News Release

Published on Friday, December 14, 2012

More workers will be able to get the training they need to land jobs available in western Wisconsin, thanks to a workforce training grant awarded to Western Technical College.

The grant from the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is part of $14.9 million awarded to the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), to be divided among the system’s 16 colleges. Statewide, the program is called “Making the Future” and is designed to develop, expand, and improve advanced manufacturing career pathways.

Western’s portion, $689,000 dispersed over three years, will allow the college to develop a new career path for the Industrial Electronics Maintenance program.

“There has been an increased demand for skilled workers in processing for food manufacturers,” said Bill Brendel, dean of the Industrial Technologies Division at Western. “Several local companies are in need of electronic maintenance staff, but are struggling to find qualified candidates.”

“Like many businesses, and to meet consumer demand for affordable products, GNP Company continues to use automation, whenever possible. This means that we have a strong need for candidates who have the ability to operate, diagnose, and program machines,” said Rocky Lisowski, Human Resource manager at GNP Company in Arcadia, Wis. “The grant from the DWD will not only help develop the electrical skills of team members today, but will help keep Wisconsin businesses growing into the future.”

In 2013, Western will begin offering skills institutes for individuals who only need short training to reach the necessary skill level. Additional plans include evening and weekend offerings using small cohorts, or groups, of students tailored to the assessed abilities of students.

“We will be piloting a built-in tutoring and advising element with this cohort,” said Brendel. “Student success is our priority, and we feel these services are especially important in helping returning adults.”

The DWD grant represents Wisconsin’s use of federal grants awarded through the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants.

“The awards demonstrate federal recognition of Wisconsin’s leadership in successfully using innovating methods to improve the availability and quality of Wisconsin’s skilled workforce,” said WTCS Vice President for Teaching and Learning Kathy Cullen. “By focusing on training Wisconsin workers for advanced manufacturing, we continue the long WTCS tradition as a major contributor to the growth of Wisconsin’s business climate.”