Our Story

Born of the Industrial Revolution


Typing Class (1920)
This typing class (circa 1920) was typical of the courses taught in the early years of the Wisconsin Technical College System. Even then, technology in the form of typewriters, was a critical aspect of the education.

Change was fast and intense at the beginning of the twentieth century. The industrial revolution created new industries and upset existing ways of manufacturing products. Gone were the days of cottage industries and small scale production. The growth of manufacturing was especially significant to Wisconsin and the thousands of residents who were a part of the growing manufacturing base in the state. Factories needed skilled and trained workers to match the new demands of manufacturing.

Responding to these demands, in 1911, Wisconsin created the modern technical college system in the nation by becoming the first state to establish a system of state support and calling it the Vocational, Technical, Adult Education of Wisconsin.

Responding to the Technological Revolution


Students broadcasting from Wisconsin State Fair (1961)
As broadcasting technology revolutionizes the country, the Wisconsin Technical College System responds with relevant programs. This photo shows a broadcast from the Wisconsin State Fair in which the students from the Milwaukee Vocational and Adult School are filming Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (1961).

For every decade since, the Wisconsin Technical College System has adapted to changing work needs of businesses and students in Wisconsin. The idea that everyone could be trained to have chance to make a meaningful contribution became central to the technical college system as it took shape as a center of learning and skill development for local communities.

Wisconsin's technical colleges strive to give each new generation of students the chance to discover their passions, broaden their professional skill set, and achieve their fullest potential.

The Wisconsin Technical College System does more than meet the current job needs of our community and our students. We assess current workforce trends and keep the pulse of our employers to develop our students’ skills for the jobs of tomorrow.

Poised for Future Evolution

Once again there are massive changes in technology and the workplace, and, just as before, the skill sets people need to get that work done have shifted. The roar of machines and gears has been replaced by the quieter hum of computers and data management systems, but the role of the technical college system remains the same: to give students of all ages the real world skills they need to achieve their goals and find meaningful work.


Turbine Tower

Building upon the success of practices like advisory committees, the technical colleges are ever advancing and improving services to business and students alike.

This accomplishment is only possible by being efficient and responsive to the technology economy and the aspirations of our students to achieve.

Today our students work in some of Wisconsin’s most critical and high-tech industries, like health care, energy, and information technology. We educate roughly 330,000 students each year--more than any other higher education system in the state. Our graduates are everywhere-- doing the work that keeps our local communities strong. If someone you know requires emergency medical attention, they will encounter first responders and graduates in other critical careers on the way to the hospital before they ever speak with a doctor. Like the EMT, or the police officer, or the intake nurse and the medical technician, WTCS graduates like these occupy critical jobs in every community in Wisconsin.

As the world continues to change, the Wisconsin Technical College System will continue to be there to help our students discover their passion and achieve their potential.