By Shaun Zinck – Gov. Scott Walker signed a $35 million bill at Blackhawk Technical College on Monday morning to help fund technical college programs and train more workers in advanced manufacturing.
Walker said the bill would affect three areas in the state: bring down the waiting lists on high-demand areas of studies at technical colleges; offer more opportunities for college and high school partnerships for dual credits; and help people with disabilities find jobs in Wisconsin.
“We go out on campuses and we see what’s happening,” Walker said. “We see the relevance we talked about that are connecting not only students, but employers here in Janesville and in Rock County and all over the state of Wisconsin.”
Morna Foy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System, said technical colleges in Wisconsin focus on the opportunities for students to train in specialized skills, and it also helps employers have access to those workers to stay competitive in the marketplace.
“This new prosperity grant will provide another tool for technical colleges to provide help with that purpose and mission to make Wisconsin the greatest economic engine in the world,” she said.
The bill appropriates the funds to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, which will then grant the money to the technical colleges in the state. Walker said the grants are not just workforce development, but economic development, by helping technical colleges “buy down” waiting lists for popular manufacturing programs.
“You hear time and time again from employers that, ‘Not only do I need help filling that high-skilled welder, CNC operator, machinist … but I actually have the capacity to add more work if I can fill the positions I have,’” the governor said. “So it’s not just about workforce development, it’s about opening the door so our employers can create more jobs going forward.”
The partnerships between technical colleges and school districts are also very valuable, Walker said. He brought up his recent tour to the Beloit Memorial High School Technical Education Programming Space.
“It was a great example when you see the technology incorporated on campus right there at a high school,” Walker said. “One of the exciting things we were seeing is young people that are not only excited about what they are learning, but earning credits for high school graduation, and then have that apply to going on to pursuing the rest of what they need for their career at a technical college.”
Helping people with disabilities find employment is also important because no one can “be on the sidelines,” Walker said.
“With this bill we are setting money aside to expand programs like Project Search, which helps young people with disabilities start to explore what their abilities are, and plug them into those as they transition from high school to the workplace,” he said. “We want to help employers find the unique abilities of people who are otherwise identified as having disabilities. This is not a charity program. This is to find their unique abilities so you have an asset for the employer and the employee. It’s a win-win.”
All three parts will help the economy in Wisconsin grow, Walker said.
“By filling key positions, and helping companies know that when they choose to expand and grow here in the State of Wisconsin, they are going to have a steady, strong supply of well-trained, well-prepared, well-educated, hardworking employees that will make them prosperous for many years to come,” he said.
After the bill signing Walker spoke to the media, and when asked, he declined to answer detailed questions about whether he was aware a secret email system existed in the Milwaukee County executive’s office when he held the position, or whether he personally used that system.
“I’ve pointed out the district attorney spent multiple years looking at that and chose to end the report last March,” he said. “I don’t really need to go through and examine all the details. I’m not going to go through things of the past. The district attorney looked at it and chose not to act on anyone else and I think it speaks for itself.”
MATC’s culinary programs expand, benefitting students and public
March 19, 2014
By Nancy J. Stohs – The culinary programs at Milwaukee Area Technical College have undergone major changes in the last couple of years, and the hungry public is as much a beneficiary as the students.
When the student-run Cuisine restaurant relocated in fall of 2012 to the first floor of the school’s main downtown campus, that opened up space on the sixth floor to add a second culinary skills lab and an international foods lab, both of which opened this past fall.
That made two things possible: the addition of four course requirements to the culinary arts curriculum — regional American cuisine, European/Mediterranean cuisine, Asian cuisine, and South and Central American cuisine — and to eliminate the program’s waiting list.
“In the past, we could take 35 new students a semester, or about 70 a year,” said Richard Busalacchi, associate dean of hospitality and food manufacturing programs at MATC. “Last fall we took in about 75 students and this spring 86 students.
“Anybody who applied to the culinary arts program got in.”
