Speaker at EPD event.Group of EPD students in field with electrical poles.

 

The growing opportunities in Wisconsin’s energy industry were the focus of a special event at Moraine Park Technical College on Thursday.

Area students were given a chance to get “hands on” with technical college students and instructors in an energy career preview day at the College’s Beaver Dam campus. The event also was punctuated with a special “Careers in Energy Kickoff” ceremony.

During this ceremony, a proclamation was issued from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s office to observe Oct. 16-20 as Careers in Energy Week. Dave Anderson, assistant deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, delivered the proclamation on behalf of Gov. Walker to a crowd of College staff, industry leaders, Moraine Park students, prospective students and local parents. 

“You’ve recognized that this a great field with a lot of opportunity, where you can make a lot of contributions and really benefit a lot of people throughout the state of Wisconsin,” Anderson said.  

In fact, qualified and skilled technicians and engineers are in high-demand in all types of energy careers.  Energy companies face a notable shortage in five key areas: lineworkers, utility technicians, plant operators, gas technicians and engineers. 

Current Moraine Park Electrical Power Distribution students, faculty and industry representatives conducted numerous activities on Wednesday to increase interest and understanding in energy-related careers.

More than 25 potential students participated in the event and interacted with energy employers like Alliant Energy and Wisconsin Public Service.

For Devin Leitz, a senior at Portage High School, this unique opportunity to see things up-close and try tasks first-hand played directly into his preferred learning style.

“I’ve always been better with my hands in everything,” he said, noting he appreciated the chance to get hands-on practice with various tasks.

Brian Bartels, customer operations manager at Alliant Energy, also felt this was a fantastic approach.

“[This gives prospective students] an opportunity to see what the job is really about. And I think that’s one thing that Moraine Park here offers, that some of the other schools don’t, to give students a chance to see it before they show up the first day,” Bartels said.

Drake Felder, a junior at Dodgeland High School, said the event helped reaffirm his career path to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“I want to be a lineman someday. Both my dad and grandfather are linemen,” Felder said.

 Wayne Reschke, senior vice president of Human Resources at Alliant Energy and also executive sponsor of the Wisconsin Energy Workforce Consortium, said shedding light on the continued opportunities available for the next generation of students is important.

“Coming into these career fields is a high-value thing. We have jobs we anticipate going forward in the future a long, long time that are good, solid jobs,” Reschke said, adding “There’s a lot of opportunity, and not a lot of people are aware of it.”

Moraine Park’s Beaver Dam campus houses an in-demand Electrical Power Distribution program and is currently undergoing construction for a new Gas Utility Technician program, scheduled to open in June 2018. 

For more information and resources related to Careers in Energy Week and energy careers in general, visit the Center for Energy Workforce Development website at cewd.org. For more information on Moraine Park’s energy programs, visit morainepark.edu.