Gov. Doyle: Announces $5.89 Million for strategic workforce initiatives

Contacts: Carla Vigue, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162

Dick Jones, Department of Workforce Development, 608-267-4780

Regional Approach Targets High-Growth Sectors, Prioritizes Needs of Workers, Employers

MILWAUKEE – Governor Doyle announced today $5.89 million for strategic workforce training initiatives to prepare Wisconsin workers and businesses to succeed in the future economy. The programs reflect a major change in the way the state and its partners will train workers for jobs of the future and meet the needs of employers in growing, emerging sectors.

“Now more than ever, we must invest in training that gives workers the right skills and meets the needs of employers, especially those in advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, health care and other sectors poised for growth,” Governor Doyle said. “The Wisconsin Sector Strategies Initiative is a new way of doing business. It is regional in focus. It is industry-driven. It engages all the key players in understanding common industry needs and aligning resources to meet them. It is what we need to build a 21st Century workforce and connect skilled workers to quality jobs.”

The Wisconsin Sector Strategies Initiative will be funded with nearly $3 million in federal funds over the next two years. In the months ahead, $490,000 in grants will be awarded as a first step in bringing together leaders of industry, labor, education, economic development and workforce development in the state’s seven Grow Wisconsin regions. These leaders will form partnerships to identify the workforce needs of high-growth sectors and develop strategies to meet those needs. As a next step, industry specific partnerships can seek grants that will leverage additional resources and fund the training of workers for jobs in demand. For regions that are ready, grant money for training will be available immediately.

Governor Doyle announced the initiatives at a meeting of the Milwaukee 7 Regional Economic Advisory Council. In highlighting the sector strategies initiative, the Governor thanked Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of Bucyrus International and Chair of the Council on Workforce Investment, and Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman for their work in developing the new approach.

The sector strategies training will complement a range of additional workforce investments that are supported by the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment. All are being funded with federal discretionary resources that Wisconsin receives as part of its federal Workforce Investment Act allocation.

In addition to the Sectors Strategies Initiative, Governor Doyle announced funding to move forward efforts to ensure Wisconsin workers are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy. These initiatives, which were proposed in the Governor’s Grow Wisconsin – The Next Steps plan include:

* $1.5 million for Opportunity Grants. The grants will help low-wage workers with no education or training beyond high school. The grants will let them improve their skills at technical colleges with short-term training that is not covered by financial aid. With the grants, low-wage workers can take steps to earn certificates or degrees and pursue career pathways to better jobs in advanced manufacturing, health care, biotechnology and other high-demand sectors.

* $300,000 for Skills Jump Start Grants. The grants will help individuals who lack a high school diploma. They can complete their basic education, and at the same time, receive job training at technical colleges for employment in high-demand sectors, such as manufacturing and health care.

* $700,000 for Emerging Industries Skills Partnership. The Governor announced a second round of grants to meet the workforce needs in advanced manufacturing, biotechnology and renewable energy.

* $85,000 for Manufacturing Skill Standards Certification. The funding will support assessment efforts and encourage enrollment. The Governor has set a goal of having 40 percent of our production workers earn MSSC credentials by 2016.

Finally, Governor Doyle awarded funding for two additional workforce investment programs:

* $175,000 for Skills Assessment and Work Readiness Certification. This funding will support pilot projects to develop a standard method to assess the skills of job seekers and certify them as job ready.

* $140,000 for Career 101 Pilots. The funding will help school district establish pilots that more effectively inform students of career opportunities in high demand occupations and help them chart a course to achieve their career goals.

At the event, Governor Doyle also awarded a $500,000 Regional Marketing Matching Grant to the Milwaukee 7 group to support its regional branding and promotional efforts. Beginning in 2010, M7 will be eligible for up to $100,000 in Commerce funding each year over the next five years to boost its efforts to attract new businesses, create high-paying jobs, and increase economic activity in the M7 region.