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Workforce Innovations

One of the largest challenges in Milwaukee County, WI is meeting employers’ talent needs by equipping job seekers with the skills and educational credentials to compete for quality jobs in today’s knowledge economy.  To that end, Employ Milwaukee continuously researches, pilots, and implements innovative new approaches to building the 21st century workforce.  Read below to learn more about our latest innovations including meaningfully engaging employers, providing work-based learning opportunities, participating in regional talent partnerships, and getting disconnected young adults back on track.

Workforce Innovations

Meaningful Employer Engagement

Employ Milwaukee has found an effective vehicle to build close collaboration with employers—Industry Advisory Boards. Industry Advisory Boards convene a group of employers in local, high demand industries to focus on workforce needs of that industry. Employers and industry leaders representing the full spectrum of employers in the industry collaborate on in depth labor market analysis, plan and approve training curriculum, and provide insight on the job readiness and skill needs of desired workers. To learn more, click here


Work-Based Learning Opportunities

Youth Apprenticeship

Youth apprenticeships are a vital strategy in building tomorrow’s workforce and linking students with viable career pathways. Wisconsin's Youth Apprenticeship system is designed for high school students who want hands on learning in an occupational area at a worksite along with classroom instruction. Youth apprenticeships weave together components such as an interested student who is signed up to take related instruction in school, employers who are able to host and mentor youth apprentices, and schools that are able to offer a range of related instruction also known as Career and Technical Education. Options vary depending on school coursework offerings, but a selection of Youth Apprenticeship focus areas includes Architecture & Construction, Finance, Health Science, Manufacturing, STEM, and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics.  

Employ Milwaukee is proud to receive support from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to lead the Milwaukee County Career Plus Youth Apprenticeship Consortium. This broad steering committee of employers, educators, and industry professionals coordinates youth apprenticeship placements and employer recruitment throughout Milwaukee County. As the Workforce Development Board serving Milwaukee County, Employ Milwaukee is also committed to serving as a supportive resource to youth apprenticeship programming in other local consortia, such as the Milwaukee Public Schools Youth Apprenticeship Consortium. 

To learn more about Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship programming, click here

To learn more about Employ Milwaukee’s Youth Apprenticeship Consortia, click here

Registered Apprenticeship

Registered Apprenticeship (RA) is a combination of on-the-job training and related instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation.  RA programs can be sponsored by individual employers, joint employer and labor groups, and/or employer associations. Registered Apprentices work and train from day one, which helps employers address two problems at once: the current shortage of skilled workers and the ongoing need for a highly skilled workforce.  RA is a perfect blend of training coupled with work and productivity. 

Apprenticeships allows you to tailor you employee training to fit your specific needs:  In your facility, on your equipment, in your environment, to your culture, meeting your standards and goals.

Apprenticeship provides you an internal career ladder and is a mechanism to promote your currently unskilled workers. RA is post-secondary education like a college or university.  But there's a big difference.  Apprentices learn only a portion of their skills in a traditional classroom.  They receive most of their training on-the-job, while working for an employer who pays a good wage. 

Employ Milwaukee is proud to lead and partner in discretionary funding programs supporting Registered Apprenticeship:

  • The Department of Labor awarded Employ Milwaukee a five year grant to fund Compete Midwest, an American Apprenticeship Initiative.  Employ Milwaukee, in partnership with St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) and Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), is implementing Compete Midwest, an initiative to expand and enhance apprenticeships in these three urban Midwest cities.  The sectors of focus include manufacturing, health care, construction, financial services and information technology, and hospitality.  Through this partnership new apprenticeship programs will be developed and registered and existing programs will be strengthened and expanded. The grant covers the five-year period of October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2020.
  • Building on national support to expand apprenticeships, the United States Department of Labor has awarded $5 million to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to fund the Wisconsin Apprenticeship Growth and Enhancement Strategies (WAGE$) grant. The grant, which is part of the American Apprenticeship Initiative, covers the five-year period of October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2020.

Contact Employ Milwaukee to learn more about Youth and Registered Apprenticeship opportunities, (414) 270-1728;

To learn more about Wisconsin’s Registered Apprenticeship System, click here.  


Regional Talent Partnerships

Midwest Urban Strategies

Midwest Urban Strategies is a groundbreaking initiative and the first of its kind in the country, created as a regional mechanism to drive economic growth. Midwest Urban Strategies represents a coordinated effort on behalf of 12 U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Region 5 urban Workforce Development Boards (WDB) in the Midwest to bolster regional planning through systematic approaches in attracting and retaining businesses and talent. Together, these cities and boards share and apply best practices in workforce development and integrate efforts and resources to fully maximize federal, state and local funds and initiatives to build a competitive regional workforce system aimed at revitalizing the Midwest economy.  To learn more, click here

M7 Regional Talent Partnership

The challenges related to developing, attracting and retaining talent in the Southeastern Wisconsin region have reached a critical juncture.  Tens of thousands of jobs remain unfilled and companies across the region have already been impacted.  As new companies strengthen the region and existing companies transform their businesses to satisfy the requirements of advanced manufacturing and the digital economy, it is painfully clear that a drastically higher level of proactive solutions are required. The massive talent challenges are regional in nature and must be addressed comprehensively.  To that end, a dedicated group of employers, workforce development organizations and education leaders have formed the M7 Regional Talent Partnership to identify ways the region can address its talent gap challenges much more effectively and quickly.  Following the lead of community leaders committed to acting with urgency, the initiative will focus on three separate but related campaigns:


1.            MKE7 Talent Magnet: Vastly increase the number of qualified people in the region to fill advanced manufacturing and digital technology jobs.

