The Current Status of the Local Job Market and Technical Education
One of the benefits of being a member of the Middleton Chamber of Commerce is that you get current information relating to local economic development issues. In the minutes of the 10-20-10 MCC Economic Development Committee meeting, the group heard from Terry Webb and Roger Price from Madison College, formerly MATC.
In these notes, they highlight current education trends and local employment needs. Here’s the notes from that meeting
This is MATC’s plan for renovations, upgrades and new facilities to meet the increasing demand of local residents who need affordable education and job training. Funding for the Plan is a referendum question on the 11-2-10 election ballot. They also discussed the role Madison College plays in the community.
They started the presentation by discussing the changing workplace and how we all must adapt. This includes students, MATC and employers. They listed six ways the business community is changing.
The global marketplace has reduced the importance of location and has opened up many opportunities that did not previously exist. Changing demographics of customers and the workforce. The average age in our area is now 37. It was 30 only a few years ago.
Technology improvements. It isn’t just the new technology that creates change. It is also the leveraging of the new technology and the increasing productivity of new technology that creates more opportunities.
The recession has changed the way we look at employment and the workforce. Skills packaging includes employees who want to increase their current skills and add new skills. These employees are trying to make themselves more attractive to employers and are also trying to be prepared when and if their current job is terminated.
There are labor shortages in certain industries. There is a lack of certain job skills as different professions evolve. The recession didn’t just cut back on jobs. Many of these jobs are permanently gone. New skills are needed for potential employees to move in to the next career.
They also talked about the Higher Education Imperative. This is the ongoing trend of a workforce that needs a minimum of one year of post-secondary education. They discussed the earnings differential as you compare different levels of education. This same trend also shows itself in the unemployment statistics, as you are less likely to be unemployed if you have more education.
MATC works with students who are right out of high school. But they also work with a large number of students who are looking for different skills or to improve their current skills. Many of these students have attended college at other schools. Some have degrees from other colleges and are looking to better define their skills.
Wisconsin ranks okay in terms of education level in the US. But the US has fallen down the list of countries based on education level of their citizens. The US used to be first. Now we are ninth. 35% of US citizens have post secondary education. This compares to 54% for Canada.
The next topic was “middle skill jobs”. These are jobs that require some education and training beyond a high school degree but short of a full four year degree. More and more jobs are falling into this area. Health care, for example, has many careers and opportunities. Some of these professions are in great demand today and jobs are waiting for students as they graduate. Some students are being offered and are accepting jobs even before they graduate. Information technology jobs are also being filled as fast as people can graduate. Many of the skilled construction trades are also looking for new graduates. Skilled construction workers as a group are getting older. There are not enough young people following in the system to replace them. More and more of these construction jobs involve new technology. A recent study estimates that the future workforce will be made up of 80% middle and high skill jobs.
Enrollment at MATC (or Madison College, as they are now being referred to) has increased 22% in the past five years. There were about 8,800 full-time equivalent students five years ago. Today there are 10,800. More than 40,000 students attend MATC. The average age of a student is 29. Their territory covers 12 counties and 40 public school systems.
Here is a brief summary of the Master Facility Plan.
A new Health Careers Education Center & Clinic. This is 177,000 sq ft at a cost of $43 million. It would include an actual working clinic. Waiting lists on many programs are three years.
A new Protective Services building at a cost of $21 million. This is police, fire, EMS and related professions. This type of training is in high demand and is not offered at that many places.
Renovations and upgrades to the regional campuses in Fort Atkinson, Reedsburg, Watertown and Portage at a cost of $7 million. These campuses are quite popular and have reached full capacity very quickly.
A new Transportation and Green Manufacturing Center at a cost of $16 million.
Madison Campus Repairs and Upgrades. The Truax campus is in need of repair. Some of this is basic HVAC and plumbing and electrical. Cost is $34 million.
Stormwater and Campus Safety Upgrades at a cost of $10 million.
The borrowing for all of this would be spread out. The cost to a $200,000 home would be about $27.52 per year.
Why Now? The emerging workforce needs are continuing to evolve. The workplace is changing rapidly. The mismatch of jobs and people with the correct skills continues to grow. Enrollment is at an all-time high and demand continues to grow. 65% of programs have a waiting list. Facilities are at capacity.
This is also a good time to borrow money. Interest rates are as low as 1%. Construction costs are also quite low. The economic impact of all this construction and upgrading in the 12 county area would be quite large over the next five years.
The economic impact of having employees who are qualified and ready to step into jobs immediately is also quite high. 80% of graduates stay in the district. 96% stay in Wisconsin. 90% find jobs very soon after graduation.
The Master Plan is ready and waiting to be implemented. Approval of the referendum is needed. Construction would start very soon after if approved.
If the referendum is rejected, there would likely be another referendum asking for many of the same items. The demand is there. Waiting lists are long and potential students are being turned away. Jobs are going unfilled due to lack of qualified employees.
They explained that MATC has a very good reputation. Their approval rating is 90%. They have done well over the years to keep expenses under control. Labor costs have been negotiated well. Efficiencies of operation have been implemented. They have also done a good job of keeping their debt low.
Please note that the ballot question is on the back of the ballot in Madison.
There was a brief discussion about online enrollment. This has become more popular in recent years and will continue to expand. It is nice in that there is not as much demand for facilities, although many “online” courses are partially online and partially hands-on in a classroom. There are also some classes that can not be taught without the classroom experience and facilities.