The Industry Partnerships Project, a project funded by a $1.14 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, is examined in this article by COWS.
The Industry Partnerships Project has three main goals:
1- To provide training to incumbent workers that would enable them to take on new responsibilities and/or advance beyond entry-level positions in health care and manufacturing,
2- To improve employment opportunities for the growing number of dislocated workers in the region,
3- To build and strengthen relationships between employers and institutional partners.
COWS has five observations regarding the Industry Partnerships Projects with respect to the Wisconsin economy:
1- With the right infrastructure and relationships in place, a large and timely public investment in training can pay off in significant and lasting ways for workers, employers, and the public sector,
2- When an industry experiences a labor or skills shortage, as health care did during the course of this project, employers will actively participate in workforce training, especially training that involves intensive and technical skills. (However, the cost of technical training may be prohibitive for some firms, once public funding disappears),
3- Even when an industry is suffering substantial setbacks, as manufacturing was during the period of this project, employers will participate actively, especially in training that is geared toward leadership and communication skills development,
4- Dislocated workers benefit from training programs designed for incumbent workers by developing the skills local employers need. To better serve dislocated workers, however, training must be delivered differently than it is to those with jobs,
5- A limited-term, publicly funded investment in worker training can help build long-term relationships between employers and public partners.