Workforce Development Board receives grants for youth programs
Includes $4 million federal grant for IT training

By RALPH CHAPOCO - Daily News Staff

Oct. 31, 2017

A collaboration between the public and private sectors are providing stable employment opportunities for youngsters and adults throughout three of the adjacent counties in the area.

Laura Catherman, president of the Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington County Workforce Development Board, presented the organization’s annual report during the Oct. 24 County Board of Supervisors meeting. Among the items on her agenda were grants that fund training opportunities and life skills for adolescents.

“In addition to formula funding, the other half of our budget is made up largely of federal grants,” Catherman said. “I am happy to say that last year we received a $4 million federal grant from the department of labor to train individuals in I.T. (information technology careers), I.T. manufacturing and health care.”

The training program, called TechHire, and is available to those between the ages of 17 and 29 who have a high school diploma or general education degree, and are interested in pursuing careers in the technology space.

The goal is to educate 456 students over four years. Her presentation indicated 333 enrollees will be placed in middle to high-skilled occupations with a median salary of $34,000. Another 114 participants will complete education or training to receive their degree or other credential.

The organization also provides funding to teach adolescent life skills. The program is designed for those who are between 17 and 21 years old, youngsters who have aged out of the foster care or other out-of- home living situation.

“We are helping individuals who are aging out of foster care, get the life skills they need to get stable housing, but also to help get them education and employment,” Catherman said. “This one we started in January and has been hugely successful.

The final grant is called Building Futures.

“This is also a Department of Labor grant that helps at-risk youth who either dropped out of high school or graduated with a very low skill, obtain their GED and their carpentry certificate, while building low-income housing units for the community,” Catherman said. “It is really a win-win for everyone.”

The program will serve 72 students during a two-year period. Aside from obtaining their certifications, the program is also designed to augment their math and reading skills while developing leadership and the intangible skills participants will require when they enter the workforce.

The goal is to either place participants in a career or enroll them into a post-secondary institution for further education.

“This is a very intensive program,” Catherman said. “It serves a high-barriered population, but it has such huge rewards at the end of the program when they graduate.”

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