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WITC-Hayward plans hospitality seminar

- In a joint effort, WITC-Hayward and Sawyer County UW-Extension will host a customer service seminar designed specifically for tourism employees from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at WITC Hayward.

Andrew Nussbaum of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism will present a full-day of informative tips on how employees in the tourism industry can help employers generate customer loyalty. This seminar, Northern Hospitality, will be held at WITC-Hayward. Materials, lunch and snacks are included in the fee of $35 per person or $16.67 for individuals 62 or better.

Employees will hear and be involved in the discussion of the importance of personal job success, customer relations and selling. Some of the specific topics will include: honesty; teamwork; loyalty and job performance; punctuality and attendance; work ethic, selling products, personal image, social media interaction and the job, dealing with customer complaints, and the top 10 customer relations strategies. This seminar will be appropriate for all ages, including high school students.

Seating is limited so register early. For more information or to register, call WITC at (715) 634-5167. Y

Read more: From haywardwi.com: "WITC-Hayward plans hospitality seminar Apr. 26"

Opinion: Demand for IT skills signals next advance in modern manufacturing

By Jennifer Sereno — Wisconsin has been staking its claim as a center of skilled manufacturing since the 1860s. And Blackhawk Technical College intends to help the state build on that legacy for generations to come with a groundbreaking program to develop the new workforce skills Wisconsin manufacturers need to remain competitive in the global economy.

While some of the state’s earliest skilled manufacturing businesses emerged in Milwaukee — steam engine producer Allis Co. (later Allis Chalmers) was founded in 1861 — manufacturers in Rock County were not far behind.

Thanks to the arrival of rail lines in the 1850s as well as the proximity to Chicago, Rock County’s  starting with an iron works, a paper mill and agricultural equipment producers. Parker Pen Co. which ultimately became a global pen manufacturer, was founded in Janesville in 1888.

More recently, Rock County has weathered a number of manufacturing-related challenges, including closure of General Motors assembly plant. However, manufacturing remains the county’s third-largest source of employment, accounting for some 14 percent of jobs, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.

Blackhawk Technical College plays an important role in maintaining the region’s skilled manufacturing leadership. With locations in Janesville, Beloit and Monroe, the technical college offers more than 75 programs that can lead to associate degrees, technical diplomas, certificates and apprenticeships in fields such as business, manufacturing, health sciences, computers and more.

Those offerings will expand in an important way this fall when Blackhawk launches a two-year program that trains students as information technology specialists for advanced manufacturing jobs. The program will complement the technical college’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, the first phase of which is scheduled to open in Milton this fall.

“The face of manufacturing is changing nationally, regionally and locally,” says Gary Kohn, Blackhawk’s marketing and communications manager. “Modernization is critical for survival. And what’s happening with respect to modernization is improved techniques in the plants – new quality management systems, robotics, other intelligent systems.”

In the modern manufacturing environment, skilled workers are needed for more than just operating the increasingly complex machines, Kohn says. They need to be able to integrate, program and fix the machines, as well.

Today’s manufacturing equipment is being linked together through sophisticated computer networks and operated from remote workstations. Kohn says the shift to this new, lean environment puts a premium on workers skilled in information technology with knowledge of both hardware and software.

College officials are quick to credit regional business and community leaders who serve on various advisory groups for identifying the need for such cutting-edge training. Among them is SSI Technologies of Janesville, a privately held company that designs and manufactures sensors, sensor-based monitoring systems, digital gauges and powdered-metal components for automotive and industrial applications.

“Our instructors are constantly getting feedback and seeking input” from industry, workers and community members, Kohn says. “We’ve heard about the need from our community advisory groups … This is going to be a program that should really gain a lot of traction because these jobs are applicable in so many areas.”

In developing new educational offerings that align with the emerging needs of the manufacturing sector, Blackhawk Technical College is bettering opportunities for its students while building workforce capacity for the future. If history shows anything, Kohn says, it’s that manufacturers and workers need to be adaptable.

“We use that word ‘adaptability’ with a lot of our programs,” he says. “We want our welders to be familiar with precision machining and we want our industrial mechanics to be able to weld. Our HVAC students don’t just fix air conditioning units; sometimes they have to build things requiring machining.”

