Tech colleges advocate for quick action on stimulus package

by admin8. February 2009 19:00

Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) President Dan Clancy is urging members of the state’s Congressional delegation to take swift action to complete the federal stimulus package enabling states to move forward to address the impending workforce crisis.

 

In a letter sent on behalf of the State Board, Clancy also urged members of Congress “to help ensure stimulus funding includes allocations that recognize the specific role of the WTCS.” Clancy said the technical colleges are experiencing dramatic enrollment increases as a result of the recession and it’s imperative that specific funding is set aside to meet the needs of an unusually high number of dislocated workers. 

 

“We believe it is important that you recognize how, in addition to funding allocated for Education for the 21st Century, the WTCS can make quick, productive use of stimulus funding provided under a number of other of the areas included in the U.S. House version of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act,” the letter states.

 

Moraine Park Technical College President Gayle Hytrek noted the College’s spring enrollment had increased nearly five percent from the same time last year and that they continue to work with district employers who have either closed their facilities or had to reduce the workforce. “Moraine Park offers Rapid Response assistance in which Moraine Park Rapid Response team members introduce employers and employees to training, transition services and support services available through the College for transitioning people back into the workforce,” said Dr. Hytrek.

 

Coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Rapid Response is a state-mandated program used when a company has to lay off a certain number of employees. In 2008, Moraine Park responded to 23 plant closings in the district. As job cuts around the state deepen, the rapid response of Wisconsin’s technical colleges demonstrates a commitment to addressing the many issues facing laid-off workers and their families.

 

“Government investments in the American workforce have never been this important, at least not in recent history,” said Brent Smith, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board. “The technical colleges are in the best position to provide the kind of demand-driven education needed to get under-employed and unemployed individuals back to work.”

 

In many cases, dislocated workers haven’t received formal education for several years, so they’re underprepared for postsecondary education. The colleges provide these individuals with adult basic education or other academic preparation before they can successfully complete new career programs.

 

In addition to addressing job losses that are affecting a broad cross-section of our state’s population, the technical colleges are also in the midst of retooling course and program offerings in response to fundamental shifts in the state’s economy.

 

“A function of the technical colleges has always been to respond to the needs of displaced workers, but this function is even more critical now, as the state is experiencing significant job loss and economic instability,” said Clancy. “The quick turnaround the colleges offer helps minimize the impact on our communities during this economic shift.”

 

With campuses in Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and West Bend, Moraine Park is one of 16 colleges that make up Wisconsin’s technical colleges. Moraine Park offers more than 100 associate of applied science degrees, technical diplomas, apprenticeships and certificates delivered in a variety of formats — classroom, online and blended. Training and technical assistance for businesses are also offered. For more information about Moraine Park, visit www.morainepark.edu.

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