Baldwin announces legislation to train worker for green jobs
January 23, 2014
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin on Wednesday, January 22nd, visited technical colleges across Wisconsin to announce her new legislation to help train the next generation of skilled-workers for jobs in clean energy.
Baldwin visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Wednesday and will tour Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids on Thursday.
The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act allocates competitive grant funding for clean energy career and technical training programs so that students are better trained for post-secondary education and better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of the future.
“In order to create a Made in Wisconsin economy that is built to last, we must invest in job training and workforce readiness for clean energy jobs. In Wisconsin, we know that higher education is the path to the middle class and this legislation will help open the doors of opportunity and strengthen our Wisconsin economy,” said Baldwin.
Over three million Americans are employed in the growing green collar workforce, including in clean energy and sustainability, which is more than the amount of people working in the fossil fuel industry, and twice as many as those employed in the biotech industry. In fact, the clean energy sector has grown nearly twice as fast as the overall economy. Additionally, the jobs created in the clean energy economy pay better than the average American job, with compensation rates 13 percent higher than the national average.
“Over the past several years, Wisconsin’s technical colleges have created cutting edge sustainability programs in areas like wind, solar and geothermal. We’ve also “greened” our remaining curriculum by including sustainability concepts in sectors including agriculture, construction and health care. The GREEN Act supports and advances this work in a ground-breaking way,” said Morna Foy, President Wisconsin Technical College System.
By supporting the development of clean energy career and technical training programs, the GREEN Act creates a bridge between secondary and postsecondary schools so that students can transition from high school with technical knowledge that will be expanded and honed in a postsecondary environment. Post-secondary institutions, local education agencies, career and technical schools, and community partners will use the grants to enter into partnerships to develop these training programs. The bill also provides opportunities for technical schools to upgrade their own energy systems to serve as model training facilities.
“We applaud Senator Baldwin’s introduction of the Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act. Supporting the development of Career Technical Education programs of study in the fields of clean, renewable, and efficient energy ensures that the United States will have the skilled workforce it needs for the 21st century. This legislation will help support the growth and development of this critically important sector of our economy and is an essential component to a sustainable future,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.
APPLETON – About a dozen people braved the cold temperatures Tuesday to see firsthand how the upcoming referendum would impact technical education at Appleton West.
The referendum consists of two questions: One for $25 million to purchase technology and complete capital projects. The other question would allow officials to borrow up to $5 million outside the budget each year. The money would be used to replace outdated technology, perform maintenance projects and cover the salaries and benefits for five instructional technology integrators.
If both questions pass on Feb. 18, people who own homes valued at $150,000 would see the school portion of their property taxes rise $118.50.
Paul Lindberg teaches metals, welding and graphic arts at West. Lindberg showed those in attendance how referendum dollars would expand the technical education area, and allow all the department’s classes to be centrally located.
“Right now we have some of our classes upstairs and some of them downstairs, but if we’re all in one area the kids can move through the classes easier,” Lindberg said.
The lack of updated equipment is keeping Lindberg from training students in additional areas. Lindberg worked with instructors at Fox Valley Technical College over the summer to align three of his courses with their curriculum. Students who take those courses would earn credit through FVTC, but because not all of his equipment is up to industry standards, Lindberg can only teach one of the three classes. That would change if the referendum passes.
Equipment would be updated in the cabinetry/construction lab and the automotive shop as well. The construction space would be expanded and the auto shop would have additional storage, which would give students more space to work.
Julie Painting attended the information session because she has three children who attend West High School and she wanted to learn more.
“It was very helpful,” Painting said. “I’m very impressed that the teachers, the staff want to do what’s best for the students, for the community, and we’re not talking about extravagant spending. We’re talking about just what’s needed to keep up with our economy.”
Other than the technical education areas, West High would receive a secure entrance area and see the kitchen, cafeteria and outside common space remodeled and repurposed. Students who attend West and the district’s other two high schools would be given a mobile device to use — one for every student.
