Technical colleges to share $28 million to train workers for high-demand jobs

July 18, 2014

From jsonline.com: “State technical colleges to share $28 million in grants to train workers for high-demand jobs” — The state’s 16 technical colleges will share $28 million in grants to train more than 4,900 workers for jobs in high-demand fields, Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday.

The Wisconsin Fast Forward grants, which were created by law in March with bipartisan support in the Legislature, will be administered by the Department of Workforce Development.

The grants are intended to add capacity to 100 programs at all 16 technical colleges and accommodate up to 4,908 additional students in training programs in key industry sectors such as manufacturing, health care, transportation, construction and architecture, and education.

Grant funds can be used for expenses such as course development, instructor wages, and purchase of consumable materials. They cannot be used for financial aid, tuition, or capital improvements.

Individual grant awards will be announced at each technical college over the next two weeks.

Technical colleges submitted initial lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year.

The Department of Workforce Development developed objective, data-driven measurement tools and processes to validate wait lists for grant eligibility purposes, evaluate each technical college’s funding request, make award decisions, and monitor taxpayers’ investment, according to the governor’s office.

“This substantial investment in the Wisconsin Technical College System will help our top-notch technical colleges build the capacity to train thousands of workers across the state with skills we know are in high demand by employers,” Walker said in a prepared statement.

Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy said the technical college system is energized “not only by the investment in our strong partnership with DWD, but also by the confidence in our technical colleges to deliver on these grants.”

The legislation Walker signed into law in March as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative calls for allocating a total of $35.4 million to the Wisconsin Forward worker training program with a focus on three areas:

· Reduction of waits lists at Wisconsin technical colleges for high-demand fields;

· Collaborative projects between high schools, technical colleges, businesses, and other partners to increase opportunities for high school pupils to earn industry-recognized credentials; and

· Enhancing the employment opportunities of workers with disabilities.

The Department of Workforce Development already has awarded more than $2.1 million in grants to train high school students in school-to-work programs, and is currently seeking grant applications with up to $1 million available to train workers with disabilities.

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