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.
Dave Schrofer of Hill’s Wiring, Inc. took third place in the electrical category during the 2014 ABC of Wisconsin Skill Competition held Feb. 25 in Green Bay.
Schrofer, currently attending Madison College, was one of 25 ABC of Wisconsin apprentices from throughout the state who demonstrated their knowledge and craft skills in the competition, which included a four-hour practical and a two-hour written exam.
Apprentices worked on projects from specifications and blueprints; they focused on performing assigned tasks while employers, instructors, judges and others looked on. The competitors were scored on skill, workmanship, safety, and efficiency. The written, safety, and practical scores were then combined to determine the top three competitors in each trade.
Tech college students share their skills with community
March 11, 2014
Moraine Park Technical College students are given numerous opportunities to perform service learning projects. MPTC’s Meeting and Event Planning class, along with the Business Practicum class, offered assistance to Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre as it plans its 50th anniversary celebration.
Instructors Mary Vogl-Rauscher and Pam Zander met with Dave Saniter, managing director of BDACT, and Annette Kamps, board member and fundraising co-chair.
Zander’s Meeting and Event Planning class is assisting with the “Roots & Wings: A Golden Tribute to BDACT.” This celebration of talent will be showcased the weekends of April 25, 26 and 27 and May 2, 3 and 4. The students are working on website updates, posters, programs, themes and decorations for the event.
Performers who began their musical or theatrical careers at careers at BDACT will share their talents for this event.
Another service learning opportunity and collaboration activity is taking place with MPTC human resources student Priscilla Trevino. Trevino will coordinate numerous volunteers for theater projects. Trevino will secure volunteers to work the events, coordinate paperwork and information to orient the volunteers, and organize a fundraiser this year.
If interested in volunteering, help is needed with lights, sound, ushering, videography, photography, costumes, set building, set painting and decorating, house management, tickets, librarian, patron chair, afterglows and makeup. To volunteer contact Trevino at email@example.com
This collaboration gives students the opportunity to participate in a service learning project and to learn valuable skills that they will use in their careers — to provide an organization with assistance to meet organizational goals.
Veteran settles into his dream job after switching careers
March 10, 2014
Getting a job with nothing but a high school diploma can be difficult. Starting a career without a high school diploma can be nearly impossible. That’s the challenge many of our military members face when they leave the service — but one veteran was able to turn his Army experience into opportunity.
“Ever since I was 10 years old, my grandpa brought me to my uncle’s welding shop, and after seeing that atmosphere, you know, guys welding, grinding metal, flames — it just seemed like a really cool job to do and I was like ‘man, I want to do that,’” Jeremy Jurkiewicz said.
But life’s blueprint for Jurkiewicz put him on a different path out of high school. At the age of 19, he sought to wear the badge of a police officer. He started by joining the Army’s Military Police Corps.
“I enlisted to serve and deploy and just for a job,” Jurkiewicz said.
For the next three years, he experienced the life of a cop, including a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. It was during this time Jurkiewicz says he discovered policing wasn’t for him.
His love of welding was reignited when he left active service, but starting a new career from scratch is no easy task. Like many of his peers who are former military, Jurkiewicz faced a choice — jump into the job search with what experience and education he had — or retrain himself.
“If there`s something that you want to do, pursue it. Go to school or look online, see what classes they have to offer. Something sparks your interest, go for it. Pursue it,” Jurkiewicz said.
Jurkiewicz credits his motivation and mettle to his time in the Army. It’s that mettle which helped him to get into “Welding Boot Camp” at Gateway Technical College in Racine. He eventually graduated, and landed a job at Metalworld Incorporated.
“When they talk about a skills gap, it’s not so much the hard skills as far as finding guys that know how to weld, like to work with their hands. It’s really guys that are willing to do that five days a week on a week-to-week basis,” Metalworld Inc. President Gary Meier said.
“Anyone can get a job, but not everyone can get a career and a career that you want to do and you love doing every day. I don’t get up every day and be like ‘oh I gotta go to work.’ I’m excited to go to work, work, learn and progress in my skills and just become the best welder and fabricator I can become,” Jurkiewicz said.
Jurkiewicz is still serving as an Army Reservist. His welding career has progressed since he last spoke with FOX6 News. He no longer works at Metalworld in Racine — after taking a job with Compo Steel Products in Milwaukee.
BTC’s manufacturing facility takes shape quickly in Milton
March 10, 2014
By Shaun Zinck – MILTON — The new Blackhawk Technical College advanced manufacturing facility in Milton is on schedule and on budget, said college President Tom Eckert.
