By Matthieu Vollmer
MARSHFIELD — Mid-State Technical College (MSTC) recently started offering new programs — including stainless steel welding basics, health and wellness promotion, and gerontology — all in response to employer needs.
Marshfield Campus Dean Brenda Dillenburg said the school’s role in local economic development was “to be flexible in providing workforce training to meet the needs in the community.” Dillenburg has spent 28 years in the technical education system and is a past president of the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
“It’s about preparing our graduates with in-demand skills for in-demand careers,” added Karl Easttorp, director of communications. Easttorp has worked in higher education for 12 years.
The MSTC district includes campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams. According to Easttorp, about 65 percent of all district students stay in the district upon graduation, and 92 percent of students are employed within six months of graduation.
According to MSTC, there is an inverse relationship between unemployment and enrollment. The district observed enrollment increases over 2008, 2009, and 2010 but has maintained stability since.
“Our enrollment is very stable,” said Dillenburg. “You can improve your employability by pursuing education. Individuals can grow and improve their ability to earn.”
MSTC began offering classes at its Marshfield location in 1913 and moved to its current location in 1991.
The Marshfield campus employs roughly 50 instructors, all of which have occupational experience in their teaching areas. Master’s degrees are required for full-time instructors. The Marshfield campus enrolls about 3,000 students per year, 70 percent of which attend part-time. The district enrolls 8,000 students, and the Wisconsin Technical College System enrolls roughly 350,000 students statewide.
One way MSTC has invested in workforce training is through its new Stainless Steel Welding Basics certificate. According to Associate Dean Ronald Zillmer, “This program is a direct response to the stainless steel industry in this area. Our job is to connect with local business and industry.”
The school received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to start the program, which was originally designed to train incumbent workers but is now open to high school graduates.
Training began in 2013. The program is self-paced and runs year round. Students can enroll each month rather than waiting for traditional semester start dates. According to MSTC, “The certificate is designed to help students develop entry-level skills needed to gain employment in the welding industry.”
MSTC offers both associate degrees and technical diplomas in areas such as accounting, nursing, urban forestry, cosmetology, farm operation, pharmacy tech, and more.
The Marshfield campus of MSTC is located at 2600 W. Fifth St. For more information call 888-575-MSTC, visit mstc.edu, or find them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.