Workforce training initiative targets Racine

Workforce training initiative

Officials with Racine County Workforce Solutions kicked off Uplift 900, an initiative that targets City of Racine residents struggling to find work.

With Foxconn Technology Group building a 20 million square foot manufacturing campus, utilities building out infrastructure projects, and the need for permanent hires once the building is complete — the opportunities for work are aplenty. But with a shortage of skilled workers and a high unemployment rate in the City of Racine, finding workforce ready residents with the right skills has been a challenge for years.

To address this issue, Racine County Workforce Services Manager Mark Mundl said his department wants to move 900 City of Racine residents who are unemployed to the ranks of employed and people who are under-employed to higher paying jobs.

“We have a wonderful opportunity with Foxconn to increase our overall economy,” Mundl said. “We also expect to see openings with current employes as many of them have vacancies as well.”

The unemployment rate in the City of Racine is 4.9 percent while the unemployment rate in the state is at 3.5 percent. While the City’s unemployment rate has dropped over the years, it remains among the highest in the state. Targeting 900 City of Racine residents would close the gap between unemployment rate in the city and the unemployment rate in the state. 

How Uplift 900 will work

The county wants to work with faith-based organizations to identify barriers that are driving that unemployment and underemployment in certain neighborhoods. Common barriers to employment include education, transportation, childcare, and having a felony conviction. Once those barriers are identified, resource partners will be matched with residents to help them mitigate those barriers.

Travis Richardson, a business consultant with Racine County Workforce Solutions, said it is important that people receive workforce readiness training and skills training so that it matches labor force demands. 

“This is also about work readiness so that we can help people keep those jobs,” Richardson said. “So if we map some of those drivers, we can identify partners that will have resources available to help them.”

The State of Wisconsin and Higher Expectations for Racine County Youth also identified 1,200 hard to fill jobs that — once people are workforce ready and trained — can step into. There are several career tracks residents can go into including construction, manufacturing, transportation, information technology, and healthcare.

“So we are setting up the infrastructure where that can happen and identifying the best practices to use to address these issues,” Richardson said. “We know that there is no one magic silver bullet. This is going to require that everyone roll up their sleeves.

Program relies on partners

Several partners have already been identified, including the YWCA, Gateway Technical College, the YMCA, University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Carthage College.

“With all the exciting opportunities that lie ahead in Racine County, we don’t want anyone to be left behind no matter what barriers they face,” according to the Racine County press release.

The initiative will feature YWCA Southeast Wisconsin HSED 5.09, a program that helps people earn their GED in 20 weeks, boot camps, and Start IT program.

“Our programs are in place. The jobs are here. Now, we want you to be your own champion and start the
journey to a fulfilling and sustainable career,” the press release reads.

To get started, visit Workforce Solutions at 1717 Taylor Ave. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, call 262-638-6312, or visit www.racinecounty.com/workforcesolutions.

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Denise Lockwood
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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.