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Move to USA Allows Student to Renew Welding Career Path

WELDING STUDENT AT WESTERN TECHNICAL COLLEGE (PHOTO PROPERTY/COURTESY OF WESTERN TECHNICAL COLLEGE)

WELDING STUDENT AT WESTERN TECHNICAL COLLEGE (PHOTO PROPERTY/COURTESY OF WESTERN TECHNICAL COLLEGE)

More than 20 years ago, Adrian Gotts finished high school in Australia and started on his welding career path by taking an apprenticeship.

Then, his training was interrupted when he started caring for a relative who had dementia. And that led him down a very different career path in disability and senior care, in which he has been employed for the last 15 years. He has cared for people with dementia, autism, and schizophrenia, and worked in a hospice care unit.

When the mother of Adrian’s daughter decided to move back to Wisconsin from Australia, Adrian followed in order to be part of his daughter’s life as she grew up.  And, he was in fact, a stay-at-home dad before his daughter started school.

After that, Adrian began working in Wisconsin in a facility serving people with disabilities. An outgoing and compassionate person, Adrian has found his career as a caregiver to be rewarding in that he knows he is making a positive difference in people’s lives by helping to alleviate their challenges and suffering.

Nonetheless, over the years, Adrian has missed building things. He had a workshop and tool shed at home in Australia, which he had to leave behind. So when he learned recently that there is a high demand for welders in Wisconsin for jobs that pay well, he decided to take the opportunity.

The first step for Adrian was going back to school, starting in December 2013. He lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where Western Technical College is located, so that was a natural choice.  Adrian took advantage of the opportunity to earn credit for previous work/life learning.  He was awarded credit for several classes when he demonstrated that he had already mastered the required skills.  This allowed him to save time and resources while moving his career forward in the welding field.  “They really go the extra step for their students,” Adrian said of the faculty and staff at Western, whose flexibility he has really appreciated. They have also allowed him to use their facilities outside of class meetings to practice his welding skills.

Adrian has continued his full-time job as a caregiver while taking classes at Western. He attended school part time during the evening to obtain the Basic Welding short term technical diploma.  The Basic Welding pathway is fully embedded in the Welding program and the Manufacturing Systems Maintenance Technician (MSMT) program.  Adrian choose to return to Western full-time from January through March 2015, in order to complete the Welding Technical Diploma program in the spring, and be able to start a new career that much sooner.

Looking at that next step, Adrian said he thrives on variety and hopes to find a position that offers him diverse projects on which he can use his problem-solving skills.

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Collaboration Beyond Wisconsin

Joel Simon from CAEL is pictured presenting at the conference. Photo property/courtesy of NWTC.

Joel Simon from CAEL is pictured presenting at the conference. Photo property/courtesy of NWTC.

Advance Wisconsin- Manufacturing (Making the Future: The Wisconsin Strategy – Round 2 TAACCCT Grant) presented at a Department of Labor convening in Washington D.C.  Several other TAACCCT grantees attended. Wisconsin offered a workshop on Credit for Prior Learning. It was a collaboration between the grant management team, Wisconsin’s technical colleges and CAEL, which is a contracted partner in helping to establish best practices for identifying and awarding credit for prior experience or training. The feedback was encouraging as attendees learned and conversed about how to further this important topic that will support individuals returning to college for additional training to obtain a new job.

The gathering as a whole was described by many as an opportune time to engage with their peers who have a common cause.

Technical College Staff Train and Strategize on Credit for Prior Learning

Staff from Wisconsin's technical Colleges gathered to examine and train on Credit for Prior Learning. Photo courtesy/property of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Staff from Wisconsin’s technical Colleges gathered to examine and train on Credit for Prior Learning. Photo courtesy/property of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Last week several individuals gathered for the annual trades and technology training meeting coordinated by Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). Deans, associate deans and related education directors from WTCS came together to discuss various topics and participate in this two day meeting.

One day consisted of professional development activities facilitated by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). Advance Wisconsin – Manufacturing has been working with CAEL as part of a grant deliverable. The goal is to further define credit for prior learning as it relates to the TAACCCT grant focused programs. CAEL’s training for the college staff included describing what credit for prior learning is, working through a real case study on prior learning, sharing prior learning assessment processes, work on a potential introduction to welding curriculum alignment activity and discussion on how to advance credit for prior learning in welding and strategies for assessment and faculty engagement.

The TAACCCT grant has provided an outlet and resources for colleges to further work together in addressing consistency in awarding credit for prior learning. This is especially important for displaced workers. Credit for their prior experience/skills allows the individuals to begin their training at a more advanced point in the curriculum. Many times they are able to obtain their credential in a shorter period of time to return to the workforce.

#AdvanceWisconsin #TAACCCT

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