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CEO says cutting-edge NWTC talent needed to fill region's IT jobs

Wednesday February 11, 2015
Male student working in the Network lab

Skyline Technologies CEO calls for more workers in high-tech  

Mitch Weckop sees a need throughout the Wisconsin business community. As CEO of Skyline Technologies, each day he witnesses his staff of 157 supply customers with advanced IT solutions, from mobile apps to cloud solutions to websites. What has Weckop seen lately? A shortage of qualified workers with high-tech skills.

“Demand (for IT jobs) has been driven by the explosion of the Internet, social media, smart phone adoption, and the cloud,” Weckop said. “There is essentially zero unemployment for people that have built and maintained relevant technical skills,” he added.

Dr. H. Jeffrey Rafn, president of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, has a similar view. “The needs are real. For the next 10-15 years, business and industry growth throughout Northeast Wisconsin will outpace qualified graduates by an average of 903 per year,” Rafn said.

That gap is driving the school’s request to borrow $66.5 million in an upcoming April 7 referendum, during which residents will vote on expanding three NWTC campus locations: Green Bay, Marinette, and Sturgeon Bay.

“Half of all U.S. jobs will require high technology training beyond high school to match 21st century industry innovations and provide family supporting wages,” Rafn said. “We need to make changes to support industries demanding more workers with high-tech skills.”

Weckop agrees. “NWTC’s IT expansion provides an opportunity for both students and employers to address this skills gap,” Weckop said. “NWTC’s expansion will help people build relevant skills – and lead to great paying jobs that are rewarding both personally and professionally,” he added.

Starting with a two-person staff in Green Bay 23 years ago, Skyline Technologies has grown into an award-winning IT firm providing consulting and custom technology development from offices in Green Bay, Appleton, and Pewaukee.

“At Skyline, we have hired 90 people in Wisconsin in the last 4 years. Our customers have similar needs for skilled resources, and they are hiring, too. A proliferation of devices, software, and services has exploded – and I don’t see this changing in the next 5-10 years,” Weckop said.

NWTC’s proposed expansion—160,000 ft2 of new space and 240,000 ft2 of renovated space—will increase capacity by an additional 1,000 full-time equivalent students. And, because 95% of NWTC graduates remain in Wisconsin to work, local economies benefit for years to come.

“NWTC has the opportunity to further strengthen our region’s economy with highly skilled workers,” Rafn said. “Voting on April 7 is vital to ensuring long-term future workforce success and community improvement,” he said.

“Increasing the talent pool in Northeast Wisconsin will have a broad, positive impact,” Weckop concluded.

NWTC has set up a website for residents who have questions about the referendum: www.NWTC.edu/LeadTheWay

A quick look at the numbers surrounding the April 7 referendum:

  • $66.5 million borrowed; increases the tax levy by $7.50 per year for a $150,000 house for 15 years
  • NWTC expansion will create an additional 1,000 full-time equivalent students
  • Every $1 invested in NWTC returns $5.80 in added taxes and public sector savings for taxpayers
  • 91% of NWTC grads are employed, with 95% working in Wisconsin
  • NWTC is one of 2014’s top 14 fastest-growing large 2-year colleges in the U.S.
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