Uncovering a secret to business success

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Portrait of S. Mark Tyler Mark Tyler


S. Mark Tyler, president of OEM  Fabricators, Inc., wears many hats while he passionately shapes Wisconsin’s future. Tyler serves on the boards of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), the Wisconsin Technology Council and the West Central Wisconsin Workforce Development.  He also recently concluded a term on the UW Board of Regents, and he is a 2012 Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year and past chair of the Manufacturing Works/Gold Collar Careers initiative.

Tyler believes he has uncovered a secret to business success.

Technology accelerating
“The skills gap is still the most challenging issue facing many of our employers and businesses, especially in manufacturing and health care,” Tyler says. “This will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future because technology and its integration into everything we do is accelerating. Until our entire workforce becomes lifelong and continuous learners, we will continue to face this challenge.

As an employer, Tyler has experienced these challenges first-hand and works to solve them for the good of his own team members and his fellow citizens.

“About 80 percent of the career opportunities at OEM correlate directly to the skills that can be gained in our technical colleges’ manufacturing and business programs,” Tyler states. “As advisory partners to the programs, our team can guide the program curriculum to maintain the highest level of relevance and rigor.  This is critical to OEM’s success and to student success.”

Partnership pays off
His advice to other business leaders? Work with the technical colleges to build a relationship that will lead to a supply of qualified employees with occupational skills and soft skills.

“It takes time to build a pipeline of new team members and the fastest way to accomplish this is by building a relationship with the educational programs that address your skills needs,” he tells employers. You may even have the opportunity to tweak the program to address special skill needs that are unique to your company.

The business/education partnership has many benefits. Under Tyler’s leadership, OEM has provided subject matter experts that have served in an advisory role and shared expertise directly with students, both on the college campus and in the work environment. OEM has also introduced faculty and college leaders to trends in industry and to future opportunities for students.

Engage with educators
Other employers have discovered the benefits of working with Wisconsin’s technical colleges. Tyler says companies that leverage such relationships have an advantage over those that don’t.

“[WTCS] students are incredibly successful, far beyond what the general population understands,” he says. “Wisconsin’s technical colleges have the ability to help companies become more successful and to compete at a higher level.  The companies just need to become engaged with the colleges.”

See what some employers are saying about their partnerships with the WTCS.
How has your company engaged with Wisconsin technical colleges? What benefits have you seen?