Miller Recognized for Leadership on Job Training Initiative
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin joins with partners in new effort to train skilled welders
APPLETON, Wis. (Feb. 13, 2014) — Miller Electric Mfg. Co. has been named Manufacturer of the Year by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin (HCCW), an honor recognizing Miller leadership alongside the HCCW to establish a new training initiative aimed at addressing the state’s shortage of qualified welders.
Miller leaders received the HCCW honor presented by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Jan. 18, during the 24th Annual HCCW Business Awards Gala in Milwaukee. The gala was preceded by the first-ever HCCW Advanced Manufacturing Forum, which brought together manufacturing and public policy leaders for a discussion of Wisconsin’s skilled worker shortage and possible solutions to the problem.
The forum was part of the HCCW Advanced Manufacturing Partnership’s Hispanic Training Initiative, a collaboration between the HCCW, Miller and other manufacturers, technical colleges and community leaders throughout the state. Manufacturing alliances that have signed on in support of the initiative include the Central Wisconsin Metal Manufacturing Alliance, the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce Manufacturing Careers Partnership.
“This training can help lead participants to well-paying jobs and help Wisconsin employers fill a critical skills gap,” said Mike Weller, Miller president and co-chairman of the HCCW Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. “This is an employer-designed and approved program, very much in touch with employers’ critical skill needs.”
The initiative distinguishes itself from traditional skills training by including life skills training for participants, with the aim of supplying workforce-ready candidates able to step into entry-level welding positions. Participants must successfully complete a rigorous pre-screening process, including drug testing and four to six weeks of essential life skills training, before advancing to the employer-approved welder training course provided by the four technical colleges in the urban regions served by the program: Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau and Appleton/Fox Cities.
The welder training takes 14 to 16 weeks, and participants would be immediately job eligible upon completion, followed by ongoing on-the-job training to continue building their skills. This will help fill the immediate needs of Wisconsin employers, as there are currently more than 400 welder job openings in five counties.
The HCCW will provide the life skills training portion of the program, taught using a mentored case management system for extra participant support. Fox Valley Technical College, in partnership with a group of manufacturing leaders, developed the welding skills training curriculum that will be used as a vital technical training component of the program. The other participating schools are Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Northcentral Technical College in Wausau and Milwaukee Area Technical College.
The HCCW has applied for Fast Forward grant funding from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to help support the initiative with approximately $100,000 in funding for each of the four regions. That level of funding would support two cohorts of 15 participants each. Initiative leaders expect news on the grant funding in March, and the program could launch soon after funding is received.
“The skilled worker shortage in Wisconsin is expected to exceed 13,000 vacancies by 2021 in the metal manufacturing sector alone,” said Jorge Franco, HCCW chief executive officer. “Our organization has emerged into an important leadership role in addressing this gap, and that wouldn’t be possible without the help of Mike Weller and Miller in bringing the many partners together in support of this important program.”
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