Opportunities Abound in Manufacturing

Resource Photo - Opportunities Abound in Manufacturing

Visitors at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s annual Manufacturing Show in March see many technological wonders used in modern industry. They also see tremendous opportunities.

The Chippewa Valley economy is booming, with plenty of jobs available and companies working hard to recruit new applicants. In no economic sector is this more apparent than manufacturing, where employers are saying that the only thing holding them back from hiring more workers is finding people with the right training for the modern manufacturing plant.

That’s where CVTC’s manufacturing programs come in. CVTC offers programs in Automation Engineering Technology, Industrial Mechanic, Machine Tooling Technics, Welding, Welding Fabrication, and Manufacturing Engineering Technologist in the manufacturing cluster. These programs also offer opportunities to earn embedded technical diplomas and certifications.

Graduates of the programs are some of the most sought-after of all CVTC graduates, with employers recruiting students well before graduation. Employers often hire CVTC manufacturing program students to work part-time while going to school, then converting them to full-time as soon as they graduate.

“Right now, manufacturing is a very hot commodity, especially for machinists, welders, and fabrication types of positions,” said Aaron Libner of the Seek Careers/Staffing employment agency at a recent CVTC career fair.

Increasingly automated manufacturing plants are creating needs for trained workers to design, program, troubleshoot and repair equipment.

“Demand for workers trained to work with automation is extremely high,” said Jeff Sullivan, CVTC dean of skilled trades and engineering. “We surveyed 15 regional employers and all said they have difficulty finding qualified employees to fill positions in this field.”

“There is a huge shortage of maintenance mechanics in industry, especially in western Wisconsin,” said Doug Olson, who works with employer engagement for CVTC. “I’ve talked to employers who have had vacancies for eight months or more.”

The demand is reflected in the placement data. A follow-up survey of graduates in CVTC manufacturing programs after the 2015-16 school year showed the employment rate of graduates to be at or very near 100 percent in each of the manufacturing programs, with all but a few of the graduates employed in a position related to their programs. Average annual salaries in the programs ranged from over $39,000 in Machine Tooling Technics to over $52,000 in Automation Engineering Technology.

The programs can be challenging, but the instructors and support staff work hard to help students succeed, even those who come in with no background in the technology.

“I couldn’t turn on the computer the first day here, but I had a great teacher,” said John Swanson, 48, of Prescott, an Automation Engineering Technology student in 2017. “If I was 18 right now, I’d be here, doing this. Kids come right out of high school and after a couple of years, they’re making $50,000. If you get your feet in the door, you see people making $100,000 doing things like this. You could be there in your 20s or early 30s.”

Financial aid is available to help students pay for the cost of the CVTC manufacturing programs, with amounts varying by program.

If you are interested in a career in manufacturing, explore CVTC's manufacturing programs and be sure to register for the 2019 Manufacturing Show which takes place on Thursday, March 7, 2019!

  Ready to Get Started at CVTC? Apply online or call 715-833-6300 with questions.