TOWN OF ROCK—As businesses across the country experience worker shortages, Blackhawk Technical College says it is uniquely positioned to assist companies in an ever-shrinking labor market.
That’s where Mark Borowicz and his team in the college’s Workforce and Community Development Division comes in. They work closely with companies across Rock, Green and Walworth counties to find solutions in today’s economy from worker re-training to up-skilling and various worker-focused programs.
“The biggest area is our corporate training,” Borowicz said. “That’s where we have the opportunity to go out and work with local businesses in our district to provide them some very specific incumbent worker training skills.”
Training topics are available for healthcare, law enforcement, manufacturing and logistics industries.
“Our goal is to really provide them with a solution and to be there more than just once,” Borowicz said. “It’s about building partnerships and building workforces and talent development. It’s about broadening the spectrum to being a solutions partner for you and we have other areas that we can support your network in.”
Borowicz said due to the tight labor market, talent development is at the forefront of what companies look for from the college.
“The key aspect is that companies don’t want to lose the talent they have because companies know unemployment is low,” Borowicz said. “If they lose that person, there may not be a large applicant pool behind them. There might be nobody.”
Locally, the Beloit-Janesville area’s top 51% of the workforce is made up of 9% retail sales staff; 8% food service workers; 7% customer service reps; 6% labor/freight employees; 6% commercial truck drivers; 5% registered nurses; 5% cashiers; and 5% assemblers/fabricators, according to data by Express Employment Professionals.
In the Rock and Green county area there are an estimated 109,910 workers, and of that total 90,894 could retire in the next 10 years, according to workforce data by Express Employment Professionals. Locally, 2,000 students graduate high school annually, meaning there could be an employment gap if education and business leaders don’t partner to develop strategies to increase the area’s workforce involvement.
With Amazon announcing plans to build a 1 million square-foot distribution center in Beloit, Borowicz said the area is bursting with potential careers in transportation and logistics, pointing to Blackhawk Tech’s focus on truck driver and transportation executive training programs.
“We are in such a hub of logistics, supply chain and transportation,” Borowicz said. “You add a major player like Amazon into the mix of what we currently have and we only see that as growing in both the need for corporate training and from a student perspective.”
For students, the Blackhawk Scholars program allows individuals to continue education at the college while gaining valuable work experience with local employers.
Blackhawk Scholars can work part- or full-time in a position related to their field of study. They receive a minimum wage of $12 per hour and may be eligible for tuition reimbursement or stipend at the employer’s discretion.
Through the program, students gain skills necessary to excel in today’s business world, including communication, analytical, critical-thinking and people skills and simultaneously advance their work and academic experiences.
Eligible students must be one of the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center (AMTC) degree programs, have successfully completed a minimum of six program credits and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA throughout the program while maintaining good standing as an employee.
“It’s really a launch pad for everything else,” Borowicz said.