2.            Every Business Benefits: Helping Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) up-level critical capabilities to remain competitive and grow their company in the region.

3.            Innovating Curriculum: Partner with educators to bolster their efforts to create seamless alignment within their system and with regional industry.


Alliance for Regional Development

The Alliance for Regional Development is a groundbreaking coalition of high-level leaders in business, government, and academia working together to strengthen the economic competitiveness of Chicago’s tri-state region, including northeast Illinois, northwest Indiana, and southeast Wisconsin. The Alliance’s goal is to provide a cross-jurisdictional, multi-sector response to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Territorial Review of the tri-state region that recommended specific and coordinated improvements in four key areas–workforce development, innovation, transportation and logistics, and green growth – to overcome growth and job-creation rates well below national and international averages for similar large metropolitan areas. To learn more, click here.

Regional Workforce Alliance

In order to meet the challenges of the 21st century global economy, Employ Milwaukee collaborates with its adjacent workforce development boards (WDBs) to foster economic development and high growth opportunities within the Southeastern Wisconsin regional economy.  Employ Milwaukee, Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington (WOW), and Southeast WDBs have a long-standing regional association named the Regional Workforce Alliance that pursues funding for joint ventures, communicates about regional issues and best practices, coordinates outreach to regional businesses, promotes employment in high demand industries and occupations, conducts regional planning, and responds to regionally disruptive events such as mass layoffs or the influx of new investment and jobs.

Connecting Opportunity Youth

Milwaukee County has a large population of young adults who are not connected to school or work.  Employ Milwaukee is committed to researching the characteristics of this population, designing service delivery models to help them become successful, and connecting them to the public workforce system with an end goal of sustainable, high quality employment.


In partnership with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS), Field Guide Consulting prepared this report describing the population of young adults living in the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, and the 7 county Southeastern Wisconsin region. The report presents a labor market profile of the region’s young adults and a profile of industries and occupations in which

young people can build careers, with an intention of informing and guiding workforce development strategies throughout the Milwaukee region. The report covers several key topics including:

  • The size of the young adult labor force;
  • Demographics of the labor force;
  • Geographic maps that depict the geographic dispersion and concentration of young adults;
  • Information on subpopulations of young adults, such as young adults who are disconnected
  • from school or work;
  • The occupations of young adults and industries where they work;
  • Earnings of young adults, by industry and by occupation;
  • Middle-skill occupations and the average earnings of young adults in these occupations; and
  • Recommendations for workforce development.


The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provides employment and training services to out-of-school youth aged 16-24.  The WIOA Out-of-School Youth (OSY) Program is designed to provide high quality services to youth and young adults beginning with career exploration and guidance, continued support for educational attainment, opportunities for skills training in in-demand industries and occupations, and culminating with a good job along a career pathway or enrollment in post-secondary education. To learn more, click here.

Employ Milwaukee received a U.S. Department of Labor Career Pathways for Youth (CPY) grant to bring together all of the youth employment programs within the local community. Employ Milwaukee partners with local summer employment programs, employers, Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and re‐engagement centers. Other community partners provide services to eligible youth that assist in the development of work experience and entry into career pathways.

Employ Milwaukee has been a long-term recipient of the U.S. Department of Labor YouthBuild grant, which prepares young adults for careers and employment in the construction industry while providing classroom-based GED instruction. Participants work on residential housing construction sites, acquiring construction and life skills through a combination of hands-on learning and mentoring. Employ Milwaukee’s program has expanded to also offer industry-recognized training in the manufacturing and hospitality sectors.

Connections to the Public Workforce System and Employment

Mobile Workforce Connections (MCW) advances our efforts to perform outreach to people in their communities and make educational and intentional connections to the public workforce system. Employ Milwaukee Community Relations Team members canvas neighborhoods and events to connect Milwaukee County job seekers and workers to employment and training opportunities.  Activities are carried out using a people-centered strategy, with team members equipped with public workforce system information (technology-based, physical locations, network partner and skill development), mobile devices, and strategic collateral materials. Team members develop partners, onboard and refer individuals to partner services and skill development programs, and also provide employer referrals. Click here to learn more.

Employ Milwaukee

2342 North 27th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53210

Phone: (414) 270-1700Fax: (414) 225-2375

Deaf, hearing or speech impaired callers may reach us by the Wisconsin Relay number 711.

Employ Milwaukee is an Equal Opportunity Employer & Service Provider.

Auxiliary Aids and services are available to individuals with disabilities upon request. If you need this material interpreted to a language you understand or in a different format, or need assistance in accessing services, please contact us.

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