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A new state program aims to help companies train skilled workers

It's called Wisconsin Fast Forward
WISCONSIN (WFRV) - A new state grant program is aiming to make it a bit easier for companies to hire and train skilled workers.

N.E.W. Plastics manufactures plastic bottles and packaging. The Luxemberg-based company has about 200 employees and leaders said they're always looking for new training opportunities.

"To get training in house and offered to all of the shifts at different times helps because that can get pretty expensive," explained Brandon Beard, the company's Quality and Production Leader.

That's why the company is planning on applying for a Wisconsin Fast Forward grant. The new program, created by the state Department of Workforce Development, is seeking  manufacturing, construction and customer service companies in need of support for training and hiring workers.

"There's $15 million available over the next two years," said Jim Golembeski, Director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board.

Golembeski said the program is employer-driven. The grant money will go towards short to medium-term training programs for current and new employees. In turn, the companies must provide raises and promotions to successful trainees.

"Things just move so fast with new technology and with some of the leadership skills these workers are expected to have," he explained. "And this is a good opportunity for the employers to get some assistance in getting those folks trained. On the other side, in raising the wages and the skills of our workers so everybody wins if we do this right."

It's an opportunity those at N.E.W. Plastics can't wait to explore.

"If we're going to make that investment in team members, this just allows that scope and the range of training to be even better than what it would otherwise be of our own accord," added Thomas Schultz, the company's Human Resources Leader.

Grant applications for the first wave of awards are due in mid-December. Interested businesses can contact the Bay Area Workforce Development Board or their local chamber of commerce for help with the application process.

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