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'The most important subject': Next generation's workforce learns 'real-world' trade skills in Manitowoc

Posted at 3:48 AM, Dec 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-19 04:49:02-05
  • Manitowoc Tech Ed instructor, Chris Peterson has progressed the program in the last year. He says it is important because in a town like Manitowoc, because there will be a lot of manufacturing jobs available.
  • Chief Economist at Wisconsin DWD, Dennis Winters said that there were nearly 3,000 manufacturing and construction jobs in Manitowoc County. He said construction jobs are growing.
  • 8th grade student, Brayden Lallensack told me he wants to become an engineer. He said the hands-on experiences in this class have prepared him for challenges in the future.

Manitowoc is a community known for its blue-collar industries. At Wilson Middle School where the tech ed program is beginning to resemble the city's trades.
Chris Peterson runs the program.

"The most important subject in the school. I am a little biased,” Peterson said.

Mr. Peterson has helped grow the program in the last year, offering hands-on instruction to middle school students including sixth grader Elsa Hartlaub.

"You get to experience something that you don't experience every day in your life,” Hartlaub said. “You get to change it up too."

Experiences that range from working with wood and metals to 3d printing; incredibly valuable to a student like Brayden Lallensack who tells me he's interested in engineering.

"I always knew I wanted to do something like this as I got older,” Lallensack told me.

He says the instruction is preparing him for his future.

"If I’m in a job and I’m like, 'well, this piece broke in middle school and the teacher fixed it like this',” he said. “Now I know how to fix it."

I found that Brayden shares his interest with his two friends, Ethan Werner and Grayson Mirsberger.

"I like using all of the tools. It helps with the future so much when you're building things,” Werner said. “Things you need to learn about."

According to Dennis Winters, Chief Economist at Wisconsin DWD in quarter 1 of 2023, there were almost 3,000 manufacturing and construction jobs in Manitowoc County. I'm told construction jobs are rising statewide.

Given the number of opportunities, Mr. Peterson told me it is important to start learning early in life.

"The manufacturing here in Manitowoc is just very strong and we need a program to support that, to show that, and to feed that,” Peterson said. “Why do I want to build this? It's to build Manitowoc."

Mr. Peterson told me not all his students will pursue a career in these trades but all of the skills they learn will be useful in everyday life.