From greenbaypressgazette.com: “NWTC budget up slightly, but tax levy plummets” — Gov. Scott Walker’s property tax cuts mean a big change in the way Northeast Wisconsin Technical College balances its books.

The community college’s general fund budget for next school is expected to increase by about 1.8 percent from $77.2 million this year to $78.7 million for 2014-15.

But NWTC’s local tax levy will drop by about half, from $59.3 million to $27.6 million, under the Republican governor’s plan to use the state’s projected $977 million surplus to cover property and income tax cuts. The measure, approved by the state Legislature and signed by Walker last month, sends $406 million to technical colleges to reduce property tax levies.

That means the owner of a home valued at $150,000 in NWTC’s district would pay about $115 for that portion of their tax bill, compared with $240 last year.

A public hearing on the budget proposal is set for next month.

“It didn’t give us more money,” NWTC President Jeff Rafn said of the changes. “It just swapped state money for local money.”

NWTC will receive about 42 percent of its funding from the state, compared with 9 percent currently, he said.

“In my view it is good and properly re-balances things,” Rafn said. “The down side would be if they would eliminate property taxes altogether. Then we would become a state institution and would lose local control.”

Some people have expressed concerns that technical schools can raise taxes yet are governed by appointed bodies rather than elected officials, Rafn said. He noted the state’s 2013-15 budget limits property tax increases to value added by new construction in municipalities within the school’s district in the past year, which is anticipated to be less than 1 percent for NWTC.

“Property taxes aren’t going to go up,” he said. “But taking away local control would hamper our ability to make quick local decisions.”

Rafn cited expansion of nursing programs to meet higher demands at NWTC as an example.

The state Legislature has formed a Special Committee on the Review of Wisconsin Technical College System Funding and Governance — co-chaired by Republican Rep. John Nygren of Marinette — to review the process.

As part of next year’s budget, NWTC is looking to increase some offerings, including programs in fire-medic, therapeutic massage and software development.

The school also will expand some programming, such as its health and wellness program and joint programs with area high schools.

It will use grant money to fund a variety of learning coaches and tutors.

The school plans to eliminate a financial institution management program which is losing enrollment, but Rafn said students enrolled in the program still could finish.

From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Teaching, class sharing rises at rural schools as budgets shrink” – As rural schools deal with the reality of reduced budgets and smaller enrollments, one of the inevitable trends is the reduction in the number of classes offered as schools focus on core subjects.

A number of Clark County schools are turning toward sharing teachers in a number of elective classes as a way of saving costs, while still providing students with learning opportunities.

Sue Rudesill, a family and consumer sciences teacher, begins each day in Neillsville, and then around lunch time makes the 20-minute commute to Greenwood to continue teaching in the afternoon.

It’s the first year she’s split time between two schools and said it took a little getting used to the first semester.

She would find herself trying to help students after class in Neillsville, but that potentially delayed her getting to Greenwood, causing the first part of her class in Greenwood to be missed.

After discussions with administrators in both districts, she said she now has a little more time to make the commute this semester.

Another change that districts are seeing is the increased reliance on distance learning courses. Students will be in a normal classroom, but the teacher often will be miles away in another school.

“We do have some rooms that are now available,” Neillsville School District Superintendent John Gaier said. “A lot of the rooms that used to have classes in them are now being used as distance learning classrooms. It’s possible for a high school class period to have four online classes going on.”

Students in Neillsville take distance learning classes through a number of different institutions, including the Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay.

But it’s not just courses being taught at institutions of higher education that students are taking. Sometimes schools share courses with each other through distance learning.

In Loyal, students take social studies through Granton, a required course for graduation.

“That’s a big step to go into that. Spanish is an elective, but to have a required class that’s important, the reason we did it was it seemed to be the least detrimental. The teacher would be the most able to appropriately communicate with students. You would not want to do chemistry (over distance learning),” Cale Jackson, Loyal School District administrator, said. “History seemed like something where the kids could still have a good experience even though it was over the distance learning.”

It takes a lot of work and coordination between schools to sync schedules, Jackson said, “but everybody is in the same boat, so everybody is willing to do it.”

From fox11online.com: “NWTC international students visits with President Obama” — GREEN BAY – An international student, studying at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, has quite the story to tell his friends and family back in Tunisia.

Mohamed Dhib has been in the United States for about ten months.

“It’s so different, it’s not like the U.S. we watch in the movies,” said Dhib.

The movies might be where the story of Dhib’s trip to Washington D.C. belongs. Last week, Dhib went to the nation’s capitol thinking he was meeting with visiting Tunisian government officials.

“We just gave like advice to improve our Tunisian education system through the skills that we’ve learned here,” said Dhib.

After his meeting, Dhib was taken on an impromptu tour of the White House. He was told he’d be meeting the leader of Tunisia.

“They told us the Prime Minister and high level people from the White House, but honestly I didn’t expect it would be that high level,” said Dhib.

While in the Rose Garden, it was as high level as it comes.

“Suddenly somebody said like “oh, hi guys, how are you doing?”said Dhib. “For like ten seconds nobody said anything. We were all like this, and it was the President and our Prime Minister.”

The meeting lasted about fifteen minutes. Dhib told the President he was studying in Green Bay.

“He said, ‘How’s it going there? Do you like the winter?” said Dhib.

While Dhib says he can’t recall all the details, he remembers enough to make his fellow international students at NWTC wish they were there.

“I’m a little bit jealous, because when do you get the chance to meet the President of the United States?” said Felix Winkler, a German exchange student at NWTC.

“He was a practical person,” said Dhib of Obama. “He’s humble. I like him.”

Dhib couldn’t say whether he was more excited to meet President Obama or the Tunisian Prime Minister. He says meeting the Prime Minister is just as rare as an average U.S. citizen meeting the President.

From jrn.com: “Dual degree offered at NWTC with new fire medic program” — A new  type of training is being offered at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is exactly what fire departments say they’re looking for.  The program will offer training and real life experience in both fire safety and paramedic fields.

The enrollment window for this program just opened on Friday and the classes are already nearly 60 percent full.  They will feature state of the art technology and dual training that will prepare students for real world scenarios.

“This is going to look like an emergency room department,” says NWTC EMS education coordinator Cal Lintz.  He’s describing what will be the new addition to the tech college.  These changes will be ready for the start of the 2014 fall semester.  Among the changes, new manikins that will be programmed to be more life-like.

“They’ll have all bodily functions that will get the paramedic accustomed to the real out of hospital experience or at least as closely real as possible,” said Lintz.

