Workers sit at tables listening to their instructor at the Leadership Academy.FORT ATKINSON, November 7, 2022 – The Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin (WDBSCW) partnered with Madison College and Opportunities, Inc. to grow the skills of incumbent workers in Jefferson County through a Leadership Academy.

Local businesses selected employees to attend the Leadership Academy to upskill from their current roles and fill the workforce needs of Jefferson County employers. Participating companies included Aztalan Engineering, Fisher Barton, Johnsonville, Jones Dairy Farm and Opportunities, Inc.

The 13 participants attended four training sessions that focused on topics including the essentials of leadership, time management, navigating conflict, and diversity and inclusion.

“Our goal is to support the transfer of knowledge from the classroom to the workplace and [our employee] certainly is applying new skills [from the training],” said a representative from Fisher Barton. “I’m thrilled [they’re] thinking about opportunities to leverage the skills in other areas as well, like new hire trainings.”

Graduates of the Leadership Academy stand with their certificates at graduation.This collaboration between businesses and organizations offers a deeper support to workers looking to acquire new skills to support career progression and position themselves for higher paying opportunities within their current companies. This also supports worker retention and alleviates recruitment costs for the employers upskilling their talent.

“We’re finding new and creative ways to prepare and develop our workforce while helping companies collaborate and grow their talent in a shared environment,” said Seth Lentz, WDBSCW Chief Executive Officer. “The WAI Grant funding this training is a new fund source to support our work with industry to develop and implement innovative and responsive strategies to train the next generation of leaders to meet industry demands.”

The academy was supported by the Worker Advancement Initiative (WAI) Grant administered by the WDBSCW. WAI, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), serves Wisconsinites whose previous employment has not come back since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as those who were not attached to or were not successful in the labor market prior to the pandemic. It offers subsidized employment and skills training opportunities with local employers, including a focus on those who will be co-enrolled in Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs.

Employers and job seekers interested in learning about future training opportunities can contact Jess Mills, WDBSCW WAI Coordinator, at 608-249-9001 or


About Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin

The Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin (WDBSCW) is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that collaborates with businesses and workforce in the Wisconsin counties of Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Jefferson, Marquette and Sauk with a mission to build public and private partnerships that support innovation and excellence in workforce development.