The baking and pastry arts program, similarly, nearly doubled its enrollment after a new baking and chocolate lab opened last fall on the first floor. Typically, 50 students would be admitted each year; this year, it was 80.
And that’s where the hungry public comes in. The new baking lab feeds a new student-run venue, the 6th Street Cafe, located across the hall from Cuisine. Opened last fall serving coffee and breakfast, it added lunch this semester.
That was based on a recommendation from the program’s advisory committee.
In order to stay competitive, “the bakeries we knew once upon a time that just did doughnuts and cookies and cakes have evolved,” Busalacchi explained. So while the students do learn how to bake, “they also end up with a solid skill set for the café operation.”
Soups ($2 cup, $3 bowl), salads ($4.95 to $6.95), sandwiches ($6 or $6.94), plus various coffee drinks, pastries, cold beverages and seven flavors of ice cream and sorbet are on the cafe’s menu, which changes slightly every few weeks.
Everything in the cafe is made from scratch, including the breads for sandwiches and the sorbets and ice creams, and — as in Cuisine — ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible.
Last week I sampled a zesty Oaxacan black bean soup, a flavorful spinach salad with walnuts, pears, chevre, grapes and balsamic vinaigrette and an applewood smoked ham and aged cheddar sandwich. Oh, and a couple of couldn’t-resist desserts sold in the adjoining 6th Street Bakery.
Like Cuisine, the cafe is open most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters. Café hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (lunch service starts at 11:30). The café will close for the semester around the first week of May; Cuisine the second or third week.
Cuisine takes reservations (free through Open Table), while the cafe, which seats up to about 70 in two dining rooms and which also offers carryout, is walk-up service.
So far, promotion of the cafe has been internal word of mouth only.
Operating the 6th Street Cafe is the capstone class for the two-year baking and pastry arts program, just as operating Cuisine restaurant is the final course for culinary arts students. Graduation and job-hunting are next.
In addition to these two programs, MATC also added a two-year culinary management program about a year ago.
And where will all of these graduates find jobs?
Busalacchi isn’t worried. Statistics show that more than 800 new food service jobs — cooks, chefs, bakers and managers — are added annually within a 50-mile radius of downtown Milwaukee.
According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant and foodservice industry is the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer, employing more than 13 million people, or 10% of the U.S. workforce.
The school is hoping to have Cuisine restaurant open for business some evenings in the spring of 2015 and that summer, Busalacchi said.
Walker promotes worker training; signs $35.4 million bill
March 18, 2014
Gordon Murphy is still mastering his new trade, but on Monday he gave Wisconsin’s governor a quick lesson on operating a computer-controlled tool mill.
Murphy, a 29-year-old machinist and welder, is one of a dozen students enrolled in the machine tool operation program at Western Technical College, where Gov. Scott Walker stopped on a tour promoting new worker training bill.
The bill, which Walker signed into law Monday, will provide $35.4 million for worker training at places like WTC.
The Republican governor, seeking a second term this fall, touted the state’s falling unemployment rate — down to 6.1 percent in January, the lowest jobless rate since November 2008.
“More people are working, more employers are hiring and personal income is up,” he said. “We want that trend to continue. But one of the things we hear time and time and time and time again from employers is that one of the things they’re looking for to grow — not just to fill positions, but to grow — is even more well-trained, well-prepared, skilled employees.
Walker said spending on worker training will not only help fill job openings, but it also will attract more employers.
Western President Lee Rasch said the region’s greatest demand now is for welders, information technology specialists and behind the scenes workers in health care administration.
Electromechanical workers, who maintain the sophisticated machines used by workers like Murphy, are also in demand, Rasch said, though there aren’t necessarily waiting lists for any of those programs because of a lack of public awareness.
The new Wisconsin Fast Forward funds are designed to help technical colleges work through backlogs, give high school students access to vocational training and enhance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Rasch said WTC has submitted a $1.9 million proposal, which he said would be used to fund one-year certificate training rather than degree-based programs that would require ongoing funding.
