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CVTC to receive $1.15 million job retraining grant

CVTC Instructor Brian Schwahn, right, works with a student in a computer lab at the Eau Claire campus. With the help of a federal grant, CVTC will be expanding its Information Technology-Software Developer program to the River Falls campus starting in fall 2014.

Eau Claire, WI – Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) will receive a $1,147,610 grant to help retrain and transition displaced workers into jobs in the information technology field, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday.

The funds, to be dispersed over three years, are part of a $23 million grant shared by all 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System. The federal funds come from the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers program, which provides funds for retraining of workers who lost their jobs or have had their jobs threatened due to the competition of foreign trade.

The Department of Labor announced $474 million of grants for the third round of grants under the program, with the $23 million to the technical colleges being Wisconsin’s share.

CVTC will use the funds to expand program offerings in the Information Technology-Software Developer (IT-SD) area at the Eau Claire campus and to extend the program to the River Falls campus. Funds will allow for the hiring of an IT-SD specialist to assess prior learning by program participants and provide support and case management. Additional faculty members will be hired at Eau Claire and River Falls. Funds will also cover curriculum development and computer equipment.

Equipment purchases will include 62 Apple computers for IT-SD labs at the Eau Claire and River Falls campuses, accommodating new program curriculum that will incorporate Apple technology to meet the needs of students and businesses that use Apple systems. Additional equipment purchases and enhanced program offerings will be in automation and robotics, which are important to employers in the manufacturing sector.

CVTC will partner with Workforce Resource, a local agency that works with displaced workers, for identification of program participants and on-the-job training programs.

“Chippewa Valley Technical College has a long history of retraining workers as the local economy changes and new opportunities are created. We are pleased to be able to continue that tradition in partnership with other technical colleges as well as local agencies and private businesses,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker. “These funds will help us help people transition into new careers where there are great opportunities available.”

In this round of grants, applicants were required to demonstrate employer engagement and use of labor market information so training could be focused on local economic needs. That led to the creation of the program emphasizing information technology, a local economic growth sector.

“This federal program aligns perfectly with our mission,” said Barker. “CVTC works closely with local industry advisory committees to ensure our programs meet the needs of area employers and our graduates learn the skills needed in today’s job market. This grant enhances our ability to do what we do well.”

Key industry partners whose input helped shape plans for use of the grant money include JAMF, IDEXX Laboratories and Menards in Eau Claire; TTM Technology in Chippewa Falls; and Sajan in River Falls.

In the previous round of grants under the federal program, the technical colleges won an $18.3 million grant to expand innovative programs that produce highly-skilled workers in advanced manufacturing.

“Collaboration within our system has allowed us to leverage more than $41 million to address the strategic needs and priorities we’ve identified with our workforce and economic development partners,” said Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy. “That’s pretty exciting for Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s technical colleges received one of the largest single awards from the Department of Labor’s investment, and the collaboration makes the technical college system one of the few applicants to receive back-to-back grants. Grant implementation will begin in October.

CVTC has been involved in similar grant programs in the past. A federal grant funded the Bridges2Healthcare program that retrained displaced workers for jobs available in the healthcare field.

Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.