August 15, 2001
WESTERN WISCONSIN TECHNICAL COLLEGE AND VITERBO UNIVERSITY COLLABORATE ON TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION DEGREE
LA CROSSE, WI —Western Wisconsin Technical College and Viterbo University will be combining efforts to offer a baccalaureate degree in technical education. UW-Stout and UW-Platteville are the only other sites in Wisconsin that offer this degree. The first students will be accepted into the program in the fall of 2002 pending final approval from the Department of Public Instruction. Graduates of the program will be certified to teach at the pre- K-12 level.
Officials from both institutions believe that because the demand for new technology education teachers far exceeds the supply of teachers available, the Technology Education degree will generate considerable interest and enrollment. The International Technology Education Association (ITEA) has indicated that a serious shortage exists in the profession. According to ITEA executive director Kendall Starkweather, "there is a tremendous shortage of teachers in this field. If a person has the credentials and is qualified, he or she will have no trouble finding a job."
Starkweather reported that most colleges and universities have 100 percent placement rates for their graduates. "Technology education is a 'hot product.' Contributing to the shortage of technology educators is the fact that when students graduate, private industry is there to hire these people for middle management positions because they have a good grasp of technology and are people oriented.
According to one survey distributed by the ITEA, 20 to 29 percent of the public schools reporting openings in the industrial arts indicated the vacancies were "difficult if not impossible" to fill. In a follow-up survey conducted by Old Dominion University, a number of positions went unfilled or teachers using alternative certification programs were hired to fill technology education slots.
The technology education program will take advantage of the unique collaboration between Viterbo University and WWTC. Content area technology courses will be offered at WWTC and all teacher preparation, student teaching experiences and liberal arts courses will be provided through Viterbo University. Upon completion, students will earn a Bachelor of Science in Technology Education from Viterbo University.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for students and business and industry. With the demand for skilled workers being high, providing teachers to educate students at the K-12 level on high tech careers and skills will provide business and industry with a greater pool of skilled workers to choose from," said Lee Rasch, President of WWTC. "We are very pleased to be offering this degree in partnership with Viterbo University, an institution, like WWTC, that has the foresight to know and to plan for the future needs in education," Rasch added.
At Viterbo, President William Medland sees the collaboration as a model of cooperation. "The Technology Education Program is a wonderful opportunity for building on the strength of our two institutions and we could not offer a program of this quality without each other. At WWTC, students will have access to some of the finest equipment and technical training in the industry. At Viterbo, they will receive their foundation in teaching and the liberal arts. Together, we will be graduating students who are definitely meeting a defined need."
While the demand for more technology teachers is evident, not all graduating students are expected to end up in the classroom. Some will go directly to industry where they will be employed as trainers and supervisors. The Technology Education degree will meet the needs of both education and business and industry.