DWD deputy secretary: Making ‘an investment in people’
Champions state’s ‘Blueprint for Prosperity’ program

By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff

Sept.7, 2014

 DWD Deputy Secretary Jonathan Barry (center) looks over a curved stairlift - the signature product of Bruno Independent Living Aids - along with Bruno Manufacturing Plant Manager Alan Karch (right) and Vice President of Operations Tom Jacobson.
Matt Masterson/Freeman Staff

OCONOMOWOC - Two new grants made to Oconomowoc-based manufacturers seek to give high schoolers a head start in trade work while also cutting down the perceived “skills gap” in Wisconsin.

The state’s Department of Workforce Development announced a $128,344 high school pupil grant to Bruno Independent Living Aids for its metal fabrication/welding Dual Enrollment program on Friday. Another $120,100 grant was made to CL&D Graphics for its printing and packaging Dual Enrollment program.

These grants are two of 30 that the DWD announced recently as part of the “Blueprint for Prosperity” initiative signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker. Both will help support the training of high school students in partnership with Waukesha County Technical College, local school districts and other local businesses.

“Bruno is excited to be a partner in WCTC’s Dual Enrollment Academy that allows high school seniors to receive training in metal fabrication and welding,” Bruno Vice President of Operations Tom Jacobson said. “By having high schools, technical colleges and businesses work together, manufacturers can ensure a pipeline of skilled workers for Wisconsin’s future.”

DWD Deputy Secretary Jonathan Barry, who toured both facilities Friday, said the dual enrollment programs allows high school seniors to complete their final year of school in local technical colleges. He said students do less than one-third of their work at their actual high schools, while spending the rest of their time either in the tech school or working in a related business.

“The idea is to upgrade the skills of these young people while they continue to get their high school diploma,” he said.

By the time they are finished with the program, they have more than two-thirds of a year in technical college completed, at no cost.

Barry said the program is different than traditional economic development - in which grants are given directly to businesses - and instead focuses on making an “investment in people.” Of the $35 million put into the “Blueprint” program, Barry said approximately $25 million goes to the technical colleges to help cut down wait lists and add sections in high-demand areas.

Bob Novack, associate dean of the school of applied technologies at WCTC, said the program has allowed high school seniors to develop the necessary skills to enter the workforce right after graduation.

“These students are taking our classes, with our instructors, doing our curriculum and they are earning our credits,” he said. “I think it is a great opportunity for these kids - any kids who want to get into a trade.”





Email: mmasterson@conleynet.com