FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2014 – Developing Wisconsin’s Workforce: DWD Highlights Governor’s Customized Worker Training Initiatives to Set Communities on Path to Prosperity

MADISON – Department of Workforce Development Secretary (DWD) Reggie Newson today said Minocqua, Tomahawk and more communities like them are getting a boost as workers, employers and their partners collaborate on customized worker training projects to move state and local economies forward under Governor Walker’s leadership.

“We talk about great training opportunities now available thanks to Governor Walker’s vision to develop the state’s workforce,” Secretary Newson said. “The employer-driven training projects that are being launched under his leadership will provide direct benefits to workers and employers. But his initiative also will have an unmistakable, positive impact on communities, as these projects build partnerships and promote collaboration, and stimulate growth, causing a ripple effect in communities and local economies.”

On Secretary Newson’s behalf, Deputy Secretary Jonathan Barry and Assistant Deputy Secretary Dave Anderson today highlighted Governor Walker’s workforce development agenda in Oneida and Lincoln counties. Highlights include:

  • The DWD leaders visited Northland Stainless of Tomahawk, which is one of 15 manufacturers in a partnership with the North Central Workforce Development Board (WDB) to train 140 incumbent workers. The project garnered a $191,935 worker training grant under the $20 million Wisconsin Fast Forward workforce development package that Governor Walker announced and the Legislature approved last year with significant bipartisan majorities in both houses.
  • Earlier in the day, Deputy Secretary Barry addressed the Grow North Board of Directors meeting in Minocqua. He congratulated the Oneida County Economic Development Corporation, Nicolet Technical College, Three Lakes School District and others for being awarded a $132,385 grant under the $35.4 million Wisconsin Fast Forward-Blueprint for Prosperity initiative that the Governor announced and the Legislature approved this year. The grant will fund a Certifiably Employable partnership with 10 employers to train 44 high school students for careers in manufacturing.

The Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) program makes worker training grants available for flexible, demand-driven training for companies that identify a specific workforce need. Companies can partner with other firms as well as training providers, workforce development boards, economic development organizations, technical colleges, and others. All applications are evaluated by representatives from DWD, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Technical College System, and local chambers of commerce.

During his 2014 State of the State address, Governor Walker proposed a $35.4 million expansion of the WFF worker training program as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity to focus on three populations:

  • Reducing wait lists at Wisconsin technical colleges in high-demand fields like manufacturing and information technology;
  • Developing innovative school-to-work collaborations between businesses, school districts, technical colleges, and other partners that result in industry-recognized certifications in high-demand areas; and
  • Enhancing employment opportunities for workers with disabilities as part of the Governor’s Year of the Better Bottom Line initiative that seeks to connect disabled individuals with employment.

To date, DWD has announced plans to distribute over $6 million in WFF grants, funding projects to help over 6,600 workers gain skills for new jobs or jobs with higher pay. The customized training projects approved so far involve 172 businesses throughout the state.

In addition to the WFF grants, DWD recently awarded $2.1 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward-Blueprint for Prosperity grants for 30 school-to-work collaborative projects to train up to 949 high school pupils in partnership with up to 153 employers.

For more information:

Wisconsin Fast Forward:
Wisconsin Fast Forward-Blueprint for Prosperity:



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