STEVENS POINT – The North Central Workforce Development Board has been awarded more than $189,000 for a workforce training grant designed to meet the needs of the growing information technology industry in central Wisconsin.
Signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker in early 2013, the Wisconsin Fast Forward grant program includes a total of $15 million during the 2013-15 state biennium budget for employer-led worker training programs.
The local Workforce Development Board applied for the grant on behalf of Skyward, a Stevens Point-based educational software company, Sentry Insurance, and Delta Dental of Wisconsin and in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Mid-State Technical College. The board plans and coordinates employment and training programs through the Workforce Investment Act, the largest single source of federal funding for workforce development activities. The organization serves nine counties, including Adams, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, Vilas and Wood.
Just more than $2 million in grant money was awarded through this round of the program. Other local grant winners were the Heart of Wisconsin Community Incubator, which received just more than $16,000 for financial services training, and Domtar, which was awarded more than $278,000 for agriculture training. Fahrner Asphalt Sealers of Plover also is partnering with another grant recipient, Forward Service Corp., to hire students trained for careers in construction through a $6,384 grant that will expand Forward Service Corp.’s TrANS program into the Wausau area.
According to a news release from the Workforce Development Board, employment in IT-related occupations in the region is projected to grow by more than 12 percent by 2018. As part of the program, the Workforce Development Board, MSTC and UWSP would work collaboratively with local employers to recruit job candidates for training. The initiative would ultimately provide IT training to 60 current employees of central Wisconsin companies, and 17 unemployed or underemployed individuals in the region.
“We are very excited to receive a training grant that will help develop critical IT-related skills in our regional labor pool,” said Workforce Development Director Rene Daniels in the news release. “This project is the result of a truly unique partnership among area employers, higher education, and the workforce board.”
Jim Frank, vice president for information technology at Sentry Insurance, said in the news release that his company is consistently looking for prospective employees with skills in both data management and analytics.
“In recent years, the demand for these skills has outpaced the supply provided by area universities,” Frank said. “Through the Fast Forward program, we are looking to provide technical training in the area of data management to meet this demand. We hope to retool and retrain individuals with aptitude, but not necessarily the current technical skills.”
Nathan Vine can be reached at 715-345-2252.