The state Department of Workforce Development is moving to open its Wisconsin Fast Forward workforce training grants to all sectors on an ongoing basis during fiscal 2018.
Two grant programs will be open throughout the year with quarterly award announcements. One program will be targeted towards small business with less than 50 full-time employees while the other will be open to companies of any size
Awards under the small business program will range from $5,000 to $50,000 and will require a match of 50 cents for every $1 requested. The all sector grants will range from $5,000 to $400,000 and require a one-to-one match.
The Fast Forward program was started in 2013 with $30 million in funding from the state. More than $20 million has been awarded so far, including $1.6 million announced last week. Until now, each grant program has been targeted towards specific industries, small businesses or in one case city of Milwaukee residents.
Awards made through the first four rounds of grants have been heavily focused on manufacturing with the sector accounting for 41 percent of awards and 53 percent of trainees.
“Thanks to critical feedback from grant applicants and other stakeholders, we are launching two ongoing grant opportunities to better address the immediate worker training needs of employers across the state,” said Ray Allen, Department of Workforce Development secretary.
The department said the changes will provide more flexibility for business that have seasonal training needs and will encourage the development of training projects in real-time instead of forcing applicants to wait for a grant cycle to open.