A year ago in February the college announced it had leased a building at 15 N. Plumb St. in Milton to house several of its advanced manufacturing programs.
Work began on half of the building in the fall with plans to move three programs by the 2014-15 academic year. Eckert said about 50,000 square feet of the 105,000-square-foot building is currently being remodeled.
“We are putting in general classroom in the front of the building for general education course. Also that is where the office complex will be located for staff,” he said. “Each of the labs will also have their own specialized classrooms.”
Once work is complete this summer, equipment will be transferred over to the building just in time for students in the welding, industrial maintenance and precision machining (CNC) to occupy that half of the building this fall. Work on the second half will continue during the academic year, Eckert said.
The other programs — heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration technician, mechanical design technology, industrial engineering technician and computer systems technology — will start holding classes in the 2015-16 academic year.
Gary Kohn, marketing and communications manager for the college, said the new space will bring all the programs closer together to allow for more collaborative projects between the students.
“So you might have a CNC student working with a welding student working with an industrial maintenance student,” he said.
Kohn said a lab station will be built as a connection between another building during the second phase of construction and renovation.
The entire renovation cost will be about $12 million, Eckert said. He said nothing unexpected has come up during the first phase of renovations.
“They did a really great job predicting exactly what it would take to do the job,” he said.
The welding program at BTC has been in high demand as of late. The college had to add a third welding section in order to increase the number of students it could admit into the program. The college currently has about 105 welding students in three different sections. The new facility will double the capacity for the programs, however, that doesn’t mean double the students just yet, Eckert said.
“We don’t know how many students (the building will hold),” he said. “We are still in decision-mode on what shifts we will have for each program.”
The college entered into a 10-year lease at the location, and can exercise two five-year renewals. Last year, the college said it would pay about $1.47 per square foot for the lease space or about $155,125 for the first year. The second year the rate increases to about $2.88 per square foot or about $302,688 per year.
Prior to choosing the Milton location the college looked into locating the facility at the Ironworks campus in Beloit. Funding the project proved too costly, Eckert said at the time.
NTC tells Chequamegon School Board about dual credit opportunities
March 10, 2014
At its regular meeting in Glidden on February 25, the Chequamegon School Board heard a report from Bobbi Damrow, Regional Dean of Northcentral Technical College (NTC). Damrow gave background on the relationship that has developed between the NTC Phillips campus and Chequamegon School District over the last few years giving CHS students the opportunity to take classes that are recognized both by NTC for their degree programs and by CHS toward their high school diploma.
Currently junior and senior students are offered courses in the Industrial Electronics and Maintenance Technician Academy. This program is intended to provide a pathway or career for students in the industrial electronics maintenance field. The classes, taken at CHS, are taught by CHS teachers utilizing curriculum provided by NTC. Students have the potential of obtaining 12 college credits and applying those credits toward an associate’s degree at NTC after high school. Students also have the option of transferring the credits earned in high school to other four-year college or university’s toward completing their bachelor’s degree.
Damrow thanked the school board for approving and supporting this cooperative venture that benefits both the school district and NTC. She pointed out, “Last year Chequamegon students earned the equivalent of 153 college-level credits and the families of those students saved $20,574 in tuition costs that they would otherwise have paid to NTC for the courses.” This year students, and their families, are on track to save over $46,000 in tuition costs. In addition to the Academy, courses taught for transcripted credit include Introduction to Business, Marketing Principles, Desktop Publishing, and Employment Skills for Technicians, to name a few. Next year and new Health Academy will be introduced to CHS students who have an interest in pursuing a career in the health field. This will build on the Medical Terminology and Body Structure courses already offered and include a possible summer field experience at Flambeau Hospital.
Damrow indicated that an Information Technology Academy is currently being developed to be introduced in the not too distant future. Board president Adam Hoffman stated, “This partnership with NTC is an example of how two schools working together can provide great opportunities for our students and their families.”
Lakeshore Technical College is offering two Tractor Safety for Youth courses that will address both tractor/farm implement safety and farm-related safety practices. The first session will be held on Saturdays, March 29 through April 26; the second session will be held May 17, June 9, June 11 and June 13. The class will be held at LTC’s Cleveland campus in the Agriculture and Energy Building.
The course is intended for youth ages 13 and older. It will prepare participants for successfully completing the Wisconsin written exam and tractor driving demonstration toward certification that permits 14-year-olds to drive on public roads and work for non-family farm operations.
The course meets child labor requirements in agriculture under the Fair Labor Standards Act pertaining to employment of youth ages 14 and older on farms not operated by their parents or guardians.