New opportunity for NTC agriculture students
January 22, 2014
Northcentral Technical College and UW-Platteville are teaming up for a new option for agriculture students.
“Students graduating from NTC’s Agri-Business program may transfer into the Bachelor of Science in Agri-Business program; the Dairy Science Associate Degree will transfer into the Bachelor of Science in Dairy Science; and the Veterinary Science Associate Degree graduates may enter the Bachelor of Science in Animal Science program,” according to a news release from Northcentral Technical College.
“The College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is very excited to expand our articulation with Northcentral Technical College,” says Jodi McDermott, UW-Platteville Assistant Dean for the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture. “We are happy to ease the transfer process for more students by expanding the number of courses which are accepted. We look forward to our continuing relationship with NTC and the students.”
Madison College President addresses capitol MLK ceremony
January 21, 2014
Wisconsin’s official Martin Luther King Day celebration took place in the Capitol rotunda Monday, and there was a call to action from the event’s keynote speaker, Madison College President Jack E. Daniels. “The achievement gap within our Madison schools in unacceptable,” Daniels said, noting that fifty percent of black students in Madison do not graduate high school on time, and that many African-American adults fail to achieve degrees and marketable skills.
“Dr. King had organized the Poor Peoples Campaign in 1968, in an effort to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States,” Daniels said. “Forty-six years ago, that was the vision. Economic justice must become the reality today.”
This was the 34th annual official state tribute and economy honoring the slain civil rights leader, on the 85th anniversary of King’s birth. The event included recipients of the state’s annual MLK Heritage Awards, Anita Herrera, Ronald C. Dunlap, Dr. Luiz “Tony” Baez and, posthumously, Dr. Eugene Farley.
CLEVELAND — The deadline for Lakeshore Technical College’s Top Tech Award nominations is Jan. 31. The second annual awards recognize the top educators in career and technical education in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties.
Four awards will be given to kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, counselors or administrators who inspire innovation and work to promote career and technical education. The awards will be presented Feb. 20 at a reception at Lakeshore Culinary Institute in Sheboygan.
“This is a great opportunity for students, parents, colleagues and administrators to recognize a teacher who has made a difference in career and technical education at the high school level,” Sara Greenwood, LTC high school liaison coordinator, said in a news release. “The process is easy, and the recognition the winners receive is equally as satisfying as it is to the nominators.”
Nominees should demonstrate innovation in promotion of career and technical education, mentor and inspire students to uncover and pursue their career passions, and participate in outreach activities, according to the release.
Last year’s winners were Ron Schneider and Dave Teske from Kiel High School, representing Manitowoc County, and Ed Hughes of Sheboygan Falls High School, representing Sheboygan County.
Hudson students explore healthcare careers at Chippewa Valley Technical College
January 21, 2014
Camryn Letcher placed the stethoscope on the rubbery surface and listened. “I heard a heartbeat,” the Hudson High School freshman said. “It was really weird because it felt like it was alive, like I was listening to a real person.”
The patient simulators at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in River Falls bring to life realistic vital signs and symptoms. For Letcher, the experience was closer than she had ever been to real patient care in a clinical setting. “I’m thinking of being a pediatric nurse,” she said.
The trip to CVTC was part of the Hudson High School Healthcare Discovery Day, which also included visits to Hudson Hospital and Catalyst Sports Medicine in Hudson.
Forty-one Hudson freshmen took part in the day-long event. At CVTC, in addition to checking out vital signs on the adult and infant patient simulators, the students learned how to use a hypodermic needle by practicing on an orange, tried on neck braces, tried out various medical testing devices and talked with faculty about careers in healthcare.
“They seemed very engaged,” said CVTC Nursing Instructor Renee Christensen, R.N. “Simulation is very exciting for this age group, and they asked good questions.”
“The purpose of the event is to provide students with the opportunity to explore healthcare careers, to understand what career ladders are, and to see how they can bring value to the community,” said Melisa Hansen, school-to-careers coordinator at Hudson High School.
