Second Chance program offers skilled training

WAUKESHA -- Many are looking for jobs, but employers say the jobs are here, but there aren't enough skilled workers to fill them. A new program hopes to train workers and get them prepared to fill these vacant positions.

Second Chance Partners for Education is an alternative education program for high school students at risk of dropping out.  The students study the expected subjects, including math, science and social studies, but they also study blueprint reading, computer-aided design and manufacturing operations.

Generac Power Systems in Waukesha got involved with the program about a decade ago. "We're not only trying to bridge the skills gap, but we're also trying to take students who might otherwise not graduate, and really help them along as well," Generac CEO Aaron Jadgdefeld said.

Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson says there is a serious skills gap in Wisconsin, and more vocational and technical training is needed to fill current and future jobs. Newson was on hand at Generac Thursday to check out the Second Chance program. "Coming here to visit Second Chance, again, we think this is the best practice, and I want to learn more about it, and see if we can use this model in the City of Milwaukee," Newson said.

Newson also says Governor Walker's College and Workforce Readiness Council is looking to reduce high school drop out rates and encourage students to pursue trade occupations and careers that are in demand.

Dustin Kitzrow is one student benefiting from the program. Before entering the Second Chance program, Kitzrow never would have seen himself in a program like this. "I didn't want to do school at all. I never wanted to work, but ever since I started this program, it's brought a huge change in me. I want to work. I want to get a job, and get somewhere in life," Kitzrow said. This program is an opportunity for Kitzrow and others to become very attractive to employers.