As businesses like yours are feeling the effects of Wisconsin’s 2.9% unemployment rate with either not having enough people to hire or applicants not having the right skills, various state and regional organizations have deployed efforts to address workforce needs from multiple angles. You can easily take advantage of one of the programs called Inspire Connections, which is an online program connecting employers to their future workforce: local students in grades 6-12.
How participating in the online Inspire Connections can help
A very tangible way for you to address your workforce needs is by having an online company profile on Inspire Connections. Inspire Connections is a tab within a larger platform called Career Cruising, which a majority of local school districts are using as a part of Wis. State mandated Academic and Career Planning curriculum (ACP). ACP helps students explore careers and make curriculum choices for high school and beyond. ACP curriculum is now required for students across the state in grades 6 - 12.
Local companies have an employer profile on Inspire Connections to market who they are as an organization and communicate that students don’t have to move away to have a career that they love. Students are getting to learn about specific careers and industries via Career Cruising, but the employer profiles compliment this by providing a way to show an employer’s unique organizational identity, communicate needed skills or educational pathways for a field, and allow students to get a feel for what a career or industry looks like in a real world setting. Overall, companies have an opportune tool to build interest in their organization, industry, or careers hired in the area. Employees can also volunteer as an online Career Coach to periodically help answer student questions about a career or offer Work-Based Learning Activities to give your business that extra, in-person exposure and connection with students.
Inspire Connections is being used across the state, but locally the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation and Momentum West – the regional economic development corporation for our 10 county region in western Wisconsin – are responsible for administering the program. To help address the business community's workforce needs and increase effective business participation on the platform, the Chamber has been offering workshops to help get businesses signed up and equip them to use the program effectively in a way that will maximize student interest in their business.
Sign up for an Inspire Connections Workshop
Establishing a company profile is easy and free for employers. Sign up for one of the Chamber’s upcoming Inspire Connections Workshops to show you how to get started with your Inspire profile, learn more about the program, and how to design your profile in a way that will maximize student interest.
To attend a workshop, click on one of the listed times offered for more information and to register.
Inspire Connections and K – 12 Academic and Career Planning are just part of the workforce puzzle. Marketing efforts coincide these actions by seek to attract talent – getting people to live and work in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has identified the link between returning tourists and the likelihood that they may stay to live and work in the state. “The number one reason why people travel is fun,” stated Wis. Secretary of Tourism Stephanie Klett at the Chamber’s July 20 Eggs & Issues. The department has deployed award winning marketing campaigns to communicate just that very idea.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is addressing a different issue through marketing. They are trying to expand people’s perceptions of Wisconsin beyond “beer, the Packers, and cheese,” to include the available diverse career opportunities and work-life balance. Their campaign that targets Midwest millennials, transitioning veterans and their families, and alumni living in a different state was recently allocated $6.8 million by the state legislature. “Now that legislation has been signed, WEDC and its agency partners can build upon the successes of in-state talent-oriented marketing and a recent paid-media campaign in Chicago,” said Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and chief officer of the WEDC.
The list of workforce programs and initiatives goes beyond just these three programs and state efforts. There are over 105 different programs locally and regionally, that tackle workforce needs from various angles. Programs like Youth Apprenticeships or the newly created coordinated internship program between UWEC, UW- Stout, and UWRF focus on education and training. Other programs like the Age of Opportunity Job & Volunteer Fair or Project SEARCH help people overcome barriers to the workforce. To help employers navigate all of the available resources, the Chamber will be hosting a Workforce Solutions Summit on October 29 at the Pablo Center at the Confluence.
More information on Inspire Connections: Information for employers and coaches
Posted by: Kaylee Tracy, Legislative & Workforce Development Intern
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.