Gov. Evers on Campus at UW STOUT

Gov. Evers on Campus at UW STOUT

ABOVE PHOTO: Nolato Contour employees, from left John Eisenmann, Carlene Manske, Lucie Roe and Joe Dravland, are in the workforce training certificate program at UW-Stout.

 A new program aimed at supporting workforce development in Wisconsin was praised by Gov. Tony Evers on March 7 when he visited University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Evers learned about a first-of-its-kind collaboration that began last fall between the university and state Department of Workforce Development. The university is offering a three-course certificate program, the Workforce Development Specialist Apprenticeship, for company trainers, with the aim to improve workplace training.

Focused employment and training solutions can lead to new and existing workers building better skills, improving productivity and, ultimately, staying on the job,  which has been a challenge for companies facing worker shortages in a strong Wisconsin economy.

The number of workers in Wisconsin’s 113-year-old apprenticeship program is at a record high. UW-Stout’s higher education certificate aims to support those trades apprentices with better training — training the trainer — by leveraging university expertise.

“Having that direct connection between the workforce and the universities is so important. It’s good for the students, good for our economy and, frankly, good for the university,” Evers said. “UW-Stout should be proud.”

Enrollment in the certificate program has steadily increased with students from around the state. Tuition is free through 2024, thanks to grant funding.

Evers spoke with certificate founder Kelly Droege, assistant professor in training and development, and Beth Hein, executive director of Educational Pathways and Outreach at UW-Stout.

“This program has been a dream of mine for a long time,” said Droege, a UW-Stout alum who returned to teach after working in industry and seeing the need for improved training methods in the workplace. “It fits with Stout’s polytechnic, applied learning focus.”

Also speaking with Evers were two representatives from manufacturer Nolato Contour of Baldwin, Human Resources Manager April Robelia and training manager John Eisenmann. Several Nolato Contour trainers are enrolled in the certificate program.

“We’ve altered a lot of training because of this program,” Eisenman said. “We’ve already started applying things we’ve learned from the classes.”

The three certificate courses are: Workplace Learning Technologies, Foundations in Talent Development and Managing Organizational Change Initiatives.

Students in the certificate program, who can start taking the online courses at any time, also can apply their credits toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree program at UW-Stout. Amy Mustafa, of Springbrook, south of Hayward, is doing just that.

Mustafa works in human resources for Tamarack Health at the Hayward Medical Center. She also is working toward an online bachelor’s degree in management at UW-Stout, with a concentration in human resources. She worked in a bakery for 15 years and has been in human resources for nine.

“It’s exciting to learn about things that I know I will be able to use daily in my career going forward. The certificate program is a great opportunity for adult learners like myself to work toward being better business leaders,” Mustafa said.

Evers’ tour was led by Chancellor Katherine Frank, along with Provost Glendalí Rodríguez. Frank stressed how the certificate program serves the employee and the employer.

“As Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, UW-Stout leads the way in building new partnerships with business and industry and identifying flexible pathways for students to both contribute to and build capacity within Wisconsin’s workforce,” Frank said.


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