If Wisconsin is to maintain its heritage as a global center of skilled manufacturing in the New Economy, advanced training such as the manufacturing information technology program offered by Blackhawk Technical College will be key.

Read more: From bizopinion.wisbusiness.com: "Demand for IT skills signals next advance in modern manufacturing"

WTCS Board recognizes D&S as ‘Futuremakers Partner’

The Wisconsin Technical College System Board recently awarded its Futuremakers Partner award to D&S Manufacturing of Black River Falls.

The award recognizes the unique and dynamic partnerships between Wisconsin’s technical colleges and their employer partners.

D&S Manufacturing, specializing in metal fabrication of large-scale components and assemblies, is a long-time partner with Western Technical College. While its main campus is in La Crosse, Western also serves communities throughout the region, including Black River Falls.

“It was an honor to receive this award, and particularly fitting that company president Mike Dougherty and the Dougherty family were specifically recognized for their outstanding support and long-term commitment to Western,” said John Barkley, D&S vice president and general manager.

“Many of our employee owners have taken advantage of and benefited from the educational opportunities that Western offers. We look forward to continuing our support of Western and the opportunities it provides to our community and region.”

In presenting the award, WTCS Board president Drew Petersen noted that D&S was a driving force in establishing the Jackson County Welding Skills Institute, a unique partnership formed with Western and other partners to meet the growing need for trained welders in the Black River Falls area. Without that support, Petersen noted, the initiative would not have been possible. The company has also funded scholarships at Western over many years, and provided tuition assistance for its employee owners.

“D&S Manufacturing is a true partner,” said Lee Rasch, president of Western Technical College. “Members of both their management and production staff serve on our program advisory committees. We value their support and honest feedback, which helps to ensure that our educational programming is relevant and responsive to the communities we serve.”

Read more: From lacrossetribune.com: "WTCS Board recognizes D&S as 'Futuremakers Partner'"

Health care delegation visits Fox Valley Tech

— International health care delegates will be in the Fox Cities today and Friday to gain insight into health care management best practices and tour facilities.

The Fox Cities Regional Partnership will host nearly 20 delegates from the Special American Business Internship Training Hospital Administration program. The mid- to senior-level health care executives from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Ukraine began their U.S. tour March 28 in Washington, D.C.

“We’re excited to host this prestigious delegation and have teamed up with our region’s world-class health care organizations to share their knowledge and experiences with the group,” Larry Burkhardt, executive vice president at Fox Cities Regional Partnership, said in a statement. “Our local health systems have been able to provide a variety of the best health care options in the region, and to have others outside the Fox Valley learn and benefit from our leaders is an honor.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce is coordinating the group’s visit. A Commerce Department representative contacted the Fox Cities Regional Partnership and requested the visit after finding information about the region’s health care assets on the Partnership’s website. The representative said the Fox Cities was selected for its national reputation as a leader in high quality health care at low cost.

The delegates will visit with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Fox Valley, the Orthopedic & Sports Institute of the Fox Valley (OSI), Neuroscience Group, Affinity Health System at St. Elizabeth Hospital, ThedaCare at the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, Neurospine Center and Fox Valley Technical College’s new Health Simulation & Technology Lab.

Discussion topics will include financial management, new medical technologies and risk management, equipment manufacturers, relationships with insurance companies, medical ethics and conflict resolution, and doctor and patient rights.

Read more: From greenbaypressgazette.com: "Health care delegation visits Fox Cities"

“Bridges2Healthcare” grant funds healthcare academy at Western Tech College

One of seven colleges to receive the “Bridges2Healthcare” Grant, Western Technical College hosts a Healthcare Academy which introduces career options in healthcare to those interested.

The four day Academy runs from April 8 through April 11, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Healthcare Academy provides introductions to various career options in healthcare, training, and employment requirements.

The participants are additionally mentored by a Success Coach in communication and study skills, financial literacy, safety, stress management, customer service, and how to stay healthy.

Not only is it a 30 hour introduction program, but the benefits stretch beyond the four days.

Tutors and Success Coaches will be available to participants if they choose to pursue a career in the health field.

“I have seen a huge increase in the need for employees, well trained and prepared employees in the health care field,” said “Bridges2Healthcare” facilitator, Ray Heidel. “The healthcare field is huge.”

