OP ED from Randy Rudolph of Rockline and Mike Lanser of LTC



Randy Rudolph (left) and Mike Lanser (right)



Now Is The Time For Career and Technical Education

February is National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month and there is no better time to encourage students, schools, parents and educators to think about high-demand careers requiring technical education, particularly those that are close to home. As the name implies, Career and Technical Education is more than preparing students for a job. It is the foundation for a rewarding career in many areas including agriculture, technology, education and engineering. CTE initiatives also encompass trade and industry careers as we face a shortage of skilled manufacturing workers, locally, statewide, and nationally. The ability to fill these positions creates a tremendous opportunity to keep our existing businesses here, attract new businesses, and grow a more robust local economy.

The US Commerce Department recently released a report breaking down manufacturing employment and earnings at the county level in every state. While Wisconsin ranks second in the nation with 20.2% of total earnings coming from manufacturing, Sheboygan County led the state with 46% of all county earnings being derived from manufacturing. With Manitowoc County checking in with 29% of their total earnings being manufacturing based, it is clear manufacturing is the backbone of the Lakeshore economy. Manufacturing provides good, family supporting wages and according to the National Association of Manufacturers, every $1 spent on manufacturing results in $1.48 added to the economy.

Local manufacturers like Rockline Industries provide great jobs and reinvest in our community. Rockline relies on Lakeshore Technical College for its future workers because students start their career knowing how to do the job because of technical education. Rockline's commitment to continuous education then provides their employees with excellent career pathways.

Founded in Plymouth as a coffee filter manufacturer, Rockline is a family owned corporation established in 1976 by Ralph Rudolph. With the company now employing 1900 employees worldwide, Rockline develops, manufacturers, and markets both branded and private label products sold in over 50 countries. About 98% of Rockline's items are under customers'labels, but for merchants who don't have an in-store brand, Rockline supplies its own labels, including Brew Rite coffee filters, Pure' N Gentle baby wipes and Good & Clean household cleaning products.

Rockline has prospered by recruiting top people and providing the best technology available, focusing on integrity, teamwork and excellence. These customer-centric values have resulted in hiring 100 new employees in Sheboygan's manufacturing and warehousing sites in just the past year alone. Rockline has invested more than $100 million in capital investments in the past decade in support of its manufacturing expansion. More workers and better skilled workers through technical education will be necessary to continue this growth.

Rockline has great starting points like quality assurance technicians. With an Associate Degree in Quality Assurance, an employee who is willing to work towards a bachelor's degree can move up to Senior QA Tech, QA Engineer, and other positions as there are many opportunities within Quality Assurance. Quality Control Laboratory Technician is another great starting point within Rockline. With education, training and experience, you can move up to Microbiologist, Senior QC Lab Tech, or QA Engineer. Maintenance Support Technician is an attractive position because we have journeymen apprenticeship program paid for by Rockline.

We also need skilled machine operators that can trouble shoot machinery, problem solve, and have great interpersonal skills, including giving and receiving feedback. Rockline needs self-directed associates that can work without supervision.

The Rockline environment fosters continuous learning. We promote and pay for further education so operators can continue to move up in the organization into team lead, and maintenance type positions. Associates don't have to wait for job postings to move up. We have a pay-for-skill system not tied to a traditional internal job posting system.

Our partnership with LTC has paid great dividends as LTC helped develop customized training and written grants for both adult education and workforce development. Many of our maintenance department employees complete their Electrical/Mechanical Apprenticeships through LTC.

LTC has been a key partner in supplying us with the skilled workforce we need through their excellence in technical education. We are always looking for great people and CTE month is a great time for young people to investigate the great careers that Rockline and other manufacturers offer. Technical education is the first step in finding that career!


Michael Lanser

Dr. Michael Lanser has served as Lakeshore Technical College's President since 2003. LTC represents Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties and has an economic impact of over $110 million annually.

Dr. Lanser holds his Bachelor's from the University of North Dakota, Master's and Educational Specialist degrees from Truman State University, and his Doctorate in Education from Nova Southeastern University.

Randy Rudolph

Randy Rudoph is the President and Director of Rockline Industries and has been with Rockline since 1982. He held the position of Director of Marketing before becoming President in 1985. Prior to that Mr. Rudolph worked as a Brand Manager for Kimberly Clark from 1977 to 1982. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Finance from Marquette University and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

About Lakeshore Technical College

Each year more than 10,000 people enroll in courses at Lakeshore Technical College. They rely on LTC for job preparation, to earn a degree, upgrade a specialized skill, train as an apprentice, or seek a high school equivalency. LTC faculty and staff meet students where they are in life and help them get one step closer to achieving their goals.<.p>

LTC, a nationally recognized technical college, was recently named a top 10 Bellwether Award finalist. The college was also ranked the #17 trade school in the nation by Forbes, the #3 two-year college in the nation for adult learners by Washington Monthly, #9 in the nation for two-year college educational outcomes by WalletHub.com, and a top-150 two-year college for the fourth consecutive time by the Aspen Institute.

Close to 1,000 students graduate from LTC each year, and LTC’s associate degree graduates earn a median salary of $46,800 per year. In addition to the Cleveland campus, LTC serves students in Manitowoc and Sheboygan, and offers classes at four additional sites throughout the district. Visit LTC at gotoltc.edu.

WTCS New North