Local employers value technical college training
Published on Thursday, August 09, 2012
Recent survey results once again highlighted the value employers find in the customized training and technical assistance delivered by Wisconsin’s technical colleges.
“Employers continue to tell us that this training and assistance, which is flexible and tailored to their needs, adds value to their operations,” said Mark Tyler, President of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board. “As a manufacturer operating in this competitive skilled labor market, I appreciate the importance of developing Wisconsin’s existing workforce.”
Technical colleges periodically survey employers involved in contract training projects to gauge outcomes and employer satisfaction. Over 500 employers around the state responded to survey questions about training outcomes. Locally, at Western Technical College, more than 40 regional employers responded to the survey. Of those regional employers who responded, 100 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with the training provided at Western, nearly 95 percent are likely to use these services again, and 100 percent would recommend them to a colleague. Respondents also indicated that the training improved the company’s work environment and employee retention, reduced costs, and addressed safety and compliance issues.
Survey responses state-wide highlighted the value employers place on having incumbent worker training delivered on-site, noting that technical college customized training programs allow employees to apply new skills in their actual facility and specific equipment, not to mention saving on travel time.
Workforce Advancement Training (WAT) grants have extended the reach and awareness of technical college customized training services. The grants, which have consistently received bipartisan legislative support, provide funds to technical colleges to support training programs developed with employer partners. Over the seven-year life of the WAT grant program, Western Technical College has received over $1 million in WAT grants to support over 64 employers in training almost 4,000 incumbent workers across western Wisconsin. An additional $113,000 has been awarded in 2012-13 with more awards to come.
“Given the pace of change in the workplace, we certainly don’t foresee demand decreasing for flexible, effective incumbent worker training,” stated System President Dan Clancy. “As a result, I anticipate that the WTCS will seek additional resources for worker training in the upcoming biennial budget. These survey results demonstrate employers’ support for WTCS training that benefits workers and employers across the state,” added Clancy.
Western’s Vision 2020, a master plan for the next several years, includes facility additions and renovations that will allow Western to provide more extensive training in a state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing center. Partnerships with local businesses will allow the college to have current equipment while providing space for the business’s current employees and Western students to train on the equipment.
“There are successful centers like this around the country, but not in western Wisconsin,” said Lee Rasch, president of Western Technical College. “Manufacturing is an important part of our economy, and we need to prepare both the current and the next generation of workers for these high-tech jobs. If we can showcase the technology, we’re hoping it will attract more people to these high paying careers.”
The advanced manufacturing center is part of a $79.8 million referendum that Western will bring to the voters during the Nov. 6 election. More information on the projects can be found at www.westerntc.edu/vision2020.