As Chairman of the Assembly Workforce Development Committee, I often hear from employers who are having a hard time finding the skilled workers they need to help their businesses succeed.
One of the main causes of this predicament: Students, upon graduating from high school, are too often not recognizing that there are many post-secondary routes they can take to a successful career. One of the most lucrative of these paths is through our Wisconsin Technical Education system. To promote this option, February has been designated Career and Technical Education month.
There are many advantages offered by Technical Colleges. These include hands-on, learn-by-doing instruction. There are also opportunities to earn dual-credits while in high school and to transfer credits from the university system. Students can also earn certifications that can help ensure they are ready to work the moment they graduate.
These advantages have proven outcomes. According to the Wisconsin Technical College System, 94 percent of the students who graduate with one of its degrees have a job within 6 month. The median salary for someone with an associate degree is $42,803. Also, 80 percent of graduates from the Wisconsin Technical College System still live and work in Wisconsin after 5 years,.
Having three Technical Colleges near my Assembly District, I understand the importance of supporting this attractive option for students. That is why I helped get signed into law a Career and Technical Education Incentive Grant to encourage school districts to offer programs to mitigate the worker shortage in high-need industries. The program has been successful; more than 307 school districts have taken part since 2017. More than 17,000 students have now gone through the program and more than $12.5 million has gone directly to school districts.
These strong investments have continued since I’ve been in the Assembly. We, for instance, have also made it a point to increase our support for youth apprenticeships throughout these state. Youth apprenticeship allows students to get on-the-job training while in school, helping them earn useful credentials. Participation in this program continues to rise, giving students a great opportunity to learn what careers might be of interest to them.
To help make sure parents and students have what they need to make wise career choices, I continue to be a supporter of Academic and Career Planning for all our students. The Academic and Career Planning legislation guaranteed that all students have a chance to learn about a variety of careers at an early age, so they can begin thinking about what their job interests might be before graduation rather than after.
This session, I look forward to continuing our great successes of the past and doing more to support our students. By providing students with more opportunities in high school to learn about careers, we can help them lead happy, successful and productive lives.