Healthcare Discovery Day was made possible by a $2,500 grant from the nonprofit Northwest Area Health Education Sector. Students registered for the event.
“They were asked why they wanted to come, and a lot of them already had their eyes on high-level health care careers,” said Hansen. Others just wanted to explore. They got a good taste of it during the three on-site visits.
Christensen showed the students a video of a full-scale emergency room scenario in which students interacted with professionals in a mock response to victims from an auto accident coming in for treatment. Patient simulators and even live actors were used to depict various conditions in the fast-paced environment.
“That is really good experience for students,” Christensen said of the video scenario. “Sometimes they make mistakes, and sometimes we allow them to make mistakes, because it’s not going to hurt anyone. They’ll probably never make that mistake again.
“I’ve had students get really involved in the simulations, and cry when a (simulated) baby comes in,” Christensen continued.
The students found their experiences with the simulators and the information on the training involved in healthcare careers much more interesting than what they usually experience in a high school classroom.
“I’m thinking about being a physical therapist,” said Braxton Belt. “I really liked the simulators. We listened to the heart and lungs.”
“It’s really interesting to see how it’s done in the real world,” said Logan Nelson, who is considering a career in sports medicine.
Students like Nelson and Kyla Schewe, who is also considering a sports medicine career, had the opportunity to see the profession up close in a visit to Catalyst Sports Medicine that afternoon, where they viewed the treatment of a simulated injury.
At Hudson Hospital, ninth-graders learned about an array of healthcare careers with educational and hands-on learning opportunities. Sarah Stockman, manager, laboratory, Hudson Hospital & Clinics, is the hospital representative on the healthcare advisory council. Her role is to partner with the council to offer educational experiences for students that are leaning towards a career in healthcare.
“It’s great to get a chance to help our high school students discover all the career options that are available to them in the healthcare field. We hope to inspire them to continue their education and become healthcare professionals,” said Stockman.
Students learned about various healthcare careers from hospital staff including lab, dietary, Birth Center and Surgery & Procedure Center. They also toured the Emergency Center, Imaging Center and Rehabilitation Center Physical Therapy.
At the hospital, they also watched the simulated resuscitation of a choking baby, met with a dietician and observed lab work, among other activities.
“We wanted them to see that healthcare is a profession in which they need 21st century skills, like problem solving, team building and critical thinking,” Hansen said. “This experience provided relevance. They follow the routine at school, and they didn’t have an understanding of what goes on outside of school.”
Hansen added that the Healthcare Discovery Day was a teambuilding exercise for the students. “They were learning together today. There’s power in that.”
In planning the day, Hudson High School staff worked with a community advisory council of professionals in healthcare and education. Hansen said they are very appreciative of the help of the council members, as well as the cooperation of Catalyst Sports Medicine, Hudson Hospital and CVTC.
“The people here are absolutely amazing and I applaud them,” she said.
The grant was only able to fund this year’s event, with any leftover funds being used for healthcare career exploration. To continue the program on an annual basis, either additional grants or school district funding will be needed, Hansen said.
As companies and workers realize the value of apprenticeship program, the involvement in them is increasing, reports Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson.
“Wisconsin’s economy is improving, employers are hiring and increasingly taking advantage of our Wisconsin Apprenticeship program so that workers have the right skills,” Newson said in a statement. “The unemployed and underemployed also see this proven on-the-job training program as one way to get a good job. The numbers last year show it. We saw growth in all three major trade sectors, construction, manufacturing and services, the best we’ve growth we’ve seen in three years.”
According to the DWD, new apprentice contracts in 2013 increased by 31 percent compared to 2012 and by 56 percent compared to three years ago. The increases by trade sectors were:
•Construction – new apprentices, 1,570, the biggest increase, 51 percent compared to 2012 new contracts and 73 percent compared to new contracts three years ago.
•Industrial/manufacturing – new apprentices, 581, a 9 percent increase compared to the 2012 new contracts and 75 percent compared to new contracts in 2010.
