ROTHSCHILD – Governor Scott Walker highlighted the state’s workforce development efforts today at the Central Wisconsin Regional Talent Summit, which was held in Rothschild. The summit focused on new ways for Wisconsin to retain and attract talent.
“When we first took office, our focus was jobs, jobs, jobs,” Governor Walker said. “Thanks to our common-sense reforms, we now have the highest number of people employed in state history. Our focus has shifted to workforce, workforce, workforce, and one of our greatest challenges now is bridging the skills gap to find qualified workers to fill jobs in high-demand sectors. Workforce development is a top priority for us for 2017 and beyond, and opportunities like the Central Wisconsin Regional Talent Summit allow all of us to brainstorm ways we can connect talented workers to family-supporting jobs.”
Governor Walker’s 2017-2019 biennial budget proposal invests in workforce development by increasing funding for Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) by $12.6 million over two years, which represents a 47 percent increase in funding. It also includes several new initiatives to support workforce development in Wisconsin through WFF, including:
- Education Workforce Development – Governor Walker’s budget proposal creates a new Teacher Development Program, which supports collaborations between schools of education and school districts to provide intensive curriculum and classroom training for certain school employees to earn a teaching license.
- Dual Enrollment – The budget proposal allows WFF to support dual enrollment programs with technical colleges and local businesses to help students earn college and high school credit while being paid for their work by a local business.
- Healthcare Workforce Initiative – The budget proposal allocates $1.5 million in fiscal year 2017-18 through WFF to provide grants to community-based organizations for public-private partnerships to create and implement nursing training programs for middle and high school students.
- Summer Jobs – The budget proposal permits WFF funding to support programs to assist students in finding summer jobs.
- Internships – The budget allows WFF to support internship programs so students have the opportunity to gain initial workforce experiences.
- Apprenticeships – The budget allows WFF funding to be used for registered apprenticeship programs, youth apprenticeship programs, and Apprenticeship Completion awards, which recognize individuals for completing apprenticeship training.
- Technical Colleges – The budget allocates $5 million in training grants for technical colleges designed to fill high-demand jobs. These grants will be competitive for technical college districts and distributed through WFF.
- Employer Resource Networks (ERNs) – The budget allows WFF funding to be used to establish employer resource networks (ERNs), in which consortiums of businesses come together to support the hiring of a social worker who will help employees access the services they need to stay connected to the workforce.
- Correctional Institutions – Governor Walker’s budget increases investments in job training programs in correctional institutions, including:
- $1 million in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) annually to expand the Windows-to-Work Program and Vocational Training Programs. This helps offenders build the skills they need for employment upon re-entry to society.
- $1 million in GPR in fiscal year 2017-18 and $50,000 in GPR annually through WFF to expand the mobile classroom program in correctional facilities, which provides job skills training for inmates as they prepare to re-enter the workforce.