro/E enhancements that make the 3D CAD software work faster and better for our weld fixture designers,” said Susan Straley, President and Queen of the Lean Machine Design at Rentapen Inc.

Last year Rentapen took on two interns. Peter Christiansen, who was Rentapen’s IT Programmer Intern, and Kory Maier, the CAD Drafter Intern. Both interns were hired as full time employees by the end of 2011.

Rentapen provides jobs, training and opportunities for people who work together to help manufacturers reduce costs of tooling to make their products.

From “Partners in Education celebrates student, school and community collaboration” —  There was no shortage of happy faces at this year’s Partners in Education lunch at the Hudson House Grand Hotel last Thursday, May 24.

The gathering is held to acknowledge the successes of HHS students who participate in the School to Career programs. Attending with the students were their parents and families and their employers. Some 50 area businesses and organizations from Hudson and the surrounding area offer employment opportunities to students.

The keynote speaker at the event is a success story for the career and technical education program in the Hudson School District. Cody Klatt, a member of the HHS Class of 2007, shared how Career and Technical Education helped him to accelerate his degree in Automated Packaging Systems from WITC. He credited his CTE instructors, learning disability teachers, and school counselors for helping to guide him on his career path.

Klatt’s interest in his program choice began after a field trip to WITC in eighth grade and sought out Melisa Hansen, School to Career Coordinator for the Hudson School District, for guidance. He delivered his message that all students should not only choose a career that they love, but one that will offer job opportunities and a self-supporting salary after attainment of his or her degree. Klatt is now Maintenance Lead at Preco, Inc. in Hudson.

Collaborating to offer HHS students post-secondary credits to support their career goals are UW-River Falls, Chippewa Valley Technical College, and WITC with support from the Wisconsin Department of Public Education, the Department of Workforce Development/Youth Apprenticeship, Junior Achievement and the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry Council.

Hansen said the gathering was reflective of the support for the district’s work-based learning and Career-Technical Education programs.

Said Hansen, “Through collaboration and teamwork among all partners, programs offered provide students exposure to the world of work, help foster and encourage growth in 21st century skills, engage students, and help create a seamless transition from school to careers.”

Hansen also acknowledged the contribution of the instructors from the district’s career and technical education departments and the district’s Advisory Council Partners who provide expertise in their area of business and industry. They work with the faculty to help plan appropriate curriculum to ensure that students are learning the most up to date technical and academic skills necessary. They help design curricular frameworks and supportive materials or events.

For more information about the Hudson School District’s career and technical education programs contact Hansen at (715) 377-3712.

From “Students with disabilities get help facing workaday world” — Mequon – In a classroom at Milwaukee Area Technical College last week, student Sonia Fischer offered her teacher some examples of good and bad job interview behavior.

Good: keeping your hands on your lap or on the table. Bad: talking on your cellphone.

Fischer, who is 20, and the four other students in the class that day attend Homestead High School, where they receive services until 21 years of age because of their disabilities.

But a new partnership between Homestead and the MATC Mequon Campus is aiming to enhance the high school’s existing transition program for young adults with cognitive disabilities by educating students at the college a few times a week and having them spend afternoons working at MATC or visiting local businesses.

The eight-week pilot program, STRIVE, or Students Taking Responsibility for Independence and Vocational Education, is nearing the end of its run for about eight students at Homestead High School. Supporters say the experience has been a success and that they’re hoping MATC might expand the partnership to allow overage students at other local high schools to participate in the coming years.

More broadly, the program underscores an emerging push to help expose students with cognitive disabilities to postsecondary educational experiences, perhaps even with some traditional education students in some scenarios.

The private Edgewood College in Madison was one of the first to experiment with this design by offering a postsecondary track for students with significant intellectual disabilities.

“We’ve never done this before,” said Lucia Francis, vice president of the MATC Mequon Campus who worked with Homestead to design the new program. “Part of it has been a mind shift for all of us.”

Transition programs have been in place for years for students with disabilities who receive additional years of service in public schools. They aim to help such students move into adulthood with skills that could lead to steady work after they exit the K-12 system.

But Homestead staff wanted to take that transition period a step further. They approached MATC with the idea, and with Francis, they made it happen the second half of spring semester.

Starting in March, the participating students, their aides from school and Barbara Dedrick, a Homestead special education teacher, traveled from Homestead to MATC three days a week. There, Dedrick taught about different career options, proper workplace behavior and etiquette, such as a firm handshake, good hygiene and eye contact. After lunch, students worked at the college, such as helping out in the student services office or cleaning the tables in the cafeteria.

Other afternoons featured visits to job sites. These were primarily hosted by members of the Mequon-Thiensville Sunrise Rotary Club, a supporter of the new program. According to Mequon-Thiensville School District officials, the program has cost about $8,000, or about $1,000 per participating student, and was covered by federal funding.

Services to age 21

While traditional-education students generally exit high school around age 18, federal law allows students with disabilities to stay in the system longer. Public schools are required to offer services to these students until age 21.

Statewide, school districts serve about 6,000 overage students with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 21, according to data from fall 2010. The state’s largest district, Milwaukee Public Schools, serves about 890 students who meet that criteria, about 280 of whom have cognitive disabilities.

Claudia Weaver Henrickson, the interim director of special education, said that while MPS offers a variety of work training programs for these students, it does not currently have an avenue for them to seek postsecondary experiences.

Reflecting on news of the new program in Mequon, Weaver Henrickson said it could be a “great thing to add” in Milwaukee.

“I think there’s a need for more of our students with cognitive disabilities to do an actual class at MATC, with an MATC instructor and other students, not just with special-education students,” she said.

Ginger Moerschel, the mother of one of the students in the STRIVE program, called the experience a dream come true.

Her 20-year-old daughter, Katie, has spent her educational career mainstreamed with other children in Mequon-Thiensville schools and earned enough high-school credits to graduate with her peers.

But then her friends went off to college, and Katie returned to high school.

“But Mom,” she would say, perplexed. “I’ve graduated.”

At MATC, Katie has gotten exposure to a new environment and new people, Ginger said.

With light guidance from librarian Patrick Mundt, she has been getting the mail and organizing books and doing other tasks.

On a recent day in the cafeteria, 20-year-old Cory Zamora was meticulously moving from table to table with a rag and bucket.

His aide from Homestead, Brent Manor, kept an eye on him. He said Zamora has made progress over the eight weeks in learning how to focus on a task.

“At first it was tough for him to get through a whole shift, but now he’s getting more independent,” he said. “I would put him in a restaurant industry job after seeing him do this kind of work.”

Dedrick, from Homestead, said the program has been a success and they hope the collaboration with MATC will expand so more high schools, such as Cedarburg and Grafton, can allow their students to participate.

“We want to give these students an opportunity to navigate a world of higher expectations,” she said.

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