That could mean training for 180 to 190 potential workers, he said.
Walker said the state should focus on advanced manufacturing in order to recapture some of the manufacturing jobs that were outsourced to China and Mexico in the 1990s.
“That’s why it’s so important for people, whether they’re coming right out of high school or coming back to support a new career, for them to have spots available in our technical colleges,” he said, “because they’re teaching them cutting-edge technology.”
Murphy said he landed a job at Chart a couple of years ago after starting the program at Western. He returned to school this year in hopes of landing a better job in the company’s tool room.
If successful, Murphy said he’ll be earning 15 to 20 percent more.
“It’ll pay for itself the first year on the job,” he said.
Youth apprentices find positions with local companies
March 17, 2014
Nick Steenwyk, of Sheboygan, is a computer aided design drafter in the bathing group for Kohler Company in Kohler. Like most CAD drafters, he performs tasks such as working with Creo software to create models and drawings of whirlpools.
Unlike most CAD drafters, Nick is currently a high school student at Sheboygan Christian High School. Through the youth apprenticeship program at Lakeshore Technical College, Steenwyk began working at Kohler Company.
“The best part of my YA experience has been working in a career field I’m interested in pursuing,” Steenwyck said in a news release. “Not only am I able to pick up skills and techniques that with be invaluable in years to come, my experience has been a tremendous help in determining a career field I want to enter.”
Steenwyk is not alone in Sheboygan County when it comes to Youth Apprenticeship. The Lakeshore Technical College Youth Apprenticeship program recently completed their annual Information Nights for high school students interested in the 2014-15 Youth Apprenticeship program. For the third consecutive year, the Sheboygan County Youth Apprenticeship program is seeing large increases in both student apprentices and employer participation.
Representatives from employers like Nemak, Rockline, Blue Harbor and Wigwam also are working with students.
Youth apprenticeship offers students the opportunity to explore future careers while they are still in high school and get paid for their time working at area employers. Youth apprenticeship offers one- and two-year programs in fields like health, hotel and hospitality, culinary, finance, mechanical design, welding and manufacturing.
The Sheboygan youth apprenticeship program has grown rapidly in the past few years, from 11 students in 2010-11 to 32 students in 2011-12. The program swelled to 68 students in the current school year. It’s expected that number will rise to 85 for next school year.
For more information on the LTC youth apprenticeship program, contact Jill Preissner at 920-693-1261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NWTC partnership helps teen moms finish high school
March 17, 2014
GREEN BAY- Green Bay Area School District and NWTC are working together to make sure teen moms graduate high school.
It’s an effort that may benefit the entire community.
Nineteen-year-old Augustina Medina says she wants to give her 18-month-old daughter Isabella the best life possible.
“When you get pregnant, you’re put in as you’re not going to graduate,” Medina said. “You’re not going to get far in life. And that always bugged me.”
Medina says she was supported by family and school counselors after giving birth.
But she still needed to step up her efforts to graduate from Green Bay Southwest High School.
In Wisconsin, nearly half of high school aged mothers do not graduate.
School social workers say one of the biggest barriers to not graduating high school as a teen parent is not know where to go for help. But two new grants are aimed at helping teen parents get their diplomas and go on to higher education.
The first grant: 200 thousand dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It will provide additional academic support, career counseling, and parenting classes.
“We know that a really strong predictor of whether or not a child will grow up in poverty is if they are born to a mother who is a teen and one of the amazing things of the opportunity of this project is by getting more of our teen parents to the post-secondary level, we can potentially take two generations out of poverty,” said Green Bay West High School Social Worker Kim Schanock.
The second grant is from the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation Women’s Fund.
The organization won’t say how much it’s for.
The money will go toward a two year program which will directly connect NWTC counselors with pregnant high school students.
