Wisconsin Fast Forward includes $15 million in grants for employer-led worker training programs. The intent is to provide essential assistance that cannot be met through an existing program. Grants will be awarded to maximize the impact of funds in catalyzing local collaboration and also encouraging the development of sustained pipelines that directly align with employer needs. The jobs of the 21st-century economy depend on these training programs.
In awarding grants, the Office of Skills Development (OSD) will leverage research from DWD labor economists on identified labor needs and will seek input from Wisconsin businesses on those needs.
Applicants should engage local workforce and economic development organizations to develop a consortium. The collaborative effort helps to ensure that applications result in successful, sustained training programs.
OSD recommends that employers with a particular workforce need complete an OSD inquiry form. These inquiries, along with analysis of labor trends and input from our strategic partners, will inform the development of future grant program announcements.
Questions & Answers
Q: Can a state agency be a partner on a Wisconsin Fast Forward Application?
A: DWD policy or code does not prohibit a state agency or a state/federally funded program from being one of the partners on a Wisconsin Fast Forward grant application. For example, a section of DWD could be a partner on a Wisconsin Fast Forward application.
Q: Can funds from that agency serve as match on the application?
A: Wisconsin Fast Forward does not prohibit the use of state or federal funds as a match as long as the Wisconsin Fast Forward funds are not replacing other state funds and as long as the state/federal rules for those funds do not prohibit the use.
Q: What services will the Office of Skills Development (OSD) provide?
A: In addition to overseeing and administering worker training grants, OSD will support businesses in need of workforce training by referring them to the appropriate resources. OSD will also facilitate collaboration between employers, education providers, economic development organizations and workforce development boards to encourage workforce training innovation at the local and regional level.
Q: Can I still apply if our firm's NAICS code differs from the GPA?
A: Yes, if the skill set you are teaching / training would fall under the NAICS codes listed in the Grant Program Announcement (GPA). For example, an employer with a NAICS classification of Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (NAICS = 11) could respond to a Grant Program Announcement for Manufacturing (NAICS = 31-33) if the skills to be taught in the training program are manufacturing related skill sets such as the maintenance or operation of industrial or manufacturing machines. Questions regarding NAICS code designations for skill sets in a grant application may be referred to the Office of Skills Development. Please consult the Census Bureau web site for a listing of NAICS codes: http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?chart=2012
Q: How can I have a member of the Office of Skills Development speak at my event?
A: Office of Skills Development staff are happy to discuss the possibilities of sharing the message of Wisconsin Fast Forward opportunities. We are available to speak to gatherings of business members, economic development groups, conferences, etc. You contact us through the Skills Inquiry form and while you are there, you may share with us your labor market challenges as well as sign up for our newsletter.
Q: What grants are available?
A: Current Grant Program Announcements (GPAs) that share the immediately available opportunities are always listed on the WisconsinFastForward.com website. New GPAs will be made available regularly (anticipated at least once a quarter) throughout the year. The Office of Skills Development will work with labor economists, labor market data, business inquiries, and sector needs to determine what GPA's to release when. To participate in this process, share your labor needs via the Skills Inquiry form.
Q: When will grants become available?
A: The Office of Skills Development (OSD) will regularly release new Grant Program Announcements (GPAs) throughout the year. OSD anticipates releasing new grants at least once a quarter. GPA releases will be posted on the WisconsinFastForward.com website. You can also sign up for the OSD Newsletter to be notified of new releases as they become available. GPAs are released based on needs according to sectors or job classifications. If you don’t see GPAs that are appropriate to your business, please tell us of your need through the inquiry process.
Q: How will grants be awarded?
A: The Office of Skills Development will score all applications received in a competitive process. The specifics of the scoring will be available in the individual Grant Program Announcements (GPAs). The OSD recommendations will be reviewed by an Evaluation Committee who will forward their recommendations to the Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development. The Secretary will make the final decisions on grant awards.
Q: How can I inquire to receive a grant?
A: The process will likely begin with a training program inquiry from an employer or business collaboration submitted to the OSD. The OSD staff will review all inquiries and convene education and workforce training partners as necessary to investigate potential training solutions, including existing programs that could address the defined need. The OSD will determine if additional information is required, if existing education or training programs are possible solutions for meeting the skill need or if a grant application is appropriate. Start a training program inquiry
Q: How much money do I have to match to receive a grant?
A: The “Wisconsin Fast Forward” legislation includes a provision that enables the Office of Skills Development (OSD) to require a matching contribution as a possible condition of receiving a grant. Depending on the Grant Program Announcement (GPA) you apply under, you will be required to provide cash or in-kind match of between 50 cents and $1 for each grant dollar you are awarded.
Q: What is the timeframe from grant application to start of training?
A: The purpose of the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training grants is to provide nimble, flexible funding to help companies meet identified labor needs. The grant standards being developed are designed to ensure that employers and education providers are able to move quickly in recruiting, training, and hiring workers under this program. You will be notified whether or not you are receiving an award no more than 60 days after the application due date. If you successfully receive an award, you will be able to start spending money as soon as you sign the contract with the Department of Workforce Development.
Q: What reporting is required if I receive a grant?
A: OSD and DWD are developing a reporting mechanism that enables businesses and education providers to fulfill their contractual obligations. This includes reporting of expenditures to enable auditing of program costs and tracking of program participants to ensure outcomes are met. Reporting requirements will be clearly specified in the contract, but will likely include:
- a short (1/2 page) progress report with reimbursement requests,
- short quarterly progress reports,
- pre and post training reports for each trainee, and
- a final comprehensive project report.
Q: I am an unemployed worker, how can Wisconsin Fast Forward help me?
A: The Office of Skills Development is working with businesses, training providers, and other organizations, to increase your job training opportunities. However, we cannot directly connect unemployed/underemployed workers with training opportunities. Use the following link to connect to the other Department of Workforce Development resources designed to assist with this. JobCenterOfWisconsin.com