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Technical colleges key to 'Grow Wisconsin' initiatives

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MADISON Ė Wisconsinís technical colleges will be instrumental in several key initiatives in Governor Jim Doyleís "Grow Wisconsin" plan.

Highlights of that plan were presented Jan. 29 to the Wisconsin Technical College System Board by Board Member and Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development Roberta Gassman.

The Governorís plan, the third in a series, focuses on continuing to expand Wisconsinís economy by encouraging business innovation and expansion while developing the highly skilled and well-trained workforce needed to fuel that expansion. "The result will be continued movement toward a dynamic, innovative state economy that produces good-paying jobs," Secretary Gassman said.

Highlights of the plan include creation of a $1.5 million grant program to provide tuition assistance to full-time, low-wage workers who can receive up to $1,000 per year for technical college training.

In addition, the Governor intends to target $640,000 to expand opportunities for transitioning from academic support into technical training, expand and create linkages between Youth and Adult apprenticeship programs, and expand funding for targeted training that supports vibrant and emerging industries.

"The system appreciates the Governorís leadership in recognizing the critical role Wisconsinís technical colleges play in strengthening the stateís economy," stated Board President Mary Quinnette Cuene. "Once again, the Governorís creativity and vision will lead efforts to leverage the stateís educational resources to grow Wisconsin."

"The important partnership between the technical colleges and the Department of Workforce Development," noted Board vice president Allan Kehl, "is a critical resource for municipal, county, and regional economic development efforts." He added, "It reinforces statewide efforts to match career and technical education with emerging industries in a way that is good for business, good for workers, and good for the economy."

The Wisconsin Technical College System has 16 technical college districts throughout Wisconsin, which offer more than 300 programs awarding two-year associate degrees, one and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas. In addition, the System is the major provider of customized training and technical assistance to Wisconsinís business and industry community. More than half of all adults in Wisconsin have accessed the technical colleges for education and training.

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