Employment levels are the highest they have been in state history, and finding skilled workers to fill open positions is more challenging than ever. Wisconsin is looking to address two concerns with one solution, offering job training to students and inspiring them to join the skilled trades. This innovative, multi-faceted remedy will help combat an expected workforce gap in the near term and decrease the cost of urban unemployment to the state.
Many new programs have been established to increase awareness of opportunities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs for students in Wisconsin. Youth apprenticeships in the state have doubled over four years. High school students can now get a jump start on their higher education goals via the expansion of state supported Dual Enrollment and Career Options programs.
Today, state budget funded programs allow Wisconsin schools to start providing academic career plans as early as sixth grade. Hydro-Thermal is ahead of the curve on this opportunity, having been involved with the Waukesha-based Schools2Skills program for the last five years. The program raises awareness of STEM programs for students in middle and high school.
Hydro-Thermal recently expanded its reach outside of Waukesha, hosting 45 Milwaukee Academy of Science (MAS) students, from grades 6 through 12. The students received a tour and overview of the company; and learned more in-depth about three key areas of the business - engineering, welding and machining. “Governor Walker specifically commissioned us to bridge the urban environment to provide similar opportunity, like we do for Waukesha” remarked Hydro-Thermal President and CEO, Jim Zaiser.”
The purpose of this initial visit was to introduce students to an engineering and manufacturing company based in Waukesha. On the tour students gained insights from staff, each answering three questions: “What is our employee background for education and training?” “What skills are used at Hydro-Thermal?” “What would we be looking for from a new employee?”
Future plans with MAS include more tours, as they are requested. Hydro-Thermal is also planning a tour for MAS students to help identify potential summer interns. Hydro-Thermal has an impressive intern program, hiring more than 35 interns since the start of the program 10 years ago. Today, one in every four interns is hired full-time after graduation.
The Milwaukee Academy of Science is an independent charter school, founded in 2000, chartered by the City of Milwaukee. This college preparatory school serves students from K4 through 12th grade and is governed by the Milwaukee Science Education Consortium, a 501c(3) organization. The Consortium includes representatives from the Medical College of Wisconsin, Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch University, Marquette University, Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) and Mount Mary College.
Hydro-Thermal has a long-standing relationship with area schools, even being recognized as 2016 Corporate Partner of the Year by the Waukesha Education Foundation. This special award recognizes outstanding effort by an organization to foster quality and innovative learning and ensure a strong foundation for the future of the Waukesha community.
When asked why is it important to have Hydro-Thermal involved in visits like this, Hydro-Thermal President and CEO Jim Zaiser said, “It’s exciting to be at the forefront of this mutually beneficial solution – and it’s just the right thing to do!”