GREEN BAY - Green Bay West High School students like Chris Ronsman say thanks to the Bay Link Manufacturing, the gears are in motion for their future.
“I've enjoyed it a lot actually. It's taught me a lot of skills of what I will need to go into my future career choice, either machining or welding,” said Chris Ronsman, a senior who will attend Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in the fall.
It's the first year for the program. Ten students have had hands-on experience with real welding and CNC machines.
“In addition to earning three high school credits, they also earn four college credits at NWTC. So, they start NWTC with some college credits under their belt so that gives them that first sort of toe in the door there,” said Lori Peacock, the Career and Technical Education Coordinator for the Green Bay Area Public School District.
Students are learning more than just how to work the machines. They're also learning how to market what they're making
“But they're teaching our students how to make a sales call, how to market Bay Link Manufacturing, how to do customer service follow-ups,” Peacock says of manufacturers who partner with the program. “So, they're really looking at this program from beginning to end and it helps them with those employability skills, which are really important.”
Ronsman says this class has given him a leg up on other students his age.
“We actually know how to talk to like business people, so we know how to make a deal on a job or something,” said Ronsman.
On Monday, the students put those skills to the test, as Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Republican State Representative John Macco (Green Bay) toured the labs. Kleefisch says this type of expertise will help fill the skills gap Wisconsin faces.
“We need students like the young people behind me to take advantage of these job openings, get trained up and then pick these jobs. They're available today,” said Kleefisch.
Ronsman says he's excited to have the skills needed to shape his future.
Coordinators say the Bay Link Manufacturing program hopes to expand with morning and afternoon sessions in future school years. The program will include NWTC students as mentors for high school students next year. Funding comes mostly from private grants and donations.