From “Kleefisch announces LTC prosperity grants” — Lakeshore Technical College will receive more than $1.3 million in grants through Gov. Scott Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity program.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch made the announcement Wednesday as part of a tour to announce the grants at each of the state’s 16 technical colleges.

Earlier this year, Walker signed legislation under Blueprint for Prosperity that added $35.4 million to the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training program. The expansion targeted three areas, including grants to reduce wait lists at Wisconsin technical colleges, grants for collaborative projects among high schools, technical colleges, and employers to train high school students in industry-recognized certifications, and grants that enhance employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

“These resources provide critical funding to train workers quickly for our local employer’s greatest needs, ” LTC President Michael Lanser said. “The Blueprint for Prosperity grants benefit our students, our employers and our communities by strengthening our workforce with more skilled workers.”

LTC’s portion of the grants will target eight different initiatives.

The Basic Food Production Boot Camp will provide four sections of the basic food production certificate to a total of 40 students. The boot camp will provide necessary skills to obtain an entry level food manufacturing position.

The grant will also provide two sections of the mid-level food production certificate to a total of 24 students consisting of incumbent workers and basic food production completers. Students gain skills in lean manufacturing and six sigma and are qualified to secure a job as a line leader or cell leader.

The grant will provide two sections of the nursing assistant course to a total of 20 students at partner health care facilities. Upon passing, students are eligible to sit for the Wisconsin Nurse Aid Registry and become certified nursing assistants.

Four sections of the Basic Emergency Medical Training (EMT) will become available to a total of 60 students at partnering fire stations in Lakeshore communities.

For general manufacturing, four sections of basic, entry level manufacturing courses will be available using the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council (MSSC) curriculum in a boot camp format to a total of 48 students. Students gain entry level skills for the start of a career in manufacturing as a part of this program.

For Industrial Technician Automation, the grants will provide two sections of integrated manufacturing systems instruction to a total of 24 students and targets incumbent workers.

The grant will also provide 10 information technology certification workshops to incumbent workers and IT students to serve a total of 100 students. Curriculum modifications will include faculty training to infuse or update program outcomes to include Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), Microsoft specialist, and A+ certifications.

Three industrial boot camps will target incumbent workers to include basic tools, measurement, math, print reading and maintenance to a total of 36 students. Students will obtain employment as entry level machine operators and basic maintenance and up to eight of the credits apply toward the Industrial Technician Technical Diploma.


Manufacturing a new image

November 8, 2013

From “Manufacturing a new image” — Baldwin-Woodville High School student McKenzie Kohls asked Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and a panel of manufacturing experts for some reassurance about the field.

“My grandfather was a welder who came home looking like a coal miner every day,” Kohls said. “How has manufacturing changed?

It was a good time to ask. Dispelling the myths of manufacturing was the theme of panel discussion during a Women in Manufacturing event held at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire Tuesday to mark October as national Manufacturing Month. The event, sponsored by Wisconsin Gold Collar Careers Manufacturing Works Group, included a tour of CVTC’s Manufacturing Education Center and a public-private speed networking session.

Students from Eleva-Strum and Baldwin-Woodville schools attended the panel discussion in person, and students in Bloomer, Cumberland, Gilmanton, Pepin, Shell Lake, Turtle Lake, Shell Lake and Webster schools followed via video conferencing.

In answering Kohls’ question, Mary Isbister, president of GenMet, a metal fabricator in Mequon, Wis., dispelled the notion that welding was a dirty job in modern manufacturing.

“You can’t have smoke and dust and dirt in places that have advanced manufacturing equipment,” Isbister said. “The equipment that we use, and the processes that we use, have advanced light years. It doesn’t look like it used to.”

Changing the image

Both manufacturing professionals and educators have been working for years to change the image of the sector.

“We still have people who view manufacturing as a dirty place, with things lying all over,” said Craig Simingson, superintendent of the Eleva-Strum School District, which received much praise at the event for having one of the best manufacturing education programs in the state. “But these are professional places where you’re not going to wear your Metallica t-shirt to work every day.”

Dawn Tabat, COO of Generac Power Systems, a Wisconsin home generator manufacturer with facilities in Whitewater, Waukesha and Eagle, acknowledged there was some truth to manufacturing’s poor image in years past.

“There were a lot of people making good money in manufacturing for what were pretty low-skilled jobs,” Tabat said. “But those unskilled jobs are gone. U.S. manufacturing got smart. These are jobs that are going to require a lot of special skills. There’s a whole new world in manufacturing.”

“These are ‘smart jobs,'” said Kleefisch. “We need your brains. We need your bright ideas in manufacturing.”

“I always use the term ‘advanced manufacturing.’ We won’t hire you unless you go to school after high school,” said Dan Conroy, vice president of human resources at Nexen, a manufacturer of power transmission and other products with a plant in Webster, Wis.

Conroy said about 12 percent of jobs in his company require only a high school education, but those positions are never open. Another 70 percent require a technical college education, and 18 percent require a university degree. Kleefisch added that over the next decade, between 54 and 72 percent of jobs will require more than a high school education, but less than a university degree.

Job opportunities

Some of the students present asked questions about job opportunities available and the courses they should be taking to prepare themselves for the jobs available. The panelists explained that there are a wide variety of careers available, from operation of sophisticated equipment, to the design and maintenance of that equipment, improvement of manufacturing processes, and many levels of support positions.

“You can do almost anything within manufacturing, but you have to understand how manufacturing works. Today’s manufacturing operates very complex equipment,” Isbister said. She urged students to have an understanding of mathematics and how it is applied, but a broad education is valuable. “There probably aren’t too many classes that wouldn’t be advantageous to you.”

Women were particularly encouraged to explore careers in what is still a heavily male-dominated field. Tabat shared her story of a 42-year rise from production and secretarial work at Generac Power Systems to human resources and eventually chief operating officer.

“I started out with a small company and the company grew bigger and bigger, and I grew with it,” Tabat said. She added only six percent of her type of position is held by women nationally.

Isbister noted that a woman who started in customer service at GenMet eight years ago, “basically runs the place when I’m not there.”

“There are no other places that have a greater opportunity for women to compete on a level playing field than manufacturing,” Tabat said.

“You can use a laser cutter to break the glass ceiling,” Kleefisch said.

Gold Collar Careers are high tech manufacturing jobs that are pushing the limits of technology by demanding bright individuals who understand and embrace the latest machining, electronic, computer, and other technologies; and creative thinkers with applied/hands-on abilities to solve problems and get things done.


From “Lt. Gov. Kleefisch talks women in manufacturing” — The state’s lieutenant governor was in Eau Claire Tuesday to talk about women in manufacturing.

Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch moderated the “Dispelling the Myths of Manufacturing” event Tuesday afternoon at the Chippewa Valley Technical College.

The event, which was hosted by the Wisconsin Gold Collar Careers Manufacturing Works Group, brought together a panel of leaders in manufacturing to discuss women finding success in the manufacturing field.

Kleefisch says “…and today we got to meet the future of manufacturing, which was pretty cool.”

The panel included Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce Foundation President Jim Morgan, GenMet President Mary Isbister, and Generac COO Dawn Tabat.


From “State leaders encourage students to consider manufacturing jobs” — GRAND RAPIDS — State and local leaders are encouraging students across Wisconsin to consider manufacturing jobs when planning their academic future.

As a major part of the state’s workforce, manufacturing jobs play a key role in growing the economy, Gov. Scott Walker told students today as part of the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce’s Heavy Metal Bus Tour, which gave dozens of south Wood County middle and high school students the chance to tour local manufacturing plants and hear about the industry.

“I’d love to have it in every community, connected with every technical college and employers in every part of the state of Wisconsin, just because it’s a great opportunity to open the eyes of not only students, but really of parents, of guidance counselors and others to see there are great careers — not just jobs — but great careers in manufacturing,” Walker said during a lunchtime stop at Mid-State Technical College’s Wisconsin Rapids campus. “Getting these kids interested early on is key to this.”

The local event coincided with October Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin, which is designed to spur job creation through the promotion of manufacturing as a career. Nearly 75 seventh- through 10th-graders from across south Wood County participated in the bus tour, which took them to Domtar Corp., Corenso North America, Tweet Garot Mechanical and Mariani Packing Co., said Melissa Reichert, president of the Wisconsin Rapids-based chamber.

“They’re learning all kinds of things about the great careers that are here in central Wisconsin,” Reichert said. “These are good-paying jobs that average over $52,000 a year, and these companies are hiring.”

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson, state Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, and state Rep. Scott Krug, R-Rome, also participated in today’s event.

The state should financially support programs that make technical education more affordable and expose students to the importance of manufacturing — through hands-on learning and other activities — at an earlier age, Krug said.

“We’re looking to close that financial gap (and) make sure it’s accessible to everybody,” he said. “Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, those programs are important … (in) helping local employers fill those jobs they have open right now. It’s a no-lose situation, and it’s a small investment for the state to make.”