The program doesn’t end there either.  It will also include fire training.  NWTC will partner will local fire departments to give students a feel for what life’s like on the job.

“Ride on board fire apparatus at the Green Bay Fire Department and experience that live fire ground operation,” said Lintz.

Dual Fire Medic training is extremely important for those looking to become a fire fighter according to Green Bay Metro Fire Chief Brent Elliott.

“Having the ability to provide that aid to people when they’re at their time of need as rapidly as possible is one of the most important missions that we do,” said Chief Elliott.

This dual education will make students more employable since they will be ready to work right after school.

NWTC says they are working to create other partnerships with surrounding fire departments before the start of the new school year.

 

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Conversation: Apprenticeship program needs business partners” — By Rich RymanPress-Gazette Media talks to business leaders in its weekly conversation feature. This week, Lisa Schmelzer of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce discusses the chamber’s Youth Apprenticeship Program.

The program is in its 20th year in Brown County.

Q. What is the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Apprenticeship program?

A. The Youth Apprenticeship program is a statewide school-to-work initiative offered by the state Department of Workforce Development designed specifically for high school students. It integrates academic and technical instruction with paid, mentored work experience at an area business. The program is facilitated for 10 area school districts in and around Brown County by the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

Q. How many youth are participating?

A. Of the 94 students we have participating in the program, we secured training site placements for 46, with many more students eagerly waiting to begin their on-the job training.

The breakdown of participants by school district is:

Ashwaubenon, 10; Howard-Suamico, 12; De Pere, eight; Denmark, eight; Green Bay, 26; Luxemburg-Casco, six; Pulaski, 11; Seymour, six; West De Pere, five, and Wrightstown, two.

Q. In which jobs are apprenticeships available? What determines availability?

A. The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Youth Apprenticeship program offers nine high-demand career areas with more than 40 career pathways.

Program areas, identified as high demand by the state Department of Workforce Development include:

• Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources, Animal Basics, Large Animal/Herd, Vet Assistant, Plant Basics, Crops, Greenhouse, Landscaping, Water Resources

• Arts, A/V Technology & Communications – Printing, Graphics

• Financial Services – Accounting, Banking, Insurance

• Health Science – Nursing Assistant, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy, Ambulatory/Support Services (dietary, laboratory, imaging, optometry or physical therapy), Medical

•  OfficeHospitality, Lodging, & Tourism – Dining, Kitchen, Front Desk, Housekeeping, Travel/Tours, Grounds & Maintenance, Meetings & Events, Marketing & Sales, Management

• Information Technology – IT General, Hardware, Software

• Manufacturing – Assembly & Packaging, Manufacturing Processes, Machining, Operations Management, Welding, Equipment Maintenance

• STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) – Engineering Drafting, Mechanical Design, Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering

• Transportation, Distribution & Logistics – Auto Collision, Auto Technology, Logistics/Supply Chain Management

Q. What are the programs greatest needs?

A. The program is in immediate need of more Brown County area businesses tfor on-the-job training in many of the program areas, especially health, auto tech/collision, STEM, finance and welding areas

Q. Have you had to turn students away because of a lack of employers?

A. The program doesn’t turn students away; students start their industry-related classes at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in anticipation of the job placement. However, students who are not placed in an on-the-job training position are missing the most important and crucial components of the program: the opportunity to start building valuable employability and industry skills.

Q. Anything you’d like to add that we did not cover?

A. With the projected workforce shrinkage due to the anticipated “Silver Tsunami,” — the large number of Baby Boomers reaching retirement — the Youth Apprenticeship program can be part of the solution. We bring goal-oriented youth into workplaces and industry paths and create highly skilled workers to fill businesses’ employment pipeline. Students in the program now may be the full-time employees businesses hire down the road.

If you’d like to learn how participating in Youth Apprenticeship may serve as a pipeline to your future work force, please contact Lisa Schmelzer, Youth Apprenticeship program manager, at (920) 593-3411 or lschmelzer@titletown.org. More information on the program is available at www.titletown.org/YA.

From fox11online.com: “Suicide awareness display at NWTC” — GREEN BAY – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College wants people to talk more about college suicides.

A Send Silence Packing display was put up Wednesday. 1,100 backpacks were laid out to represent the estimated 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year.

Some included stories about the people behind the numbers.

Organizers say while talking about suicide can be uncomfortable, it must be done.

“It’s something we really haven’t talked enough about. You know, if we’re not talking about it, then people aren’t getting hooked up with a lot of the resources that could help them you know make some different choices and get them the help that they need,” said Paul Valencic, NWTC mental health counselor.

The national nonprofit Active Minds presented the display. Organizers say NWTC students are working to open their own chapter on campus.

From fdlreporter.com: “Green Bay hiring reflects statewide needs” — GREEN BAY — Job openings in Green Bay reflect those statewide, with truck drivers, customer service and sales representatives, and registered nurses in greatest demand.

“The top positions are almost identical,” said Jeffrey Sachse, economist with the state Department of Workforce Development. “The only thing that pops up is more welder openings than CNC openings, because of the nature of the work.”

Welders have been in demand in the region for several years. Green Bay, Marinette and Sturgeon Bay have a lot of fabrication and shipbuilding companies that require welders.

Sachse said that more than anytime during the last three years, hiring is up across the board. All industries are looking for new workers. Much of that is driven by the increasing flood of baby boomer retirements. Many boomers put off retiring during the 2007-09 recession and its aftermath when retirement funds took a hit, but now are making the move.

Construction jobs have grown the most in the region, driven by the U.S. 41, Schreiber Foods and Lambeau Field projects.

“The greatest concentration is on the Highway 41 corridor,” Sachse said.

Construction jobs increased by 7 percent in 2013.

“That’s twice the industry average,” Sachse said. “Those are per-recessionary growth numbers, and it’s more than twice the growth of any industry over that same period.”

The demand for health care workers is growing as baby boomers age and health care systems add facilities and bring older ones up to date.

In addition to nurses, the Green Bay area has openings for nursing assistants, medical and health services managers and personal care aides.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay has waiting lists for its health care programs, though not as long as they once were, and it ramped up its manufacturing programs to add weekend and evening classes.

“Some of our graduates six months out are making $36,000 a year as welders. Electromechanical technology graduates are making $50,000,” said Jennifer Pigeon, manager of career services at NWTC.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “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 fox11online.com: “New grants in Green Bay to help teen mothers” — GREEN BAY- Green Bay Area School District and NWTC are working together to make sure teen moms graduate high school.

