Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

County Executive Announces Community Effort to Address Worker Shortage, Prepare Workforce for Jobs in Construction Industry

February 17, 2014
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell, (608) 843-8858.
County Executive


The county is launching a multi-phase approach, “Project Big Step”, to connect skilled employees with construction companies that are ready to hire, but face worker shortages, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.


“We’re all encouraged to see signs of economic recovery in Dane County. With this welcome news, we must take great care to ensure that as our community rebounds, the opportunity exists for all of Dane County families to do the same,” said Parisi.  “Project Big Step will create a vital link between those looking for work and those looking to hire, and will help make our economy and our families even stronger.”


Parisi met for months with representatives from labor, business, and educational institutions, as well as economic and workforce development professionals, to form a comprehensive strategy.


The result, Project Big Step, will help address worker shortages in Dane County’s construction industry and increase access to these family-supporting jobs to under-represented people, including minorities and women.


The 2014 Dane County Budget included $30,000 to help administer Project Big Step in Dane County.  Modeled after the successful Milwaukee program of the same name, the multi-phase approach will work with contractors and the building trades to identify needs for employees for upcoming projects.  Big Step will then partner with local community organizations to recruit and train individuals to fill those needs.


“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to bring our more than 20 years of experience to Dane County,” said Earl Buford, WRTP/BIG STEP President and CEO. “We look forward to working with Dane County and local stakeholders to improve both the strength of contractors and the building trades; our workforce partners like the South Central Workforce Development Board; and the lives of those families who are still struggling to recover from the recent recession.”


The effort will also identify and bring back workers who left the construction industry during the Great Recession, and ensure Big Step trainees get hired and retained in the industry.


With a series of major building projects ahead, including a new $18 million expansion at the Alliant Energy Center, Dane County is uniquely positioned to work with key stakeholders to fulfill these goals.


“Apprenticeship programs are amazing opportunities for individuals to learn skills that can lead to a lifelong, family-supporting career,” said Supervisor Sheila Stubbs. “Big Step can help more people navigate the employment and training process, particularly underrepresented populations in the workforce such as women and persons of color. The program is great for employers, and communities full of people who are ready to work.”


Parisi’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, together with the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, will collaborate with the building trades contractors; community based organizations working in the construction trades, including WRTP Big Step; Construction Training Inc./START; Operation Fresh Start; Nehemiah Community Development Association; the Urban League of Greater Madison; and the Madison College Apprenticeship Program, to build and implement the Big Step strategy in the months ahead.


# # #

Back to Press Releases