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SOFTEC Education, MREA win Wisconsin Fast Forward grants

Businesses and organizations across Wisconsin are getting more than $1.65 million in grants from the Department of Workforce Development, including in construction. The grants are part of DWD’s Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative that provides targeted funds to support worker training, education and recruitment.

This year’s 13 grant recipients represent a variety of industries, from agriculture to information technology. Wisconsin Fast Forward encourages statewide economic growth by helping employers across the state train workers and fill positions to meet critical needs for a skilled workforce.

Wisconsin Fast Forward connects employers with local or regional economic development organizations, workforce development boards, post-secondary institutions, nonprofit organizations and private training providers. The program aims to enhance equity and economic opportunity across the state by giving preference to projects that recruit socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including veterans, people with disabilities, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, people with lower incomes and ex-offenders.

An additional $10 million in funding for Wisconsin Fast Forward is part of Gov. Tony Evers’ Badger Bounceback agenda, which was unveiled last week in his biennial budget. The additional money will support training for individuals, businesses, and organizations affected by the pandemic.

In construction: the DWD issued a grant of $108,200 to SOFTEC Education Inc. (Burnett County), which is partnering with Train Skills Management LLC to train 12 unemployed trainees. Specialized training will focus on road building and horizontal drilling processes for utility installation. Organizational partners have committed to offering Union Sponsorships to trainees, a necessary step to receive Union Apprenticeships and provide the trainees additional on-the-job training.

The DWD also awarded $73,810 to Midwest Renewable Energy Association (Portage County), which is partnering with Arch Electric, Midwest Solar Power, Pieper Electric, SunPeak LLC and Westphal & Co. to provide training to 79 unemployed trainees and 15 incumbent workers in basic solar photovoltaics skills and job safety. The program will give trainees the opportunity to train and test for industry recognized certifications. Training for incumbent employees will provide advanced technical skills and give them the required course hours toward advanced industry certifications.

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