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Regional Organizations Launch Statewide Initiative « Back to Search Results

In an initiative aimed at addressing Wisconsin’s workforce development needs, all nine of the state’s regional economic development organizations are teaming up to develop a statewide platform that directly connects local employers to students.

Regional organizations, such as Momentum West, which covers Barron, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk and St. Croix counties in west central Wisconsin, with support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), will expand the use of a web-based platform called Inspire that virtually connects area businesses to their future talent pool through online profiles, virtual career coaches, and career-based learning activities for high school students and educators.

“The reality in Wisconsin is that there simply are not enough working adults in our regions to fill existing and projected jobs, and the labor market is expected to continue to tighten,” said Steve Jahn, executive director of Eau Claire-based Momentum West. “Implementing Inspire in collaboration with other new initiatives as part of the state’s talent development and retention strategy will increase the number of people available to meet the job needs of our employers.”

Developed by Career Cruising, a global leader in career development software, Inspire helps educate students, educators, parents and job-seekers about the current and projected talent needs of local companies. Inspire integrates employer profile information, career-based learning opportunities, and access to volunteer online career coaches directly into the existing Career Cruising Academic and Career Planning (ACP) system already used by most Wisconsin school districts making it easier for students to engage in opportunities best aligned to their career interests. The program will increase engagement between businesses and students and include interactive messaging with local professionals, job shadowing, interviewing opportunities and internships.  In the Momentum West region, teams leading the effort have been formed in most of the ten counties to contact business and industry and begin the process of putting profiles in the database.  CESA’s 10 and 11 are working with the school districts in the area to launch the software in the middle schools and high schools.

Taking the lead on the initiative is the Regional Leadership Council (RLC). The RLC, which is chaired by the executive director of Momentum West, Steve Jahn, is a coalition made up of the executive directors of the state’s regional economic development organizations. Under RLC leadership, each region will develop and manage its own Inspire operating infrastructure and stakeholder collaboration for engaging and onboarding the region’s employers and businesses into Inspire. The regions will also engage area school districts in the implementation of the Inspire tools. The employer databases of the nine regions will be connected together, forming the new statewide Inspire network that will help students and employers connect both regionally and statewide.

 “This initiative is a great example of how partners in the public and private sector are teaming up with local schools to help address the workforce development challenges of today and tomorrow,” said Governor Scott Walker. “Efforts like this will enable businesses to engage directly with students, counselors and parents, and will provide real-life experiences to help guide students as they consider their career options.”

“Inspire brings business and education together by working with partners from across the state to help develop the talent pipeline,” said Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and COO of WEDC. “This is one of the ways WEDC works with more than 600 statewide partners to meet the current and future needs of the business community as we continue to grow Wisconsin’s economy.”

What is Inspire?

  • Inspire is a cloud-based platform that enables collaboration among all community partners in preparing youth to transition from school success. Inspire integrates seamlessly into Career Cruising for grades 6 to 12.
  • Inspire connects education and industry with employer profiles, career coaches, work-based learning experiences, communication tools, local events, and social networking connections in a safe and secure platform.
  • Students engage with employer profiles to see how their pathways connect with businesses and organizations in their community. Students can ask questions of real working people in their community, learn about apprenticeship opportunities, and see upcoming employer-hosted events.
  • Employers can connect with students and share information about the work they do and skills they need. They can also target students with profiles that match their needs, all on a secure platform that protects students.

Community members can serve as pre-screened mentors to offer real-time career advice and answer students’ questions about the real world of work.