Talent and Industry Partnership

Responding to Milwaukee Region companies’ urgent need for talented employees, the Milwaukee 7 Economic Development Partnership (M7) and Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) are joining forces to convene employers in collaborative workforce solutions.

The new partnership harnesses M7 and MMAC talent development resources, amplifies both organizations’ existing efforts and launches new programming to help companies in our region attract, retain and train talented workers.

“Talent development, especially upskilling, is the single most significant challenge facing companies in our region, and will only become more challenging in the future,” said Pindel Global Precision CEO Bill Berrien. “As employers, we can do more together than any one company can do on its own. The MMAC and M7 are well-positioned to provide resources and convene stakeholders to drive solutions that will benefit our entire region.”

This partnership evolved from an ongoing collaboration among more than 30 of the Milwaukee Region’s top manufacturers. Led by ManpowerGroup and Rockwell Automation, M7 and MMAC convened a group of manufacturing executives in November 2018. Since then, chief human resource officers from participating manufacturers have continued to meet and design solutions to help their talent needs.

“Nearly every business is experiencing a labor shortage, complicated by the shortage of advanced skills required in our rapidly changing digital economy. By emphasizing lifelong learning, credential-based education, and stronger partnerships between manufacturers and technical schools, we’ll be able to successfully bridge the skills gap in the region,” said Lyman Tschanz, Vice President of Connected Enterprise Consulting, Rockwell Automation.

“Simply put, we need to stop fishing and start farming – to do everything we can to find, develop, retain and attract the talent the region needs to be prosperous,” added MMAC President Tim Sheehy. “We can collaborate to inspire the next generation of our workforce, help current employees acquire new skills, bring in members of our community who have been left on the sidelines and attract more talented workers from outside our market. With a new partnership dedicated to making these connections, our region will be even stronger tomorrow than it is today.”

CareerX to create new school to industry connections
The first new program of the joint effort will launch this fall. Called CareerX, this program will create ongoing connections between industry and education by matching Milwaukee Region manufacturers with area high school educators and students for a series of career experiences to make them more aware of the spectrum of career opportunities in smart manufacturing. Additional details will be released later this year. The next area of emphasis will be a pilot program to help employers with upskilling current employees.

The Talent and Industry Partnership plans to replicate this collaborative process in other regional industry sectors, adding to existing programming such as our partnership with Microsoft Philanthropies’ Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program. Long-term goals for the partnership include:

  • Improving K-16 education pipeline connections with employers
  • Upskilling existing employees and lower skilled candidates
  • Connecting workers with untapped potential to opportunities
  • Recruiting talent from outside our market

“While M7 is best known for helping new businesses enter our region and existing businesses expand, we also have made significant steps in talent development since our formation in 2005. By combining our efforts with MMAC’s, we can do even more to help our employers solve their talent needs, ” said M7 Executive Director Pat O’Brien.

The Talent and Industry Partnership is led by vice president Susan Koehn. Koehn, who previously served as M7’s director of industry partnerships, has significant experience in workforce development and strategic and program planning. She is joined by Alexis Deblitz, Director of Talent Pipeline Programs, who has led the MMAC’s Be the Spark program. The Be the Spark program has provided career-focused local business tours to 13,000 Milwaukee Public Schools seventh-grade students. Also joining the team is Brittany Morton, in the new role of Business and Education Partnerships Coordinator.

“Our region’s employers will always compete with one another to hire the best employees, and we don’t want to change that. But we are committed to helping employers find new ways to work together and increase the overall pool of workers that they all draw from,” said Koehn. “We also are committed to forming connections between employers, public and private workforce development programs and our region’s educational institutions. We can all do more together than any one of us can do on our own.”

Developing the Talent Pipeline: The GROW HERE Campaign
The Talent Partnership's GROW HERE Campaign is bringing businesses and students together to keep young, talented workers in the Milwaukee Region. GROW HERE facilitates career-based learning experiences for students so they are better prepared to enter and succeed in the workforce. The initiative connects businesses, students, educators and community organizations through the Inspire web-based platform and creates opportunities for ongoing interactions.

The Goal:
Provide 200,000 career-based learning experiences with businesses by 2020.

- Participating companies experience significant improvement in time-to-fill and retention rates so your business can GROW HERE.

- Young people understand regional career opportunities and choose career paths in industries that allow them to GROW HERE.

>>View the GROW HERE 2017 Annual Report.

Learn more about the GROW HERE Campaign and how your business or school district can get involved at

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