•Service – new apprentices, 1,199, a 22 percent increase compared to the 2012 new contracts and a 29 percent increase compared to 2010 figure.
The 26th Biennial Apprenticeship Conference, The Apprenticeship Solution: Meeting the Workforce Challenge will be held Jan. 26 to Jan. 28 in Wisconsin Dells and will include a special Apprentice Expo for high school students. The conference program includes nationally recognized speakers Anirban Basu, president and CEO of SAGE Policy Group and Mark Breslin, founder and CEO of Breslin Strategies. Dan Ariens, president and CEO of the Ariens Company will also speak at the conference, co-sponsored by DWD and the Wisconsin Apprenticeship Advisory Council.
Walker announces additional grants for Youth Apprenticeship
January 17, 2014
Governor Scott Walker announced Wednesday, January 15th that additional grant awards totaling over $226,700 to support Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship (YA) program.
The program trains high school juniors and seniors for in-demand occupations with local employers around Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program is a key part of my administration’s focus on developing Wisconsin’s workforce and preparing individuals with the skills needed to fill jobs employers have available,” Governor Walker said. “The close partnership with employers ensures that students have the opportunity to learn the skills that that are in demand by employers, and this additional investment will support even more of these opportunities.”
Governor Walker’s announcement follows his signing in December of legislation to provide an additional $500,000 toward YA grant awards during the current fiscal year, and another $500,000 in fiscal year 2015. The measure garnered the state Legislature’s overwhelming bipartisan support, including unanimous passage by the Senate.
The additional funds will go to existing YA consortiums that received $1.86 million in funds for the 2013-14 school year, bringing the total investment to nearly $2.1 million. DWD anticipates allocating the remaining funds for the current fiscal year in the coming months based on student enrollment.
The YA program helps to prepare students for the world of work while they complete high school. Following an interview with an employer, students participate in on-the-job training and can receive technical college-level instruction. High school students who complete the program receive a Youth Apprenticeship completion certificate, may potentially receive technical college credit, and have the skills needed for an entry-level job in their chosen program area.
Wisconsin’s YA program was noted as an “Exemplar of Employer Engagement” in the 2011 “Pathways to Prosperity” report issued by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The program was highlighted due to the number of YA graduates who enroll in post-secondary education or enter the workforce after completion.
Governor urges parents, counselors to advocate for manufacturing careers
January 17, 2014
STRATFORD — Personal income growth in Wisconsin in 2013 shows more people across the state are working, but job statistics could improve with worker training and encouraging more young people to enter the manufacturing workforce, Gov. Scott Walker said during a visit to A&B Process Systems on Wednesday.
“I hear so many businesses say not only do we have positions open, but we’ve got business waiting … if only we could fill the positions we have,” Walker said.
He said the roughly 50,000 jobs currently posted on the Job Center of Wisconsin website indicate a skills gap in the state.
Walker said he put $100 million of the current state budget toward workforce training, including short-term training and investments in technical colleges, to prepare workers for manufacturing, information technology and health care careers.
“Each of those key industries has the ability to hire more people if we have enough people with the skills to fill the positions,” he said.
Walker said parents and guidance counselors who encourage young people to consider careers in manufacturing will play a role in filling open positions.
“Guidance counselors still have the mindset you have to have a four-year college degree to have a good career, and that’s just not true,” Walker said. He said manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin pay an average of about $52,000 a year, are more likely to offer benefits and have higher retention rates than many other jobs.
Companies such as A&B Process Systems often work with the same customers, but manufacturing different equipment for those customers keeps the job interesting, he said.
Walker said state investment of $6.4 billion in infrastructure and tax incentives for businesses such as A&B Process Systems to invest in capital also will encourage job growth.
A&B Process Systems, which designs, fabricates and installs equipment and accessories for processing liquids, celebrated 40 years in business in 2013. The company employs 425 people, and annual sales exceed $100 million.