It’s an effort that may benefit the entire community.

Nineteen-year-old Augustina Medina says she wants to give her 18-month-old daughter Isabella the best life possible.

“When you get pregnant, you’re put in as you’re not going to graduate,” Medina said. “You’re not going to get far in life. And that always bugged me.”

Medina says she was supported by family and school counselors after giving birth.

But she still needed to step up her efforts to graduate from Green Bay Southwest High School.

In Wisconsin, nearly half of high school aged mothers do not graduate.

School social workers say one of the biggest barriers to not graduating high school as a teen parent is not know where to go for help. But two new grants are aimed at helping teen parents get their diplomas and go on to higher education.

The first grant: 200 thousand dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It will provide additional academic support, career counseling, and parenting classes.

“We know that a really strong predictor of whether or not a child will grow up in poverty is if they are born to a mother who is a teen and one of the amazing things of the opportunity of this project is by getting more of our teen parents to the post-secondary level, we can potentially take two generations out of poverty,” said Green Bay West High School Social Worker Kim Schanock.

The second grant is from the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation Women’s Fund.

The organization won’t say how much it’s for.

The money will go toward a two year program which will directly connect NWTC counselors with pregnant high school students.

“How can you develop study skills and really learning about how to apply for financial aid, and how to fill out a college application,” said Amber Michaels, the students services manager for NWTC.

Medina now attends NWTC, studying business management.

She hopes other teen mothers will use the new resources in high school to find their own motivation, and provide a better life for their children.

From wbay.com: “Tech schools educate construction workers to address shortage” — Nearly two dozen expansion or renovation projects have been taking place over the last 18 months across the Green Bay area.

A few include the Schreiber Foods Headquarters in downtown Green Bay, the Medical College at St. Norbert College in De Pere and the Lambeau Field atrium.

Not including the Highway 41 project, these equal $400 million worth of expansion, they created more than 2,100 jobs and 2.1 million square feet of floor space.

Experts predict there aren’t enough workers to keep up with this growing trend.

“There is a shortage of skilled construction workers and there is a tremendous need,” says Todd Kiel, Apprenticeship Manager at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

He says two things are creating the demand. First, aging workers who will soon retire. And two, the improving economy.

Now that the economy has picked up again since the recent recession, construction projects are moving forward, and companies need the workforce to complete the job.

NWTC’s answer is to fill up their classrooms.

“We’re going to bring out a Construction Technology Associate degree in fall of 2014,” said Kiel. “We just started accepting a couple weeks ago … we’re up to 40 to 45 (people) already.”

Mitchel Mergener, 20, is considering being a part of the inaugural class. He’s weighing the difference between going for a certificate or this two-year degree.

“If it’s going to get me, not an easier job, but a job that’s better paying or better opportunities, I think it’s a good investment,” said Mergener.

Paul Werth is an example the extra year in school pays off.

Just three years after completing Fox Valley Tech’s new two-year Construction Management Technology degree, he’s now a supervisor with Miron Construction.

And he says there is such a demand from companies, some can’t wait until students finish their programs.

“I get to see that people I’ve met in the program are getting job offers before they graduate,” said Werth.

Experts predict 30,000 construction jobs will be created across the state over the next few years.

From ccdaily.com: “Making success part of college culture” –  Editor’s note: This article continues a series profiling nominees of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 2014 Awards of Excellence. Featured this week are the four finalists in the category of student success. Winners in each of the six categories will be announced at the AACC Annual Convention next month.

At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), student success is more than a concept – it’s a part of the culture. The college’s Dream…Learn It. Live It ​initiative ensures that student success is woven into every facet of the student experience.

Every employee at NWTC is responsible for finding ways to help students master their courses, remain in college and complete some kind of credential.

“For people who are willing to work and earn that credential, helping them succeed is both a smart policy and the right choice,” said NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn.

Program advisors work with students from application through graduation. Four-week courses allow students to concentrate on one subject at a time while maintaining full-time status. Supplemental learning with academic coaches and tutors is available for the most difficult courses. Struggling students are identified earlier and directed to the appropriate student services.

To help students struggling financially, college employees created a food pantry, a second-hand clothing store and an employee giving campaign on campus.

What the data show

The college also improved the quality of its data, allowing for more informed decision-making.

This transformation at NWTC wasn’t always easy or comfortable — systems and assumptions had to be changed — but college leaders, faculty and staff have found ways to turn challenges into triumphs.

“The business intelligence available to us has been significantly redesigned so that we can see what helps students succeed and where they may fall through the cracks,” said Matthew Petersen, associate dean for general studies at the college.

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Walker checks out manufacturing program at Green Bay West” — A future Green Bay West High School program expected to give students a hands-on look at a career in manufacturing is one of the ways public and private partnerships are helping support the state’s manufacturing sector, Gov. Scott Walker said Monday.

Walker said the Bay Link Manufacturing program, and its partnership with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and the Northeastern Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance, offers a unique, real-world, teaching opportunity to help fill future job positions.

“We’re making it relevant and we’re making a real-world connection to the valuable careers in manufacturing. Our hope is that more young people see this and want to pursue those careers,” Walker said Monday. This “will not only help us fill the jobs that are open today, but … help employers and manufacturers here, and across the state, open the door to creating more jobs in the future.”

Bay Link Manufacturing is being set up at West High School to give students real-world manufacturing experience. That includes hard skills such as welding and fabricating parts for area businesses to “soft” skills like interviewing for a job, sales, and communication with co-workers, said Andy Belongia, the Bay Link Manufacturing instructor.

The program is expected to launch this fall. Twelve to 15 students will apply for class as they would for a job and will have job reviews, Belongia said.

Profits will go back to the program and potentially to scholarships for students.

This is the second stop for Walker in the Green Bay area in a matter of days. Both stops have focused on a manufacturing in the region and state and the need to build on the existing workforce. Last week the governor was at MetalStorm, a De Pere metal fabricator.

“I repeatedly hear from manufacturers not only the need to fill existing potions, but if they could fill those on a consistent basis they’d take on more work … and that would help us put more people to work,” Walker said.

The state Senate is scheduled to vote today on Walker’s proposed property and income tax cut plan.

The tax cut bill and one that makes $35 million available for a variety of worker training initiatives are the only proposals before the Senate today.

Walker’s proposal would reduce property taxes for the owner of a median-valued home by $131 on the bill mailed in December. The income tax cut would reduce the lowest bracket from 4.4 percent to 4 percent, saving the typical taxpayer $46.

