Letter: Manufacturing partners with education by Mike Sutton
While many residents can name several area manufacturers, they may not be aware that nearly every major area manufacturer is a member of a group known as the Grow North Manufacturers’ Consortium. It is an ad hoc committee working together on common needs, and high among their priorities is education. The group’s focus is industrial technology and they are active at all levels of education to help guide students along the road to employability. Not every activity involves every company, but here are some of the initiatives the group has been involved in:
• Helping to guide the curriculum and bring an industrial maintenance associate’s degree program to Nicolet College. You may have read about the results of this partnership as it included a recent $750,000 grant from the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation.
• Working with Rhinelander High School to guide education in industrial technology and couple curriculum with the basic skills manufacturers require.
• Meeting monthly with a group known as the Workforce Readiness Committee (again, at the high school) to explore ways to encourage students to explore a career in industrial technology.
• Conduct tours for the instructors in industrial technology as well as offering the same to their students (Rhinelander and Eagle River).
• Participate in the annual “Taste of the Future” event at the high school to discuss employment possibilities with students and their parents.
• Provide speakers and tour sites for the annual Heavy Metal Tour for 7th and 8th grade students. This event is led by the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and is planned for Oct. 9 this year.
• In addition to the above, many of the manufacturers offer tuition reimbursement for continuing education, summer internships and school year job shadowing for juniors and seniors.
Area manufacturers see the entire education system as a foundational component of the economic success of the region. Failure of the upcoming referendum will put the entire industrial education departments in both middle school and high school at risk and is an unacceptable outcome in our view. Passing the referendum ensures continuing these partnerships and is an essential step in keeping and growing local manufacturing businesses as well as attracting new businesses.
We urge you to vote “yes” on Feb. 19.
Mike Sutton, Rhinelander