Evers speaks at Titletown Tech, publicizes $130 million workforce funding

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers visited Titletown Tech Wednesday to discuss what he calls a “groundbreaking $130 million investment in workforce solutions.”

The governor’s administration says funds will be invested into the workforce through three programs. The governor says the goal is to address the state’s post-COVID-19 workforce needs in filling job openings and getting people trained in the workforce.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • $100 million Workforce Innovation grant program to encourage regions and communities to develop leading-edge, long-term solutions to the workforce challenges the state faces in the wake of COVID-19.
  • $20 million toward the Worker Advancement Initiative, which will offer subsidized employment and skills training opportunities with local employers to unemployed individuals.
  • $10 million for a Worker Connection Program which will provide workforce career coaches who will connect with individuals attempting to reengage in the workforce post-pandemic.

“These grants will support our communities in addressing the labor force challenges and workforce constraints exacerbated by the pandemic so that our entire state’s economy can bounce back even better than before,” Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said. “Helping employers expand their candidate pools and tackling barriers to employment will make a significant and lasting impact on communities, which will offer Wisconsinites greater opportunities for generations to come.”

Gov. Evers is specifically investing in programs like Gener8tor Upskilling, which educate unemployed people on networking and resume building. It’s a life changing organization according to Rachelle Katchenago, an implementation specialist at EatStreet, who got her current job thanks to the group.

“Now, I can support myself, my family and it’s so impressive to see the people come together to network for the funding to help people like me gain skill sets and get into employment and get any kind of job that they really want,” Katchenago said.

“Wisconsin’s workforce landscape is diverse and so are the challenges that we all face locally and regionally,” Gov. Evers highlighted today.

The new funding will also support non-profit organizations like African Heritage Inc. which has a goal to develop better professional pathways for African American students in Northeast Wisconsin.

“There is a segment that I call near workforce ready. Those are individuals that face significant barriers and biases towards obtaining jobs with sustainable and livable wages,” a board member of African Heritage Dr. Sabrina Robins said. “It is that part of the labor force that is currently untapped and overlooked, plus do not have access to the many jobs that are available.”

With the extra funding funneling into these programs, “people who want to work won’t have such a hard time and have all those barriers,” Katchenago emphasized. “It sounds like [starting today] all this money is going to help people with housing, transportation, job coaching and creating jobs for people. To create those jobs to help people like me find a job.”

However, not everyone is as excited.

“Unfortunately Gov. Evers’ plan that he unveiled today spends a whole lot of money without really accomplishing much,” the vice president of communications and marketing for the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (W.M.C.), Nick Novak, said. “The fragmented plan does not have a lot of oversight and we’re worried that it will not actually result in solving our workforce challenges here in the state.” The W.M.C. is the largest business association in Wisconsin.

In a press release sent on July 14 after Gov. Evers’ announcement, the W.M.C. stated:

“Instead of relying on a bureaucratic proposal, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) – the combined state chamber and manufacturers’ association – urged Gov. Evers to provide funding for a coordinated statewide effort. WMC proposes the governor take the following actions:

· End the $300 federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits: A new Morning Consult poll revealed that nearly two million people would reenter the workforce nationwide if the expanded unemployment benefits were eliminated.

· Fully fund a statewide talent attraction campaign: The State Legislature appropriated $3 million over the recently signed two-year budget for a talent attraction campaign. Gov. Evers should greatly expand this funding through a coordinated statewide effort to bring people into Wisconsin.

· Invest targeted funds in STEM education and technical training for Wisconsin’s youth: Wisconsin needs to better prepare students for the jobs available in the state by ensuring they have the proper skills to pursue these careers – not just a four-year college degree. This means the state must have targeted funding for additional STEM courses, technical training and an expansion of programs like dual-enrollment.”

We will continue to update you on how this investment will impact local jobs and businesses as more details unfold.

Copyright 2021 WBAY. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment