Education that leads to employment

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By Susan Pohorski

If you want to know what employers are looking for these days or what careers are most in demand, ask your local technical college. At least 54 percent of Wisconsin’s jobs in the next decade will require a technical college degree.

Technical colleges keep their ears to the ground when it comes to the needs of local employers. Flexibility allows the colleges to quickly address evolving local workforce needs by creating new educational programs and adapting current programs.

How do they do it? They have relationships with employers, large and small. Advisory boards made up of employers and employees help keep the colleges up-to-date on the necessary skills for various career fields. In addition, college staff members use these connections to track local labor market demand and employment trends, ensuring strong job placement for graduates. This contributes significantly to 7 out of 10 graduates quickly getting jobs in their fields. If a program is needed in an area, a college will add it. Likewise, colleges discontinue programs without strong placement.

This past month the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board approved six new programs and another six moved from concept review to program approval phase.

Four of the programs will be added at Northcentral Technical College. The Geriatric Care Specialist technical diploma will prepare graduates to advise geriatric clients in health care settings. Renal Dialysis Technician, a one-year technical diploma, was added to meet the need created by the growing number of adults with Type 2 Diabetes and potential kidney failure. The college will also start offering a one-year technical diploma for Optometric Technicians and a two-year associate degree in Information Technology Web Designer.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College will have a new associate degree program in Manufacturing Operations Management. Demand for individuals with these skills is expected to grow by 9 percent between 2010 and 2020.

The Board also approved a two-year associate degree program in Sales Management for Western Technical College. An analysis of the demand for customer service and sales representative positions in the district shows an estimated growth rate of 10 percent for 2014 to 2018.

On the other hand, the Board discontinued the Bricklaying and Masonry technical diploma at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, due to low enrollment and labor market projections.

Programs approved at past WTCS Board meetings will be starting in the fall. One example is the Manufacturing Information Technology Specialist program at Blackhawk Technical College (BTC). Students in this two-year associate degree program will learn to maintain manufacturing systems so they operate at peak efficiency.

Keeping up with the labor market of today and projecting employment needs of tomorrow helps Wisconsin’s technical colleges offer educational programs that lead to employment success. Nearly 90 percent of graduates have jobs within six months of graduation and 71 percent said they were in a job related to their training.

So, if you want a degree that will result in job offers check out what technical colleges are offering.