Wisconsin investing $130 million in growing workforce

GREEN BAY (WKBT) — Wisconsin will spend $130 million on solutions to address the post-pandemic workforce shortage.

The money will toward three programs to support connecting unemployed or underemployed workers with new opportunities and incentivize solutions to regional workforce shortages.

“I’m proud of our work to ensure Wisconsin’s economy can continue to recover, and that’s why it’s critically important that we invest in our workforce. We’ve heard from unemployed workers, business, and community leaders across the state about the workforce challenges they face, and recognize there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to meeting these needs,” Evers said. “These programs will allow us to invest in regional solutions, help businesses find workers, and provide support to our friends and neighbors who are getting back on their feet.”

Programs include:

  • $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; and
  • $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.

The grants are aimed at helping the economy bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Missy Hughes, Secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), said the new grants will give communities and industries the flexibility to respond to their specific workforce challenges and find solutions.

“A region could address childcare or transit issues—whatever they know as their top priority to respond to the continuing workforce impacts of COVID-19,” she said. “Another region might invest in and encourage apprenticeships, while another may develop strategies to attract or retain talent. The idea is to reward creativity, promote regional collaboration and foster local accountability and participation.”

The grants will be funded with federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars, which are available to support investments to address the ongoing negative economic impacts of COVID-19.