Guest Column

DWD Budget Proposal Part of Governor Walker’s Plan To Keep Wisconsin Winning

By Secretary Ray Allen
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) recently presented our Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget to Governor Scott Walker outlining the key components of our strategy to continue to build Wisconsin’s workforce into the envy of the nation. As our economy continues to reach new heights, innovative programs are needed not only to attract and retain talented workers, but also help connect workers to employment, and when needed, top-notch training programs.

This includes ensuring our kids in school get the necessary skills they need to build a career by continuing to expand proven training programs such as Youth Apprenticeship and bridging these experiences to post-secondary education. As part of its budget proposal, DWD also requested $20 million in funding for Governor Walker’s Career Creator initiative, which will expand the state’s Youth Apprenticeship program to middle school students, helping to engage young students with career guidance services and programs such as job shadows.

Additionally, the program will provide a $7 million training scholarship program which will help individuals receive the training they need to acquire or retain gainful employment. The Career Creator initiative also will provide $5 million for dual enrollment programming, allowing more students to receive college credits while still in high school, helping them graduate high school better prepared and more work-ready.

We also are responding to what we are hearing from our Main Street employers by requesting an increase in Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) funding to provide enhanced training for our incumbent workforce. In addition, we have proposed block-granting the overall WFF program, which will enable DWD to fund the most successful programs while also eliminating the red tape that may hold back timely funding. We understand that training dollars must be issued in a timely fashion, and these programming changes will make the program more responsive to our changing economy.

DWD’s budget recommendation also contains a request to fund the innovative Commute to Careers initiative, which will fund public-private partnerships to help connect low-income workers and individuals with disabilities to employment opportunities. Additional funding is made available by our partners at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to help fund transportation equipment purchases to enhance this new partnership.

Through proven and new innovative programming, we will help individuals overcome their barriers to employment and take full advantage of the potential of all Wisconsin citizens on their journey to acquiring family-supporting employment.