Celebrate Workforce Development Month!

Workforce Development Month 2014 #JOBS

September is Workforce Development Month in Wisconsin and the Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (CEP, Inc.) and the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board (NWWIB) are hosting open houses across the region to showcase Wisconsin’s employment and training system and how staff can assist employers, employees, and jobseekers with their workforce needs.

Open Houses will be held on Tuesday, September 30th, at CEP, Inc. Offices in Ashland, Park Falls, Spooner, and Superior. CEP, Inc. and NWWIB staff will be available to discuss jobseeker and employer services. Refreshments will be provided at these events from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

In addition to the open house at the Ashland CEP, Inc. Office, the Career Closet will be having its grand opening on September 30th from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Recently, CEP, Inc. received funding from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation to launch the Career Closet! The Career Closet will assist disadvantaged, prospective jobseekers to obtain clean, appropriate clothing for jobseeking, interviews, and new employment. The closet will be located near the Ashland CEP, Inc. Office within the Ashland Area Enterprise Center.

There will also be a HR Forum on Thursday, September 18th, beginning at 8:00 AM, at the Northern State Bank Board Room in Ashland. This event is sponsored by the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce. Cory Kempf, Human Resource Manager/EEO Officer for CEP, Inc., will be presenting on the hiring and interviewing process. The presentation will provide employers an opportunity for candid discussion on what you can and can’t ask during an interview and while checking references as well as tips for what to look for to hire the “perfect” candidate. Please register for this free forum by contacting the Ashland Chamber either by phone at 715-682-2500 or by email at ashchamb@centurytel.net.

For more information and a full list of Workforce Development Month events, please visit NWWIB’s website or contact Melissa Burris, Public Information Coordinator, at 715-682-9141, ext. 122 or mburris@nwcep.org.

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Big Water Coffee Roasters receives NWWIB’s Rising Star Award & Governor’s Proclamation

Rising Star Award 2014

From left to right: James Kehoe, Jr. (NWWIB’s Conference Committee Chair), LeRoy Forslund (NWWIB’s Chair), and Danielle Ewalt (Owner of Big Water Coffee Roasters).

The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, Inc. (NWWIB) recently presented Big Water Coffee Roasters with their Rising Star Award. Danielle Ewalt, owner of Big Water Coffee Roasters, accepted the honor on Thursday, May 8th, at the 2014 Northwest Wisconsin Business Conference. LeRoy Forslund, NWWIB’s Chair, and James Kehoe Jr., NWWIB’s Conference Committee Chair, presented the award at the conference held at Heartwood Conference Center in Trego, WI. The Rising Star Award recognizes Big Water Coffee Roasters for their excellence in their industry and acknowledges their outstanding accomplishments in growing their business. MaryAnn T. Lippert, Director of the Northern Region Office -Wisconsin Department of Administration, also presented Big Water Coffee Roasters an official Governor’s Proclamation.

Big Water Coffee Roasters, located in Bayfield, WI, opened their café in 2007 and a year later began roasting their own coffee. Customer service and quality products are at the heart of their business from their approach to training their baristas to make the perfect espresso shot to roasting their high quality coffee beans. Their approach to the customer service experience is to find the middle road by combining two opposing viewpoints: hand crafted products and a quick turn-around time. Something they have perfected—along with the perfect cup of coffee.

A year ago, the business expanded their customer base by focusing their attention on growing the wholesale business. Through this expansion, they were able to grow their business in their current location and also serve customers outside of the immediate geographical area. All orders are roasted to order—not just pulled off the shelf—so customers receive the freshest coffee possible. Currently, they are roasting four days a week for wholesale and individual orders. They are continuing to invest in this part of their business and have expanded the size of their roastery, including purchasing a new roaster from Germany. Part of this expansion will also focus on ways to connect the customers to the craft of coffee. They have installed a viewing window, modeled off of those found often in craft beer breweries, so that customers can see the roasting process in action.

In addition to expanding their wholesale business, Big Water Coffee Roasters also focused on re-branding themselves. They have created a brand that is unique to them and is reflected in their packaging, merchandise and café space. Part of this re-branding strategy has been developing partnerships with customers and creating custom blends that fit the needs of the customer while also aligning with their brand. Fenenga Fuel, a custom blend developed for Northland College, is a great example of one of their collaborations.

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Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant Information Sessions

Wisconsin Fast Forward
There will be informational meetings throughout Northwest Wisconsin about the second round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grant opportunities. Shelly Harkins, from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Office of Skills Development, will present on the recently released second round of Wisconsin Fast Forward business grants and details about the application process.

