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NWRPC News

Posted on: April 25, 2018

New initiative provides a way for employers to reach their future workforce

Businesses in northwest Wisconsin have long looked for a way to connect better with students about local opportunities.

In an initiative aimed at addressing Wisconsin’s workforce development needs, all nine of the state’s regional economic development organizations are teaming up to develop a statewide platform that directly connects local employers to students. This effort is in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI’s) Academic and Career Planning initiative.

Inspire Northward

Inspire Northward is an online platform that provides a direct interface between students and local businesses. By integrating career development tools, social media elements, and workforce data into a seamless system, businesses, students, educators, and parents can connect efficiently and effectively. Through Inspire Northward’s online platform, employers can engage with students via online discussion boards and also coordinate company tours, career fairs, and a variety of other work experiences. Inspire is integrated with Career Cruising, a career assessment and planning software, being used statewide by K-12 school districts as a part of the Academic and Career Planning initiative. Through Inspire, students can explore and learn about businesses and career opportunities available locally.

“The Inspire platform is very similar to LinkedIn and Facebook making it very user friendly,” said Melissa Rabska, Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board (NWWIB) Operations and Communications Manager and Inspire Northward Administrator. “In Inspire, businesses primarily interact with students through Company Profiles. The Company Profile is the hub of where activity occurs in the platform. Through the Company Profile, businesses can engage with students through discussion boards and offering Work-Based Learning Opportunities, including job shadows, advertising summer/part-time positions and internships, participating in career fairs, among other things. What’s great about Inspire Northward is that businesses can tailor their involvement to meet their needs.”

For the safety of the students who are using Inspire, it is required that anyone on the platform must pass a background check prior to getting access. To participate in Inspire Northward, businesses or community members participating the platform will be charged a nominal fee of $5.00 per background check.

Businesses that would like to get involved can access the Company Profile registration form at www.inspirenorthward.org. Before completing the online registration, businesses are strongly encouraged to assign a primary company contact to act as the point person for managing the account and student interactions with the Company Profile. After the registration form is completed, the Inspire Administrator will request a company logo and other additional information needed to complete the Company Profile. Then, the Inspire Administrator will contact the business once their profile is completed and provide them with instructions and tips to get the most out of Inspire Northward. From there, businesses can have their staff participate as Career Coaches and engage with students through online discussion boards. Through Inspire, business can connect with students face-to-face as well by offering Work-Based Learning Opportunities. Businesses have the option of selecting from Inspire Northward’s menu of activities or they can create their own.

“Not every rural school has a large company or even several small companies in its backyard, but that does not mean that a community cannot work together to provide ways for students to explore career opportunities and career pathways that would allow them to live and work in the region,”said Mari Kay-Nabozny, NWWIB Chief Executive Officer.

The NWWIB and Visions Northwest, with support from Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), DPI, and many of our local and regional partners are in the beginning stages of deploying Inspire Northward. The first phase of the deployment is recruiting businesses to register on the platform. Over the course of the summer, Inspire Northward staff and other regional stakeholders will be actively performing outreach to populate the back end of the system with Company Profiles and Career Coaches. Then beginning in late summer, Inspire Northward staff will begin to coordinate with school districts interested in being one of the initial pilot schools in Northwest Wisconsin to participate in Inspire.

For more information about Inspire Northward, please visit www.inspirenorthward.org or contact Melissa Rabska, Inspire Northward Administrator, at 715-682-9141, ext. 122 or mrabska@nwwib.com.
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