Regional Talent Innovation Network (RETAIN) Project
- Jobs in Central Wisconsin are forecasted to grow more slowly than other parts of state and Midwest region.
- There is also concern that K-12 education, tech schools, 2-4 year colleges, and continuing education institutions are not prepared to teach the skills needed to match areas where jobs are anticipated to grow.
- To address this potential gap, the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board convened regional stakeholders in 2015—including companies and educational institutions—to discuss how to appropriately invest in the skills and infrastructure to sustain family-supporting jobs and attract potential employers to North Central Wisconsin.
- Three objectives were proposed:
- Identify key trends, challenges, and opportunities for job growth in Central Wisconsin over the next 10-20 years.
- Create a priority list of guidelines for key constituencies to better prepare students/workers for future jobs.
- Develop a Regional Talent Innovation Network (RETAIN), a working group of constituencies aligned to support and develop the regional labor market.
- WIPPS was tasked with conducting the research on benchmark data and presenting a comprehensive look at the challenges facing North Central Wisconsin in terms of aligning the skills being taught now and the jobs that will be prevalent in 2025.
- WIPPS met one-on-one with key organizational and institutional leaders to gather information and invite participation in the stakeholder gathering.
- WIPPS helped facilitate the stakeholder meetings in spring 2015 and helped lead the process to develop guidelines for and create priorities designed to achieve shared goals.
- Research identified key family-supporting job growth sectors for the North Central Wisconsin region including health sector, business services, construction/manufacturing, trucking, and education. In addition, a shortage in IT services, engineering and education were also identified as important gap professions that needed to be addressed.
- Educational and key industry leaders from North Central Wisconsin agreed to participate in a regional initiative to improve education and training for students in K-12 and higher education.
- The Regional Talent Innovation Network (RETAIN) was created and co-chairs of the network selected.
- An agenda and commitment for action was established around the issue of IT workforce development for North Central Wisconsin
- Regional educational institutions identified and committed to key roles in developing curricula to support pathways to information technology training and degrees.
Relevant Skills/Expertise Utilized
- Meeting facilitation
- Project leadership
- Market analysis
- Public presentations
- Collaborative problem-solving
- Research capacity
Concern over a growing unskilled labor pool in comparison to job demands in central Wisconsin—and recognition that K-16 educational institutions were not prepared to teach the skills needed to match anticipated job needs—a group of nonprofit, business, education and government leaders turned to WIPPS Research Partners to meet the following objectives:
- Research key trends, challenges , and opportunities for job growth in central Wisconsin over the next 10-20 years
- Create a priority list of guidelines for key constituencies to better prepare students/workers for future jobs
- Organize a working group of constituencies aligned to support and develop the regional labor market.
WIPPS carried out research on benchmark data, conducted key informant interviews to supplement findings, and delivered a comprehensive presentation outlining the challenges and opportunities facing north central Wisconsin in terms of aligning the skills being taught with projected needs in 2025. WIPPS facilitated stakeholder meetings in spring 2015 which developed guidelines and created priorities for the establishment of an ongoing coalition, the Regional Talent Innovation Network (RETAIN). The group later changed its name to the Central Wisconsin Information Technology Alliance (CWITA) and remains active today. CWITA’s website labels it as “a voluntary organization of employers focused on information technology workforce challenges and solutions, with support from the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, UW-Stevens Point, Northcentral, Mid-State and Nicolet Technical Colleges, chambers of commerce, K-12 educational institutions, economic development entities, and other associated partners.”