Democratic critics have argued that the tax cuts need to be more narrowly focused to benefit the middle class, increase spending on worker training programs, reduce debt and address projected shortfalls in Medicaid and transportation funding.

From postcrescent.com: “Algoma Wolf Tech takes real life into the classroom” – ALGOMA — Manufacturing has a home in Algoma. Precision Machine, Olson Fabrication, Algoma Hardwoods and WS Packaging Group are among companies that make things in the Kewaunee County community.

So, too, is Algoma Wolf Tech, a relatively new manufacturing company housed in the tech ed classrooms of Algoma High School.

“I pretty strongly believe that kids have to make something of substance to understand the process that goes into things,” said Nick Cochart, principal of the school since 2011 and godfather of Wolf Tech.

Eleva-Strum School District’s Cardinal Manufacturing south of Eau Claire, which started in 2007, established the model for in-school manufacturing. Wolf Tech followed suit, and Bay Link Manufacturing, a creation of the Green Bay School District, will launch in the fall.

Other schools are considering similar programs, said Mark Weber, dean of Trades & Engineering Technologies at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, which is assisting many schools in establishing manufacturing-related programs.

Wolf Tech is not a seat-of-the-pants, we’ve got a saw and a few welders affair. Its equipment includes two CNC milling machines, a CNC wood router, state-of-the-art table saws and, later this month, a CNC lathe.

“We are not making widgets. We are making stuff in industry that people are using every day,” Cochart said.

Algoma School District invested more than $250,000 in Wolf Tech and tech ed, but it’s not alone in supporting the program. The CNC metal lathe is courtesy of NWTC. Algoma, which is a certified Haas Automation Inc. technical training center, will provide its facilities for public classes in CNC training and in return get the $70,000 lathe free of charge.

“Those machines have opened the door to so many things,” Cochart said.

Working with their hands

Sophomore Austin Stoller, 15, is hoping the lathe will open the door to a career as a gunsmith. He’s also fond of welding.

“I like working with my hands and making stuff. I don’t like sitting in a classroom all day,” Stoller said. “It’s just not my thing.”

Stoller is the kind of student that the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance and, increasingly, educators are trying to accommodate by providing options to a four-year college degree.

“There are so many opportunities for kids now,” Cochart said. “If they just follow their passion, there’s not just good jobs, there’s great jobs.”

Tech ed instructors Matt Abel and Russ Nockerts can teach students how to operate the machines, but that’s not really the point.

“I try to teach kids useful employability skills,” Abel said. “It’s not running a machine. It’s how is this going to affect the consumer? How’s this going to affect people down the chain?”

That’s an approach seconded and abetted by Jamie Spitzer, owner of Precision Machine, to say nothing of most manufacturing employers. It’s the so-called soft skills — problem solving, communications, teamwork, high-quality work — that employers are looking for.

“We are actually asking you to contribute. We are asking you to use your mind more and your back less,” Spitzer said. “It’s crazy how you can hire someone for their hard skills, but most likely fire them for their soft skills.”

Algoma High School and Precision Machine were each honored last fall during N.E.W. Manufacturing Alliance’s Excellence in Manufacturing/K-12 Partnership Awards. The school and the company work closely. The goal is to produce employable manufacturing workers, of course, but it’s also about students’ aspirations.

“I was one of those kids at one time,” Spitzer said. “Not everyone wants to go to a four-year school and it’s a great thing when kids can do things with their hands.”

Work has to be perfect

Precision Machine serves clients in the aerospace and timber industries, among others, and has contracted Wolf Tech for parts. They are basic pieces, but require a professional level of quality. If the product doesn’t measure up, someone from Precision Machine makes the trek around the block to the high school to explain why.

“It’s got to be perfect,” Nockerts said.

The students have to deal directly with customers, which Cochart said provides a learning moment, again, focused on those soft skills.

Abel and Nockerts are nontraditional teachers in that they have business backgrounds. Able has a degree in construction management from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

“They have to have skills sets that can cut across multiple disciplines,” Cochart said. “I think they have some of the most engaging classroom activities.”

About 70 of Algoma’s 250 students are in tech ed classes. Of those, 15 are in Wolf Tech, which requires after-school participation.

“My core group are sophomores right now. From that group, it’s grown,” Able said. “They talk to their friends; ‘Hey, this is cool stuff.’ I have kids who just want to be down here. They don’t even have a class.”

Students ‘actually learning’

Cochart said what they are doing requires a different approach to teaching. Abel said it may seem like chaos at times, though it’s not.

“Each student is on a different path,” Abel said. “Everybody is working at their own speed, trying something out and actually learning.”

Other teachers are getting involved as well, Abel said.

“Our core teachers are realizing how it relates and, for example, bringing the math into here,” he said. “In machining, we use a lot of trigonometry and some students can’t even pass algebra. They don’t even know they are doing it.”

Wolf Tech is one or two customers away from being self-sustaining, Cochart said.

Among its customers is Algoma Long-Term Care nursing home, for which it is providing new cabinets. Junior Kevin Sperber, 17, designed them and CTI Hospitality of Algoma manufactured the pieces.

“This is actually going to be used by people every day,” Sperber said, explaining what sets the project apart from traditional “shop.”

Sperber is interested in design or engineering as a career. He expects to attend NWTC, but is undecided about whether to get a four-year degree.

“I was a little interested my freshman year. I had no idea what I was going to go into, then I got interested in all of this,” he said.

There are immediate benefits, including college credits while still in high school.

“For the past two years, Precision Machine pretty much offered jobs to anyone on the machining side,” Able said.

The goal is for Wolf Tech to be a completely student-run business, from front office to factory floor. Getting students to run the machines has been the easy part, so far, but manufacturing includes jobs well beyond the factory floor. Abel said Wolf Tech needs accountants, salespeople and more.

“When we started this, I said we are four years out from hitting full stride,” Cochart said. “Some of our most talented kids are freshmen and sophomores. I’d love to see a kid start his own business within a business. I think it’s right there.”

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Baldwin: Clean energy bill would aid schools, employers” – Passage of a Senate bill aimed at bolstering education and training for students who want to work in clean-energy jobs would benefit schools and factories in Northeastern Wisconsin, the bill’s sponsor said Wednesday in Green Bay.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said her proposal would help create good-paying jobs in a growing industry, while supporting technical colleges that offer coursework that prepares students for “green energy” careers. The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation Act, or GREEN, was introduced last week and calls for about $100 million in spending.

