Launched in 2013, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Fast Forward grant program is designed to help the state’s businesses train and retain highly skilled workers, which has been a key challenge for small business owners in recent years.
So far, according to the program’s website, more than $20 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants have been issued to support more than 200 worker training projects that encourage increased collaboration between Wisconsin businesses and workforce training partners, fill current and ongoing skill requirements of Wisconsin employers, and place workers in long-term positions that offer professional growth and economic advancement opportunities. Now, here’s a look at the latest efforts launched by the program.
The Department of Workforce Development recently announced it has awarded three grants to fund Employee Resource Networks. Employee Resource Networks are public/private partnerships that were created to help connect local businesses with community partners to work toward improving job retention and advancement for entry-level, low-wage, and low-skilled workers.
“With Wisconsin’s unemployment rate at an historic low of 2.8 percent, ensuring that individuals remained employed while reducing costs for businesses due to turnover is another way we are supporting and growing Wisconsin’s workforce,” said Ray Allen, Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development.
Another way they’re helping is with transportation grants. Businesses may apply for another round of Fast Forward grants to help fund vanpool systems, ridesharing, carpools, and other transportation modes that connect workers with their place of employment.
The grants are being made available through the state’s Commute to Careers program. The program is open to “entities that demonstrate a critical need to transport unemployed low- or moderate-income workers to employment opportunities.”
“We are providing a solution that will open the door of economic opportunity for more workers, as well as help employers meet the demand for skilled talent,” Allen said in a statement.
All grants require a 20 percent match.