Drive around any industrial complex in District 5 and you will be struck by the number of ‘Help Wanted’ signs. Our area has a shortage of trained workers which will intensify once Foxxcon starts looking for employees.
To relieve this shortage, area businesses have been partnering with WCTC and local high schools to encourage students to get technical or trade degrees while still in high school. I have seen the rise in these programs over the past five years among patients in my practice. They offer work and life experience to students who otherwise might flounder after high school.
In order to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of such programs I have met with business leaders, business owners, human resource VPs, and school superintendents. I have similar meetings scheduled in the next few weeks.
What I have found is that we have school personnel who are passionate about identifying students who are interested in trades or tech degrees and many businesses willing to support these students.
Dr. Pat Greco, school superintendent at Menomonee Falls school district, aims to have 100% of her students choose a general area of study before graduating from high school. This not only saves money for the students going to college, but also gives a head start to students interested in trades or apprenticeships.
WCTC’s Dual Enrollment Academy has grown since its inception eight years ago and now allows for study in Tool and Die, Welding, Automation Systems, IT, Protective Services, Building Construction Trades and Hospitality Specialist areas. Businesses like Trace-a-Matic in Brookfield have combined an inclusive corporate culture with a bonus system based on grades to provide positive experiences for these students and are seeing the benefit in a well trained crop of new hires who are mature and loyal to their company. Bryan Obst, the HR recruiter at Trace-a-Matic has put together a program that offers diligent students an opportunity for a well paid career. In today’s world of tech-heavy industry these programs will only grow in importance. In Congress I will explore ways the Federal government can support similar programs across the country.