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Wisconsin moves ahead with WCA credentialing

One down, 49 to go.

Patrick Molzahn works with students in his cabinetry and millwork program at Madison Area Technology College.

Wisconsin is the first state to officially adopt an educational credentialing system for secondary schools from the Woodwork Career Alliance.

“This encourages high school teachers to issue credentials for the Woodwork Career Alliance,” says Patrick Molzahn, a founding board member of the WCA and the cabinetmaking and millwork program director at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis.

“In an era where school boards are cutting shop programs to cut costs, it’s going to help high schools show that the wood industry needs people. So they can’t use that argument that there are no jobs in the woodworking industry. We know that’s not true, but boards have used this argument to try to cut programs and save money.”

Molzahn knows the history of the state’s dealings with technical education well. He says legislation was enacted in 2013 to support and strengthen the quality of career and technical education programming throughout the state. It provided for grants up to $1,000 per student to school districts for high school graduates that earn industry-recognized certifications. Although the WCA was not originally recognized because it was in its developmental stages, it and other credentialing organizations can now petition to be included.

“This is an endorsement for career and technical education, an endorsement for the woodworking industry and an endorsement for programs like mine,” Molzahn says.

“I hope to see students coming in with a little more understanding of what they are doing and what they want. Having some experience in the WCA standards will bring in a higher level of recruits for me.”

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This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue.

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