Inspire Sheboygan County was recently recognized by Madison-based business management consulting firm Ady Advantage as one of six programs highlighted in its “The Talent Toolbox for Economic Developers” publication.
The program, a partnership between local businesses and schools, was started by the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce in 2013. It seeks to provide career exploration and discovery tools to students to help them find jobs while also helping employers with fill their workforce needs.
Nikki Kiss, Inspire Sheboygan County executive director, said while the concept behind the program isn’t unique to Sheboygan, area schools have been able to drive 10,000 student log-ins per month on the website. The website is operated by Toronto-based Career Cruising. Beyond exposing students to careers, it also provides data that helps make decisions. The data was used to make the case for a new manufacturing lab that is supported by local businesses.
“It’s actually driving development of new programs and career pathway programs at their high school level,” said Kristin Cramer, Ady Advantage marketing specialist.
The Ady Advantage publication is a collection of anecdotes and stories of areas addressing common challenges. Cramer said the goal was to show those involved in economic development around the country some of the innovative solutions people are using and get them to think differently about their own problems.
“They’re doing a lot of interesting things up there with workforce development initiatives,” Cramer said.
Sheboygan County has experienced substantial job growth in the past few years, adding roughly 3,000 jobs between September 2011 and September 2015. About 1,900 of those jobs were in manufacturing. The Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation says the county’s GDP growth is in the top 20 percent in the nation and there are more than 2,800 job openings in the area.
A number of area organizations also recently launched a marketing campaign aimed at recruiting more talent to the area.