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Connect with your future workforce, and keep our talent local.

This school year, as mandated by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, all Wisconsin public school district middle school and high school students are participating in academic and career planning. The software used in nearly all districts in the state is called Career Cruising. This software allows students to input test results, likes and dislikes, hobbies, work habits and other information to help identify interests and potential careers that tie to those interests.

A second part of this software, called Inspire, takes the planning process to the next level and helps address the talent challenges of the business and industry in the region. It provides an opportunity for employers to connect with students on potential careers within their organizations and provide information on existing work-based learning and career-readiness programs making it easier for students’ to engage in those opportunities aligned to the careers and career pathway areas of interest. Inspire integrates employer profile information, career-based learning opportunities, and access to volunteer online career coaches directly into the Career Cruising Academic and Career Planning (ACP) system to more deeply engage business participation in and support of the regions ACP process. It allows business and industry to connect with local students while they are in school in hopes of tying their likes and interests to careers in our region.

The nine regional economic development organizations across the state, of which Momentum West is one, worked to negotiate the availability of the license for a statewide launch of Inspire, and Momentum West has secured the license and developed the web portal — inspireconnections.org — for this part of the state. CESA’s 10 and 11 are working with the school districts in the region and DPI on integrating both Career Cruising and Inspire into the curriculum of our public schools, and at present, numerous partners in the region are working to establish a base of business profiles in each county to create enough mass to launch the Inspire portion of the Career Cruising software and make the students experience positive and meaningful. These partners include a combination of county EDC’s, chambers, CVTC, and other groups from the ten county region Momentum West serves. In Eau Claire County the Eau Claire Area EDC, Chippewa County the Chippewa County EDC and Dunn County the Dunn County EDC have taken ownership of the administration of the program.

The key to the success of this, or the level of interaction within the schools with business and industry, depends on the volume of data input by employers in the region. We invite you to join the growing list of businesses in the region that are setting up their organizations profiles, already closing in on 200 businesses and industry, and take advantage of the opportunity to connect with your future workforce. The commitment to this effort from both DPI and the regional economic development organizations along with WEDC is not short term as the contract with Career Cruising and Inspire extends well into the next decade. It isn’t a flash in the pan soon to be replaced by the next big thing. It is already fully deployed in several parts of the state, and work is underway in all of the economic development regions. Eventually the employer databases of the other nine regions like Momentum West will be connected, forming the statewide Inspire network that will help students and employers connect both regionally and statewide.

For additional information, go to inspireconnections.org, or find the link on the workforce tab on the Momentum West website. You’ll be able to begin setting up your profile, learn more about Inspire connections, or tap into the resources available for employers, coaches, students, teachers and parents. Feel free to also reach out to sarah@momentuwest.org or steve@momentumwest.org and we’ll be happy to provide more information about this program, help you get your profile started, or direct you to our partners in the region that have taken the administration role in their geographic areas.

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Chippewa Herald editor

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