Tech schools use specialized programs to fill workforce gaps

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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - With tech manufacturer Foxconn projected to bring 13,000 skilled jobs to Wisconsin, technical education schools are gearing up to get graduates ready.

According to Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, in June of this year, 77 percent of employers reported having trouble finding workers.

Jean Randles, a corporate training manager at SSI Technologies in Janesville, a manufacturer that turns metal powder in to auto parts, says they've experienced that shortage.

"We definitely see a gap in the workforce. We're seeing less and less workers come to our facility," Randles said.

To fill that gap, SSI Technologies has been working closely with Blackhawk Technical College to create specific training programs to get people the qualifications they need to fill jobs.

"We identify skills we need our employees to perform and they create the programs to support that," Randles said.

She says manufacturing has become a high tech career that requires employees to adapt to new equipment. She says working with Blackhawk allows them to train new employees and gives current employees the opportunity to learn new skills and move up within the company.

"We have to learn new things every day. We have a lot of different machines so a lot of codes and programs go in to that," SSI Technologies Computer Numerical Machinist, Carlos Garcia said.

Blackhawk Technical College President Tracy Pierner says the ability for training programs to adapt to workforce needs is something the school prides itself on.

The college has a board of advisors that work in many sectors of employment in the Rock County area, so they can have close relationships with companies that may employ their graduates.

Pierner says he has already met with Foxconn representatives to talk about workforce needs. He says Blackhawk will partner with Gateway Technical College in Elkhorn, closer to the proposed Foxconn sites, to ensure the tech manufacturer will have the workforce it needs.

Peirner says he also expects companies supporting Foxconn to build facilities in Rock County along the I-90 corridor. He says it will be important for Blackhawk to train qualified workers to fill those positions too.

"We're going to be there for them. We'll be teaming up with our economic development partners in Rock County to make sure Rock County is first and foremost in their minds and we're ready to serve their needs," Peirner said.

Copyright 2017: WMTV