News Release

Published on Tuesday, July 24, 2012

If last year’s technical college graduates were any indication, this year’s graduates have bright futures. A survey of 2011 graduates revealed 88 percent were employed within six months after graduation and most of them (71 percent) were employed in their field of study.

According to the annual Graduate Follow-up Report released by the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), 86 percent of respondents indicated they are working in Wisconsin.

Locally, Western Technical College’s results were even more impressive, with 93 percent of grads employed within six months and 73 percent employed in occupations related to their degrees. Additionally, 85 percent of those employed in related occupations stayed in Wisconsin, 75 percent in Western’s district.

“This is great news for our graduates and great economic news for western Wisconsin,” said Lee Rasch, president of Western Technical College. “Our graduates are finding success and contributing to the economic recovery in our region. The report shows that Western is on the right track to prepare graduates for the local industry skill needs.”

Technical colleges attribute this success to advisory committees for each program area comprised of local business and industry representatives in the respective field. Advisory committee members provide colleges with first-hand knowledge of supply and demand, in addition to skills relevant for today’s job market.

“We are aware of what our local employers need, and our Vision 2020 plan takes those needs into consideration,” said Rasch. “We have a proven history of working with industry, especially during economically challenging times, to provide training for higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs.”

The median salary for all 2011 Western graduates is $31,616 with those who earned associate’s degrees receiving a median salary of $37,440. Some graduates earn as much as $62,400 a year. The highest initial salaries are in supervisory management, nursing, biomedical electronics, physical therapy assistant, and respiratory therapist.

Statewide, median salary for all new graduates is $31,822 with those who earned associate degrees receiving a median salary of $36,033.

Technical colleges also do a five-year graduate follow-up, surveying the same students who responded to the six-month survey. After five years, Western grads from 2006 saw a 58 percent increase in median wages, going from $28,078 to $44,295.

“This tells us that our graduates are not only getting jobs, but over the years they are getting raises, promotions, or other higher-paying jobs,” explained Rasch.
Statewide, salaries increased 48 percent over the same five-year period from a $29,991 median salary to $44,251.

“There was a time when western Wisconsin was lagging behind the state in those numbers,” said Rasch. “We’re happy to see a shift in that trend, indicating that we are seeing more skilled workers being paid competitively with the rest of the state.”

The Wisconsin Technical College System includes 16 technical college districts throughout Wisconsin, offering more than 300 programs awarding two-year associate degrees, one and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas. In addition, the System is the major provider of customized training and technical assistance to Wisconsin’s business and industry community. More than half of all adults in Wisconsin have accessed the technical colleges for education and training.