“How can you develop study skills and really learning about how to apply for financial aid, and how to fill out a college application,” said Amber Michaels, the students services manager for NWTC.
Medina now attends NWTC, studying business management.
She hopes other teen mothers will use the new resources in high school to find their own motivation, and provide a better life for their children.
Madison College to receive workplace excellence award
March 17, 2014
By Mike Ivey – Young professionals in the Madison area, along with some of their mentors, will be recognized March 29 at the first Emerge Gala hosted by the Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals chapter.
The event is billed as bringing together diverse young professionals for an evening of celebration at the Concourse Hotel.
The “Emerging Leader of the Year Award” will be announced at the event.
Nominees are Althea René Miller, GED instructor at Omega School, Corinn Ploessl, marketing coordinator at Wegner CPAs, and Lauren Rock, 2-1-1 volunteer coordinator for United Way of Dane County.
“Trailblazer Awards” go to young professionals who have shown leadership within their company and industry. Recipients are Tawsif Anam, managed care policy analyst at Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Joe Maldonado, college continuation manager for the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, and Ald. Scott Resnick, downtown Madison city council member.
“Impact Awards” go to community leaders who have established a record of consistent outreach to young professionals in the greater Madison area. Recipients are Judge Paul Higginbotham, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, and Oscar Mireles, executive director of Omega School, Inc.
The “Workplace Excellence Award” is going to Madison College for its demonstrated record of commitment to the development of young professionals.
In honor of the event, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has designated March 29 as “Young Professionals Day in Greater Madison.”
Tickets for the semi-formal event, including dinner, are $40 with proceeds supporting the Young Professionals chapter of the Urban League along with its youth education programs including the Scholars Academy, Schools of Hope and Martin Luther King Day of Service.
— Lakeshore Technical College presented its second annual Top Tech Awards to recognize the top influencers in career and technical education in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties. The five awards were presented at a reception at the Lakeshore Culinary Institute on Feb. 20.
Educators from Manitowoc County were recognized with three of the awards.
• Rick Conrad of Manitowoc Lincoln High School serves as the school’s youth apprenticeship liaison, transition specialist, work experience teacher and tech ed teacher. Conrad was nominated for his role in the approximately 30 students a year from Manitowoc Lincoln High School participating in Youth Apprenticeship.
Conrad sets up job shadows for all Lincoln students, transitions special needs students into the workforce through a fundamental work experience program and coordinates more than 50 students in Lincoln’s work experience programs. He has worked with all departments on their career and technical education advisory committees, and is currently working with the tech ed department on its three-year plan and new course proposals.
• Marcy Kuhn and Amber Brewer, academic advisors and guidance counselors for Mishicot High School and Mishicot Middle School, respectively, also were presented with a Top Tech Award for their leadership, tenacity and passion for students’ post-secondary success. Their high school advisement period provides weekly lesson plans to each of the four grade levels to better prepare students after the end of high school.
Their Career Portfolio project implements student, parent, and school counselor meetings at key transition points in a student’s school career. During these meetings, the student’s strengths and areas of improvement, future plans, and goal setting are discussed with assessments aiding students and parents in their course choices and development of their four-year plans. This duo is sought after as a resource by other organizations and districts to replicate this success.
CVTC Junkyard Battle brings out student creativity
March 13, 2014
Lincoln High School students are too creative to weld a sculpture of just any old fish out of scrap metal for the Chippewa Valley Technical College Manufacturing Show’s Junkyard Battle welding contest.
“I came up with the idea of the fish body,” said senior Nicki Danielson. “I just thought an angler fish would be awesome.”
But that wasn’t all. They had it in a tank of water, set up a system by which it could be raised from the tank by turning a wheel, had a spout of water coming out of its mouth through use of a pump system and integrated a little game with prizes. The effort was good enough to win second place, with another angler fish sculpture from Fall Creek taking first. The Lincoln team took first place at last year’s show.
