May 30, 2019
Op-Ed by Dr. Susan May, President of Fox Valley Technical College
State Investment in Technical Colleges
This year, Fox Valley Technical College had 3,100 graduates and another 320 highly skilled tradespeople complete their apprenticeships through the college. As I’ve watched these graduates “cross the stage” with credentials in a remarkable breadth of occupations, what is clearly evident is impact – the difference we’re making for individuals, families, area employers, and local communities.
Looking back to our 2018 graduates through our most recent grad follow-up study, 94% of FVTC graduates were employed within six months and earn an average starting salary of $42,000. Even more impressive, the average salary of our graduates after only five years in the workforce grew to $53,000. And these earning outcomes don’t include our apprenticeship completers where individuals in these trades will earn, on average, almost $65,000 annually upon initial completion. Having an enormous economic impact, fully 97% of our graduates live and work right here in Wisconsin. It’s also great to consistently see very high levels of satisfaction with the college conveyed in our surveys by both graduates and employers.
FVTC continues to be the leading college in the State in the delivery of customized training, technical assistance, and seminars/workshops to over 2,000 regional employers. These companies invest about $12M annually with us to bring a wide range of training and services to further develop their organizations and employees.
In addition, our graduates are vital to the safety of our communities. When you hear a siren, whether it represents law enforcement, fire service, or emergency medical response, chances are these everyday heroes have received training through FVTC. We remain dedicated to delivering best practice training for the thousands of public safety personnel we serve each year.
With this backdrop of service and outcomes, it has been so great to see our State’s elected officials support additional investment in technical colleges in their budget deliberations. I would like to thank Governor Evers for advancing an historic level of new State investment for our colleges in his budget proposal. Thank you also to all members of the Joint Finance Committee of the State Legislature (both Democrats and Republicans) for their support of our work and recently voting to provide an even larger investment in Wisconsin’s technical colleges. If approved by the full legislature, $25M in new funding will help us make an even greater impact on Wisconsin’s workforce. Special thanks to local Representative Mike Rohrkaste of Neenah for his leadership in serving as the champion for this important investment.
If approved in the final budget, these dollars will be used judiciously by FVTC to address targeted regional workforce needs. This funding will support our plans to expand several programs and registered apprenticeships in areas such as Construction Management, Dental Hygiene, Industrial Electrician, Plumbing, and Millwright.
Few people have the vantage point to see the incredible breadth and depth of impact an organization like FVTC has on our region and our State. I’ve had the privilege to witness this impact year after year for almost 36 years. This new investment means a great deal to us and will produce a terrific return on investment (ROI) for our local communities as well as the State as a whole.
Budgets represent priorities. As Wisconsin’s budget for the next two years is finalized, it is my hope that education at all levels is a priority for investment. More than ever, Wisconsin’s growth and prosperity depends on the talent, skills, and development of our people.