Some Lands' End employees are preparing for a new future.
After news in February that the company is laying off nearly 400 people, about 200 from the call center in Cross Plains, a new program is geared at getting those displaced workers back on track.
Thanks to a $1.14 million federal grant, the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin is helping some employees prepare for their layoffs in advance.
"Most everyone at Lands' End is sad that it's closing because many of us have been there a number of years," says Brian McLoughlin.
He has been a customer sales representative at the Cross Plains call center for 11 years. That will all come to an end June 5th.
"After having that a part of your life for so long, yeah you're sad," says McLoughlin, "But I think we feel the company is doing a good job in meeting our needs and helping us with outplacement services."
One of those services, a 90 day pilot program called the Career Pathways Model. It was spurred by the large amount of Lands' End layoffs.
McLoughlin is one of 23 participants hoping this will prepare them for reemployment.
Workforce Development Board Program Coordinator, Paege Heckel, says, "This is actually geared to anyone who loses their job to no fault of their own. What it's doing is, it's empowering them and giving them the skills to be successful in their job search."
The program provides participants a skills assessment, education assessment, interpersonal communication skills, financial advising and career mapping.
"They are doing a good job of putting the things together that we need to look at," says McLoughlin, "And it takes away some of the work we would have had to do on our own."
Both organizers and participants hope this will help laid off workers look at their job loss as an opportunity instead of a setback.
"They then want to change their career, they want to be what they've always dreamt of being," says Heckel, "This is their opportunity to explore that and to take that chance."
"I had thought about something previously but never moved on it," says McLoughlin, "Now this gives me the opportunity to look at things I wouldn't have maybe gone into before."
Workforce Development Board representatives will be at the call center again next week to continue program enrollment. The catch, you must first enroll in the federally funded dislocated workers program.