The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is accepting applications for Wisconsin Fast Forward grants. Wisconsin Fast Forward is designed to connect workers with training and real-time job availability.

“Workers need to have access to the most up-to-date employment information,” Gov. Scott Walker said. “By providing quality worker training and cutting-edge labor market information, our workers will be best quipped to re-enter the workforce in places where opportunities are available.”

The Office of Skills Development is responsible for approving Wisconsin Fast Forward grants. The office has identified three industry sectors that have immediate worker needs: manufacturing and small manufacturing businesses with 50 or fewer employees; construction; and customer service representatives.

Grants will be awarded to businesses within each of these industries to provide training for the unemployed or underemployed.

“Wisconsin Fast Forward grants will support innovative training that is demand-driven by employers and geared to equipping Wisconsin workers with the skills they need to fill family-supporting jobs and reach true independence,” Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson said. “With smart training investments that supply businesses with the skilled workers they need to fill good-paying jobs, Wisconsin’s already strong economy will continue to grow.”

Manufacturing is a rapidly growing industry in Wisconsin. Nearly 17 percent of Wisconsin’s workforce is employed in manufacturing, compared to the national average of 9 percent. The durable-goods manufacturing sector is expected to see the most growth through 2020 and there is a need to fill these and other positions to remain at the forefront of the industry. The forecast for construction jobs is nearly as bright.

Building permits increased 10.6 percent in 2012, and approximately 45 percent of 26,000 job openings are newly created. There are 5,500 current customer service/sales-related job openings and growth is predicted to expand by 15 percent through 2020.

Visit http://skillexplorer.wisconsin.gov to search for job openings based on current job title, training already possessed, or by location.

Visit http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/wff for more information regarding the Wisconsin Fast Forward grants and to learn how to apply for a grant.

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