News Release

Published on Monday, January 19, 2009

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded a nearly $2 million grant to Western Technical College as part of the President’s Community-Based Job Training Grants Initiative.

A total of $123 million was awarded to 68 community colleges and community-based institutions in an effort to prepare workers to take advantage of new and increasing job opportunities in high growth, high demand and economically vital sectors of the American economy.

Western will use the funding to increase the skill level in manufacturing occupations by implementing K-12 initiatives and adult training programs. The proposed activities will focus specifically on Welding, Machine Tool/CNC, and Electronic Maintenance careers. There will also be additional training in Lean Manufacturing as well as a new Leadership in Manufacturing certificate aimed at supervisors and managers in manufacturing environments.

“We chose these areas because industry leaders in our region have asked us repeatedly for this training and support,” said Patti Balacek, director of Western’s Business and Industry Services Division. “This is an opportunity to make a coordinated effort to sustain the manufacturing sector in Western Wisconsin. It is a leading driver in our region’s economy and its deterioration would have a significant effect on the broader region as a whole.”

Western is one of only three colleges in Wisconsin chosen to receive grant funding, and the only one to focus on advanced manufacturing. Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac, and the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena both received funding for health-care training.

“This grant is the result of tremendous community support,” said Balacek. “We couldn’t have qualified without the partnerships between Western, Workforce Connections, the K-12 school districts, and the business community.”

The grant will be managed through Western’s Business and Industry Services division, which specializes in customized training aimed at increasing productivity and profitability through employee skill development. For more information about Western Technical College programs and services for business and industry, please call 608.785.9232 or visit the Web site at