March 18. 2013 10:30AM - Last modified: March 18. 2013 10:31AM

Waukesha Metal Products to add education program

Waukesha Metal Products plans to add a new program and another classroom at its Sussex facility.

The company will add between 600 and 800 square feet to the building to accommodate an advanced manufacturing certificate program, said Jeff Clark, president and CEO of Waukesha Metal.

He hopes to begin the program in the fall of 2014.

The advanced program will be offered through Pewaukee-based alternative education provider Second Chance Partners for Education.

It will differ from the traditional Second Chance program, which targets at-risk students.

Through the program, the students would earn a high school diploma with a technical certificate of distinction, a youth apprentice certification, a Manufacturing Skills Standard Council high level technician certificate, SolidWorks essentials certificate and transcripted credits from the technical college system.

"They will come out of the two-year program with somewhere between nine and I think 12 credits," Clark said. "That fluctuates based on the program."

In the advanced program, which is in the early pilot stages, students would spend about three hours per day in the on-site classroom and the rest of their time on the shop floor, said Stephanie Borowski, executive director of Second Chance.

"The students in this pathway are not at risk of not graduating," Borowski said. "These students would really have a three-year track, two of those years being high school and only one year, potentially, in that technical college system, before they would actually achieve that associate's degree."

GE Waukesha Gas Engines and Generac Power Systems have also joined the advanced manufacturing program since it started in January. Students from Kettle Moraine High School are already working with those companies.

Clark said the advanced program could serve as a fast track into manufacturing careers. He hopes the college credits it provides offer an incentive for students to consider a manufacturing pathway.

"I want them to be exposed so they hopefully are driven to the manufacturing sector for their careers," he said.

The program will both provide him with potential employees and help the local manufacturing industry, Clark said. Because of the skills gap, developing talent will continue to be important in the future.

"The key differentiator is going to be who can get the talent and who can get that conduit, that pipeline filled, so they have access to a ready workforce," he said.

Waukesha Metal, which has 125 employees, is also in the process of opening a 30,000-square-foot facility in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. By the end of the year, Clark expects to hire 10 to 15 employees there.

None of the company’s jobs are being outsourced to Mexico. The facility is being built because about 40 percent of its customers are in that market.

“That market is growing,” Clark said. “We do have a significant number of customers there that we do ship to already and we see that as a growth market for us.”