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Office of Skills Development Prepares to Meet Employer Labor Needs
Office of Skills Development Prepares to Meet Employer Labor Needs
By Scott Jansen, OSD Director
Two months ago, I left my position as Talent Dividend Director for the Greater Milwaukee Committee for the opportunity to become the Department of Workforce Development’s first Director of the new Office of Skills Development.
The Office of Skills Development (OSD) is laying the groundwork to administer $15 million in worker training grants as part of Wisconsin Fast Forward, which Governor Walker and a bipartisan majority of the state Legislature approved earlier this year. 
The Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative includes the following provisions: 
  • $15 million in state funded, DWD grants to provide training to new and incumbent workers. The grants may require matching funds from businesses requesting the training.
  • New Office of Skills Development at DWD to administer the worker training grants.
  • New Labor Market Information System (LMIS) to track job vacancies and link unemployed workers to openings they are qualified to fill or to training to help them become qualified.
Wisconsin Fast Forward will respond to business labor needs that are not currently addressed   through existing education or training programs.  To this end, we look forward to working collaboratively with employers that are hiring or expanding their workforce in Wisconsin, and are seeking assistance to train new workers or to provide additional skill training for incumbent workers.
At the OSD, our goal is to ensure that employers can hire qualified workers with the specific skill sets they require. We will consult with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) as strategic partners to maximize the impact of grant investments in training programs.
As we set the framework in place to launch the grant opportunities this fall and evaluate applications, we expect to apply a variety of principles and criteria. Among them:
  • Demand-driven: Grants will be awarded in response to an identified labor need of an employer or group of employers where existing programs cannot meet the defined need or outcome.
  • Sector-specific: OSD will utilize labor market data to determine industry sectors with specific skill requirements or projected employment growth to maximize the impact of grant awards.
  • Data-supported: Current and projected labor market information and skills requirements will significantly influence grant decisions.
  • Collaboration-based: Successful grant applications will leverage collaboration with workforce development boards, economic development organizations, education providers, state agencies, and/or business associations.
  • Transparent and accountable: DWD and OSD will partner closely to ensure that the process for soliciting, reviewing, and awarding worker training grants occurs with a high degree of transparency and accountability. OSD will leverage DWD audit resources to ensure that program costs follow agency, state, and federal regulations and that program outcomes are met or exceeded.
  • Sustainable and replicable: OSD will encourage the development of sustainable training models that can be utilized in other industry sectors or regions across Wisconsin.
Additionally, our goal is to make OSD a resource for any company, workforce development board, economic development organization, or education provider who needs assistance navigating the workforce development system. OSD will work closely to ensure that an employer whose needs can best be met through another existing program are referred to the appropriate resource and are able to successfully leverage the program to their benefit.
We’ve launched a landing page at dwd.wisconsin.gov/osd that will serve as a resource for anyone who has questions about OSD or wishes to contact us. We also are developing administrative rules that will govern the worker training grants program.
We invite employers to visit our webpage for updates as we develop the grant program and to provide feedback or ask questions about Wisconsin Fast Forward.
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