Steve Sharp | Watertown Daily Times

MADISON – A workforce development forum in Jefferson Feb. 15 will highlight training resources, employment opportunities and local success stories.

The Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin is inviting employers, educators, community leaders, nonprofit service providers and more to attend the forum. The event is designed to focus on regional workforce development investments, available funding, resources to aid competitiveness, and local successes with worker recruitment and retention.

Called “Winning with Wisconsin’s Workforce,” the free forum is part of a larger series of events organized by Wisconsin’s regional workforce development boards, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and local partners.

The Jefferson event will be held on Feb. 15 at 11:30 a.m. at the Workforce Development Center of Jefferson County, 874 Collins Road, Jefferson. A job fair will follow the same day. Featured speakers will include representatives from the Department of Workforce Development Secretary’s Office; Deb Reinbold, president/executive director of ThriveEd/Jefferson County Economic Development Consortium; Nicholas Wade, training manager, Nestle Purina Petcare; Robin Offerman, manager of Talent Acquisition & Development for Fisher Barton; Jeff Reighter, Environmental Health & Safety and Training manager at Jones Dairy Farm and Jason Frey, executive Vice President/COO at Opportunities, Inc.

“The event will provide an overview of regional business services that can help employers connect with apprenticeship, tools to remove workforce barriers, and underutilized talent pools including  youth, justice involved and individuals with disabilities,” organizers of the event said in a release. “Interested participants can learn more and register for any of the upcoming sessions.”

“Wisconsin’s workforce development boards and workforce partners provide integrated services statewide and the workforce development board is proud to lead these efforts in south-central Wisconsin,” said Seth Lentz, the board’s executive director.

Wisconsin has experienced record-breaking economic performance in 2022 and this has been accompanied by an unprecedented investment in workforce development, Lentz said. 

“Yet we know that many employers continue to struggle with hiring  and retaining workers due to challenges that have been decades in the making,” he said.

The series “offers a chance to elevate local success stories, identify helpful resources and learn more from attendees about how we can work together to successfully address the challenges.”

The region’s workforce development board is one of 11 such boards in the state.

“The (workforce development board) offers a business services team that works with employers to find solutions for recruiting qualified workers, retaining well-trained employees, accessing workforce planning resources and building staff diversity through a broad pool of skilled job candidates,” the board’s release reads in part.

The first round of events in the Winning with Wisconsin’s Workforce series is scheduled to provide an overview of resources, key labor market data and the importance of focusing on homegrown talent. Subsequent events will highlight efforts to remove workforce barriers, promote workforce participation, and build workforce capacity through technology and training.