Whether or not employees have the experience to comfortably navigate digital technologies, they are increasingly asked to hop on devices for tasks like communicating with coworkers, creating reports and completing Human Resources requirements. Goodwill NCW has teamed up with Microsoft and NEW Manufacturing Alliance to equip workers with the digital skills needed for growth and success in today’s workplaces. 

“Microsoft is excited about this partnership,” Michelle Schuler, Manager TechSpark Wisconsin said. “We have been both a funder and we have supported them with resources to develop a digital skilling program.”  

Thanks to the Digital Literacy Skills training program, employees in north central Wisconsin can access classes taught by Goodwill NCW onsite at their workplaces, during their regular work hours.  

“The goal of this partnership is to bring digital skills education to employees that are performing work in manufacturing businesses,” Amy Rolfs, Director of Programs and Partnerships at Goodwill NCW said. 

The combination of the ease of participating in the training, employer buy-in and customized curriculum make the program uniquely effective for employees who are looking to brush up on skills that range from using a mouse to editing an Excel spreadsheet. 

About a year ago, Beth was promoted to a team lead position at The Village, a manufacturer located in Pulaski, Wisconsin. In her new role, Beth was responsible for using programs like Excel, Word and Outlook to lead her team. She did not have a lot of personal experience or formal training using a computer. The Village became aware of the pilot training program through their membership in NEW Manufacturing Alliance and seized the opportunity to offer a session to their employees; Beth seized the opportunity to upskill. 

“The training that we did get gave us a little more in-depth, which was very good,” Beth said. “It makes me not as afraid to open up my computer and to try new things on it.” 

Tonya Dittman, Director of Engagement at The Village has a vision to offer the training to employees again. “We have a lot of people, especially in production, who have some of those skills, but as they are moving into team leader positions, they are having to use Microsoft tools more and more. To be able to keep up with digital skills is important.” 

Feedback for the program has been very positive. “What I’m hearing from the employees, because we have them take a survey, is that they are ecstatic about this training,” Ann Franz, Executive Director of NEW Manufacturing Alliance said. “Most found that their skillset jumped two levels compared to before they took this training.” 

The program has been so successful to date, there are already plans to expand. “As we plan for the future, we hope to continuously improve the design of this program to meet the needs of those who can benefit most in our communities,” Amy said.