“The idea is to make some very prudent, very targeted investments in an area that’s growing … faster than the economy overall,” she said.

The senator met with educators and some students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Great Lakes Energy Education Center as part of a statewide tour to tout her bill, introduced last week. NWTC offers programs that prepare students for energy jobs, and is increasing the percentage of its energy supply that comes from green sources.

Scott Liddicott, who teaches energy-management classes at Green Bay Southwest High School, said it’s exciting to hear support for energy education at the federal level.

“It’s so easy to get students and teachers interested in this,” he said. “It’s a compelling and dynamic field. The energy business is really important stuff.”

Baldwin’s bill would allocate grant money for programs that prepare students for jobs, or to attend post-secondary schools. Her office said clean-energy jobs pay about 13 percent better than the average job in the U.S., and the field is growing nearly twice the rate of the national economy.

A hospital in western Wisconsin, she told educators, “completely redid its energy systems” to emphasize green power, and as a result was able to save patients money and avoid staff cuts.

A number of Wisconsin technical college leaders, including NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn and Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna K. Foy, have expressed support for the bill. NWTC partners with area school districts, including ones in De Pere and Sturgeon Bay, to deliver energy education, said Amy Kox, the college’s associate dean for energy and sustainability.

A bill similar to Baldwin’s was introduced in the House of Representatives in June and remains in committee, according to govtrack.us, which tracks federal legislation. The bill, by California Democrat Jerry McNerney, also would spend $100 million to develop career and technical education programs, and facilities in the renewable energy field.

Baldwin Wednesday also visited Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and Milwaukee Area Technical College. She is slated to visit Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids today.

Tour NWTC’s new expansion

January 13, 2014

From fox11online.com: “A tour of NWTC’s new expansion” —  GREEN BAY — More and more people are looking to preventative and in-home care as the American population continues to age.

A new expansion at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is helping nursing students be better prepared for the changes.

The 13,000 sq. ft. expansion includes three new learning labs — a wellness lab, a caregiver learning center and a simulation lab.

Nursing student Chris Krzewina said the simulation lab is one of the best ways for NWTC students to get experience in patient care.

“It’s a really safe environment,” said Krzewina. “I mean, we don’t have to worry about anyone full-out crashing on us.”

In the lab, students can practice their skills on life-like mannequins that are controlled by instructors. The mannequins have a pulse, and can breathe and even talk to them.

“Now we’re just going to be taking your blood pressure on your arm, OK?” Krzewina asked the mannequin. “Ok, the instructor replied as the voice of the mannequin.

The technology allows instructors to help prepare students for any type of real-life scenario.

“We can use the rare conditions in simulation, something that the students would not typically experience and give them that experience as well,” said Jeff Matzke, a nursing instructor at NWTC.

Students studying in the new wellness lab will learn theory and practice patient coaching techniques that focus on preventative care, something educators say is becoming more popular in the U.S.

“When we talk about cost of health care, which is on a lot of people’s minds these days, prevention is really the best cost,” said Scott Anderson, associate dean of Health Sciences at NWTC. “So how do we keep people out of the health care system? We do that through behavior change and lifestyle change.”

As the population continues to age, student will have to be prepared for another growing trend, in-home care.

“We have our whole kitchen here, or our whole apartment set up here, so that our students will incur some barriers because then we can teach them here in the classroom how to work with those barriers,” said Cindy Theys, associate dean of Health Sciences. “So by the time they get out to someone’s home, they’re going to have tips and tricks to know how to better care for those people in their home.”

No matter kind of patient care students choose to focus on, educators and students said the new learning labs helps give them the hands-on experience they’ll need to succeed.

The total cost for the new expansion was $3.5 million. Gifts from donors covered about $1.1 million.

 

From fox11online.com: “NWTC unveils Health Sciences Center expansion” – GREEN BAY – The future of training health care givers is looking a little brighter at an area college.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College unveiled its 13,000 square foot expansion Monday to its Health Sciences Center.

The expansion includes three new learning labs, a wellness lab, a simulation center, and caregiver learning center.

NWTC’s health services dean says the addition means more learning for students.

“Now with this expansion we’re capable of providing more opportunities for our students,” said Kay Tupala.

“We have an incredible workforce, trained, motivated, interested in improving the care that we’re giving, working together very well with one another,” said George Kerwin, president and CEO of Bellin Health.

The expansion cost about $3.5 million. It was made possible through business partners and community support.

From fox11online.com: “NWTC set to offer student housing” – GREEN BAY – Expanding the college experience is what Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is looking to do by offering students on-campus housing.

A privately-owned and operated dorm is in the works to be built and ready for students in the fall of 2015.

After more than a century of educating students, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is taking the first steps to house students on campus as well.

Plans are set to break ground next year on the college’s first dormitory.

“The scope and the depth and the breadth of the college has changed so much in 100 years, it seems to be the next evolution of what the technical college can offer the community,” said Karen Smits, NWTC vice president of college advancement.

Smits says the college entered into a deal with DeLeers Construction which will build and own the student housing building. DeLeers purchased this private land on the east side of campus and will pay to build and manage the four-story, 216-bed facility. It won’t cost NWTC or taxpayers anything.

“It’s not like the dorm when I went to college. These are apartments where students will share common rooms and each have their own bedroom,” said Smits.

The concept of housing at smaller community colleges is growing in demand according to Smits. Last year UW-Fox Valley expanded to offer student housing for the first time near its Menasha campus through a private company.

“This is a public venture, but we are here to help and support that, but it is definitely the developers that are in complete control of all the housing issues,” said Carla Rabe, UW-Fox Valley assistant dean in January 2012.

An NWTC survey last year found students wanted the option of student housing to help round out their college experience.

More than 40,000 student take classes at NWTC, 7,600 are full time students. So a dorm accommodating 200 is expected to fill up. Could there be more dorms in the future? College officials say don’t rule it out.

From nwtc.edu: “NWTC named Top Military Friendly College” – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has been named a Top Military-Friendly College by Military Advanced Education (MAE). MAE’s 2014 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities provides potential students with information about institutions that go out of their way to give back to our men and women in uniform. NWTC is one of only two Wisconsin Technical College System schools to receive the distinction this year.

Colleges and universities were considered for the top military-friendly designation based on a comprehensive survey of their military culture, available financial assistance, flexibility, online support and support on-campus.