Informational meetings will be held on:

  • Tuesday, March 4th, 2 – 4PM at WITC – Superior Campus Conference Center
  • Thursday, March 6th, 2 – 4PM at WITC – Ashland Campus, Room 306
  • Friday, March 7th, 9 – 11AM at NTC – Phillips Campus, Room P108
  • Friday, March 7th, 2 – 4PM at NTC – Medford Campus, Room M125A

These events are sponsored by the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, Inc. and hosted by Northcentral Technical College (NTC) and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC). Register to attend these free informational meetings at: http://conta.cc/1blH5bR.

Wisconsin Fast Forward will make up to $15 million in grants available to support employer-led worker training. The Department of Workforce Development’s new Office of Skills Development is administering the program. This second round of grants focuses on:

  • Health Care and Related Occupations
  • Information Technology Occupations
  • Manufacturing Occupations
  • Transportation, Logistics, and Distribution Occupations
  • Financial Services Occupations
  • Construction Trades and Related Occupations
  • Wisconsin Small Businesses

The online applications for the second round of grant program announcements will be available March 1, 2014. Applications and other program information can be found at: www.WisconsinFastForward.com. The Wisconsin Fast Forward program encourages employers to develop customized, skilled and semi-skilled labor solutions. Grant applicants can be a single business, a consortium of businesses, or a business/businesses in partnership with local workforce development boards and/or economic development organizations. Applicants may want to consider engaging local workforce and economic development organizations to develop a consortium. The collaborative effort helps to ensure that applications result in successful, sustained training programs.

For more information about the Wisconsin Fast Forward grants or about these free informational meetings, please contact Mari Kay-Nabozny, CEO of the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, Inc., at mari@nwwib.com or 715-682-9141, ext. 101.

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The Juggling Act: How to Find a Balance Between Work & Home

Katherine Hiti, HealthCARE Project Manager

With budget cuts happening in nearly every workplace it seems that more work gets piled on everyone’s plate but we’re given the same amount of time to complete it in.  What happens when we don’t?  Do we stay at work longer to complete our tasks; do we bring it home with us to work on?  What about family time, “you” time, spiritual time, time for hobbies, time to take care of grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry…the list could go on…   Our personal lives and our work lives need to coexist, but how?

We all know that a career is important and getting your work done is key to being successful and keeping that job. However, it’s important that you have your home life too.  In efforts to get your work done during work time there are some simple tips that you can try to manage your work time wisely:

  • Prioritize your tasks: Getting the most important things done first will reduce your stress level and keep you from rushing last minute to complete it.
  • Make a to-do list:  It helps you stay organized and focused on the tasks at hand.
  • Avoid the “water cooler” talk: Stay out of office gossip, all those small stops to chat add up and take up your valuable time.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no to taking on more than you can handle.
  • Delegate: Ask for help!
  • Nurture that home life! Get enough sleep, exercise, relax.  If you are too stressed out work will not go smoothly. You risk being disorganized and sloppy.
  • Take a break when needed: Take advantage of your breaks when you can.  If you regularly skip your breaks, you aren’t giving yourself the time you need to regroup and refocus on your tasks.

There are going to be times in which we all have to work overtime or occasionally bring work home with us but it shouldn’t become a habit or priority.  A poor work/life balance could have some pretty big consequences. Mayo Clinic lists the following consequences of poor work/life balance:

  • Fatigue. When you’re tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly might suffer — which could take a toll on your professional reputation or lead to dangerous or costly mistakes.
  • Lost time with friends and loved ones. If you’re working too much, you might miss important family events or milestones. This can leave you feeling left out and might harm relationships with your loved ones. It’s also difficult to nurture friendships if you’re always working.
  • Increased expectations. If you regularly work extra hours, you might be given more responsibility — which could lead to additional concerns and challenges.

So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with work and are packing up your work computer to bring home, ask yourself if you are truly helping yourself, your family, your job by doing so.

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Increasing Employee Engagement with Continuing Education

Melissa Burris, Public Information Coordinator

Employee development is one of the most effective ways to improve a company’s bottom line. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, “By creating a culture of well-being in their workplaces, organizations not only help their employees become more engaged, they also help them thrive.” The survey also stated that 70% of American workers claim they are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” with their work. Building on an employee’s skill set is a great way to increase employee engagement in the workplace.

In today’s fast paced, technology based world, there is an abundance of continuing education resources. From webinars to online education courses, resources are available as quick as it takes to click a mouse. In addition to online resources, there are other activities that can be incorporated into regular operations as well as regional events that provide attendees with a wide range of information. There are abundant opportunities that can not only improve a person’s skills but also strengthen a company.

