May 22, 2014
From wisopinion.com: “A vision for 21st century tech colleges” — By Rebecca Kleefisch – We should celebrate our sons and daughters who become nursing assistants and machinists just as much as those who become lawyers and doctors. That was my message this weekend at Waukesha County Technical College’s commencement ceremony, when hundreds of students walked across the stage and stepped into new careers and new opportunities.
Governor Walker said the same thing this past January in his State of the State address. He and I know that the twin drivers of our state’s economy are manufacturing and agriculture. Both of those industries rely heavily on technical colleges for expertise and employees. A strong Wisconsin economy needs strong tech colleges in every part of the state, staffed by top-notch teachers and filled with cutting-edge technology. Our tech colleges are a good investment for students, a good partner for employers, and a good value for taxpayers.
The students graduating from WCTC are entering into careers offering the promise of prosperity. An associate’s degree graduate in Aircraft Electronics can get jobs with a starting salary of $47,000. A one-year technical diploma in brick-laying and masonry leads to jobs with a median starting salary of almost $43,000. A dental hygiene grad starts with a salary just shy of $50,000. In fact, for the past 15 years, the tech colleges have placed at least 86 percent of their graduates into jobs within six months of graduation. In other words, tech colleges are equipping our workers with the skills they need to get the high-paying jobs they want and the economy offers.
One reason these jobs pay so well is because our Wisconsin employers are actively searching for employees with the skills and experience to fill jobs across our economy, especially in our agriculture, health care, and manufacturing sectors. It’s vitally important that technical colleges gear their services to the jobs available in their communities today and in the future. That’s why I was so impressed by the Fab Lab at Gateway Tech, for instance, which offers itself as a resource to students, faculty, and local manufacturers to try new ideas and products.
Tech colleges need to stay connected to both the community and to the state as a whole. The Governor’s Blueprint for Prosperity, which invested the state’s $911 million surplus, included $406 million in property tax relief through the tech colleges. At Madison Area Technical College, for instance, state funding jumped from 10 percent to nearly half of MATC’s budget. With the property tax caps in place, that will drop MATC’s local tax levy by almost half, saving the owner of an average Madison home about $200.
We need to continue investing in our technical colleges because of the crucial role they play in our communities and our economy. For instance, given all the technical advances discovered by our tech college staff and students, I’d like to see new programs that help commercialize these innovations as new products and processes for use in business.
My address at WCTC on Saturday was my 37th stop at a technical college since taking office. All those visits reflect the high priority that Governor Walker and I place on our tech colleges. Commencement provides each of us, as friends, family, and neighbors of the graduates, an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and to appreciate their new careers building a stronger Wisconsin.
From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “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 www.mstc.edu or visit your local technical college campus.
February 5, 2014
From channel3000.com: “Walker plan for worker training gets support” — Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to spend $35 million to help technical colleges train people for high demand jobs is finding support at a legislative hearing.
Backers of Walker’s proposal testified Tuesday before the Assembly’s Committee on Workforce Development. The full Assembly was expected to vote on the plan next week.
Walker wants to spend $35 million to eliminate waiting lists for high demand fields at technical colleges, help high school students get trained for high-demand jobs through dual enrollment programs and support programs that help people with disabilities find work.
Wisconsin technical college system president Morna Foy says she is “stoked” about the possibility of the funding being approved. She says it would definitely result in more people getting trained for jobs in high-demand areas.
January 24, 2014
From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC leader: State aid boost keeps job training in high gear” — Any way you look at it, Gov. Scott Walker’s announcement during his State of the State address Wednesday that Wisconsin technical colleges will receive an additional $35 million is good news, Chippewa Valley Technical College President Bruce Barker said.
Barker was enthusiastic after hearing Walker’s remarks about increasing funding for the technical college he oversees and others.
“It’s certainly good news,” Barker said of the additional money, part of a program dubbed Wisconsin Fast Forward. “It’s definitely more money for training and education, and that’s a good thing.”
However, Barker said while that money can be used to hire more teachers, he doesn’t believe it can be spent to add laboratory space, already in high demand at CVTC.
“It’s additional dollars, but we have to see what the requirements will be,” Barker said. “The problem is the capacity of our labs. Our welding lab goes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and these are year-round programs.”
The main components of Wisconsin Fast Forward aim to eliminate waiting lists in high-demand job markets such as manufacturing, agriculture and information technology, and help high school students get credits through dual enrollment programs between high schools and technical colleges.
CVTC has longer waiting lists for nurse hygienists and nursing programs than in manufacturing or agriculture programs, Barker said.
“We’re certainly seeing a big demand in manufacturing and transportation, for truck drivers. Both of those programs, we’re at maximum capacity,” Barker said.
State Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, who introduced Wisconsin Fast Forward in the Assembly, said the initiative is a step in the right direction.
“Linking job seekers with employers that target critical and in-demand jobs while working with tech colleges and workforce development centers across the state puts a sharp focus on employment issues at a local level, where need and demand can be best addressed,” she said in a news release.
In addition to those programs, Walker proposed replacing $406 million in property taxes for technical colleges with state dollars. That would be accomplished by lowering the property tax levy that technical colleges can assess on homeowners.
“It’s a step in the right direction for local taxpayers,” Barker said. “But with the switch to state dollars, you fear losing local control. You also fear a cut in the state budget.”
Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said in a statement Thursday that Walker’s plan brings better balance to the system’s funding structure. Foy said the system has “long sought greater equity between local and state investments.”
From jsonline.com: “Scott Walker signs bill providing $15 million in work force training grants” — Madison – The state will distribute $15 million in worker training grants under a bill Gov. Scott Walker signed into law on Wednesday.
The measure will also create a system to better and more quickly track jobs data in an attempt to guide workers to in-demand professions. The jobs database is scheduled to be in place by next year.
The measure has broad bipartisan support, passing the Senate unanimously and the Assembly 94-4 in recent weeks. Despite minority Democrats’ support for the bill, they said it fell short and lawmakers should do more to develop workers’ skills.
“We all agree we need to continue to do everything we can to ensure workers have the necessary skills for the jobs available today,” Walker said in a statement. “This bill will help address the skills gap by investing in worker training grants and developing a Labor Market Information System. Altogether, these investments will focus a concerted effort to connect workers with jobs.”
The jobs database and training grants are part of the Republican governor’s platform of improving the skills of the state’s aging labor force and boosting the state’s economy in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The training plans draw on reports by Competitive Wisconsin and Tim Sullivan, the former Bucyrus International chief executive officer.
Democrats, however, have noted that Walker has proposed far less new money for training workers than the hundreds of millions of dollars that he and GOP lawmakers cut two years ago from the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Technical College System to help balance the state budget.
Walker made those cuts, as well as ones to local governments and school districts, just after approving a measure that all but eliminated collective bargaining for most public workers and required them to pay more for their pensions and health care. He has argued that those savings and the added flexibility offset the cuts, saying the bill he signed Wednesday amounts to new money.
The governor’s proposed budget would provide additional money for state universities and technical colleges, though the increase would be less than the amount he cut in 2011. Lawmakers will decide this summer whether to keep or alter Walker’s proposal on higher education spending.
The competitive grants available under the new law would go to technical colleges, local workforce boards and regional economic development organizations working in partnership with state businesses, which could provide matching funds.
February 11, 2013
From wxow.com: “Sen. Chris Larson talks jobs proposal, legislative agenda” — Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D, Milwaukee) and the Democrats unveiled an expansive jobs proposal last week made up of nine initiatives.
Among the proposal’s plans are giving small businesses grants up front to get started rather than tax credits down the road, requiring Wisconsin to buy American products when it comes to infrastructure and a new grant program to fund workforce development partnerships between businesses and technical colleges.
“If we restore funding to technical colleges that was cut and we’re able to close the skills gap that we have, that’s 35-thousand jobs,” Larson said on a visit to La Crosse Tuesday. “With the buy American and prioritize Wisconsin initiatives, as well as the one putting grants up front as opposed to tax credits, those would take more time to come through.”
“But all in all we’re looking at several thousand jobs,” Larson said.
The prioritize Wisconsin initiative requires the state “attempt to purchase at least 20-percent of materials and contractual services from Wisconsin-based businesses.”
“You can make sure there’s a priority given,” Larson said. “When we send money out of state for contracts or supplies, that money’s likely not coming back.”
“But if we incentivize to make sure, even if it means we have to pay a little bit more, that we’re employing Wisconsinites and making sure they have a job, then that money is staying in our state’s economy,” he added.
Larson also called on Senate Republicans to approach job creation with greater urgency.
“We haven’t seen a jobs proposal come through the senate yet, which is why we put these out,” Larson said. “The first thing to pass was a bill settling a political score against the secretary of state.”
“So (Democrats) shrugged our shoulders at that and decided that, if the Republicans aren’t willing to put forth jobs proposals, let’s put some forward and hope the Republicans see them,” he said.
Larson added that, while job creation is his party’s top priority as the new legislative session continues, the Democrats also have other goals.
“We saw largest cut in state history to education in the last budget — $800-million to K-12 education alone,” Larson said. “So we’re looking to see those funds restored. With the Governor touting extra money from those cuts and looking to spend that money, we’d like to see that priority set to make sure all kids have access to a quality education.”
“I also think another priority everyone can agree on is making sure we have more accountability and transparency throughout our government,” Larson said, “particularly in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation which has seen inherent problems.”
“We’ve seen millions of dollars lost and now we’ve seen least qualified individual on the list of people to be hired getting the reigns to the organization from the Governor,” he said.
Governor Scott Walker announced that Reed Hall, who had served as the WEDC’s CEO on an interim basis, would accept the post full-time earlier this month.
The state paid for a search firm which recommended three finalists to the Governor, but the Governor said all three of those finalists recommended he appoint Hall instead.
October 12, 2012
From wxow.com: “Economic impact $80 million WTC plan could have locally” — Wisconsin Technical College is asking for an almost $80 million bond to enhance facilities and curriculum.
Before taxpayers vote this November, the college had a consulting group look at the economic impact if the number of Western graduates were to increase.
Thursday, Northstar Consulting Group revealed their findings.
All results apply to the year 2020.
Experts said in that time, an additional 300 graduates each year will stay and work in the Western district.
They said this will add more than $6 million to the local economy, which will rise to $97 million by 2034.
“We’re confident we can meet the goal if we can do these things, if we have the community’s support,” said Lee Rasch, president of WTC. “And then we’re also confident that the community’s gonna benefit because the increased wages are going to go back and help the regional economy.”
The community can vote on the plan Nov. 6.