Making STUFF happen for the workforce of the future

New BizTimes Milwaukee publication aids students in transition to careers in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s manufacturing, building and construction sectors are thriving. The remarkable growth of these industries is outpacing the available workforce. Local businesses in our region tell us that they need more skilled workers with the desire to learn in an ever-changing, high-tech environment.

STUFF Made & Built in Wisconsin, our contribution to the workforce development effort, is available online here and can also be found in the September 18 issue at newsstands now.

Career planning in schools has changed considerably from previous generations’ experience. Parents are the biggest influence on students’ futures. We hope this publication offers guidance and resources to the children in your life as they consider career options. BizTimes sought out a list of experts to provide guidance for you to aid and inform your children about work and life beyond high school.

Some of the people working on the issue include chambers of commerce and groups like the Waukesha County Business Alliance, hiring managers at businesses, the Wisconsin departments of Workforce Development and Public Instruction (DPI), the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., educators at every level and more. While a daunting task for some businesses, many industry leaders are heading the charge with their own unique training programs and recruiting methods to meet their precise needs as quickly as possible.

Based on our talk with school district administrators and the DPI, among others, we now think differently when we hear “postsecondary education,” extending our definition well beyond a four-year degree. There are many creative ways to gain an education as well as to finance it.

To be hired for the high-demand, high-wage, high-skill jobs of tomorrow, a four-year degree is great, but a two-year technical diploma will launch you into the workforce as well. And some students, like Andy Wachholz, are doing both.

Andy began post-secondary classes during his junior year of high school. His school district partnered with GPS Education Partners to develop a specialized program for him. He was enrolled as a Youth Apprentice and completed his academic requirements at the GPS education center at Generac. He also took courses at WCTC and UW-Waukesha through Wisconsin’s Youth/Course Options program to make progress on his post-secondary degree in mechanical engineering.

Andy graduated high school with his class at New Berlin West High School in 2016 as a level-two apprentice with a production technician certification. Andy is now working at Ritter Technologies while he continues to earn credits for classes, and will eventually transfer to an engineering program at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

This creative career entry includes a plan to live at home with parents, further sparing this student from debt. Andy will have money in the bank on graduation and almost any job he chooses due to the high demand in his field. Now that’s smart!

The manufacturers and contractors who took the time to provide profiles of their businesses understand that reaching tomorrow’s workforce is fundamental to Wisconsin’s continued economic growth. We hope that the employee and company profiles included in this guide will encourage the young adults in your life to explore new options and learn about new career opportunities.

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