Leveraging the TechHire program to meet your tech talent needs
By: Laura Catherman, Director, Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development Board
This article originally appeared in the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s October 2018 Accelerate Waukesha County magazine.
In 2016, the United States Department of Labor awarded nearly $150 million in H-1B TechHire Partnership grants to 39 partnerships providing services in 25 states. These grants provide employment and training assistance to train workers with the skills required for well-paying middle- and high-skilled, and high-growth jobs. This sector initiative is targeting technology skills across H-1B industries with a focus on young adults between the ages of 17 and 29.
Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington (WOW) Workforce Development, Inc. received one of the 39 grants. In partnership with Employ Milwaukee and the Southeast Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, this program is designed to serve both job seekers and businesses located in the seven-county region of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha Counties. Our regional grant is targeting the H-1B industries of health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing and broadband.
As we approach the mid-point of this four-year grant, we want to make sure the business community is aware of this great opportunity. This program offers opportunities for employers in the targeted H-1B industries to access a skilled workforce, participate in on-the-job training, and utilize incumbent worker training funds.
- Access a skilled workforce: Through our technical college and other post-secondary training partners, job seekers are receiving training for careers in occupations that have a technology component in our targeted H-1B industries. Examples include CNC programming, computer systems analyst, web and software developer, health information technician and engineering. Our employer relations team can assist in making connections to recent program graduates.
- Participate in on-the-job training: On-the-job training (OJT) is designed to support the business community by providing training wage reimbursements to employers who hire job seekers who have the aptitude and ability to do a specific job yet lack previous on-the-job experience in that occupation or industry. Reimbursements are designed to help offset the extraordinary costs of training new hires. The length of the OJT and wage reimbursement is dependent on the amount of training needed and the complexity of the job.
- Utilize incumbent worker training: In today’s labor market, retention of current employees is critical. Incumbent worker training provides both workers and employers with the opportunity to build and maintain a quality workforce. Incumbent worker training can be used to help avert potential layoffs of employees, or to increase the skill level of employees so they can be promoted within the company and create backfill opportunities for employers. Employers in the targeted H-1B industries may be eligible for a partial reimbursement of training costs.
If you are interested in learning more about the TechHire program, please contact Jessie Johnson, TechHire Program Coordinator, at 262-695-7882 or visit www.wowwdb.org/businesses to locate the employer relations specialist in your community.
What is H-1B?
The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology.
H-1B “industries” are essentially industries that have a high-use of the H-1B program. This most frequently includes information technology, health care, manufacturing, and business.
The Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development Board’s regional grant is targeting the H-1B industries of health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing and broadband.
Source: United States Citizen and Immigration Services