SW Wisconsin Workforce Development Board: WAGE$ Grant to Enhance Apprenticeship Opportunities in SW Wisconsin

(Janesvillle, WI) Gregg Bosak, SW Workforce Development Board

A recent award of $150,000 to the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (SWWDB) will help to improve the region’s and Wisconsin’s already strong apprenticeship program and job opportunities. 

Titled WAGE$ (Wisconsin Apprenticeship Growth and Enhancement Strategies), the project is expected to help register new apprenticeships in 12 high-growth occupations in Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare, and IT industries, expanding upon already-existing programs, many of them already offered through schools such as Blackhawk and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

“We have a nationally-recognized apprenticeship program, but to keep and improve upon this status, we need to ensure our talent development continues to grow and expand,” said Rhonda Suda, CEO of the SWWDB. “Apprenticeships are an outstanding way for individuals to enter and grow in high-wage careers.” 

It is anticipated that statewide up to 1,000 new apprentices and 542 additional incumbent workers will undergo training and skills development within a five-year period. The federal grant of $5 million to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) came from the U.S. Department of Labor. DWD’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards (BAS) awarded the local grants. 

DWD and the SWWDB will work in collaboration with the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and the Wisconsin Workforce Development Association (WWDA) to develop a framework to help promote and deliver registered apprenticeship programs. Existing programs such as Veterans in Piping (VIP) provided by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the 18 Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA), and the Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT) programs will be leveraged to provide entry points for specific underrepresented populations. 

WAGE$ is the latest step DWD is taking to modernize and position apprenticeship programs as a national model. Nationally DOL hopes to train and hire more than 34,000 new apprentices over the next five years.

Source: Rock County Dev Alliance