From “Wausau’s Northcentral Technical College hiring more teachers” — A central Wisconsin college is adding jobs to help students prepare for the working world.

Northcentral Technical College is looking to fill about 30 positions.

Darren Ackley, the dean of the Technical and Trades Division, said there are more jobs out there than NTC graduates can fill.

He says adding more instructors means they’ll be able to teach more students skills that are in demand.

“Our business community has been telling us that we need more welders, we need diesel technicians, we need [certified nursing assistants], we need nurses,” said Jeannie Worden, the vice president of college advancement. “We know in our IT area that we do not have enough graduates for the IT jobs that are there. Welding, we know, is the same issue.”

The leaders of NTC want to fill that need.

“We go out to our employers to find out what their hiring needs are,” Worden said.

“We definitely try to take notes from them on what we need to do and try to accommodate however we can,” said Ackley.

Part of their solution is to add about 30 new positions, including around 10 teachers.

“We’re really focusing on increasing the number of students we can accommodate here and with that, we need more instructors, so we’re definitely having an exciting time here where we’re hiring lots of people,” Ackley said.

Ackley says they’re looking for “somebody that has some occupational experience that has been out in the industry, working, that knows what they’re doing out there.”

It’s a quality students say is helpful in the classroom.

“They have worked for huge companies or they have been managers in other states here,” said Adelio Ortiz, a student from El Salvador. “They not only bring the theory of the class, they bring real experience.”

It prepares students for life after college because Ackley says they can tailor the curriculum to what the industry needs are.

To help pay for these new positions, the school received a $6 million grant from the federal government.

From “Column: Local employer feedback is essential to providing relevant MSTC programming” — Collaboration with local employers and community partners is critical to achieving the Mid-State Technical College mission.

MSTC works closely with these stakeholders through membership on program advisory committees and participation in focus groups. This collaboration enables our college to understand the current and emerging skills needed by the workforce and provide the training employers need and seek.

We rely heavily on this information in order to keep our offerings up-to-date. This critical information is used to plan and develop curriculum, determine the length of training and establish certificate or degree requirements. It is also a resource to learn which technical skills are necessary in various sectors of the local workforce, which seem to change every year. In fact, many of these skills were unheard of just a generation ago.

At times, this valuable input might point to workforce needs for a new program offering.

A recent example of employer collaboration is the development of a new Stainless Steel Welding certificate. MSTC was fortunate to receive a federal grant through the Department of Labor that permitted us to remodel and retool the Marshfield Campus welding shop. This process was aided by a meeting of stainless steel fabrication employers last year that verified the skills entry-level stainless steel welders needed for local employment.

Employers also provided input into welding lab equipment selections, course content and the structure of training. The outcome, the new Stainless Steel Welding certificate, runs year round. New students can start any month and can work at their own pace and ability.

Beginning in August, MSTC will offer a new Health and Wellness Promotion associate degree. Health care providers and educators, along with several community agencies, came together to advise MSTC on this emerging field. This associate degree will prepare students with knowledge of health and wellness concepts, as well as program development and promotion skills. We plan to deliver this coursework in a flexible format, mostly online.

Local, regional and national trend data from the Department of Workforce Development, or DWD, help us determine emerging and growing workforce training needs, yet local employer feedback is essential when investigating a new offering. By staying in contact with employers and employees in the industry, the DWD, and many other sources, MSTC is able to offer relevant, in-demand, and up-to-date education and training.

For more information about these or any of the exciting educational opportunities available at MSTC, go to or visit your local technical college campus.

From “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.

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