Moraine Park breaks ground on gas utility project

As demand for gas utility technicians grows faster than the supply of skilled workers, Moraine Park Technical College broke ground on a state-of-the-art solution during a special ceremony July 24 in Beaver Dam.

The event marked the start of construction for an upcoming $2.3 million Energy Education Center.

This cutting-edge facility will be home to the College’s new Gas Utility Technician program, with a target of graduating the first class of gas utility technicians in 2019.

“The demand for qualified gas utility technicians is outpacing the supply of skilled workers, and our new Energy Education Center and gas utility technician program will be an essential resource to close this gap,” said Bonnie Baerwald, Moraine Park president.

The vision for this new Moraine Park program was developed in conjunction with the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), the Wisconsin Energy Workforce Consortium and gas industry professionals. These stakeholders identified a significant local need for gas utility workers–especially as its aging workforce nears retirement.

Brian Johnson, senior executive advisor at Michels Corporation, spoke at the groundbreaking event and noted Moraine Park’s Energy Education Center will play a crucial role for the industry moving forward.

“Perhaps more than ever before, a talented and trained workforce is critical to our ability to serve our growing industry. That is why we are so excited about Moraine Park’s new Energy Education Center in Beaver Dam. This state-of-the-art facility will become a critical source of well-trained, knowledgeable and skilled gas utility technicians who will be in high demand,” Johnson said.

Wayne Reschke, Alliant Energy’s senior vice president Human Resources and representative of the Wisconsin Energy Workforce Consortium, also spoke at the event, which was attended by College staff and faculty, community members and numerous donors of the project.

“By breaking ground here today, we are fulfilling one of the consortium’s primary goals: creating the next generation of energy workers. Investing in Moraine Park’s natural gas program and its students helps build a talent pipeline for our industry,” Reschke said.

Baerwald also thanked the many donors who supported the facility, noting their contributions would create a lasting impact in the gas utility industry –and much more.

“It’s a genuine investment in the success of the men and women imagining a better life for themselves, and also the communities in which they will live and raise families,” Baerwald said.

It is anticipated that wages for Gas Utility Technicians will be above that of typical entry-level positions, with projected graduates earning an estimated average of $54,000 per year.

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