A parent or legal guardian must accompany the student for the first two hours of the first class. The fee is $139, which includes the book.
The registration deadline is 10 days prior to the first day of class. Class size is limited to 20 students, and early registration is encouraged. To register, call 1-888-468-6582, ext. 1366.
CVTC will help recognize high school students for Extra Effort
March 10, 2014
If you want a lesson in resiliency, you don’t have to look far. Just point yourself in the direction of the nearest school, where many kids provide daily examples.
For instance: students who come from split families and single-part families, who have had to deal with tragedy and loss; students who have had to work through communication barriers that impacted their studies; and students who have persevered through cancer diagnosis and other health ailments.
It is our goal to tell several of these inspirational stories in the coming weeks as part of a program called Extra Effort that we are launching in the Chippewa Valley. The program will honor high school seniors who have overcome challenges or provided exemplary service to the community, often with little recognition.
Extra Effort is about students on the verge of adulthood who have tales of struggle, illness and survival, or of making a dedicated effort to give back to the community. Their road hasn’t typically been an easy one. They likely aren’t star athletes or valedictorians. They probably don’t have perfect grades. But many of them have overcome tremendous odds, and the one thing they all have in common is the way they can inspire.
All area high schools have been invited to take part. The Chippewa Herald and our sister paper, the Dunn County News in Menomonie, will publish profiles of a student from each school in the coming weeks. Our first one will appear in Monday’s Herald.
We are partnering in this program with the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College, to recognize and provide some scholarship assistance to the Extra Effort winners. The three institutions will take turns in hosting a spring reception for the students who are chosen to represent their schools. This year’s reception will be hosted by UW-Eau Claire on Wednesday, May 21.
Extra Effort is based on a program that our fellow Lee papers in La Crosse and Winona, Minn., in conjunction with its higher ed institutions, have been operating for several years. The program has been extremely well received by the public and the educational community.
“We’re very fortunate to develop this dynamic partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Stout and UW-Eau Claire to honor some high school seniors who have overcome obstacles or provided exemplary service to their communities,” Herald Publisher Rusty Cunningham said. “Our programs in La Crosse and Winona have recognized and provided scholarship help to some courageous students who otherwise wouldn’t have received the recognition they deserve,” Cunningham said.
It is our plan to make Extra Effort a beloved yearly tradition in the Chippewa Valley, just as it has become in the River Valley.
“I can honestly say that this program tops my list as a favorite part of my career, because this recognition is nothing less than life-changing for these kids and an inspiration for us all,” says Patty Shepard, a counselor at Holmen High School. She said she could probably name every one of her school’s recipients and is in contact with many of them, all of whom continue to succeed.
“The Extra Effort program is an incredible endeavor that connects the area businesses and post-secondary institutions with our schools and most importantly, highlights the value of our youth through their incredible stories. We are so very privileged to be part of this program,” Shepard said.
We are privileged to be able to tell the stories of our 2014 Extra Effort recipients. They are deserving of your time, just as the subjects are deserving of your admiration.
A proposed tax cut could affect the way area technical colleges are funded.
Earlier this week, the state senate approved Governor Scott Walker’s plan to use the state surplus to cover $504-million in tax cuts.
Under the changes technical colleges would get more than $400-million from the state’s budget surplus- meaning homeowners would pay less toward funding schools like Chippewa Valley Technical College.
“From our point of view as a system it really brings us some balance in the system in terms of where our funds come from,” Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said.
Foy says the changes to buy down homeowners property taxes using the state’s surplus would mean more balance when it comes to funding schools.
“With this change happening in 2015 we would go back we would have greater balance state aid would account for 45-percent of our operating costs as opposed to 10-percent,” Foy explained.
What the cuts would mean for the average home owner and tax payers is more money in their pocket.
“For a typical working family in the state it means their property taxes will be down more than 100 dollars and it means there withholding the amount they see in their paycheck will actually go up by over 500 dollars through the end of the year,” Governor Scott Walker said.
Governor Walker says in addition to the shift in funding due to the budget surplus, the state will also give a one-time payment of $35-million to technical colleges to help cut down on the amount of time it takes to enroll in classes.
“There was $35-million available in the Wisconsin Economic Development budget and we shifted that into helping our technical colleges buying down our wait list,” Walker said.
Despite the increased money to technical colleges, area Democrats say it still doesn’t make up for the deep cuts that were made in the past year.
“It doesn’t address a few things. The first is it doesn’t address the fact that there was $72-million cut last year,” State Representative Dana Wachs said.
The tax cut bill now heads to the state assembly for a vote on March 18th. If approved it would head to the governor’s desk for his signature.