Lincoln High School had a strong showing at the manufacturing show, with over 40 students coming in attendance. The students and other participants and visitors to the show experienced just how interesting and fun manufacturing can be. Area high school students were heavily involved in this year’s show. Besides the Junkyard Battle, students created complicated mazes in the machine tooling technics contest, and in electromechanical technology, students built robots to navigate a simple maze as fast as possible.
Visitors were able to don masks and try their hands at welding under the watch and with assistance from a CVTC student or instructor. People saw automated machines that could play guitar, set up bowling pins and make a golf putt – all designed and created by CVTC students. The chair on the flight simulator moved with the banking of the plane on the screen. In the nano engineering technology area, students demonstrated the properties of liquid nitrogen.
Nearly 40 companies from around the Chippewa Valley set up displays to show their company’s role in area manufacturing, and to recruit future employees.
“In the Chippewa Valley, close to 40,000 people make their living in manufacturing,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker in opening the show along with Gov. Scott Walker. “Ninety-one percent of our graduates have jobs within six months, 89 percent are right in the state of Wisconsin, and 70 percent are in northwest Wisconsin.”
A major purpose of the show was to present the modern face of manufacturing.
“If you go in our shops, they’re bright, they’re clean, they’re automated, and it takes a high skill level to operate the equipment,” said associate dean of manufacturing Jeff Sullivan.
To many of the young people attending, there was just a lot of fun stuff to do, like race robots and show off their junkyard fish sculptures.
The Lincoln team’s sculpture incorporated concepts of metal working, making it an educational piece as well. The tank of water, for example, can serve as a common welding shop tool.
“You can put a piece of metal you just welded in the fish’s mouth and lower it down to cool it. It’s called a quench tank,” Danielson said.
“We made a prototype of the sculpture out of cardboard,” said team member Edwin Ramos. “Nicki was the lead welder in putting her dream together.”
Team member Daniel Brown brought a lot of the junk used to make the sculpture.
“I got a lot of used junk trucks sitting around. I had an old fuel pump from a Chevy truck and an old fuel line, and wired it all up,” he said, explaining how he made the pump system for the spout of water.
Ramos explained another part of the process.
“We used an old water boiler, band saw blades, a weight bench, and a chain for the hook,” he said.
Many students in Scot Kelly’s principles of engineering class helped on the sculpture.
While many high school students took part in competitions, many students and members of the public came to learn more about opportunities in manufacturing. Jonathan Hurd, 23, of Fall Creek was eyeing up a new career by visiting the various program areas.
“I’m interested in electromechanical technology, but I’d love to learn it all,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I came, to get a feel for it all.”
Becky Larson of Eau Claire came with her husband and their son, Nick, who is in eighth grade. “I wanted to see what opportunities are out there for a job, and so many of the jobs that are coming up are going to be in manufacturing,” she said.
Larson, a middle school counselor, was also picking up information for her students who are beginning to think about careers.
“Electromechanical technology was fun with all the projects they do, like the ‘Smoke on the Water,’ one that played guitar by itself,” said Nick Larson.
Approximately 2,000 people attended the show, including Walker, who noted in opening remarks to an audience mostly of high school students that the Wisconsin flag displays the tools of manufacturing.
“It’s part of our heritage and our history, and it’s part of our future,” Walker said. “Manufacturing is leading our state’s economic recovery, and we need to encourage the next generation of workers by educating everyone about the great, family-supporting jobs available. These students are the future of our workforce; and by providing quality, highly technical training, we are setting them up for success and securing Wisconsin’s place among the top manufacturers in the country.”
Skilled worker shortage drives partnerships between business, education
March 12, 2014
By Laurie Ritger – A local business leader is stressing the need for communication and collaboration between industry and educators — especially as a shortage of skilled workers looms.
“This is a heavy manufacturing area. We may be one of the heaviest in the state and maybe the nation. Let’s support that,” said Jim Wessing, president and co-founder of Kondex Corp. in Lomira. “There are great jobs and a great future in manufacturing.”
