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For immediate release:   November 11, 2011
Contacts:   Morna Foy, 608-266-2449, morna.foy@wtcsystem.edu
                Kyle Schwarm, 608-266-0050, kyle.schwarm@wtcsystem.edu


Wisconsin Technical College System honors
Wisconsin Public Service with "Futuremakers Partner Award"

         GREEN BAY – Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) received the "Futuremakers Partner Award" from the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board during the board meeting at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) on November 8. Dan Clancy, president of the WTCS, presented the award to Bill Laakso, vice president-Human Resources at WPS.

         "The Futuremakers Partner award was created to celebrate the impact of college and employer collaboration in helping hundreds of thousands of students set a direction for their future," Clancy explained. "Through these partnerships, we are able to build a highly-skilled workforce and strong communities."

         Jeff Rafn, NWTC president, told the audience when he arrived at the college, WPS was one of the first employers to reach out to discuss workforce needs. "WPS has been extremely supportive in both energy and economic development programs," Rafn said. "They are everywhere in the community."

         "I’m very proud to be here representing WPS. The energy industry is very technical, very skilled," Laakso stated. "All of our jobs require post-secondary education. Our average employee age is 47, so we recognize the need for a skilled workforce plan. That is what motivates our involvement with NWTC; we have a ready resource. We have partners at NWTC."

         WPS and the college have worked together closely for at least 20 years. NWTC supports future and incumbent WPS employees with degrees in solar energy, energy management, utilities engineering technology, electromechanical technology, electrical power distribution, plus continuing education in energy generation, distribution and conservation technologies. The college provides customized training that sometimes brings 50 or more WPS employees to campus at once. WPS contributes vehicles, equipment, guest speakers, program advisors, scholarship funding, field experiences and countless other learning opportunities. They have partnered to bring federal grant funds to the area, and to get middle school students excited about energy careers.

         "WPS has been vital in funding and furthering the college's energy programs," Rafn added. "Their commitment to providing local, family-supporting jobs and to training local residents for those jobs raises the quality of life for countless people who may never be able to thank them. I'm grateful that we can do so today."

         "Today we honor WPS for their support of the NWTC as well as all the time, talent and financial resources they continue to invest in the local community and the entire Green Bay region," Clancy stated.

         In accepting the award, Laakso said his company, "is proud to partner with NWTC. Both organizations share a commitment to our community, economic growth and development, and a skilled, capable workforce."

         The Wisconsin Technical College System offers 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 Wisconsin’s business and industry community. More than half of all adults in Wisconsin have accessed the technical colleges for education and training. Find more about educational programs at www.witechcolleges.org.