Friday, February 13, 2009

Unemployed workers turn to technical colleges

The Times has an excellent article on the impact of GM's plant closing in Janesville. 2500 autoworkers have lost their jobs and another 1500 have been furloughed as supplier firms close.

Many of these workers are enrolling at Blackhawk Technical College whose enrollment has increased by 33%.

The college has responded by adding more basic skills courses and instructors, providing extra classes at night and on weekends, hiring a limited-term mental health counselor, borrowing staff from other colleges — and, in so many cases, just digging in and working extra hours. It even had to rent additional class room space and build a new parking lot.

Wisconsin's 16 technical colleges are emerging as the state's safety net for the growing army of dislocated workers. As the recession intensifies and layoffs escalate, technical colleges will be under increasing financial pressure to respond to the needs of the state's unemployed workers.

State policy makers need to recognize this surge in demand in the next budget by increasing their investment in the Wisconsin Technical College system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for pointing this out for us. Indeed, when I worked at another 2 year school, our enrollment burgeoned when economic downturns occurred. I know our enrollment is up slightly at MATC--but not nearly as high as Blackhawk's. What can the collective "we" at MATC do to be helpful to those who are displaced in their vocations?