Help available for displaced workers - Community organizations mobilize to help laid-off workers.

Column by Rep. Katrina Shankland, published in the Stevens Point Journal


Being laid off from your job can be traumatic, confusing and difficult. But dislocated workers in Portage County do not have to go it alone — there are resources and programs to help them make the transition back into the workforce as quickly as possible.
With the news of the upcoming Roundy’s Copps Distribution Center closure, local elected officials, business partners and education providers are working together to respond to the closure and identify services to help the soon-to-be displaced Roundy’s workers.
I recently co-hosted a meeting with the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and other community leaders to begin this collaboration. It was positive, productive and especially heartening to see the board’s leadership and hard work on behalf of all central Wisconsin workers.
It’s important to know that resources and programs are available to help displaced workers now and in the future. These programs aim to minimize any disruptions in their lives and help with job placements and training necessary to return to the workforce.
The NCWWDB and the dislocated worker program provide critical services like job search and placement assistance, occupational training, career counseling and help paying for tuition and books. After getting in touch with the program, workers will receive individualized information on job center services, community services, Social Security, small business, health care options and education. They’ll also have access to career fairs and workshops to help with the job search and improving interviewing skills.
What’s most laudable to me is the focus the NCWWDB and the dislocated worker program have put on ensuring that dislocated workers will be placed into professions with comparable wages. The dislocated worker program helps workers hone their skills and find a job or career path that will provide a living wage similar to their current wages. Economic security is paramount, and this program will benefit workers and their families who are worried about making ends meet.
I applaud these programs for their efforts to create a solid support network and am confident it will help ease the transition for Roundy’s workers this fall. I am especially grateful that the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was signed into law last month by President Obama, authorizing six more years of federal funding for workforce development across the nation and right here at home.
As a member of the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development, I worked across the aisle this session to support initiatives to help train workers. I’m most pleased about the Wisconsin Fast Forward grants that local companies and Mid-State Technical College recently received to help train our local workforce. I look forward to working with community members and business leaders to talk more about how we can strengthen our local workforce and enhance economic development as a result.
There is great opportunity when elected officials, area leaders and education providers come together to learn from each other and collaborate on how we can best serve our community. Please let me know how I can help you now and in the future.
Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, represents the 71st Assembly District.