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Last update: 7/7/08

[University of Wisconsin-Green Bay News Release]

For Immediate Release:

July 3, 2008

Partnership means more opportunities for Northwoods employees, businesses

GREEN BAY - Businesses in northern Wisconsin have seen the effects of the "brain drain" phenomena, but officials say a new partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Nicolet College should boost the number of educated workers in the state's Northwoods.

Starting this fall, Nicolet College in Rhinelander will host classes offered through UW-Green Bay, putting Northwoods students on their way to earning a bachelor's degree from a UW System institution without going far from home.

"By having the availability of a four-year degree here, it will expand the educational base of our workers in the area," said Jim Kumber, director of the Oneida County Economic Development Corporation. "That's going to assist our employers in getting an educated workforce."

"Blue collar" jobs are disappearing all over the United States, resulting in a call for a more educated workforce, said James Hanke, senior economic development planner for the North Central Regional Planning Commission in Rhinelander.

"You're seeing it all over the country, and northern Wisconsin is no different," he said. "Since the early 1970s, we've seen a decline in manufacturing, while at the same time, seen a substantial increase in positions considered 'white collar.' The positions that remain require more technical training and more four-year degrees in arts and sciences. That not only makes employees more marketable, but allows companies to compete much more effectively at the high end."

Local companies want to hire local employees, said Bart Lamers, general manager at One Prospect Technologies in Rhinelander and past president of Grow North, a five-county economic development partnership.

"If companies could find those resumés locally, I'm sure they'd be much happier in the long run," Lamers said, noting that outside recruitment isn't always as beneficial to a company.

Hanke said the best chances at landing a better-paying job are to have critical thinking, analytical thinking and communication skills.

"If you don't have those, you'll struggle in the job market," he said.

Those skills are what you'll get with a four-year degree, Hanke added.

The partnership between UW-Green Bay and Nicolet College includes a general education biology course offered this fall on the Nicolet College campus taught by a UW-Green Bay professor. More courses will be added at Nicolet College as demand dictates.

Other courses are offered through UW-Green Bay's Adult Degree Program.

All courses offered by the program are scheduled on Saturdays or online. In some cases, a few courses meet in Green Bay a handful of times during a semester, but most students will be able to complete the entire degree on the Nicolet College campus and over the Internet. Students can also use the computers, library and other resources at Nicolet College.

The partnership suits Nicolet College graduates and other technical college graduates perfectly as a minimum of 60 credits earned for an associate degree will transfer toward a UW-Green Bay bachelor's degree. The partnership is also appropriate for adults who have other prior college credits earned at any college or university, or those who are starting fresh with no college experience.

"I think it's a win-win for everyone," Kumber said. "There are a lot of people here with a two-year degree, but this offers the opportunity to get a four-year degree, which means more money in their pockets."

About 16 percent of residents in the five-county Grow North region have college degrees. The partnership should grow that percentage as more bachelor's degrees are now available to place-bound working adults.

UW-Green Bay Interim Chancellor David Ward, an economist who studied the Northwoods region for Grow North, said the partnership offers plenty of positives for the region and its workers.

"This partnership between UW-Green Bay and Nicolet College is a way for the region to begin addressing and raising the educational attainment levels in the area," Ward said. "A workforce with higher educational attainment attracts more businesses, and that benefits everyone. Our partnership with Nicolet College is a good way to start doing that."

Information session scheduled

A free information session about the partnership and UW-Green Bay's Adult Degree Program is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 16, in Room 202 of the University Transfer Center on the Nicolet College campus, 5364 College Drive, Rhinelander. It is open to anyone interested in this new degree option.

For more information, or to register for the information session, call (800) 621-2313 or send an e-mail to adultdegrees@uwgb.edu. To learn more about this partnership visit www.uwgb.edu/adultdegrees/northwoods.

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08-160 | Contact: Mike Heine heinem@uwgb.edu, (920) 465-2526



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