Wessing warned, however, of a looming shortage of skilled employees during an appearance Tuesday at Business, Industry and Education Day 2014 at Marian University’s Stayer Center. Approximately 150 educators and business people turned out for the event, a program of the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce.
Projections show that there will be 17,000 to 19,000 unfilled jobs in the greater Fond du Lac area by 2025, according to Joe Reitemeier, president and CEO of the Association of Commerce.
Perception vs. reality
Wessing was part of a panel that included Lomira School District technology education teacher Jon Marx and Lomira High School Principal Deb Janke. They discussed a business and education partnership success story that began several years ago with a Project Grill competition that pairs businesses with a school.
Marx explained how the tech-ed program has grown in the past several years and how Kondex has helped with equipment and financial support. Marx, who once taught part-time and had 55 students, now is full-time and instructs more than 100 students at the middle and high school levels.
Some of his former students are working toward degrees at technical colleges and engineering schools.
Wessing said manufacturing has a reputation as a “dark and dirty and dangerous” profession. The reality, he said, is that it is very clean and high-tech with the advent of robotics, high-speed cameras and computers.
Wages can be very high. Wessing said educators and business leaders need to connect with parents of students who are considering their career paths to explain options and show them realities of the work world.
Reitemeier said nearly all parents of incoming high school sophomores expect their children to attend college, but a year later only half of the students will take a college entrance exam. That leaves half of a graduating class to make plans for technical college or immediate entry into the workforce.
Janke said a Career Fair was held at Kondex that exposed students to careers in many fields, including manufacturing, human resources and sales. She said the school also is trying to work with other key employers in the community, including Michels Corp. and Quad/Graphics. Staff are visiting employers so educators and counselors are aware of available businesses and career opportunities.
“We’re interested, at the school level, how can we (prepare) better employees for you?” Janke said about the partnership between business and schools. She said students need to be exposed to careers and the tools and equipment they may be using. Girls that have an interest in math and science need to enter engineering and manufacturing fields.
Wessing said 85 percent of his employees are from within a 35-mile radius of Fond du Lac. Kondex is a product design and manufacturing partner for agriculture, lawn and turf, and other areas, producing custom-designed metal components.
National speakers for BIE Day included Kimberly Green of Rockville, Md., who has worked the past 18 years on federal policy impacting career and technical education; and Patrick McGaughey, an international speaker from Idaho with a background in broadcasting and business association management who led a two-part workshop: “Business + Education = Education, Development: How Education Closes the Deal.”
The connections established between business representatives and educators during BIE Day are intended to help the partners develop solutions to economic and community issues — including the expected skilled labor shortage facing Fond du Lac.
Waukesha County Technical College, Lincoln Electric partner to create welding lab
March 12, 2014
By Denise Lockwood – Waukesha County Technical College and Lincoln Electric, which makes welding equipment, are partnering to create a welding demonstration and training facility at the college.
The lab features a 4,000-square-foot space that holds 55 Lincoln Electric welding stations, which brings the technical college’s total welding space to about 8,000 square feet with 93 welding stations. The Lincoln Electric Southeastern Wisconsin Training Center is owned by Waukesha County Technical College and sponsored by Lincoln Electric, a Cleveland-based company that’s providing welding, cutting, and fume control equipment and technology for the lab.
The partnership offers graduates the opportunity to learn on state-of-the-art equipment. The school currently has 250 students in its welding program.
“Partnering with Lincoln Electric allows WCTC to continue to grow and expand our welding programs and meet the needs of local industry,” said Mike Shiels, dean of the School of Applied Technologies.
Bob Dempsey, district sales manager for Lincoln Electric, said the training center benefits WCTC by providing updated equipment addressing every arc welding process as well as a comprehensive fume control system, and students become better prepared for employment in a number of industries.
The training center is located at the college’s Pewaukee campus, 800 Main St.