Northwood Tech’s new mobile welding lab held its official ribbon cutting ceremony on the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin Reservation. Speakers at the event included Dr. John Will, president of Northwood Tech, Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Amy Pecachek, secretary-designee for the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Bruce Songetay, cultural coordinator and first speaker/language advisor – St. Croix Tribe, Janine McNulty, higher education and community development research/recruiter – St. Croix Tribe, and Keith Burns, welding instructor.
Prior to the ribbon cutting, the 53-foot mobile welding lab began its inaugural welding course in April with eight members of the St. Croix Tribe.
“The St. Croix Tribe asked Northwood Technical College to help them build their work force with professional development and skills that would allow them to become self-sufficient in trades, which would decrease their need to utilize outside contractors. Northwood Tech responded in partnership, compassion, and support. This mobile welding training unit is a product of continuing partnership between the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin and Northwood Tech and is proof that bringing opportunity to people in their place creates success,” stated Janine McNulty, higher education and community development research/recruiter – St Croix Tribe.
Dr. John Will stated, “We are excited to extend access to welding education throughout the area, and we greatly appreciate the partnership with the St. Croix tribal community to make this first training possible.”
The mobile welding lab is part of the three-year RESTORE (Restoring Employment through Support, Training, Outreach, Recruitment, and Education) project funded by the WEDC and DWD as part of a $10 million Workforce Innovation Grant under the Federal American Rescue Plan Act. The RESTORE project presented a partnership between the College and Chippewa Valley Technical College with the purpose of assisting regions of Wisconsin to address and solve the critical workforce shortage in the growing manufacturing industry while also providing highly trained individuals to fill current open positions. However, the responsiveness to workforce challenges in our area will also help sustain employability for manufacturing in the future.
“This mobile lab brings opportunity directly into our communities by allowing the training to come into schools, factories and anywhere else needed,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the WEDC, the state’s lead economic development agency. “This is more than just a classroom or training tool. This is a place where careers and new businesses begin.”
"At DWD, we are pleased to see so many workforce partners put innovative approaches, such as this beautiful welding lab, into action," said DWD secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. "All of this was made possible thanks to Gov. Tony Evers' historic investment of more than $150 million in the Workforce Solutions Initiative. With record-low unemployment and record high jobs numbers, this investment is helping employers leverage our homegrown talent and building in-demand skills."
Dori Marty, director grants/resource development for Northwood Tech stated, “It is so exciting to see an idea come into reality. The idea to have a mobile welding lab started a few years ago and the Workforce Innovation Grant made it possible.”
The lab is part of the College’s expanding options for Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing training. With eight individual welding booths, students can practice hands-on skills and employers can have employees trained to upskill their abilities to receive their customized welding credentials. Since the lab is mobile, power will either be supplied by a generator or a shore power at the training site.
“With the launch of our mobile welding trailer, we will be able to provide training in our rural areas that are convenient for our students and business partners,” stated Liz Pizzi, associate dean, workforce and community development.
Employers can elect to have customized training for their employees or individuals can choose to enroll in courses. Depending on the customized training for each session and/or individual, various credentials can be attained including:
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding (7 credits)
- Gas Metal Arc Welding (7 credits)
- Flux Cored Arc Welding (6 credits)
- Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (8 credits)
- Welding/Maintenance and Fabrication (14 credits) Technical Diplomas
- Stainless Steel Certificate (6 credits).
For more information on sessions and customizable welding credentials through Northwood Tech, email CustomizedTraining@NorthwoodTech.edu.
Northwood Tech is grateful to all its community partnerships. Your support of the Northwood Tech Foundation is essential to student success. For information on how to contribute, visit www.northwoodtech.edu/donate.
A nationally top-ranked college and a designated 2023-24 Military Friendly® School, Northwood Tech serves the educational and career needs of more than 15,000 residents of Northwestern Wisconsin each year. With multiple campuses, Northwood Tech offers career-focused associate degree programs, technical diplomas, short-term certificates, customized business training, and a wide array of courses for personal or career enrichment. Northwood Tech is a member of the Wisconsin Technical College System and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org). For more information, call 800.243.9482 or visit northwoodtech.edu. Northwood Technical College is an Equal Opportunity/Access/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability Employer and Educator.