Tony Hess of Lake Hallie started looking for something better when he realized he was spinning his wheels at age 23.
“I was job hopping for a while and was at a mediocre job,” he said. “I wanted to go back to school and look for an apprenticeship or something.”
Ray Hardy, 23, of Jim Falls, a 2013 Cadott High School graduate, was in a similar situation. “I had two jobs, farming for a neighbor and working production at the AMPI plant in Jim Falls.”
Both workers found a pathway toward employment improvement through the Industrial Mechanical Technician program at Chippewa Valley Technical College. But there is more to the story of their success than their decisions to enroll in some classes. It started with some manufacturers talking to people at CVTC about how desperately they need people who know how to maintain, diagnose and repair automated equipment.
“All employers are seeking industrial mechanics for their maintenance operations,” said program director Tim Tewalt. “Manufacturers like Golden Plump, Nestle, Bush Beans and 3M have continued to hire CVTC graduates and the list of companies looking for their next industrial maintenance
In 2016, CVTC announced it would be taking the lead in a $5 million Department of Labor TechHire grant to be shared with other technical colleges to prepare people for high-growth jobs. CVTC’s $1.7 million local share is being spent over four years to enhance the Industrial Mechanic program under an IMPACT grant that is part of the TechHire grant program.