Agency Primer: Wisconsin Technical College System

Agency Primer by IRG:

Wisconsin Technical College System

Wisconsin has been a leader in vocational training since the early 20th century. In 1907, a state law was passed that allowed school districts or local boards to operate vocational education programs. In 1911, a state law provided funding and required communities with more than 5,000 people to establish an industrial education board with levy authority. This law made Wisconsin the first state to provide public funding for vocational education. In 1917, Congress passed legislation to promote vocational education in a way that modeled the Wisconsin system. The state then created the State Board of Vocational Education only to change the name in 1937 to the State Board of Vocational and Adult Education.

In the 1960s, the state reorganized vocational education creating the current district system and the State Board of Vocational, Technical, and Adult Education (VTAE). In 1993 VTAE was renamed the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and the VTAE schools in the districts became technical colleges. Today, WTCS provides both full time and part time programs:

Full-time programs:

  • Collegiate Transfer
    • A two-year program in which the liberal arts credits may be transferred to a four-year university. In 2019-20, five districts offered this program (Chippewa Valley, Madison, Milwaukee, Nicolet and Western).
  • Associate Degree
    • A two-year degree program.
  • Technical Diploma
    • A one- or two-year program.
  • Registered Apprenticeships
    • A combination of between two to five years of on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

Part-time programs:

  • A variety of courses and programs that consist of vocational-adult training, basic skills education, community services, hobby courses and community group courses.

The Wisconsin Technical College System offers over 500 programs and has roughly 270,000 students enroll every year.

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