DWD logo

Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary-designee

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

Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722

DWD Announces the Two Regions to Launch the Worker Connection Program

Worker Connection Map

MADISON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek announced the award of Worker Connection Program resources to two workforce development areas (WDAs): (1) WDA 2, which includes Milwaukee County and (2) WDA 5, which includes Florence, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Menominee, Shawano, Brown, Kewaunee, Door, Manitowoc and Sheboygan County.

The workforce development regions were selected based on factors including unemployment challenges, health outcomes and industrial sector changes that are expected to produce a mismatch between existing skills and future workforce needs.

As announced in July 2021, Gov. Tony Evers is investing $10 million in a robust Worker Connection Program that will utilize career coaches to support individuals as they reengage in the workforce, connecting them to the information and resources necessary to overcome any barriers that may prevent their full participation in the labor force.

"Our state offers many supportive services to help people succeed and advance in the workforce; however, not everyone knows about them," DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said. "And, even if they do, it can be difficult to figure out how to access them and determine all the steps necessary to take advantage of them, especially if you’re already working or if you have caregiving responsibilities. Plus, there can be social stigma associated with actively seeking out assistance. Under the worker connection program, career coaches will be based out in the community so that people can meet them through the local educational and nonprofit organizations that they already know and trust."

The program's implementation will benefit from the strong partnerships that exist among DWD, the workforce development boards serving the regions, area employers and other institutions. Leaders of the two workforce development boards, Employ Milwaukee and the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, said the Worker Connection Program will reinforce this cooperation and increase opportunities for community members to overcome barriers in their search for employment.

"We welcome opportunities for collaboration as we work with DWD to implement this exciting program and continue to increase equity and opportunity through workforce solutions," said Chytania Brown, president and CEO of Employ Milwaukee.

Matt Valiquette, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board, said the job coaches that will be funded through the Worker Connection Program will help job seekers navigate challenges and obtain in-demand skills.

"The employers in our region value hard work and respect the commitment of those striving to secure a place in the workforce," Valiquette said. "Our region is posed for strong economic growth and this presents unique opportunities for community members to explore new career paths with the help of coaches."

Coaches will help participants identify a career pathway available in Wisconsin that offers the wages and benefits necessary to support their basic needs, invest in their future and engage with their families and communities. The coaches will facilitate assessments and connect them with appropriate training providers. They can also assist participants with filling out any application requirements or grant requests.

Another important piece of the program is the opportunity to offer participants in-demand, sector-focused training with local employers who are ready to hire. Local training opportunities will be designed to focus on sector and employer needs. Employers ensure that the training meets their workforce needs and provides job opportunities to participants.

The Worker Connection Program is one of three programs introduced by Gov. Evers last month with his groundbreaking $130 million investment in workforce solutions. All funds will be invested into Wisconsin’s workforce to connect unemployed or underemployed workers with new opportunities, while also advancing innovative solutions to regional workforce challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The three programs include:

Part of the $10 million investment for the Worker Connection Program will be used to fund up to 40 career coaches between the two selected regions. Unlike many other programs, Worker Connection will not limit eligibility based on income or other similar criteria.

To learn more about the Worker Connection Program, visit: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/workforce-solutions/wcp/.


Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases here and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.