Holding in-house seminars or workshops is a great way to utilize a knowledge base that is readily available at any company: its employees. By having employees share with each other different skills, experiences, and lessons learned it can help strengthen the overall company. An advantage of in-house workshops is that the subject matter is completely in the company’s control. Workshops can be specific to issues that come up during day-to-day operations or about a generalized topic like customer service or leadership.

The Northwest Wisconsin Business Conference, hosted by the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, Inc. (NWWIB), has been providing the region with innovative local learning opportunities for over a decade. This year will mark the 12th year of the event! Topics in the past have included telecommunications, labor and employment law updates, strategies for managing younger workers, social media marketing strategies, and more. The conference keynote this year will be Hannah Stonehouse Hudson of Stonehouse Photography. Last year, one of Stonehouse Photography’s photos of a man cradling his dog to sleep in Lake Superior went viral with the photo and the story behind it touching thousands. Stonehouse Photography’s work has been featured in Success Magazine, Huffington Post, Good Morning America, Fox News, CNN, The London Daily News, Lake Superior Magazine, Washington Post, St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Today Show.

Conference details are still being developed. To receive up-to-date information about the conference, please sign up for NWWIB’s e-newsletter list!

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Rupturing Industry Stereotypes, Building Unlimited Success

Carrie Miller, Focused Initiatives Manager

What does it take to be extraordinary in business, to standout in a world of endless choice and opportunity? How do you become the best in the industry, and in the process increase your customer satisfaction, loyalty, and profits exponentially?

Disney, one of the most extraordinary companies in the world, believes that, “Significant service differentiation only occurs when an individual organization ruptures a widely held industry stereotype.”

Ruptures: bursts, shatters, rips apart.  Not: reshapes, remakes, or recreates. Ruptures!

So what does it take to rupture a stereotype? The first step is to focus on pleasantly surprising your customers, time after time. If they expect long lines, shorten them or find a way to make waiting in them more enjoyable.  If they expect tired, crabby front line personnel, find a way to liven up your employees and let their positive side shine.  For further inspiration, envision your absolute favorite restaurant, store, recreational facility, or service organization. What do they do that makes them special or different? Can you incorporate that in your industry, even if it’s not usually applied (or part of the industry stereotype)?

Some well-known examples of service differentiation, such as serving free breakfast at hotels, offering play places at fast food restaurants, and providing free WiFi at coffee shops, rupture a stereotype so thoroughly that others in the industry are forced to adapt the new way of doing business and the extras aren’t extras anymore. Instead the extras become part of the stereotype. Because of this, your company must keep evolving, expanding, and, yes, rupturing stereotypes to remain extraordinary.

To summarize, by consistently eliminating the negative stereotypes of your industry, and working to create a whole new and exciting paradigm, you are approaching service excellence, the one true differentiator in many modern businesses.

Shoot for the moon, if you miss you are still among the stars.
~ Les Brown

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Text Talk & the Job Market

Nathaniel Melton, Correctional Services Specialist

Text Talk and the Job Market
In today’s digital world, there are many tools available that can connect us in an instant to the “world wide web”. It is really incredible how far technology has come just in the last few years. Today almost every person has a cell phone–preschoolers to great grandparents. A majority of these phones are smart phones with access to the internet and thousands of apps.

Now days, people are constantly connected and communicating via their smart phones, tablets, and laptops. There is a whole new language, or “text talk”, that people use to communicate with each other while texting (which goes without saying), sending emails, or surfing social media sites. LOLs, BRBs, and J/Ks have taken over and entered into everyday communication. However, there is a hidden danger when youth and even adults do not learn that there is a time and place for this type of communication.

Today’s job market is as competitive as ever and employers are sometimes getting hundreds of applications for one opening. It is difficult and time consuming to go over that many applications. Application with spelling errors, grammatical errors, typos, text talk, or failing to follow the application’s directions will often get your application pushed to the side. In professional communication, there is no place for text talk. Save your hashtags for Twitter and your thx! for your BFF.

Checking references has also changed with advances in technology. Many employers are screening applicants based on what information they find on social media sites. According to the Undercover Recruiter, nearly 91% of recruiters surveyed say that they use social media sites to screen prospective employees. The other day I saw a client’s social media profile. This individual might have great aspirations for the future and be a great person, but no employer I know would hire an individual based on the material that was posted. Hopefully, this will present itself as a teachable moment for this young person.

With the ever increasing fast paced world we live in, it is good to slow down and remove ourselves–young or old–from all of the apps, status updates, and texts. The Crex Meadows Youth Conservation Camp gives youth the opportunity to “unplug” and work on developing social and work-related skills. Getting youth away from all of the distractions and drama of the digital world, from what I’ve seen, is great way to develop those soft skills (and communication skills) that seem to be lacking more and more in today’s workforce.

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