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Western Technical College looks to give students access to manufacturing jobs after receiving grant



LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) – Last week, Senator Tammy Baldwin announced that Western Technical College, in collaboration with eight other colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, received a $5.7 million grant to help manufacturing students prepare for good-paying and in-demand careers.

“The funding is supporting the project to develop alignment within our advanced manufacturing programs, which are slightly different depending on what college you’re at. With this project, we’re going to be creating embedded short term micro credentials within our advanced manufacturing program,” says Western Technical College director of grants, Liz Wallace.

Wallace adds this grant will help manufacturing students gain their education and find jobs faster.

“We could have a student come to Western and maybe over the course of a few months they’re able to learn and attain two or three specific credentials within advanced manufacturing that allows them to go out and get a job for that specific skill set,” says Wallace.

Josh Gamer is the dean of integrated technology at Western Technical College. He says he was excited when he found out about the grant.

“I think it shows recognition of the the gap that we currently have in advanced manufacturing careers and the need to create additional career opportunities for students and to do that in a much more timely manner,” says Gamer.

Gamer adds manufacturing jobs are in very high demand across the coulee region.

“In our district alone, there are well over 200 job openings annually in the areas of electromechanical mechatronics and I.O.T. When you look on the welding side, you’re talking 70 to 100 job openings per year available for students,” says Gamer.

Out of the $5.7 million in the grant, Western Technical College will receive $2.2 million.

Senator Tammy Baldwin sent a statement on the grant saying in part quote: “By investing in our tech colleges and students, we are also investing in the future of our state – ensuring students have the needed training and skills to secure good-paying manufacturing jobs and positioning Wisconsin as a growth center in emerging industries.”

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