MANITOWOC – A worker recruitment and retention initiative at Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry – funded with a Wisconsin Fast Forward grant from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) – has helped the company dramatically reduce turnover and improve its on-time delivery rate.

DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek met with Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry CEO, Sachin Shivaram, to tour the facility and a new training center made possible through a Wisconsin Fast Forward grant of nearly $194,000. The grant is being used to train and hire entry level employees from diverse backgrounds in sanding and finishing metal castings.

“DWD’s Fast Forward program encourages statewide economic growth by assisting employers in training workers and filling positions, as well as ensuring meaningful economic advancement for trainees,” DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said. “A skilled workforce is vital to economic development and community growth in Wisconsin.”

Like many industries in 2021, Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry faced worker recruitment and retention challenges, resulting in its on-time delivery rate dropping from 99.6% to 61% and hurting the industry supply chain. At one point, the turnover rate of new hires in 2021 was at 100% for the company’s finishing department. Recognizing the need to better train new hires without burdening experienced employees and adding stress to meet production goals, the company’s management team applied for a Fast Forward grant in October 2021.

With the assistance of grant funding, WAF created a dedicated training center and curriculum to provide a learning environment where employees can learn foundry basics; build finishing and production skills; improve understanding of customer specifications; and acclimate to the physical demands of the job. At the end of the program, trainees gain transferable skills and earn a certificate of completion for internal career advancement.

The company’s management also identified a need to change recruitment practices to attract a more diverse workforce and those with barriers to employment, such as language or childcare. Since late February 2022, the company has trained and hired 53 employees and has the goal of hiring a minimum of 70 people by the year’s end. Of the 53 hired trainees, eight are female, 22 identify as Hispanic, two identify as African American, one identifies as Asian, and one identifies as Native American.

To date, WAF’s new hire turnover rate dramatically dropped from 100% to 15%.

“With the support of the Fast Forward grant, we have meaningfully improved our employee onboarding experience,” Shivaram said. “In our new training center, employees learn the skills they need in a welcoming and safe environment. Improved employee retention has had a direct impact on the success of our business and our customers.”

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary’s Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

“Thank you, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development – with your help we are training a new generation of manufacturing talent in Wisconsin.” – Sachin Shivaram, CEO