Federal grant helping manufacturers train skilled workers

In the heart of Stanek Tool Corp. -- a company that helps other companies build and design -- you'll find tool and die maker Brian Greenwood building his career.

\"They're just showing me the ropes and doing a great job of it,\" Greenwood said.

The single father is following in his father's footsteps, learning the machinery trade through hands on experience.

\"The training I got at my other place wasn't nearly adequate to what they have here,\" Greenwood said on the factory floor.  \"They have great training on the hydraulics, the fixtures stuff, it's way top of the line.\"

Greenwood, like two other workers at Stanek receive full paychecks while training, thanks, in large part, to federal grant money.

\"We want to make sure that these individuals know where the jobs of the future are,\" Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington County Workforce Development Board President Francisco Sanchez said.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded the WOWCWDB with nearly $5 million. The money goes right to area manufacturers, paying up to 90 percent of a trainee's salary.  The board set a goal of helping manufacturers train and employ 560 workers.

\"There is a little bit of a skill gap between what potential employees and what employers are looking for,\" Sanchez said.  \"With this type of funding we are able to fill that gap.\"

Three years in, the process remains simple: a one-page contract and a check in by the development board gets things rolling.  That's good news for three counties where manufacturing drives about one-third of the economy.

\"You can only spend a dollar once,\" Stanek President Mary Wehrheim said.  \"If I don't [have to] spend it on on-the-job training because I have this wonderful opportunity, I can spend it somewhere else.\"

The four-year grant ends in 2015, but the Workforce Development Board hopes to extend it an additional year due to the success employers are seeing.

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