The program is partially funded by the nearly $13 million “Bridges2Healthcare” Grant from the Department of Labor, making it free to all those interested.

The grant was awarded to seven colleges in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin recognized for a growing need in healthcare employees as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program.

Those interested must be at least 18 years old, out of high school, and be interested in the healthcare field.

The next Healthcare Academy session is set to take place in June; to preregister for the event, contact the “Bridges2Heathcare” Facilitator, Ray Heidel, at (608)789-6216.

Read more: From wkow.com: "Bridges to Healthcare" grant funds Healthcare Academy at WTC"

New Ingenuity Center hopes to connect unemployed with manufacturing jobs

The Ingenuity Center at Madison Area Technical College is the 8th and final building renovation as part of the 2010 referendum. The center has been open since the beginning of Fall semester, but on Wednesday afternoon college officials held a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony.

The ceremony itself showcased the overall goal of the new center. Instead of simply cutting a ribbon with a pair of scissors, the ceremony ended with a student-programmed robot cutting a poly cord. College officials say the poly cord symbolized the more than 50 programs that use the Ingenuity Center to teach classes. Nearly every program uses the material in some shape or form.

“It is 62,000 square feet of lab and classroom space dedicated to advancing Wisconsin manufacturing,” Interim Dean of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology Denise Reimer says.

Business analysts say manufacturing is a growing sector in many parts of the country, one that is experiencing a major gap in employment. Openings are available, but managers are having a tough time finding skilled workers to fill them. They’re workers like single mother of four Rose Appleton.

“I’m excited about what I can learn and what I can do,” Appleton says. “The robotics program and the fact that I will be able to work with metal and program a machine. To do so is just phenomenal.”

After working many years in retail, Appleton found herself unemployed about two years ago. Through a grant she was able to take manufacturing classes and found herself a new job at Evco Plastics.

“Initially they declined me because I didn’t have the manufacturing skills. Once they found out I had the manufacturing certificate I was eligible to start at Evco,” Appleton says.

Not only is the center giving students new opportunities, it’s also causing increases in enrollment. This Spring college officials saw a 6% increase over last year, with signs pointing to more growth ahead.

“This is the answer, is bringing individuals here to give them those job ready skills so that they can go into the manufacturing environment,” Reimer says.

College officials say more than 50 programs will use the center to teach their classes. The space is used for a variety of programs, from automotive to biotechnology.

Read more: From wkow.com: "New Ingenuity Center hopes to connect unemployed workers with manufacturing jobs"

Golf course will become learning lab for FVTC

Winagamie Golf Course has been a second home to Mary Beth Nienhaus for 43 years. Now, the legendary educator, coach, golfer and benefactor has donated the 27-hole facility to the Appleton Education Foundation.

“It’s humbling that Mary Beth would think of the Appleton Education Foundation as such a worthy recipient,” said Julie Krause, executive director of the foundation. The golf course, with an estimated value of more than $2.5 million, is the largest gift the foundation has ever received, she said.

An agreement for Nienhaus, 70, of Appleton to give the golf course to the AEF was finalized at the end of 2013, and was formally announced Tuesday during a news conference at the golf course. The Appleton School District and Fox Valley Technical College are collaborating with AEF to offer local students hands-on learning experiences at the facility — from small-engine repair to horticulture, agronomy, marketing and event planning.

The course will continue to be open to golfers.

Nienhaus, a longtime golf professional at Winagamie, became a partner in the business in 1972. She took over sole ownership in 1993.

She said she had a prospective buyer for the property, but by donating it to the foundation, she will preserve the legacy she’s worked to build. A board of directors will oversee the course’s operations, and it will continue as a for-profit business. Any profits will be set aside for capital improvements to the golf course, Krause said. AEF will eventually receive dividends from the course, and will use them to fund grants for educators in Appleton schools, but no AEF funds will be put toward the course.

This isn’t Nienhaus’ first contribution to AEF. In 1997, she gave the foundation one of its first major gifts — $200,000 for the renovations at Goodland Field. Nienhaus Sports Complex is now home to the Appleton West baseball, softball and soccer teams.