“Our staff used strict criteria to evaluate the submissions of the respondents, and we had a record number of schools participating this year,” said Kelly Fodel, MAE editor.

The selection reflects a long history of NWTC’s work with service-members that dates back to training radio operators and truck drivers in World War I, and continues to this day.

“We strive to create a supportive environment at NWTC with the needs of our veteran and active-duty student population in mind,” said NWTC President Dr. H. Jeffrey Rafn.

“With a full-time veterans advisor and trained support staff, an active student veterans club and our many other on-campus resources, NWTC has shown a commitment to helping those who protect us achieve their career goals.”

A complete list of all military-friendly colleges and universities can be found at www.mae-kmi.com. Visit the Veteran’s Services website for more information about resources at NWTC.

 

From host.madison.com: “Northeast Wisconsin Technical College plays key role for Marinette Marine” – MARINETTE – Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is playing a key role in preparing workers for the Marinette Marine shipyard.

The school operates the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center, where workers are taught a variety of skills including welding and electrical work, as well as leadership, communications and conflict resolution skills. In the last two years, more than 1,800 students have gone through the training center.

The facility is within walking distance of the shipyard and includes computer labs, classrooms and shops, one filled with welding booths, another with electrical components like those used on the littoral combat ship (LCS). There are also programs for pipe fitters and metal fabricators.

“We were written right into the LCS contract because they needed to show that they had the ability to train thousands of people,” said Brian Lancour, coordinator of the training center. “We’ve become experts on the shipyard.”

Aaron Short, 26, a native of Escanaba, Mich., had been working as a welder at Miller Tractor Supply in Green Bay and in June applied to work at the shipyard. He started in October and began welding training at NWTC. He makes $16.50 an hour compared to the $11.50 he was making at Miller. But he’s also in a more physically demanding job, performing welding tasks while on his knees, crouched down or in some cases using mirrors to weld in tight spots.

“It’s nothing like I’ve ever done before,” said Short, who will soon be married. “It’s definitely testing my skills and getting me better at a lot of things.”

Wade Smoot, 41, of Madison, is a Lancaster High School graduate who most recently was an iron worker for a Stoughton company that did work on Camp Randall and at Epic Systems in Verona. He was attracted to the shipyard by the pay, benefits and community.

“I just wanted something different and this is really neat to build ships,” said Smoot, who was learning how to weld aluminum.

 

 

From fox6now.com: “Packers Foundation awards $500K to civic and charitable groups” – The Green Bay Packers Foundation on Tuesday, December 17th awarded $500,000 to 188 civic and charitable groups throughout the state of Wisconsin in its annual distribution of grants.

Charlie Lieb, chairman of the Foundation committee, made the announcement.

Overall, including a recent $250,000 major gift to the UW-Green Bay Scholarship Fund, $750,000 was awarded this year.

Both the total donation amount and the number of recipient organizations are records for the Foundation.

The groups were guests at a luncheon in the Lambeau Field Atrium, an event that welcomed all the recipients and honored the outstanding efforts and services performed by each of the organizations.

The Foundation now has distributed more than $3.7 million for charitable purposes since it was established in 1986 by Judge Robert J. Parins, then president of the Packers Corporation, “as a vehicle to assure continued contributions to charity.”

Of the Foundation’s contributions Tuesday, 53 grants – aggregating $142,050 – were awarded to Brown County organizations. Additional grants, totaling $357,950, were made to 135 other groups around the state.

Additionally, under the Packers Scholarship Program established in 2002, $15,000 was awarded – $7,500 to Scholarships Inc., for distribution to students in four-year colleges, and $7,500 to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) for distribution to students in two-year associate degree or apprenticeship trades programs.

A portion of the scholarship funds come from National Football League Properties which, at the Packers’ request, returns to the Foundation royalty fees paid for using the Packers logo on Wisconsin automobile license plates.

Because the royalties do not fully cover the scholarships, the Green Bay Packers fund the remainder of the amount, a figure which totals $89,000 since 2006.

In the past year, the Packers Foundation also has distributed an additional $57,375 on behalf of National Football League Foundation – $20,000 in “Community Quarterback” awards to civic leaders for contributions to the community, $12,375 in the NFL’s “Coach of the Week” program, which honors successful Wisconsin high school coaches on a weekly basis throughout the season, $20,000 through the “Hometown Huddle/Youth Fitness Zone” program and $5,000 for the NFL National Partnership Grant focusing on efforts related to the military.

In addition, a $250,000 Matching Youth Football Field Grant was received and was awarded to the Ashwaubenon School District for the redevelopment of the Ashwaubenon High School football stadium and practice fields.

“We’re honored to congratulate and thank this year’s recipients for their excellent work in our communities,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said at the event. “Their efforts inspire us and truly provide a positive impact.”

The Green Bay Packers Foundation Trustees include, in addition to Lieb, Tom Arndt, Rick Chernick, Valerie Daniels-Carter, Ricardo Diaz, Terry Fulwiler, Jerry Ganoni, Mark McMullen, Tom Olson and Hon. John Zakowski. Bobbi Jo Eisenreich is the secretary of the Foundation.

The grants and other programs highlighted Tuesday are two components of the Packers’ efforts in the community. The Packers’ community outreach department responded to more than 10,000 requests from organizations and individuals in 2013 with donated autographed items for fund-raising efforts that raised more than $3 million.

These efforts, combined with direct cash donations by the Packers to various charity endeavors, resulted in a comprehensive Packers charity impact in excess of $6 million in the past year.

 

From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Tech schools prepared for changes in GED tests” – WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Mid-State Technical Colleges in central Wisconsin doubled the number of offerings of tests for General Equivalency Diplomas in preparation for changes taking effect Jan. 2.

Those seeking to obtain their GEDs were encouraged to try to complete the process before the changes took hold. Tests often were offered on a weekly basis at the three technical colleges, and Portage and Adams County jails. The main test site is at the Wisconsin Rapids campus; test examiners travel to other sites.

“We started the push, really, about September last year, so we’ve been at this for over a year to try and get people to finish up,” said Jo-Ellen Fairbanks-Schutz, MSTC associate dean of general education for the colleges. “We had an increase of over a couple hundred tests, previous to our big push.”

Last year, more than 1,000 tests were taken between all the test locations; since July, 402 tests were taken, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“There were some areas of the state that saw a very marked increase in demand for GED testing,” Fairbanks-Schutz said. “While we saw an increase, it wasn’t as dramatic as some areas of the state. Madison and Milwaukee were just bursting at the seams; we were able to handle the demand with extra seats available.”

