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Graduate Finds Gold Collar Program to be a Great Foundation

Josh Turner, Southwest Technical College

When asked what type of work he did before enrolling at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, Josh Turner said, “You name it.”

He worked for a local Boys and Girls Club, in cranberry marshes, as a car detailer, for Universal Forest Products, for Main Street Ingredients manufacturing whey protein, and in custom construction.

A native of Tomah, Wisconsin, Josh quickly found work when he and his girlfriend relocated to Prairie du Chien, where she was stationed for the National Guard. Unfortunately, the manufacturing job he took ended up being seasonal, and he was laid off.

Southwest Tech Student Gets Great Training Through Gold Collar Program. Photo property/courtesy of Southwest Technical College

At that point, Josh decided he needed more education in order to be competitive, and he turned to the Gold Collar Certification Program at Southwest Tech.

The college developed the program in response to employer requests for more qualified entry-level employees and to upgrade the skills of both existing and displaced workers and Workforce Investment Act (WIA) eligible adults, according to Grant Coordinator Louise Bradley.

She explained that the certificate program is 160 hours of training, which covers manufacturing processes and production, maintenance awareness, quality and continuous improvement, and safety. It meets the standards of the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council (MSSC), which is endorsed by the National Alliance of Manufacturing (NAM). The program also includes LEAN manufacturing principles and job seeking skills.

Josh got a lot out of the program and gave a lot to it as well. According to his instructor Craig Woodhouse, “Joshua demonstrated an excitement for learning new things and challenged himself to learn more content than was offered in the curriculum. He was my “why” student, frequently asking follow-up questions during class discussions. Everyone benefited from having him in the class.”

Unfortunately, before the end of the semester, Josh’s girlfriend completed her National Guard duty, and the couple had to return home to Tomah. However, as Mr. Woodhouse explained, Josh “stayed committed to completing the course by finding online course content on his own and even drove back to the area to attend a plant tour and take his final test.”

Since completing the certification in January 2014, Josh has gained full-time employment in construction. He has found many similarities between manufacturing and construction, and as a result, a number of ways to use his Gold Collar training in his current position. He has applied the safety checks, quality standards, production guidelines, and preventive maintenance, which he learned at Southwest Tech, to make sure his performance is the best it can be.

Josh’s long-term goals include advancing to a challenging position with a company, where he can help it to progress. He is also considering earning his associate’s degree, in order to build upon the manufacturing and business training that he started at Southwest Tech.

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