On a more local level, Mid-State Technical College continues to work with local employers and other agencies to help address the so-called “skills gap” — the difference between the qualifications company leaders are looking for and the skills potential workers possess, MSTC President Sue Budjac said.

“When we talk to employers in manufacturing, what they’re telling us is that in the very near future, they’re going to have retirements on a massive scale, and they are going to need skilled and qualified workers to fill in behind those retirees that are going to be leaving their industry,” Budjac said. “We are adjusting our curriculum — the content and our courses — in ways so that we make sure that we’re responsive and delivering the skill set that they need.”

Such local efforts — one of two programs in the state and three rural sites nationwide — can serve as a model for other parts of the state as a successful partnership between private-sector employers and post-secondary education and training institutions in order to help spur workforce development that meets employers’ needs, Walker said.

“The more frequent (the) communication, the more partnership there is, the more shared accountability there is; employers will step up and put money and time and resources and equipment, in many cases, behind technical colleges that are responding to the needs that they have with the jobs they have right now as well as those in the future.”

From “Walker ‘still focused’ on jobs” — By Patrick B. Anderson – Training programs and new businesses will drive Wisconsin job growth, Gov. Scott Walker said Monday during a tour of Western Technical College.

The governor and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch visited with educators and students at the local technical college. Wisconsin is not on pace to add 250,000 private sector jobs by 2015 as Walker promised when he was elected. However, new businesses and schools such as Western will help more Wisconsin residents find work, Walker said.

“We’re still focused on that,” Walker said. “New jobs are going to come from small businesses, not big corporations.”

The governor toured Western and local offices for the Job Center of Wisconsin. The visit followed Walker’s proclamation of October as Manufacturing Month.

Kyle Larson, 21, took a break from his work at a vertical milling machine to talk to the governor. He started at Western’s machine tool program after struggling to find a job working on cars. Manufacturing work seemed to offer more opportunities to find work and move up the ladder, Larson said.

“I didn’t want to waste my time,” Larson said.

Lukas Bright, 19, saw the same type of job opportunities in welding. That’s partly what drew him to the field, the Western student said. He’s still in his first year, but already he’s already got work prospects.

“There’s hundreds of jobs available,” Bright said.

Western president Lee Rasch shared with the governor the local campus’ plans to add new facilities and take on more students. Voters passed an $80 million referendum last year for Western building upgrades, and work has already begun on some of the projects. Remodels and additions will create new learning opportunities for students who want to land a manufacturing job out of college, Rasch said.

The $32.6 million overhaul to Western’s technology center, for example, will help the college better mimic real world work environments and give students the skills they need to impress local employers, Rasch said.

“They’re looking for skilled workers,” Rasch said. “They want to know what we’re doing.”

Wisconsin added 24,305 jobs between March 2012 and March 2013, ranking 34th in the nation in job creation, according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state added 72,710 jobs from when Walker took office until March, according to the bureau.

However, the state has added 11,000 new businesses under his leadership, and new businesses will help add more opportunities for Wisconsin workers, Walker said.

“We want to build off of our positive foundation and move the state forward,” Walker said.

Walker said his office has poured $100 million into workforce development. But direct state aid to Wisconsin’s technical colleges was held flat this year, and will increase by about $5 million next year. Western will also have more flexibility next year to use categorical grants from an existing $22 million pot of funding for worker training programs.

Worker training programs are a major focus for Wisconsin lawmakers, Walker said.

“As employers tell us as we go around the state, they have jobs,” Walker said. “We want to make sure we’re putting our money where it has the biggest impact.”


From “Kleefisch touts Sheboygan jobs effort” — When it comes to being successful in a global economy and creating new generations of workers to compete in the skilled marketplace, Sheboygan County has a lot to be proud of.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was in Sheboygan Monday morning to give the keynote address during the Lakeshore International Network and Knowledge Exchange, or LINKE, Wisconsin Global Trade Conference, and took a few minutes to talk about Sheboygan County’s role.

“If you consider Sheboygan a little community, I will tell you it is the little community that could,” Kleefisch said. “You guys in Sheboygan County actually have some really good things going on.”

LINKE is a business consortium that provides local companies with networking opportunities and relevant information on global business trends.

In addition to Kleefisch, the other keynote speaker was FBI Special Agent Byron Franz, who works with corporations, colleges and universities to protect intellectual property and trade secrets.

Kleefisch said one of the best examples of Sheboygan County’s can-do attitude is the partnership that has developed between education, government and the private sector to identify the needs employers have and to train students to fill those needs.

