There’s a boot camp taking place in Fond du Lac, Wis. – one that doesn’t require boot shining, marching and bivouacs, though you do have to wear a helmet and other gear and follow instructions.
This particular group of “recruits” is firing welding torches. Along with Brenner Tank LLC of Fond du Lac, Moraine Park Technical College developed a Welding Boot Camp to train individuals for entry-level work in the welding profession. The first eight-week camp began June 18 and ran through August 15; a second seven-week round will start in September. All participants earn four college credits that articulate into Moraine Park’s welding program.
“Brenner Tank formed the partnership with Moraine Park in an effort to maintain our competitive edge,” said Dawn Marie Polakoski, PHR, Brenner Tank’s human resources manager. “ Moraine Park’s custom training program is providing the skilled welders we need to support our continued growth. As a local manufacturer, we are very pleased with the creation of the Welding Boot Camp.”
While built in conjunction with Brenner Tank, the program was designed with the broader purpose of helping manufacturers address a serious shortage of skilled welders and is open to any manufacturing employer who may have similar workforce development needs. The program works to connect energetic, dedicated individuals with a sincere interest in a welding career with employers by helping those individuals develop the foundational skills needed to be successful. Ten candidates were selected by Brenner Tank for the first boot camp. Their ages varied but their passion for welding is the same.
Sara Buechel, 18, of New Holstein, Wis., applied because she enjoys welding and wanted to get further education in the profession. Joel Grier of Fond du Lac, also 18, also wanted to learn more about welding and be able to get a good job. Daniel O’Connor, 36, of Fond du Lac sees the Welding Boot Camp as an opportunity to better himself and have a shot at a new career move. And, the camp is a chance to expand job opportunities at Brenner for Forrest Brunet, 42, of North Fond du Lac.
Brenner Tank interns are paid to train three days per week at the welding lab on Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus under the instruction of adjunct faculty member Jonathan Thill. For the remaining two days of the week, they work at Brenner, where they apply the skills they learn in the classroom. Tuition is employer-paid. The Brenner Tank interns who successfully complete the program are given priority consideration for a permanent position with Brenner.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with Brenner Tank,” said Kathy Schlieve, Moraine Park economic and workforce development sales representative. “They have been instrumental in helping Moraine Park develop this program and are actively working with area high schools to educate students about career opportunities in manufacturing. Welding interns who successfully complete the boot camp are filling open or new positions and are earning a better wage. Moraine Park’s goal is to provide the type of rapid response that companies need to develop and maintain a competitive advantage and grow their business, and the Welding Boot Camp delivers on that goal.”
Polakoski concurs, “This program is a win-win that meets our needs as an employer but also helps the individuals being trained to begin earning a good wage while developing lifelong career skills that they can build on for future career advancement.”
With additional training, the opportunities that exist for these individuals abound.
“Manufacturing has become very high-tech and offers a variety of career opportunities,” said Marcia Arndt, Moraine Park dean of manufacturing technology. “The future workforce has to be technologically savvy to handle the competitive climate of the global market. In addition to technical skills, employers are looking for people who can problem-solve, work in teams and adapt to change quickly. Moraine Park’s manufacturing program helps individuals develop these skills for future success.”
For more information about upcoming welding boot camps in Fond du Lac, call Moraine Park at 920-924-3449 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.