FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2014
CONTACT: Laurel Patrick, (608)267-7303
Blueprint for Prosperity: Governor Scott Walker Announces More Than $28 Million in Wisconsin Fast Forward Grants to State Technical Colleges
Funds will help train nearly 5,000 people to work in high-demand fields
Madison – Governor Scott Walker today announced the intent to award more than $28 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) to train more than 4,900 workers for in-demand jobs. All of the state’s 16 technical colleges will receive grant money to focus on training in multiple high demand fields. The awards are part of Governor Walker's Blueprint for Prosperity initiative, to move Wisconsin's working families along a path toward greater prosperity and independence.
"Our administration has made worker training a top priority, allocating more than $135 million in new resources to equip Wisconsin workers with the skills needed to fill jobs that employers have available," Governor Walker said. "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."
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) will administer the grants, which will add capacity to 100 programs at all 16 technical colleges and accommodate up to 4,908 additional students in training programs. Training programs cover key industry sectors such as manufacturing, health care, transportation, construction and architecture, and education.
"Wisconsin's working families have benefitted significantly from Governor Walker's leadership," said Secretary Newson. "Programs like Wisconsin Fast Forward demonstrate his commitment to the workers of Wisconsin, providing a hand up to ensure that they can access training to prepare for in-demand careers. With this announcement, the State of Wisconsin is giving workers the chance to increase their skills and move into a new job or a better job."
“We’re 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," WTCS President Morna Foy said. "I know the colleges are anxious to get to work.”
Governor Walker signed 2013 Act 139 into law in March 2014 as part of his Blueprint for Prosperity initiative following the strong bipartisan support of the State Legislature. The legislation allocated an additional $35.4 million in funds to the Wisconsin Fast 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.
In May, DWD awarded more than $2.1 million in grants to train high school pupils in school-to-work programs, and is currently seeking grant applications with up to $1 million available to train workers with disabilities.
Technical colleges submitted initial lists of programs for grant consideration earlier this year. DWD 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.
Grant funds can be used for expenses such as course development, instructor wages, and purchase of consumable materials. Funds 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.