That includes the partnership between Lakeshore Technical College and area companies that are helping to fund an expansion of the advanced manufacturing areas of the Trade and Industry building.

“In Wisconsin, we have more manufacturers per capita than any other state in the country so that’s a really big deal, particularly here in Sheboygan County,” Kleefisch said. “ I would argue that because we have such a great partnership between our private sector and government and education, you will start to attract a lot of interest in investors and also folks who are considering relocations and joining the supply chain of this area because they’ve got a workforce that is ready.”

A ready workforce, she said, is key.

“We have 30,000 jobs available every single day, open, on our website … and yet we still have folks who are on unemployment,” she said. “We need to make sure the folks who are on unemployment are gaining some of the skills our employers need their employees to have in order to get employed. That’s fixing our skills gap.”

Another issue Kleefisch talked about Monday was the growing opportunities exporting presents for Wisconsin companies.

She said that according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 97 percent of the exports from the United States are made by small businesses, if small business is defined as having 500 employees or fewer.

“Isn’t that cool?” Kleefisch said. “97 percent. Who would have even thought?”

That statistic presents an opportunity for Wisconsin businesses, because the market is growing.

“We know that for the first time … since 2007, we’re actually seeing our traditional economic markets overtaking emerging economic markets in a promising future,” Kleefisch said. “That means the U.S. and Japan, others, Europe, with established economic markets, are actually seeing a very promising future, even more promising than the emerging markets like, say, China and India and Brazil. That’s very exiting.”

From “Mobile lab lets Lakeshore Technical College bring skills training to students across Northeastern Wisconsin” — CLEVELAND – During a visit this morning to commemorate Lakeshore Technical College’s (LTC) new mobile manufacturing training lab, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch commended the projects’ partners for efforts to connect Wisconsinites from across the region with skills training for jobs that are in demand.

“There are opportunities now to develop skills that we know manufacturers are seeking,” Lt. Governor Kleefisch said. “Communities across Northeastern Wisconsin will reap the economic benefits thanks to approaches like this new mobile training lab to address the skills gap and prepare individuals for good-paying jobs in today’s labor market.”

Lt. Governor Kleefisch joined Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson, Department of Corrections (DOC) Executive Assistant Dennis Schuh, leaders from LTC and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), and private-sector partners to celebrate the completion of the new mobile manufacturing training lab.

The lab, modeled after a similar lab that NWTC and the Bay Area Workforce Development Board jointly launched in 2011, will travel to local high schools in the LTC district to provide on-site training in advanced manufacturing. The training will provide students instruction in industrial maintenance, programmable logic controls, and other components. Students will be able to complete a 5-credit technical college course that can be applied to LTC’s electro-mechanical technology program.

In addition to schools, the lab will also travel to DOC adult institutions in the region to help inmates learn marketable skills that will help them successfully pursue good-paying jobs upon their transition from prison back into the community. The vast majority of prison inmates will complete their prison sentences and one day return to the community. Successful employment is a key factor to help reduce recidivism.

The lab was developed as a partnership between DWD, DOC, Lakeshore and Northeast Wisconsin Technical Colleges, and several partners in the private sector, including Rockwell Automation, Curt G. Joa, Inc., and Plenco.

DOC Secretary Ed Wall said: “We are pleased to partner with Lakeshore Technical College on their mobile lab unit. The lab will give inmates the chance to learn skills that will help them get a job in the community. This partnership provides opportunities for offenders to change their behavior and make Wisconsin a safer place.”

DWD Secretary Newson said the training lab is reflective of the innovative approaches that DWD is taking under Governor Scott Walker’s leadership to address the skills gap and prepare Wisconsin residents for the modern workforce.

The “Wisconsin Fast Forward” bill (AB 14 / SB 23), which Governor Walker wants fast-tracked through the Legislature, would fund the development of a cutting-edge labor market information system, $15 million in worker training grants to be administered by DWD, and 4 positions in an Office of Skills Development to be created at DWD. The legislation is part of a larger $100 million investment in Wisconsin’s workforce that Governor Walker has proposed over the coming biennium.

“Governor Walker has committed significant resources to develop our state’s workforce and provide flexible resources to private-sector job creators,” said DWD Secretary Newson. “DWD and Wisconsin’s technical colleges are close partners in connecting Wisconsin job seekers to training opportunities and, ultimately, good-paying jobs in the private sector. This mobile lab is one more innovation that will empower job seekers to transition into good-paying jobs that promote independence and will help them pursue their dreams.”

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