College's newest grads will help fill need for skilled workers

Carpentry graduate

Tool boxes, cornhole games and small benches. 

Those were some of the first assignments for nine Dept. of Corrections students taking part in Madison College's Carpentry Techniques Academy. As their skills improved during the course's 18 weeks, they moved on to bigger projects like garden sheds - some with solar panels.

And now this special class, from the Thompson and Oregon Correctional Centers, has celebrated graduation at the college's Commercial Ave. campus.

“Wisconsin DOC has multiple missions. One of them is to provide opportunities for positive change and success," said Kevin Carr, secretary of the Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections. "I’m often reminded of that when I come to graduation ceremonies like this. Sometimes an opportunity for change is all it takes."

Wisconsin desperately needs carpenters and other skilled workers. The hope is these graduates will be able to catch on quickly with area employers.

"Construction employment has seen strong growth in Wisconsin and demand for skilled carpenters is expected to continue," said Amy Pechacek, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Dept. of Workforce Development. "The carpentry program was funded in part by Gov. Tony Evers' Worker Advancement Initiative, allowing the newest class of graduates to enter the workforce immediately and fulfill the needs of the employers in our state for a skilled workforce."

For Madison College, the carpentry partnership underscores its mission of student access and success.

"We're proud to provide high-level training that will lead these students to sustainable careers,” said Dr. Jack Daniels III, president of Madison College. “Their success speaks volumes for those who want to make a change in their futures.”

More than $75,000 in funds from multiple grants were used and dedicated by the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin toward the carpentry program.

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Contact Jamie Reinart, Madison College's Prison Education Program Liaison, at