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Scott Walker, Governor
Raymond Allen, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Friday, May 20, 2016
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/news/
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Wisconsin Fast Forward Trainees Develop High-Demand Skills

Rigorous program prepares 46 workers at 11 companies in Fox Valley for career advancement

APPLETON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) officials today joined the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board (FVWDB) to celebrate the successful completion of 46 Industrial Maintenance trainees during a graduation ceremony at the Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) - DJ Bordini Center. The training was supported through a grant under Governor Walker's Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) worker training initiative.

"Wisconsin Fast Forward supports a robust pipeline of skilled talent that keeps Wisconsin employers competitive and provides workers with a pathway to the middle class," Governor Walker said. "We will continue to make investments that equip Wisconsin workers with the skills needed to fill jobs in the modern economy."

DWD awarded the FVWDB a $229,000 grant to address employer demand for skilled industrial maintenance workers by training current employees for career-advancing jobs and higher wages at 11 businesses: Arrowhead Conveyor Corporation, Bemis Healthcare Packaging, Bemis Packaging, Bemis Wisconsin, Busse/SJI Corporation, Hoffmaster Group, Hoffmaster Group – Food Service, Marvel Manufacturing Company, McCain Foods USA, Sargento Foods and Waupaca Foundry.

"We deeply appreciate Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funds and the significant investment of participating employers for compensating their staff during rigorous Industrial Maintenance training," said FVWDB CEO Paul Stelter. "These contributions enabled us to develop a customized training schedule through Fox Valley Technical College, allowing trainees to learn high-demand skills and earn college credits while working full-time jobs.”

Participating businesses selected training content for delivery by FVTC in an accelerated format across multiple shifts. Trainees were paid by their employers to attend training once a week for eight hours over two semesters. Program graduates earned 10 technical college credits, a completion certificate and the skills required for career advancement with wage increases up to $3 per hour.

“As most Wisconsin manufacturers know, attracting and retaining a skilled trades workforce has become increasingly difficult,” said Joey Leonard, Waupaca Foundry executive vice president of human resources. “Waupaca Foundry's grant participation supports our long-standing commitment to employee career development by enhancing the skills of 17 employees for placement in jobs they desire and the company needs filled.”

Hoffmaster Group trainee Loyd Kutchenriter said, “I have always believed in learning new things and training to improve my skills and abilities. Participating in Wisconsin Fast Forward grant training helped me and my co-workers gain valuable job skills from knowledgeable instructors while learning alongside a wide variety of people from other local companies. The training was beneficial to employers and their worker trainees."

The Wisconsin Fast Forward program addresses the skills gap through a $30 million investment in grants for customized, in-demand skills training to meet employers' needs to fill current employment opportunities and to develop ongoing skill requirements. Nearly 200 grant contracts have been issued to provide in-demand worker training to over 17,000 workers at more than 450 businesses.

Learn more at: wisconsinfastforward.com