The Madison Region builds a talent pipeline for growing industries.
The availability of a skilled workforce is vital to the Madison Region’s growing economy. Fortunately, the eight-county region is home to six four-year colleges, including the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin, and two two-year UW campuses.
Four technical colleges in the region – Madison College, Blackhawk Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College –cultivate a highly skilled and creative workforce, provide access to lifelong learning opportunities and connect industry with a professional, qualified labor force. Companies looking to relocate to or expand in the region know they will have access to the workforce they need to grow and be successful.
“These institutions impact the region’s economy and quality of life by attracting and retaining young professionals, creating value and innovation through research and development, and supporting existing businesses and industry clusters through targeted training and degree programs,â€ says Gene Dalhoff, vice president of talent and education for the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP).
Hard at Work
Dr. Tracy Pierner, president of Blackhawk Technical College, says the college’s Workforce and Community Development team offers a concierge approach to helping the region’s workforce grow. The college offers professional development and continuing education courses each semester catered to the needs of business and industry. In addition, that team creates customized training to meet the specific needs of area companies.
“The college has been in this business since 1912, so that’s well over 100 years of being at the forefront of developing our workforce. Our programs and services span from apprenticeships to specific skill training that might be contracted with companies to academic programs that are specifically tailored to meet workforce needs,â€ he says.
In 2019, Madison College opened the new Goodman South campus in Madison’s Medical Corridor in the heart of two of its fastest-growing employment segments – health care and information technology. The new facility features labs for nursing skills, anatomy and physiology as well as chemistry and microbiology.
“The two major industries in our area and region are health care and IT. We train a great deal of folks for those industries. From a health care perspective, we offer programs in practical nursing as well as on-boarding to our associate degree nursing program, which would lead to a registered nursing degree,â€ says Dr. Jack E. Daniels III, president of Madison College.
Over 95% of students who come to the college will have a position within six months, and they often will have positions in the industries before they even complete their actual program because the demand is so high.
STEM-ulating the Workforce
Daniels says the Madison College’s health care and IT programs are part of a strong emphasis on STEM education and training – not only at the college level but also at the high school level. The college partners with the Madison Metropolitan School District to sponsor a STEM Academy. Students enrolled in the academy take college-level courses and earn an associate degree simultaneously while earning their high school diploma.
“Investing in younger students is important for the workforce of tomorrow as well as the workforce of today because of the demand, and we want to make sure that we get more students into those demand occupations,â€ Daniels says.
Blackhawk Technical College also works with local schools to introduce students at an early age to in-demand careers. The college co-developed a Rock County internship program that partners schools with local business and industry sectors.
“We have collegiate academies that have been developed. We’ve got Manufacturing Day that encourages some 1,200 students to explore careers in manufacturing. We are involved in our schools, from middle school through high school, showing these students the opportunities that are in our community,â€ Pierner says.
MadREP also serves as a conduit between local schools, colleges and universities and the business community.
“We strive to create an understanding among our educational partners of the workforce needs of business and industry in the region, and we work with businesses to develop an understanding of the capacity educational institutions have to respond to their needs,â€ Dalhoff says. “Together, we focus on providing career-based learning experiences for students at area employers, and the development of career pathways that begin for students in high school and extend through post-secondary education and into the workforce.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Madison Region, check out the latest edition of the Madison Region Economic Development magazine.