By Mrinal Gokhale
The Wisconsin Fast Forward Action program is disbursing a $1 million dollar grant to help businesses train City of Milwaukee residents for meaningful jobs.
This announcement was made at a September 20 press conference at the Parklawn Assembly of God (3725 N Sherman Blvd). “We’ll be accepting applications from businesses starting September 29 to help City of Milwaukee residents develop in demand job skills required by Wisconsin employers,” said Ray Allen, Department of Workforce Development Secretary. “This is a unique opportunity for the private and nonprofit sectors to train and employ Milwaukee workers.”
The Wisconsin Fast Forward program was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker in 2013 to provide yearly business training grants throughout Wisconsin. For the first time since its enactment, the grant is being utilized solely for residents in the City of Milwaukee, according to Davis Karst, the director for the Office of Skills Development, which is the overseeing organization of Wisconsin Fast Forward.
“Applications are accepted until November 10, and we will review the grant proposals and provide the money to certain employers to use in two years,” Karst said.
“Residents will receive training in fields like manufacturing, transportation, IT and others.” State Rep. Jason Fields also joined the press conference, and said he met with Governor Walker, local business owners and Secretary Allen, and he fully supports this grant. “We can’t keep giving money to the same old players. Training is needed to do the jobs we have here in Milwaukee,” Fields said.
On the same day, the Department of Workforce Development held their second Job Center Access Points in the room adjacent. The intent behind Job Center Access Points is to provide the same employment assistance offered at the Department of Workforce Development, but at various sites in the Milwaukee community.
Theresa Jones, operations director at Parklawn Assembly of God, said the church was partnering with National Association of African Americans in Human Resources and Metro-Milwaukee Society of Human Resources Management to “bring employers to the table.”
“We’ve been doing a lot with community organizations, but they don’t always have the jobs. Our partnership will bring employers to the table so we can pre-screen people and get them into livable wage jobs,” Jones said.
At the end of the conference, Secretary Allen informed attendees that the next Job Center Access Point sessions would be held at Milwaukee Urban League on September 27 and UMOS on October 5.