Her relationship with AEF didn’t end there. In 2011, she committed a matching gift of $100,000 to West for improved physical education and athletic facilities.

Appleton School District Administrator Lee Allinger said he isn’t surprised by Nienhaus’ generosity.

“Mary Beth is a person who has this incredible community vision and has really backed up her beliefs with the actions she’s taken over the years,” he said.

The possibilities

Nancy Johnshoy, Winagamie Inc. board president and AEF director, said the foundation thought long and hard about the golf course and how it would benefit local students.

“At first glance, owning a golf course operation may not seem like a natural fit for the Appleton Education Foundation, but as we thought about it and let our imaginations wander, we realized it has a natural tie-in for the school district and Fox Valley Technical College,” Johnshoy said.

Teachers from FVTC and the Appleton School District will collaborate to create learning opportunities for students at Winagamie.

Susan May, president of FVTC and a member of the Winagamie board of directors, said she’s thrilled to see students learning in a “realistic laboratory” at the golf course.

Nienhaus will continue to be involved in golf course operations as a member of the board of directors and through the junior golf academy. When she decides the time is right, Neinhaus will give AEF control of the junior golf academy. The foundation will continue the academy’s mission into the future.

With more spare time on the horizon, Nienhaus hopes to travel more during the summer, to continue volunteering and to play golf.

“I have this wonderful golf course here and I hardly play golf,” she said. “Years ago I used to play well, and then once I turned professional I gave lessons — tons of lessons, thousands of lessons over the years — and, of course, then I couldn’t do everything, so I didn’t play a lot of golf.”

When Nienhaus looks out over the expansive golf course, which opened in 1962, she is reminded of her parents.

“I see my dad (Sylvester) all the time, because he planted over 600 evergreens out here,” she said. “When he planted them they were probably three, four feet high. And now you take a look at them and they’re huge.”

The hard work ethic that drives Nienhaus came from her parents, she said. Her father spent more than 40 years at Kimberly-Clark Corp. and worked part time at Gelbe’s Nursery. Her mother, Mabel, worked a variety of jobs over the years and was employed in the pro shop at Winagamie for a time.

Enviable career

Nienhaus distinguished herself in teaching, golfing and coaching over the years.

She won the Wisconsin Women’s Public Links Golf Association Amateur Championship in 1963 and 1964. The victories helped her become Marquette University’s first female varsity student-athlete: She joined the men’s golf team in 1965.

Nienhaus was the first person to represent Marquette in intercollegiate postseason play. She won the Wisconsin State Golf Association Championship in 1968 and 1969, and was named the Wisconsin Female Golfer of the Year in 1969.

Teaching has been a passion for Nienhaus. She taught physical education at Appleton West High School for 28 years and coached the girls’ golf team for 25 years. During her tenure as a golf coach, West won four state championships. She was named the LPGA Coach of the Year in 1987 — the only high school coach ever to receive the award.

Her passions for teaching and golf led her to start the Winagamie Junior Golf Academy, which teaches the game to children. It’s funded through the Winagamie Golf Foundation and is one of the state’s largest junior golf programs. Even though she retired from the school district in 1999, Nienhaus still logs 80- to 90-hour work weeks during the golf season.

An independent person and trailblazer, Nienhaus is single and has no children. She said people at the golf course often ask where her husband is.

“They think I’m sort of a token owner or something. When I tell them I’m the sole owner I think that takes them back a little bit,” Nienhaus said.

“The cute thing I always say is because I’m so independent if I would have married and had children, then the husband clearly would have been the one to take care of the kids and make the meals and everything,” she said. “Of course, years ago that never would have happened. Nowadays it’s a more common occurrence.”

Read more: From greenbaypressgazette.com: "Nienhaus donated Winagamie Golf Course to Appleton foundation"

NWTC student meets 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.

Okuma America Corp and Madison College partner to train machinists, programmers

Okuma America Corporation, a world-leader in CNC machine tool manufacturing, and Madison Area Technical College (MATC), a member of Partners in THINC, today announced their partnership to provide superior CNC education to students. The three-year partnership will deliver high quality hands-on training in service, repair, operation, programming, application and maintenance of Okuma machines as part of MATC’s machinist certificate and degree programs.

