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Agile Skills for a Community In Need

Seeking to continually improve the communities in which it operates, SC Johnson partnered with Gateway Technical College to develop the Gateway to Careers Bootcamp program, designed to help address the Racine community’s skilled worker shortage by engaging the area’s underemployed and critically unemployed through a customized training program supported by wrap-around case management services.

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SC Johnson is proud to have partnered with Gateway Technical College in the development and funding of this highly successful program. In addition to providing important job skills that today’s employers are seeking, the Boot Camp program also helped connect companies with individuals who are nimble in a changing manufacturing environment.

— Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President – Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability

anticipate a shortage of skilled workers

The Challenge

The local community was faced with high unemployment and a shortage of skilled workers. 80% of manufacturers anticipated shortages of skilled production workers due to a shrinking manufacturing talent pipeline. As of May 2017, there were only 43,565 resumes posted to the Wisconsin Job Center that had over 104,000 open jobs listed, 55% of which were middle-skill jobs.

Finding and training workers to fill open jobs is difficult, and it’s made even more so with the lack of a robust pipeline.

The Solution

SC Johnson partnered with Gateway Technical College to give the unemployed and underemployed opportunities to gain the in-demand skills that today’s employers are seeking and help address the area’s skills gap. The 14-week Boot Camp certificate program provides participants with a fast-track opportunity to receive technical training in manufacturing and the industrial trades, as well as valuable life and career skills.

By working with local workforce development agencies, this model was designed to support those looking for work in the city of Racine, WI and its surrounding communities. With a 95% job placement rate, graduates who were previously unemployed or underemployed are being hired by local employers and engaging in family-supporting jobs.

Strong Community, Strong Business

In 2012, the home of SC Johnson’s global corporate headquarters, Racine, WI, was faced with a problem — high unemployment yet employers, like SC Johnson, were struggling to find skilled workers.

SC Johnson is built on a system of values that align with traditional definitions of the word “community.” With this core value, the company looked locally for a solution. They engaged employers facing similar challenges, Gateway Community and Technical College as a training and education partner, and the local workforce development offices, which had plenty of job seekers.

Industry leaders from across sectors came together to support the Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth communities, connecting underemployed and unemployed individuals who were looking for work, to programs at Gateway that could help provide the skills needed for successful career pathways in the industries driving Wisconsin’s economy.

Boot camps in computer numerical control (CNC) machining, IT, telecom, welding, metal fabrication, industrial robotics, and health care are 14 weeks (8 hours a day, 5 days a week) and have resulted in more than 700 people entering the workforce, helping address the workforce needs of the community while establishing economic opportunities for each of their families.

93% graduation rate

from the program with credentials aligned to business needs, multiple job offers, and zero debt

brought opportunity for economic advancement to more than

700 Wisconsin families

more than $3 million

donated by SC Johnson toward this program in addition to other resources

The Partnerships that Make it Possible

The success of the partnership between SC Johnson and Gateway Technical College was largely dependent on the employers that advised, volunteered their knowledge, and ultimately hired student graduates, but other organizations that contributed to this success were:

  • Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth County Workforce Development Centers
  • Gateway Technical College Foundation
  • Area High School Partners
  • The Racine Department of Corrections
  • The County of Racine

Results & Momentum

SC Johnson’s proactive steps addressed chronic employment barriers and gave hope to individuals without the means to access the training needed for high-demand, high-skill jobs. As more students joined the program, a dedicated training space was established to allow growth to continue. Tarnowski Hall in the SC Johnson iMET Center hosts the region’s first flexible manufacturing lab dedicated to training the manufacturing workforce, provides an open innovative maker space called the Fab Lab, and serves as a catalyst to help other community businesses, economic groups, and entrepreneurs to ensure the region stays strong.

While not every company is able to match SC Johnson’s level of investment in programs such as this, all companies, no matter their size, can make a difference by engaging with their community in meaningful ways.

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