Scott Walker, Governor
Reginald J. Newson, Secretary
Department of Workforce Development
201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 10, 2015
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/news.htm
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce
DWD Secretary Newson Visits Kenosha Manufacturer, Highlights Wisconsin Fast Forward Worker Training Grant Initiative
Kenall Manufacturing moved headquarters from Illinois, opened expanded facility in Kenosha
KENOSHA– Today, Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson visited Kenall Manufacturing, in Kenosha, where he met with employees who are participating in demand-driven skill training supported by Governor Walker's Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) grant initiative. Approximately 400 new employees are being trained through the grant as part of a relocation and expansion project in Kenosha.
"As Kenall Manufacturing moves its headquarters from Illinois to Wisconsin and expands capacity with a new manufacturing facility in Kenosha, the company also needs highly skilled talent to fill open positions," Secretary Newson said. "Wisconsin Fast Forward is helping hundreds of workers develop in-demand skills to fill these openings."
Over the past 50 years, Kenall Manufacturing has grown from a small machine shop to a large manufacturing operation. With plans to double in size over the next five to 10 years, the company moved its business from Illinois to Wisconsin and built a larger facility with greater capacity in the Kenosha area. The expanded facility opened earlier this year and, based on product demand, Kenall Manufacturing has added staff and equipment beyond what was originally anticipated.
To assist the company with its business expansion and talent development needs, DWD last year awarded Kenall a $388,800 WFF grant to train 400 new Wisconsin employees in a variety of manufacturing skills, laser operation, TIG welding, plastic and aluminum saw operation, and warehouse operations.
The WFF grant has helped Kenall Manufacturing establish an internal training system that supports more complex manufacturing. Highlights include:
- Identifying baseline skills of trainees.
- Developing a Skills Matrix and training supervisors and employee teams on its use.
- Creating job charts for use in providing new employees with comprehensive training.
Kenall has invested approximately $20,000 in the in the construction of a simulation center to train assembly workers before they work on the production line. Additionally, the company has partnered with Gateway Technical College (GTC) to develop a more robust training curriculum to maximize its workforce and training investments.
Joining Secretary Newson for the tour was state Rep. Ted Ohnstad of Kenosha, whose district includes Kenall Manufacturing. “I’m pleased to welcome Kenall to Kenosha and I’m sure the long tradition of manufacturing here will make this a great place for them to do business,” Rep. Ohnstad said.
While at Kenall, Secretary Newson urged other employers and workforce partners to consider applying for a WFF grant. Up to $8 million is available for customized worker training grants in nine occupational areas as part of Round 4 of Governor Walker's Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) initiative. DWD set the following categories, each with separate 2015 application deadlines and a range of possible grant awards:
- Manufacturing and Related Occupations, $5,000 to $400,000 (application deadline was July 2)
- Financial Services and Related Occupations, $5,000 to $400,000
- Information Technology, Systems Security, Data Analytics and Related Occupations, $5,000 to $400,000
- Human Services, Customer Service and Related Occupations, $5,000 to $400,000
- Health Science, Health Care and Related Occupations, $5,000 to $400,000
- Transportation, Logistics, Distribution and Related Occupations, $5,000 to $400,000
- Architecture, Construction and Related Occupations, $5,000 to $400,000
- Agriculture, Food, Natural Resources and Related Occupations, $5,000 to $400,000
- Wisconsin Small Business Occupations with 50 or fewer full-time employees, $5,000 to $50,000
For additional fourth round details, visit: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/wff/announcements.htm
Governor Walker signed the WFF program into law in 2013 with the Legislature's overwhelming bipartisan support to address the skills gap through a $15 million investment in grants to employers for customized skills training to fill current job openings and ongoing skill requirements. The program is administered by DWD's Office of Skills Development, which has developed an effective process that enables businesses to easily apply for grants.