Worforce Readines... General Connecting today’...
Connecting today’s employers with tomorrow’s workforce through Inspire
How much do you know about your future workforce? Without a direct link, it’s been difficult for employers to know which local high school or college students may be interested in entering their field, let alone have an opportunity to connect with them.
Developed by Career Cruising, a college and career-planning software program used in schools throughout Wisconsin, Inspire is a cloud-based platform that addresses this need. With Inspire, employers can now interact directly with students and share information about the work they do and skills they need.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is managing and deploying Inspire statewide, and there are currently over 1,000 employers participating. “Of course, that's just scratching the surface of the businesses that could benefit from being a part of these initiatives,” says Adrian Crabb, Talent & Education Specialist, Madison Region Economic Partnership. “We are glad to see that employers of all sizes and from all industries are taking part.”
With Inspire, employers can also collaborate with educators and become an integral part of the education process. Working directly with Wisconsin’s technical colleges helps bridge the gap between career exploration and actual employment. Through this collaboration, the colleges are able to offer a customized curriculum with hands-on training that addresses their specific needs.
Using Inspire, employers can be proactive in growing their future workforce. “My advice would be to get started with at least a profile and a company message board,” says Crabb. Beyond that, other ways to get involved include:
  • Job Shadowing
  • Career Coach Discussion Boards
  • Work-based Learning Experiences
  • Company Tours
  • Mentoring
“Momentum is growing in the schools to utilize these tools, so it's a great time to be a part of that process as an employer,” explains Crabb. “Ultimately, we want connections that happen through Inspire with work-based learning and online career message boards to turn into lasting relationships and a stronger, more prepared workforce in our state. Wisconsin has a truly unique opportunity to make that happen.” 
Michael Lipski, HR Services Manager for the City of Madison got his organization involved with Inspire in February of 2016. “I realized what a great opportunity this is to reach young students and get them thinking about the variety of careers that are present in City Government,” says Lipski. “Students don’t naturally think of government when contemplating careers in media, computers, real estate, architecture, or many other fields, yet we offer all those as career options,” Lipski adds.
Through the City of Madison’s involvement with Inspire, “We have employees who are signed up as career coaches. We also offer experiential learning activities,” explains Lipski. “Through that, we have had students job shadow at the City, and have had an Alder serve as a classroom speaker at Memorial High School.”
Lipski adds, “I think it is fair to say we benefit as much from engaging with the students as they do from being able to directly observe a workplace,” he says.
Inspire has the potential to address Wisconsin’s need for skilled workers with participation from employers who are willing to invest in recruiting and active engagement with the next generation. “The vision is for every public middle and high school and every business in the state to have access,” notes Crabb.
If your organization is ready to help prepare your future workforce, contact an Inspire representative.
Wisconsin's 16 technical colleges serve every community in Wisconsin, provide learning opportunities close to home. The Wisconsin Technical College System offers more than 400 programs, awarding two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas, and short-term technical diplomas and certificates. The colleges also provide customized business solutions that help employers ensure a skilled incumbent workforce ready to improve processes or incorporate new technology. Visit www.wistechcolleges.org to explore all the benefits Wisconsin’s technical colleges have to offer.
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