Grants Help Pay for High School Lab Equipment; Application Deadline May 10

MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today announced an additional $1 million available in Technical Education Equipment Grants and urged school districts to apply by May 10 for funds to help buy equipment vital to training students for careers in advanced manufacturing.

The Technical Education Equipment funding is part of DWD’s Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative to help employers meet immediate and future workforce needs. To qualify, a school district must provide matching funds at rate of two to one.

DWD recently awarded $440,000 in WFF Technical Education Equipment Grants to 15 school districts. With local matching funds, the total workforce investment exceeded $1.3 million with funding to train as many as 2,800 students each year on the latest equipment.

As with the previous round, the grants will range from a $5,000 minimum up to $50,000. DWD’s Office of Skills Development anticipates an announcement of grant recipients as early as June 2.

“We are pleased to make more funding available and eager to partner with school districts in training the workers of tomorrow,” DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said in announcing the new round of grants. “The skills these students will learn on the latest high-tech equipment will serve them well, help meet the needs of employers in advanced manufacturing, and keep our economy growing, a winning investment on all counts.”

Such grants help schools equip their technical education classes with CNC (computer numerical control) augers, lathes, mills, routers, and water jet cutters; also, robotic arms and PLC (programmable logic control) computers to operate them and other machines. The list of items for school equipment includes 3D metal printers and an array of welding equipment.

Wisconsin’s advanced manufacturing sector continues to grow with job opportunities across the board, particularly as more and more Baby Boomers retire. According to employment projections by DWD’s Bureau of Workforce Information and Technical Support, welders are in great demand with openings of 1,800 a year projected through 2028. The starting annual salary for welders is $35,470, increasing to $53,880 for senior welders with the most experience.

Other top occupations include CNC operators, starting at $36,440 a year and for the most experienced, $54,480 Also in great demand are production supervisors, starting at nearly $45,260 and increasing to almost $74,910 a year for the most experienced.

Learn more about: Wisconsin Fast Forward.

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