Paul Kinate, CEO of A&B Process Systems, credited the company’s success to dedicated employees, the leadership of founder Ajay Hilgemann and a commitment to customer service.
“Our employees are dedicated, innovative, embrace technology and automation and strive to improve every day,” he said.
Kinate called Walker a friend to business who has made a difference in Wisconsin’s economic growth.
Walker will deliver his annual State of the State address Jan. 22. He said he will address jobs, as well as property tax cuts and changes to the state income withholding tax, which will put more money in employers’ and workers’ hands.
Legislators bring technical colleges into tax relief discussion
January 17, 2014
By Scott Bauer -Wisconsin’s budget surplus was projected Thursday to reach nearly $1 billion, money that Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislative leaders are eyeing for income and property tax cuts.
But news of the $977 million surplus, which was expected for weeks but larger than many anticipated, set off a feeding frenzy in the Capitol among lobbyists, special interest groups and lawmakers.
“Everybody and their cousins from other states will be coming home to get a piece of the money,” said Republican Senate President Mike Ellis, who has served through several budget booms and busts since he took office in 1971.
Walker and Republican leaders tried to dampen expectations for more spending, saying the money generated mostly through higher-than-anticipated tax collections should be returned to taxpayers. But Democrats and other liberal advocacy groups said it should be used for everything from aid to public schools and higher education, Medicaid and worker training grants.
“The additional revenue should be returned to taxpayers because it’s their money, and my administration will work with the Legislature to determine the most prudent course of action,” Walker said in a statement.
Walker has been talking with Republicans who lead the Senate and Assembly about tax cut proposals he plans to release in his State of the State speech next Wednesday. Walker’s spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said the governor wants to adjust income tax withholding tables to put more money in taxpayers’ pockets immediately and is also eyeing income and property tax reductions.
The question will be how any tax cuts are structured.
Walker’s getting pressure from Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to use the surplus to reduce property taxes levied and collected by technical colleges in Wisconsin. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he wasn’t convinced that was the only approach that could be taken. Fitzgerald said some in his caucus will want to save a portion of the surplus to be used for ongoing spending commitments.
Still, the pressure to send some of the surplus back to taxpayers will be strong.
“My members wouldn’t sit still for doing nothing,” Fitzgerald said.
Meanwhile, Walker isn’t saying much about what he will propose.
“The governor is focused on property and income tax relief and not necessarily other broad policy decisions at this point,” Webster said.
Democrats called for using the money to spur job creation and programs like worker training that would help the middle class.
“Taxpayers need a balanced approach that rebuilds the rungs on the ladder of success, provides tax relief directed to the middle class and long-term financial security,” said Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca.
The net total surplus of $977 million was fueled by $893 million in tax collections above earlier projections, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported. Net tax collections are projected to increase by 2.2 percent by July and another 4.3 percent by mid-2015.
Vos is pushing for replacing the technical college property tax levy with general state tax dollars.
The 16 technical college districts in Wisconsin cover the entire state, so supplanting property tax revenue with state money would lower property tax bills for homeowners statewide. The average property tax levy this year was $1.76 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Depending on how it’s structured the amount any individual homeowner would save would vary based on the value of their home and the amount of the local technical college district levy.
“I want to make sure we do something that everybody in Wisconsin feels,” Vos said.
Replacing a portion of the technical college property tax levy with state money is the most equitable way to provide property tax relief statewide, Vos said. Technical colleges levied about $796 million in property taxes this fiscal year. That is the fourth most behind school districts at $4.8 billion, municipalities at $2.6 billion and counties at $2 billion.
Conor Smyth, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Technical College System, had no comment on Vos’s idea.
“We’re looking forward to learning more about what the proposal is,” Smyth said.
Vos said he did not know if Walker would be proposing an income tax rate reduction in addition to changing income tax withholding tables. Changing withholding tables would result in taxpayers getting more money back in their paychecks immediately, instead of receiving a larger income tax refund. The tables have not been updated since 2009.