There are a few changes, but there are two major ones — the test will only be available on computer, and the 2002 test series will be replaced with the 2014 series, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“Historically, it’s always been a pen and paper test,” she said.

The 2002 test series had five components: reading, writing, math, science and social studies. The new series will not include the writing component; that will be dispersed into the other four areas. The new structure is based on the Common Core standards and college and career readiness standards, Fairbanks-Schutz said.

“The downside of the changes was if a candidate started testing in the 2002 series, and did not complete or pass the test, those tests cannot be rolled over,” Fairbanks-Schutz said.

The testing is somewhat time-consuming, and advisers often recommend candidates break up the testing cycle, Fairbanks-Schutzs said. Each component takes at least an hour to complete.

The college has a plan for candidates who are not computer literate. The institution has invested in NEO 2 from Renaissance Learning, which comes with a keyboarding program.

“We’ll start the students just learning the basic keyboarding skills while studying the content to get ready for the test,” Fairbanks-Schutz said. “We have another software program that we bought that looks just like the (new) GED and it specifically goes over the computer skills (candidates) are going to need to be able to take the test.

“We’re trying to get it from multiple angles, depending on the skill of the students, to give them multiple options.”

The college’s Academic Success Center also offers preparation resources for students.

The cost for testing also has changed. The 2002 series was $120 for all five tests; the new test will cost $33.75 for each component or $135 total. Retesting is available at $30 a test.

Candidates also have to wait 30 days before retaking the test, so anyone taking a test in December and not succeeding will have to take the test under the new system. The last test dates in Wisconsin were Dec. 5 for the writing test and Dec. 13 for all other tests. The official tests are not available online, according to the MSTC website.

Wisconsin test centers offering computer-based testing include Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Gateway Technical College, according the the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website.

From huffingtonpost.com: “Community Colleges and the Manufacturing Sector” – For decades the manufacturing sector provided jobs with good wages. Today, however, the Manufacturing Institute states that 82% of manufacturers report a moderate or serious skills gap in skilled production, and 74% of manufacturers report that the skills gap has hurt their company’s ability to expand operations.

But what is most alarming is that an estimated 2.7 million U.S. manufacturing employees, nearly a fourth of the total, are 55 or over. According to a 2010 article in The Financial Times, 40% of Boeing workers, and nearly half of Rockwell Collins’ workers will be eligible for retirement by 2016. We cannot afford to have these jobs shipped overseas because we don’t have the skilled workers to fill them.

The Manufacturing Institute was one of the first organizations to address the lack of skilled workers. The Institute launched the NAM-Endorsed Skills Certification System to address the skills gap challenge and to promote a renaissance of manufacturing education across the country. What this system does is provide a set of the industry-recognized credentials that workers need to be successful in entry-level positions in any manufacturing environment.

Community colleges were among the first to embrace these new standards by creating certification programs that train students for jobs as varied as the manufacturing of orthopedic devices to repairing wind turbines. Local manufacturers began reaching out to community colleges asking them to train their future workforce. Often these students were displaced workers or had lost their jobs through outsourcing. This cohort, many over the age of 50, presented a new challenge – how to train students who hadn’t been a classroom for more than 20 years.

Partnerships between community colleges and manufacturing companies have been remarkably successful largely because they have been in the forefront of providing customized training that leads directly to a well-paying job.

For example, Siemens developed the Design Technology Program associate degree at Iowa Western Community College, providing students with the skills to “effectively translate ideas from inventors, engineers, planner and designers into visual graphic form.”

Connecticut Community College’s College of Technology developed the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, which places educators with advanced manufacturing companies for 4 week externships. These instructors received hands-on training that they then brought back to the classroom.

When St. Louis lost 10,000 jobs in the auto industry, St. Louis Community College offered training in new technologies that enabled many of the displaced workers to get jobs at Boeing assembling jets.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College worked with the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance to train skilled workers capable of producing the best ships in the world. One of the member companies was awarded a contract to build 10 Littoral Combat ships for the U.S. Navy. This contract created 1,000 news jobs, jobs that might not have come to Wisconsin if there weren’t trained workers waiting to fill them.

As the former CEO of Delco Remy International, a manufacturing company, I know first hand how vital it is to have a highly-skilled workforce. Indiana is a leader in manufacturing, and Ivy Tech, its community college system, works closely with corporations like Cummings to ensure we are providing our students with the training they need to fill jobs in the manufacturing sector. These jobs pay an average of $45,000 a year and offer opportunity for advancement.

In January, we will launch a unique academic-industry-blended 75 hour co-op Advanced Manufacturing degree program. Our students will gain valuable on-the-job experience with some of Indiana’s top manufacturing and logistics companies, working as interns two days a week. Upon graduation, they will have received training in the most current and relevant industry technology as well as having real world experience. Our goal is to have them work for the companies where they interned.

Through the generosity of Alcoa Foundation, we also recently launched “Get Skills to Work,” a program that provides free manufacturing training for veterans. Graduates will receive interviews with area manufacturers through the Tri-State Manufacturers’ Alliance. The Get Skills to Work coalition includes more than 500 manufacturers and focuses on training for veterans, translating the skills they learned in the military into manufacturing careers.

Flexibility, vision and commitment are all-important factors in working with the nation’s manufacturers. Community colleges are in the vanguard of insuring that well-paying manufacturing jobs are not shipped overseas but stay in the community.

From wbay.com: “NWTC students send care packages to service members” – A group of students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College spent Tuesday creating care packages for deployed service members.

It’s part of a project designed to bring a smile to those service members’ faces.

George Wehausen, president of the veterans club at NWTC knows what it’s like to get a care package while being deployed.

“I was overseas in the late 90s. I always enjoyed getting care packages. Cookies, stuff we can’t get our hands on,” explained Wehausen.

That’s why he jumped at the chance to help supply chain management students with their service learning project “Patriot Smiles.

They collected items and are now turning into care packages for service members.

“We had three boxes here at the college and we had businesses and companies. We also had companies donate money,” said student Nathan Whiting.

The students collected a variety of items. Everything from footballs to snacks, based on the units’ wish lists in order to bring them a little piece of home.

“I think it’s good because they’re fighting for our country and they deserve something that makes them feel like they’re at home and not over there without their families,” added Whiting.

The care packages are just one part of the project.

Students from local elementary schools also wrote letters that will go in the packages.

Money was also raised to help children of deployed service members.

