The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is now accepting applications for Wisconsin Fast Forward grants. Wisconsin Fast Forward includes $15 million in grants for employer-led worker training programs. The intent is to provide essential assistance that cannot be met through an existing program. Grants will be awarded to maximize the impact of funds in catalyzing local collaboration and also to encourage the development of sustained pipelines that directly align with employer needs.
DWD’s Office of Skills Development (OSD), which is responsible for approving the Wisconsin Fast Forward grants, has identified three industry sectors that have immediate worker needs:
Manufacturing and small manufacturing businesses with 50 or fewer employees
Manufacturing is a rapidly growing industry in Wisconsin. Nearly 17 percent of Wisconsin’s workforce is employed in manufacturing, compared to the national average of nine percent. The durable goods manufacturing sector is expected to see the most growth through 2020 and there is a need to fill these and other positions to remain at the forefront of the industry.
The forecast for construction jobs is nearly as bright. Building permits increased 10.6 percent in 2012, and approximately 45 percent of 26,000 job openings are newly created.
Customer service representatives
There are 5,500 current customer service/sales related job openings and growth is predicted to expand by 15 percent through 2020.
Grants will be awarded to businesses within each of these industries to provide training for the unemployed or underemployed. OSD will track and report the numbers of unemployed and underemployed who gain employment, the number of workers who receive higher wages due to additional training, and compare the wages that employees receive before and after their training to determine the success of various grants.