New Boys and Girls Club workforce center on the path to completion

The McKenzie Regional Workforce Center aims to combat the nation-wide shortage of trade workers.
The McKenzie Regional Workforce Center is finishing up what will soon be teaching and training the next generation of skilled tradespeople and entrepreneurs.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 7:04 PM CDT
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FITCHBURG, Wis. (WMTV) - The McKenzie Regional Workforce Center is finishing up what will soon be teaching and training the next generation of skilled tradespeople and entrepreneurs in Dane County.

The shortage of trade workers is nationwide. Vice President of Workforce Development for the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County Alan Branch said there are more than two million trade workers needed nationwide, and the average age of a skilled trade worker is 58 years old. Branch said they want to be the solution to the aging industry while also working to diversify it.

“It’s a great opportunity to expose kids to not just a job, but a great career. These are life changing job opportunities for our young people,” Branch said.

The programming will offer training for soft skills and skilled trades as well as youth entrepreneur training. Children at the Boys and Girls Club will be introduced to the pathway to becoming a skilled trades worker.

“When they get into high school, the real work begins. That’s the classroom, hands-on operating tools, and then we’ll get them out into the workforce and everybody’s going to get a job,” McKenzie Apartment Company owner John McKenzie said.

The partnership between the Boys and Girls Club of America and the National Association of Home Builders started in Dane County, which has now become a wave across the country and will help combat the shortage of trade workers nationwide.

“We have a lot of little boys and a lot of little girls who could be inspired to be a part of this industry in the future, and that’s our goal: to help them find that pathway to creating a successful life and career for themselves through the McKenzie Regional Workforce Center,” Branch said.

Branch said they did not do all of this work alone. It was a group effort thanks to many partners including the Madison Area Builders Association, Latino Workforce Academy, Habitat for Humanity and WRTP Big Step. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) also lent a hand in getting this project going, even getting over 900 children to participate in the programming before the McKenzie Regional Workforce Building is even open.

This effort has raised over $31 million and they have a goal of raising $35 million.

The grand opening for the workforce center is July 15 and the public is invited to join.

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