W-O-W grant to train 550 new workers

W-O-W Workforce Development Inc. plans to train more than 550 new manufacturing hires on the job with a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
W-O-W, an eight-agency partnership that serves Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha counties, was awarded the H1-B Training Individuals for Manufacturing Employment grant in October and hired four new employees to administer the grant. They started disbursing money to employers this month and must pay out all the funds within four years.
The grant allows W-O-W to pay a new employee’s wages during his or her initial training, up to 499 hours, said Francisco Sanchez, president of W-O-W Workforce Development Board.
“We are working with companies who are in the process of hiring individuals,” Sanchez said. “We reimburse from 50 to 90 percent of the wages of the employee.”
The percentage of wage reimbursement is based on the number of employees at the company that is hiring and the complexity of skills the new hire needs to learn, he said.
An interested employer who is eligible for the program gives W-O-W the details of the training process, skills needed, length of training and salary. The workforce agency draws up a contract and the employee can be hired within a few days, said Shelly Flaten-Moore, program manager.
Those looking for manufacturing work can also work with W-O-W to match with a job that is eligible for its grant.
W-O-W held a breakfast for about 40 employers recently to let them know about the available funding for new hires.
“It’s kind of a unique and different approach responding to the needs of manufacturers,” Flaten-Moore said.
The agency hopes the grant can help bridge the skills gap that currently exists in manufacturing.
“Twenty-three percent of (WOW area) industries are manufacturing and they are hiring,” Sanchez said. “This is just one more additional avenue that we have to assist businesses in getting the employees they need.”

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