Nicolet College to expand welding lab
With local demand for skilled welders at an all-time high, Nicolet College is expanding its welding lab to accept more students and graduate more welders to meet the workforce needs of area employers.
This spring the lab will grow from 17 workstations to 23, said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster.
This expansion, recently approved by both the Nicolet College Board of Trustees and the Wisconsin Technical College System Board, is just one in a growing list of recent activities to accommodate more students. Last year the program doubled in size by adding more classes and this year a third section of classes was added to train even more skilled workers.
The college also recently started offering an accelerated sequence of classes that gives students the option to graduate in as little as seven months, compared to taking the same classes over a full year.
“Area employers have told us they still need more welders, so adding more workstations and offering an accelerated sequence of classes were the next best ways for us to meet that demand,” said Burmaster, adding that students currently in the welding program will help construct the new stations.
Nicolet was also recently able to upgrade its welding equipment and hire an additional instructor and academic advisor, thanks to two recent grants totaling $1.2 million from the state and federal governments.
Along with physical upgrades, the college also revamped curriculum with significant input from area employers.
“We wanted to make sure that the skills taught in our labs and classrooms were an exact fit with what is needed in the workplace,” Burmaster said. “By bringing in employers, we were able to hear first-hand about the skill sets they need. We then took this information and updated our curriculum to match those needs.”
The curriculum now places a greater emphasis on soft skills such as communication, teamwork and customer relations.
“Employers told us that these soft skills are vital to a productive and efficient work environment, so we included more instruction in these areas as well,” Burmaster added.
For more information about the college’s welding program, visit nicoletcollege.edu or call the Nicolet College Welcome Center at (715) 365-4493 or (800) 544-3039, ext. 4493; TDD (715) 365-4448.