The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development a $9 million grant to connect the state's unemployed with paid on-the-job training opportunities.
The grant will fund DWD’s Registered Apprenticeship program, which allows people to earn a wage while learning a trade, its youth apprenticeship program and pre-apprenticeship program, which help prepares people for the process.
The money will also be applied toward establishing an employer incentive plan and developing a statewide outreach campaign to attract new employers and job seekers.
"Changing the landscape of Wisconsin Apprenticeship through innovation is my number one focus," said Joshua Johnson, DWD's bureau of apprenticeship standards state director, in a statement. "By creating visible access points and a value-added proposition to our employers, we will be able to make apprenticeship more accessible to career seekers and more employers. These grant funds will allow us flexibility to continue this innovation and expansion so we can gain strong returns for Wisconsin's economy and its residents."
Since March 15, the state has received more than 730,000 unemployment insurance benefit applications and had paid out over $2.4 billion in benefit claims. More than 500,000 weekly claims were still being processed as of July 4.
DWD has more than tripled the total number of workers within its unemployment insurance unit, from roughly 500 people as of March 14 to more than 1,700 as of July 7, the department recently announced.
"DWD has added more resources to adjudicate claims, process applications, answer phone calls, and further extended call center hours," DWD secretary Caleb Frostman said in a statement. "We continue to improve our program to better serve the people of our state during this unprecedented situation."