Gov. Scott Walker joined University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and UW System officials June 1 to announce a pilot program that will increase the number of information technology professionals in the state.
Within the new undergraduate degree program, students can complete their first year of study while in high school, reducing time to earn a bachelor’s degree and providing Wisconsin’s workforce with needed talent more quickly.
The NEW IT Alliance, which is a group of IT businesses from Green Bay to Oshkosh, is acting as an advisory group to identify Fox Valley’s IT workforce needs.
“In the 21st-century workforce, the IT industry is booming,” Walker said. “To bridge the skills gap and meet the growing demand for IT professionals in our state, we must provide our students with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue a degree and thrive in an IT job upon graduation from college. This pilot program jump-starts this process by allowing students interested in a career in IT to complete the first year of their four-year degree while still in high school. That’s a win-win because it helps us fill high-demand jobs in IT while also keeping higher education more affordable for students and their families.”
The pilot information technology program—a partnership between UW Oshkosh, UW System, UW-Green Bay, the regional UW Colleges and supported by local technical colleges—will build on the state’s largest, long-time concurrent enrollment program, the Cooperative Academic Partnership Program (CAPP) at UW Oshkosh. CAPP is a UW Oshkosh initiative in collaboration with participating high schools that provides students an opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school.
“Through CAPP, students in hundreds of school districts throughout Wisconsin are already able to complete their first year of college while in high school, reducing their time to degree and providing Wisconsin’s workforce with much-needed talent faster. This new program we unveiled today builds on the success and reputation of CAPP,” UW Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said.
The program will initially coordinate with six to eight area high schools to provide courses in a variety of required general education areas and in-major courses in four degree pathways: information systems (IS), computer science, engineering technology and secondary education.
“This degree program demonstrates strong partnership and innovation between education and companies in Northeast Wisconsin,” said John W. Kreul, chief information officer at Bemis, which is a member of the NEW IT Alliance. “It is a huge win for everyone.”
UW System President Ray Cross committed $900,000 in funding over three years to pilot the new program, beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year.
“Wisconsin is at a critical turning point: we have an aging state population with a shrinking workforce–and a decline in the state’s birth rate. That means we are facing a workforce shortage in years to come, and we are working to address those concerns now,” Cross said. “Students will complete their first year of college in high school and also complete internships with partner companies, which ultimately makes them more likely to be offered a job that keeps them here in Wisconsin to live, work and raise their families.”
About CAPP at UW Oshkosh
UW Oshkosh CAPP worked with more than 100 school districts and served more than 4,000 students throughout the state during the last academic year. UW Oshkosh’s CAPP was the first program of its kind nationally accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) in Wisconsin. NACEP standards are built upon the best practices of exceptional, rigorous college programs.
Junior and senior high school students who meet at least one of the following requirements may enroll in CAPP: They rank in the top 25 percent of their class; they have a GPA of at least 3.25 on a 4.0 scale; or they have achieved an ACT score of 24 with a class rank in the top 50 percent. Other students also may be eligible with approval of the University liaison, a high school adjunct instructor or the program director.
New North Inc.
New North is a nonprofit, regional marketing and economic development organization that fosters collaboration among public and private sector leaders throughout the 18 counties of Northeast Wisconsin, which is known as the New North. The mission of New North is to harness and promote the region’s resources, talents and creativity for the purposes of sustaining and growing the regional economy.
NEW IT Alliance
The NEW IT Alliance is a nonprofit organization, which works under the umbrella of the New North organization. The mission is to attract, develop and retain diverse talent in Northeast Wisconsin to support economic growth. The NEW IT Alliance offers support by using innovative programming and highlighting regional success stories to educate the positives of an IT career. IT Alliance members include UW Oshkosh, Bemis, J. J. Keller, Thrivent Financial, Oshkosh Corp, Fox Valley Technical College and others in the region.