“That have a hard time dealing with there parents being gone. So, if they have lost a brother, sister, mom or dad to the war, we send these kids to camp,” said Wehausen.

The packages will go in the mail Tuesday.

 

From greenbaypressgazette.com: “NWTC offers mentors to minority students to help boost grad rates” – Maria Almanza is studying to be a medical assistant at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

As a busy first-year college student, the 21-year-old mother of two said she appreciates the help of mentor Alana Dallas, who talks to her about her studies and navigating the community college campus.

They are part of a new Peer Mentor program designed to help minority students succeed in school. The new program, launched in October with help from a state grant, aims to increase success by offering a variety of academic, social and personal support.

“Not only does this program provide important support to keep students successful and in school, but it gives our student mentors a chance to give back,” said Gema Garcia, program coordinator. “These students have been there and they know what’s it’s like. They’re here to provide guidance to their fellow students to help them overcome any hurdles they might face.”

NWTC’s program has 10 mentors who are helping 20 students this semester. Mentors are students who have been in school for at least a semester. Mentors were chosen for their commitment and willingness to support students as they transition to college, Garcia said. They must meet grade-point average requirements and are fully trained.

Minority students lag a bit behind other students in terms of grades and graduation rates, noted Vickie Lock, dean of student success at NWTC.

In 2012-13 about 64,000 white students were enrolled at NWTC, and 82.46 percent of them received passing grades of A, B or C. The school had 8,200 minority students that year, and 74 percent of them had passing grades.

“That’s a 5.81 percent gap that we really want to close,” Lock said.

Minority students may fall behind because they did not take adequate courses in high school and often are the first in their families to attend college, so may lack home support, she said. They may be low-income, which means they have to work one or several jobs, she said.

“All of these are factors that lead to a harder time achieving,” Lock said.

Mentors can help by providing support families may not be able to provide, she said.

Blaire Xiong, a student in the administrative professional program and a peer mentor, said the mentor relationship is an opportunity to lead by example.

“We may have come from similar backgrounds as many of the mentees, “ Xiong said. “But because we’ve already been here and know what’s available, I think we can really help them succeed.”

The peer mentor program is part of a larger NWTC initiative focusing on helping more students graduate, Lock said.

Almanza’s mentor recently guided her through preparing a resume and cover letter for a class, she said. She plans to graduate in December 2014.

“The mentorship program … makes sure you have more self confidence. Once you are feeling confident, you start doing things better, in my opinion,” Almanza said.

Some minority students may struggle if English is not their first language, she said.

“Also, high school is easier,” said Almanza, who graduated from Green Bay’s East High School. “College can be pressure. If you have someone else to cheer for you and is there for you, it makes you more likely to be successful.”

Those in the program participate as along as they feel they need help. Lock hopes students who are being mentored eventually will become mentors.

“We are looking at, do they stay enrolled? Do they complete?” she said. “We’re also looking for some intangibles, such as, ‘Do students really feel connected to college? Are they reaching out to other students?’ I think those would be important pieces for us to see.”

 

From postcrescent.com: “Workers needed, but manufacturing healthy in region” - There is a lot of good manufacturing news in Northeastern Wisconsin, but long-term challenges remain.

Manufacturing companies report they are healthy, modernizing and expecting growth in sales in 2014. They also continue to struggle to find qualified workers, a problem that will remain critical as baby boomers retire and employers add new machines that require better-trained operators.

Those are the findings of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance’s 2014 Manufacturing Vitality Index, released Friday during the annual NEW North Summit in Ashwaubenon.

Fifty-one percent of the surveyed companies reported increased sales in 2013 and 66 percent are expecting more increases next year. Fifty percent are planning plant modernization, as was the case last year, and three out of four expect to hire. But there’s the rub. Sixty percent report having difficulty finding qualified workers.

“The skills shortage hasn’t changed a dramatic amount year to year,” said Scott Kettler, general manager of Fox Cities manufacturing sites for Plexus Corp. and incoming president of the Manufacturing Alliance. “We see people are hiring and we have that growth. What the index says to me is we are not out-pacing our growth.”

The five most difficult-to-fill positions include machinist/CNC machinist, machine operator, truck driver, team assembler and engineering technician. Welders remain in the top 10, though progress has been made in this region in supplying them.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay is turning out 140 welding graduates a year, up from a handful five years ago. It also will train 100 CNC graduates this year and hopes to increase that to 130 next year, said Mark Weber, dean of training and engineering technologies at NWTC.

The Manufacturing Alliance was formed to get educators, students and parents thinking differently about manufacturing.

“I think that the tide has turned,” Weber said. “I’ve seen that in a relatively short time in the discussions I’ve had with K-12s. Before, you couldn’t get them to talk about manufacturing. Now they are calling us to talk about manufacturing.”

Manufacturing accounts for 23 percent of Northeastern Wisconsin’s jobs, and Wisconsin ranks second in the nation in with 19 percent of jobs in manufacturing.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s “Industrial Cities Initiative” called Green Bay a “resurgent city.” It said the region had four areas that predict economic strength: leadership, regionalism, workforce development and economic development finance.

But the alliance report says long-term demographics are not favorable. Some companies are losing 10 percent or more of their workforce annually to retirement and more people turn 65 each year than turn 18.

A key to mitigating the problem is to get more people interested in manufacturing, Kettler said.

“We have to solve our own problem. We have to continue to work with the education system,” he said. “I want to continue to focus on working with our manufacturers to continue to get involved. Our focus needs to be on that 8-12 (grade) range and we need to turn parents’ minds around that manufacturing is a viable career.”

Many efforts are underway. Some companies are working directly with local high schools, such as Ariens Co. in Brillion and Precision Machine in Algoma. Others are sending workers into classrooms to talk about manufacturing, and NWTC, in collaboration with the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, is sending a classroom — it’s mobile CNC lab — to the students.

“It’s no one thing that’s helping. It’s all of those things; working with high schools, working with manufacturers themselves,” Weber said.

Kettler said companies are taking workers with lesser skills and trying to grow them internally.

“It’s slower and more expensive and it’s not hiring for the future as much,” he said.

The good news, though, shouldn’t be overlooked, he said. Ninety-two percent of companies said they expect to be healthier next year. Half are planning modernization projects in 2014, compared to 46 percent last year and 36 percent in 2012.

“We are seeing companies invest,” he said.

The survey was based on the telephone responses of 111 companies with $3 million or more in annual revenue and 25 or more employees. It had a 28 percent response rate and 95 percent level of confidence. It was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Business Success Center.

 

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