Workforce Development uses new funding to help young workers

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

July 17, 2015

Eric Mishefske works on a home remodeling project in Wauwatosa on Thursday. A Hartford resident, Mishefske took advantage of Workforce Development training to obtain a job he loves.  
Submitted photo    

PEWAUKEE - For more than 20 years the Workforce Development Center in Pewaukee has been connecting workers and jobs, often by giving them learning and employment opportunities. One group that hasn’t received as much attention due to lack of funding is workers in the 18-to-24-year age range.

Earlier this month, legislation allocated more money toward educating these young workers and getting them employed.

Francisco Sanchez, president of the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development Board, said not only must area companies address the skills gap, but must also prepare for a labor shortage.

“Those things together can really stop the growth of any county, obviously including Waukesha County,” Sanchez said.

To help combat the future problem, Workforce Development is using the new funding to create individual plans for unemployed or underemployed workers ages 18 to 24.

“We have not tapped into that population as far as we should because we really haven’t had the funding,” Sanchez said.

WOW Workforce Development Board is looking for people in this age group who need help with obtaining their high school diplomas, need to improve their resumes or are seeking better-paying jobs. Them, Workforce Development staff will assess the person’s strengths and weaknesses and develop a program for that individual that may focus more on soft skills, such as coming to work on time and proper dress, or technical skills or other important skills.

“What we are trying to do is provide things that they are interested in,” Sanchez said. “One of the things that they are interested in is resumes.”

It might be hard for many to get a job because they lack past work experiences. Workforce Development, therefore, will pay an employer to train the worker so he can get experience and skills while building his resume.

“We are willing to pay them and put them to work so they can gain that experience. It’s not so much about learning technical skills but what employers for years have been calling soft skills,” Sanchez said.

Eric Mishefske of Hartford took advantage of the training that Workforce Development offered and now has a job he loves remodeling homes.

Mishefske said he learned about the center and what it could do for him from his father, who learned about the Workforce Development Center on the radio. While working with WOW Workforce Development Board as part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Mishefske made connections and find job opportunities. In addition, he was paid every month, which helped him greatly. He also participated in a career path session at Waukesha County Technical College.

Mishefske encourages others who find themselves underemployed or unemployed to seek out WOW Workforce Development Board’s help.

Sanchez said he understands that most of the participants want to see results quickly.

“We will give them the opportunity to get to earn a high school diploma and go to work to get trained or combined with on-the-job training,” he said. “We are trying to open their eyes and say there are opportunities for you and a career path.”

To learn more, go to Waukesha County residents can call 262-695-7880 while Washington County residents can call 262-335-5300 and Ozaukee County residents can call 262-238-2880.