Wisconsin Fast Forward Grants Upskill Workers and Benefit Employers
Posted on September 6, 2018

Grants Move Wisconsin Forward

“Forward” is Wisconsin’s state motto, and that is certainly the trajectory of industry in this region. For example, Foxconn is continually making progress on the opening of its smart manufacturing facility at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin. The building will be the most technologically-advanced smart manufacturing facility in the world.

To keep up with Foxconn, manufacturers in Wisconsin are investing in their employees’ training and certifications. In turn, the Department of Workforce Development is investing in Wisconsin manufacturers with Fast Forward grants.

The Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) grant program was launched in 2014 in an effort to “incentivize Wisconsin employers to implement customized training programs that provide workers with the practical jobs skills they need to succeed in a 21st century workforce,” reads the WFF 2017 Annual Report.

Grants benefit employers by training workers like this welder

Grant programs create pathways for incumbent workers to train for a higher skill level, receiving a pay increase and upward mobility within their workplace. The resulting openings create job opportunities for the unemployed or unskilled to attain entry-level positions.

Program Statistics

Since the program’s inception, 235 customized training projects have been created to upskill over 19,000 workers in the state. As of July 2017, over 12,000 workers had completed these programs. 6,000 of these trainees work in Manufacturing alone. Other highly-represented industries include Health Care, Transportation, and Construction.

Perhaps the most significant statistic in the WFF report is that the number of closed grants with trainee outcomes more than doubled between October 31, 2016 and June 30, 2017. From 2014 to October 2016, there were 2,940 workers who had completed training. Just nine months later, 12,215 total workers had completed training.

Why Apply for a Grant?

What these statistics reveal is an upward trend in employers investing in the continual training of their workers due to a progression in technology and systems, especially in manufacturing. WFF grants match or double what an employer is able to spend on training programs, thereby accelerating employee skill acquisition and company progress.

One company who received a grant in 2017 saw exponential growth as a result of the program. “Thanks to grant training, we were able to accomplish in a year what would have probably taken us five years to do on our own,” said one of its owners.

Grant submission deadlines for the third quarter are approaching quickly – September 30 – with grant awards delivered by November 30, 2018.

Manufacturers looking to raise the bar of their employees’ skills need to have an action plan and partners in mind when applying for the grant. LAB Midwest is proud to provide skills-based training and equipment for Advanced Manufacturing, CNC, Welding, Industrial Technology, Lean Manufacturing, PLCs, and certifications for heavy equipment, forklift operation, supply chain management, and more.

Contact LAB Midwest for more information.