Madison Area Technical College will offer training led by NIMS certified, Level 1 instructors on Okuma CNC machines and simulators in the college’s new Ingenuity Center. In addition to providing equipment, Okuma will assist in developing content and programs that are aligned with Okuma’s workforce goals. “We’re pleased to join forces with MATC in CNC education. This partnership will provide a workforce pool to the local industry base that has the skills required to perform CNC related jobs,” said Lisa Rummel, chief financial officer at Okuma America.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies showcasing the Ingenuity Center will be held at MATC on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 3:30 p.m.

Read more: From digitaljournal.com: "Okuma America Corporation and Madison Area Technical College partner to train the next generation of machinists and programmers"

Students learn business communications on fast track

As a non-traditional student in Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Business Management program, Jim Voss of Boyd had something of an advantage going into the Speed Networking event held as part of a planning and decision making class. He’s been at ease talking to people for years.

“I just never thought of it as ‘networking,’ ” Voss said. But he’s long understood the value of making business connections through personal connections. It’s something business people do constantly in social settings, but for some, especially young people, it can be difficult.

“You don’t have people waiting to talk to you,” Voss said about those social situations. “You have to go up and meet people.”

Getting some practice doing that was what the Speed Networking event March 31 at CVTC was all about.

The event involved 40 business people, matching the number of students in the class. Students are told to dress for a business setting but are not allowed to bring a resume. Although skills developed may help in job interviews, it is not an interview practice session, but something more informal.

Students sit down with the volunteers and talk for five minutes, then switch tables and talk with a new volunteer, meeting as many of the business people they can in the allotted time. This networking practice prepares the students for the real thing when they attend the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business After Hours networking session April 14.

The Speed Networking event, now in its seventh year, was developed by now-retired CVTC Business Management instructor Grace Rich, along with Jeff Pepper, who is now associate dean of business.

“It’s for the students to experience networking in a controlled environment,” said Mary Felton-Kolstad, who teaches the class.

Rich recalls that the idea for the event actually came from a student, who noted that one skill he didn’t learn, but needed, was how to talk to people he didn’t know.

Voss was a pressman for Chippewa Valley Newspapers for many years and is now studying business at CVTC in search of a new career after industry changes left him without work. His maturity made it easier for him to converse with the business people, many of whom were much younger than him. Still, he had much to gain from the exercise through meeting a variety of business people.

“One of the things I noticed was the directness and the honesty of the business people,” Voss said. “They all had something to say and offered some pointers.”

A couple of the business people Voss met gave him the names of others he could contact in his upcoming job search. “People that know people – that’s what networking is all about. Where else can you get 40 business people willing to meet with students?”

Student Patrick Seipel of Menomonie shared his desire to own his own business someday with the networking contacts he met.

“I was pretty built up around introducing myself,” Seipel said. “I’d talk about what I want to do the next year or the next couple of years and what I want to build for myself.”

Then he would ask the business people about themselves and their companies, sometimes finding a special connection. His business idea involved production of homemade candies and he heard a couple of tips about certified kitchens where he could get started.

“I made some good connections and a possible job opportunity from one of them,” Seipel said.

The business professionals were happy to help, and also saw benefit in the event for themselves and their businesses.

“I made my calendar open so I could do it,” said Kathy Christiansen, director of Lakeland College’s center in Chippewa Falls. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to give back and try to help students feel comfortable. It can be uncomfortable for them to walk up to someone and start a conversation.”

Christiansen was not there on a recruitment mission, but she was aware that some of the students may be interested in going back to school for additional degrees after they graduate from CVTC. “At least they will know we are available. It gave me an opportunity to tell my story. I’m a CVTC graduate who went to Lakeland,” Christiansen said.

Matt Jentile of Fastenal in Chippewa Falls saw the events as a benefit to the students and his company.

“Part of my job as a district manager is recruiting,” Jentile said. We have to get involved with technical colleges and universities and keep our pipeline full. We are growing so fast we want to reach out to students while they’re still in school.”

The Speed Networking event was in a structured setting, but after it was over, a large group of students and business people continued to network, gathering at the Green Mill restaurant and lounge in Eau Claire.

Read more: From chippewa.com: "Students learn business communications on fast track"

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